Friday, July 24, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #44

Recap: The Legion of Super-Heroes is finally stabilizing, re-established on Talus, adding Invisible Kid, Infectious Lass, and Spider Girl to the ranks; and recruiting new members. Meanwhile, The White Witch Mysa has traveled to Sorcerer's World and apparently merged with the spirit of Amethyst. Enraged at the abuse she suffered at the hands of Mordru, she has headed to Tharn to take her revenge.

Legion of Super-Heroes #44 continued the redefining of the Legion landscape in the post-Terra Mosaic galaxy. Written and plotted by Tom McCraw and Tom & Mary Bierbaum, this issue looked closely at the Mysa/Mordru plot as well as showcasing the "new" Legion which has regathered on Talus. It is a fine comic built on the foundation of both Legion history and key moments in this very title.

Now I know that these review introductions are starting to sound a bit repetitive but calling a book "a fine issue" sounds like damning with faint praise. This is a very good Legion book, exploring the nooks and crannies of the Legion mythos and steeped in continuity. But that elan of the earliest part of this series, that dense, layered story-telling told in a creatively daring way, simply feels missing here. Do I like this book and story? Yes. Quite a bit. But there isn't that fire in me as a Legion fan when I read this.

Stuart Immonen continues to shine in his role as penciller here. From his use of shadows to the organic, round style, this looks very much like a Legion book.

The cover is also shocking, with Queen Projectra standing among the graves as the dead Legionnaires rise. Nice expressive work here. That said, one of the few missteps I feel about the 5YL world is that Projectra shed the Sensor Girl identity and settled into the courtly life of royalty.

Last issue, Amethyst seemed to merge herself with the soul of Sorcerer's World, Amethyst. Crying for vengeance, she streaks to Tharn to confront Mordru, the husband who abused her.

The two duel in the early pages and seem evenly matched. But throughout the fight, Mordru seems to be goading Mysa, trying to psychologically denigrate and dominate her by reminding her of how he controlled her through abuse.

They are brutal scenes. We see Mysa chained to the floor while spiders crawl over her. We see Mordru whipping her while she begs for mercy. And he has the audacity to claim that Mysa asked for it! It is a stark representation of how Mysa has suffered.

Now one thing that I noted last month was that amid the purple gem armor was a red gem, attached to Mysa's neck, with a reflection of a man's face within. I thought it might Dark Opal. Because knowing what I know about both Mysa and Amethyst, her blood-thirsty cries of vengeance seemed out of character ... both characters.

And know we find out why. The Amethyst statue was a feint by Mordru. He needed Mysa to feel pure hate and anger and to be on Tharn. By tricking her into merging with this simulacrum, by taunting her until emotionally all that was left was her loathing, he could cast a spell and absorb Mysa.

With Mysa trapped within him and with access to her power, Mordru is suddenly all-powerful.

I was extremely happy that this angry Mysa was something of a fake-out. Amethyst was never filled with hate. And Mordru has always been a big bad for the Legion but in this world he has always been a universe-level threat. So seeing him attain this god-like status was frightening.

But poor Mysa. This is just another episode of pain for her.

Long time readers of this book will remember that when Mon-El killed the Time Trapper that a new timeline emerged where an all-powerful Mordru ruled the universe with an iron fist. It was only the machinations of Legionnaires in that timeline that reestablished a reasonable facsimile of Legion continuity (bringing Glorith and Laurel Gand into the mix).

Mordru ascending gives him enough power to re-assert that timeline. With his new abilities he will be able to take over the entire universe in one fell swoop.

But with that new timeline trying to worm its way into reality again, we see the Ferro Lad of that other timeline manifest to the Legionnaires on Talus. He tells them that only through the power of Love can Mordru be denied all of Mysa's magic. They all concentrate on Mysa, sending her love, and cutting off Mordru from unlimited sorcery.

Now that alternate timeline issue, LSH #5, is a key to this whole series and considered a tremendous and successful creative risk. So I didn't mind seeing that "Ferro Lad" again. But weakening Mordru through positive thoughts? Through the power of love?? This felt like a bit of a stretch.
Denied all of Mysa's strength, Mordru cannot simply rewrite reality in his image. But he is still incredibly enhanced. If he cannot immediately take over the universe, he will do it by force.

This is one of those nice little homages of Legion lore that the 5YL book is noted for. Mordru decides to create a coven to help him coordinate his plans. But this coven is Mysa in all her incarnations - from the Hag, to her initial red-haired look, to the White Witch, and on.

Mordru's first aggressive act is to raise the dead. Throughout the galaxy, corpses claw their way out of their graves pledging allegiance to Mordru.

Grieving Karate Kid in the Legion graveyard, Projectra sees the dead Legionnaires rise and fly off. Sun Boy, Blok, Reflecto, and even her beloved Val all fly off to fight for their new master.

The Legion has always revered their honored dead. Scenes at these monuments are relatively common, a reminder to readers of how much a family the Legion is. So seeing these rotting cadavers fly off is especially chilling.
With the dead rising throughout the universe, chaos is unleashed.

On the new Takron-Galtos, a Mordru slave tells Roxxas that the dead on Trom cannot rise because of the crystals on their graves. In an interesting twist, Mordru asks Roxxas to return to Trom to crush the stones and resurrect those he slaughtered. For Roxxas, who seems to be responding to incarceration nicely, actually looks upon this as a chance for redemption, a way to atone for his sins of genocide.

Now this is some heady stuff here. We saw an insane Roxxas cut a bloody swath through this title in its first year. Seeing him semi-lucid and looking for penance is interesting. But penance by creating a zombie Trommite army for Mordru? That isn't redemption.
"The enemy of my enemy is my friend." It is an old phrase which is more often than not true.

The Khunds call upon the Legion for help in defending their worlds from Mordru's revenant armies. They want the Legion to protect the former UP worlds that the Khunds have conquered.

Kono has a history with the Khunds and doesn't want to aid these barbarians. But Rokk knows that innocents can't suffer. The Legion will send a squad to the Khund fleet to organize their attacks.
Have I told you how much I love the addition of Spider Girl to this book. This book needed a jolt of light hearted energy, a foil to the dour goings-on. Her flirty nature, her questionable ethics, and her desire for Ultra Boy all inject some levity here.

I love how she is waiting for Jo in his cruiser compartment. Her body language screams "come hither".

The Legion and Khunds gather deep in Khundian space to discuss terms. Politics make strange bedfellows.

The worlds being defended will be jointly occupied by UP and Khund troops. Should they survive Mordru's attacks, final occupation will be determined. And 4 Khundian super-soldiers will be inducted into the Legion.

Firefist looks like a Cyborg/Cable clone.
Bloodclaw looks like your standard tank.
Flederweb seems to be a mix of Spiderman gangliness and Batman sensibilities.
And Veilmist is a cat-like teleporter devoted to Firefist. As Shag would say, "she's hot!"

I can't imagine that the Legion will feel comfortable fighting alongside these soldiers.

But the biggest moment of the book for me comes at the end. A confused J'onn J'onzz stumbles onto Talus. He finds Kono, "a young female and suitable subject", and collapses. J'onn was being possessed by the true Amethyst spirit but she couldn't fully manifest in his body.

Within Kono, she can. Suddenly we see Kono, dressed like a certain Princess of Gemworld, and speaking of facing off against Mordru. It is the throwdown a thousand years in the making!

How can I not like this book with its twists, its nods to Legion history, and its bringing in the real Amethyst? Plus, an all-out war against Mordru! What could be better??


  1. One can only imagine the impact this storyline had on a 15 year old Robert Kirkman.

  2. Interesting that Mordu has just been doing...nothing, pretty much, since his last appearance. You'd think with everything that was happening, he'd have been involved more, especially during Terra Mosaic. But oh well.