Friday, August 7, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #46


Recap: Mordru has regained near omnipotence by absorbing the White Witch and her powers into his body. In an effort to wrest control of the entire universe, he casts a resurrection spell which raises the dead as his revenant army. And his troops include a planet of Trommites and the dead Legionnaires. On Sklar, the Legion and their Khundian allies (??) try to hold off the army for the 96 hours it lasts. Meanwhile, an Amethyst possessed Kono joins the Martian Manhunter, Dream Girl, and Matter Eater Lad to try to bring the attack to Mordru.

Legion of Super-Heroes #46 continued the Mordru war, reestablishing the old wizard as a primary foe of the team. We had seen him have total control over the universe in a different timeline way back in the earliest issues of this book. Here we see just how he could do that.


But even if you get beyond his megalomania and bringing war to the galaxy, Mordru still seems to have a particular axe to grind against the Legion. I mean, look at his plot in this storyline. He tricks Mysa into embracing hate and then absorbs her body into his. He raises the dead Legionnaires and sends them to fight their living teammates. He raises the dead of Trom. It is horrific... both physically and psychologically.

Tom & Mary Bierbaum do a good job trying to show how difficult it would be for the Legion to fight their dead comrades. But while we see scenes of Legionnaires fighting risen friends, family, and spouses, I never quite felt the sickening feeling I should from this abomination. The Bierbaums also keep the plot moving forward, but in some ways, things happen too swiftly and easily.

The art is by Stuart Immonen and Ron Boyd and the pair continue to shine, bringing a clean, slick style to the proceedings. But I wonder if this style might not be the best suited for an all-out galaxy zombie war. There isn't enough (if any) of the shocking decomposition of rotting soldiers I like to see in these sort of proceedings, a way to kick up the horror.

As I said, the undead Legionnaires pose a particular conundrum for our team. Even though the Legionnaires know that these undead comrades are just husks, without souls or personalities, it is still psychologically troubling to attack your family.

Here Rokk cannot bring himself to fight his brother Pol, the dead Magnetic Kid. It is up to Vi to remind Rokk that he cannot hesitate, even against his sibling.

Of course, Rokk most likely feels an extra layer of guilt over Pol's death. Pol joined the Legion, in essence replacing Rokk, and died in the Magic Wars. Perhaps Rokk wonders if things would have been different had he not left the team.
The undead retain their powers and are incredibly durable. They also have no conscience.

The zombie Magnetic Kid has no problem killing. Using his magnetism, he has the Khundian Legionnaire Bloodclaw lobotomize himself. And, as we saw last issue, the dead Bloodclaw soon rises to now fight for Mordru.

I know I should feel more here, witnessing the anguish on Cos' face as he sees his dead brother returned and evil. But these moments aren't given much room to breathe to give me the time to feel it. Also, zombies might have felt fresh in the early 90's but the genre has been played out so much maybe I am too enured to care.

But what about that 96-hour timeline? It comes and goes. And if anything, the zombies seem to be getting stronger!

Projectra, the sole remaining Legionnaire with a connection to magic, consults her spirit guides again. They speak of a "distant fire" that must be extinguished to end the spell.

Like Jeckie I was a bit confused. What could this cryptic clue mean?!

Meanwhile, the Bierbaums are playing the long game with the Kono/Amethyst storyline. We don't really know where this squad is going. We don't know what Amethyst's plan is.

I did love this page though where we see Immonen stretch his artistic legs a bit. Here we see Dreamy have one of her famous visions. This time it is a blood red  Mordru hanging this group from his fingers. The art is a scratchier, rougher look than we are used to seeing, a nice jarring bit for this nightmare.

My favorite subplot of this arc has been Roxxas' insane attempt at redemption by raising the Trommites from their graves. He thinks that making them undead will cleanse him of his biggest wrongdoing. This isn't the psychotic Roxxas from the first year of this book, but still an unhinged and deluded Roxxas. How he can think this is a better fate than death shows how insane and self-centered he is.

We also see that he has something of a death wish. After Jan escapes from being entombed in Inertron, Roxxas tries to goad Jan  into killing him. And he is also trying to convince Jan to commit suicide afterward. It is the only way to end the pain.

This scene is probably the most powerful of the book. We really feel Jan struggle to keep his emotions in check and not simply wipe Roxxas out of existence. Here I did feel some of the emotional gravitas of this interaction.

Roxxas is something of fascinating character. This sort of plea for mercy through execution was first seen in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #211. I believe he is repentant, but his methods and goals are skewed.

Jan denies Roxxas the sweet caress of death. Instead he takes Roxxas with him to Pasnic, the planet where the bulk of Trommites have gone.

Drawing on the depths of his power, Jan turns all the undead Trommites into Tsarin crystal statues. Immediately after, he collapses.

Is it the physical stress of his powers? Is it the trauma of having to "kill" his people again? Is it both?

Again, I should feel something more than I do here.

At the very least, unlike prior issues, we get to see Laurel Gand kick some serious butt.

After several encounters where she is beaten up to show the strength of her opponent, Laurel shines. She slugs it out with a variety of foes and here she simply tosses Blok miles away.

Immonen really draws a beautiful Laurel.

And remember that cryptic clue about a "distant fire"?

What could it mean?

Well, here it actually means "a distant fire"!

There is a fire on Sklar, manned by Mordru's coven of White Witch variants, a local source of magic which is feeding the resurrection spell, allowing it to last longer than the original 96-hour duration.

I have to say that maybe I have been too programmed into thinking of these clues as riddles and wordplay. I wouldn't have thought it was just what it said it was.

And a bonfire is pretty easy for the Legion to extinguish. Devlin and Laurel head to the blaze and Laurel drops an avalanche on it.

The witches are swept away and the fire is snuffed out.

It is great  to see the older Laurel shine after a pretty quiet year in the book.

And with the magic squelched, the zombies all collapse.

Earlier we had seen Jeckie fighting her own dead husband Karate Kid. Now she has to gaze upon his exhumed corpse.

These are the last panels of the book. That line from Jeckie falls a little flat. Again, I just don't feel the pangs of horror or outrage that I think I should. I almost wish these fallen Legionnaires would have been around longer so we could see more of the anguish of the living Legion.

This book is a very good read, a sort of mix-up of high action sequences with some strong character moments mixed in. It is an entertaining Legion book. And I am going to end this 5YL review on that note.

3 comments:

  1. I really liked this storyline - a true highlight of the later 5YL version of the team. I think the genuine sorrow and hesitation on the Legion's part to confront their (un)dead teammates was handled appropriately and well - too bad it doesn't seem like your cup of tea, Anj.

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  2. I actually do like it and feel bad if that doesn't come across here.
    I think I actually would have liked a little bit more background or build up to those feelings of reluctance.
    And I, no matter how much I say I shouldn't, keep comparing this story to the earlier ones in this title. I need to get over it.

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  3. You're doing a great job on these recaps, Anj, and I definitely understand how hard it is to keep focused on the stories at hand without comparison to hey-days past!

    Everyone's taste is different, and if one is committed to covering a long run of anything there are bound to be segments, chapters, episodes, issues, etc. that aren't 100% to the reviewer's liking. That's what commentary/criticism is all about, and you've presented good, balanced opinion pieces.

    Again, great job!

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