Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #33

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #33 (April, 1987)
title: "The Universo Project Chapter 2: Forgotten Planet!"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Greg LaRocque
inker: Mike DeCarlo
ink assist: Arne Starr
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger 
cover: Steve Lightle
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Saturn Girl, Dream Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Blok, Tellus, Wildfire, White Witch, Quislet, Element Lad

Guest-Star(s): 
Atmos, Xera of Manna-5, Energax, the Silver Sword, Gas Girl, and countless other unnamed prisoners

Opponents: 
Universo, Zymyr

Synopsis: 
On their unnamed prison planet, Chameleon Boy takes the lead, due to his espionage and disguise experience. He tells everyone to act "controlled" so the spy-cams don't catch on that they have broken free of their mental blocks. Saturn Girl agrees to rebuild the mental blocks superficially so that they can continue to pretend to be controlled.


On Hykraius, Zymyr attacks Tellus' team with robots. He then teleports them to pre-arranged dooms. White Witch appears on a desert, Tellus is in a water globe being attacked by metal marbles, and Wildfire's suit is destroyed.

On their unnamed prison planet, Chameleon Boy does reconnaissance. Saturn Girl tries to contact her husband and sons. Brainiac 5 tries to give her moral support. Dream Girl runs into Atmos, the hero of Xanthu, and is afraid that they may have gotten together while she was being controlled. Chameleon Boy dives into the fountain and turns into a fish in order to get to the bottom of it. He finds enough technology there to contact the others. Saturn Girl creates a telepathic rapport between them, and when Brainiac 5 "sees" what is down there, he gets an idea.

On Earth, Universo is controlling President Desai as is advisor, Vid-Gupta.

On their unnamed prison planet, Brainiac 5 changes the chemical in the water, freeing everyone else on the planet. Atmos, furious, destroys all the spy-cams. Chameleon Boy asks for volunteers to help get to the technology under the water.

In Dominator space, the Dominators accuse Ambassador Relnic of treachery and blast his ship. Mon-El, Ultra Boy, and Blok strike back, but are then shot at by Relnic.

On their unnamed prison planet, the prisoners are cannibalizing the technology under the fountain when they are attacked by a defense robot. The Legionnaires lead the attack; Chameleon Boy destroys it. They create vehicles for the others to use to escape, and then they, too, fly off. As they leave, Chameleon Boy wonders, "Why us?"

On Earth, Element Lad is happy that the Legion has disbanded. He has nothing to worry about.

Commentary: 
Following such a well-plotted story as part one, it would be normal to expect the follow-up to drop a bit in quality. However, this is another great Legion Espionage Squad adventure. As Saturn Girl was in the spotlight last issue, this time out the star is Chameleon Boy. He takes charge of the team immediately, as his abilities are best suited to finding out what type of dangers they are facing. If Universo was truly as smart as he thinks he is, he would have murdered these four heroes the first chance he got!

After last issue established that these heroes were being held captive, the plot this time is relatively simple: escape. There isn't as much drama here as, say, in the films Stalag 17 or The Great Escape (or even Adventure Comics' classic Legion story "Super Stalag of Space"); instead we get more of a "ship-wrecked" rescue story. There isn't anything wrong with that, but still, it might have been fun to see, say, Evillo and his Dirty Dozen on site to keep the prisoners in line, and the prisoners battling them to get away. As it is, all we get in the way of an adversary is a Giant Robot. It isn't all that interesting, or visually appealing.

Which leads me to my one main criticism (again): the art. When Greg LaRocque and Mike DeCarlo are good they are very good. When they are bad, they are very bad. Take a look at that four-way profile pic above. Close-up, these characters look great. (Although Saturn Girl looks a bit blank, in my opinion.) Compare that to the other illustrations shown here: Saturn Girl looks awful while she is talking to Brainiac 5, and the mass prisoner picture is just terrible. The scene with White Witch and Tellus seems to be there to establish how overpowered the two Legionnaires are, but wouldn't a *touch* closer of a point of view illustration have been more interesting? And the panels reprinted above: Chameleon Boy gets a clever line ("That's her sister~!") but can anybody tell what is actually happening in panel three?

Science Police Notes:  
  • The same members from last issue appear again in this issue, with the sole addition of a retired Element Lad. 
  • Of the other prisoners who are named, only Gas Girl has appeared before. She is a member of the Heroes of Lallor. 
  • Of the prisoners shown in this issue, Atmos of Xanthu is the only character who ever re-appears. 
Status: 
Oddly enough, this story-line has not yet been reprinted.  

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