Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes(v3) #30

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #30 (Jan, 1987)
title: "Brainy's Lucky Day!"
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:  
Brainiac 5, Sensor Girl, Timber Wolf, Colossal Boy, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Blok, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, Dream Girl, Lightning Lass, Shrinking Violet, Tellus, Wildfire, White Witch, Quislet, Sun Boy, Dawnstar, Element Lad, Polar Boy

Guests: 
Ambassador Relnic, SP Officer Gigi Cusimano, Dr. Chaseer

Opponents: 
Universo

Synopsis: 
A Day In The Life of Brainiac 5....begins on Earth, at Legion head-quarters with Brainy apologizing to Sensor Girl (Projectra) for being so obsessive when she was still hiding her identity. Jeckie tells him she forgives him, but to not let it happen again. Colossal Boy and Timber Wolf ask Brainiac 5 to settle a bet about Moopsball rules, but he reminds them that his 12th level brain is a tool of thinking, not an indicator cluttered with unimportant facts.



Ultra Boy, Mon-El, and Blok take off with Ambassador Relnic, who, unbeknownst to all of them, is  under Universo's hypnotic control.

At the Niagara Hydroenergy facility, the Legion helps rescue efforts. After Brainy and Lightning Lass enter the facility they are surprised to find Korbal Lightning Monsters are loose inside. They manage to lead the monsters outside the facility, calming the situation somewhat. Brainy then has an idea, tossing his force-shield belt to them as he rushes off. Dream Girl uses his belt to corral the monsters into one area until Brainy returns with a length of cable. They then short-circuit the monsters into unconsciousness. We learn that this was an attempt by Universo to show how incompetent the Science Police are.

On Hykraius, the team of four Legionnaires have arrived. White Witch protects herself from the harsh environment as she, Wildfire, and Quislet join Tellus on his home world. They are there to investigate the mystery of the missing Science Police officers. They are met by Tellus' friend Loros, who is actually under Universo's hypnotic control.

Back on Earth, Element Lad is concerned that the Legion's strongest members are all off-Earth. His worrying is interrupted by Polar Boy, who asks if there is any protocol against running for Legion Leader. Brainy agrees to go out to a club with Sun Boy and Dawnstar. As they enjoy dancing, he slips out, intending to return to Legion HQ. However, he meets Dr. Chaseer and ends up staying out all night. As he returns to Legion HQ, he is shocked to learn that his friend Rond Vidar has died.


Commentary: 
This issue seems like another place-holder for the Universo plot-line. I guess the point of the story was to show that Brainiac 5 isn't actually as crazy as he has been shown to be for the last year. In that regard, the story works, as Brainy comes across as more than competent. I do question the title and the thrust of the story, though. HOW is this Brainy's "lucky" day? Is Paul Levitz trying to be ironic? To lead with the sadness on the cover makes all that comes before it seem like a build-up....so maybe he isn't as competent as he seems to be portrayed? Or is there something deeper going on here that I don't understand?

As I have commented before, this run of Legion is not my favorite. I seem to not "get" a lot of what Levitz and company are doing here, and it's frustrating for me. For example, I really like the initial scene with the Legionnaires lounging around watching Moopsball or eating lunch. But then I don't understand why Mon-El and Ultra Boy don't board the cruiser at the same time as Blok, especially given the rush that Ambassador Relnic is pushing for. Is it *only* so that they can have a good-bye scene with their girl-friends? But they didn't know that their women were coming to see them off, so this whole scene just reads as awkward. It also bugs me about "smart" characters in general and Brainiac 5 in particular that to make him look smarter, the other characters have to look more dense. This time, Brainy shows up to short-circuit the Lightning Monsters, but Timber Wolf, Dream Girl, and Colossal Boy have absolutely no knowledge of rudimentary electrical wiring. Really!?!

And I will only mention the art of Greg LaRocque and Mike DeCarlo and Arne Starr in passing, as I think this is some of the worst yet. The layout on page 4 makes it hard to tell what is actually going on, and no backgrounds on most of that page doesn't help. The expressions of most of the Legionnaires when they are not emoting are fine, but Element Lad's expression of shock on page 26 and Brainy showing sadness on page 28 are just bad.

My favorite part of this story is the spotlight on Dream Girl. During the Niagara mission she complains that she is not built for rescue work, but then she is the one Legionnaire that can use Brainy's force-field belt to control the Lightning Monsters. THIS is the type of "smartness" that makes characters like Dream Girl and Brainiac 5 worthwhile characters. Dreamy even gets a small dig in on Lightning Lass for not knowing how to use it. Great stuff!

Science Police Notes:  
  • Although Sensor Girl, Shrinking Violet, Element Lad, Polar Boy, Shadow Lass, and Phantom Girl are shown to be at Legion HQ, none of them respond to the Niagara Hydroenergy mission. 
  • Element Lad is worrying that "our most powerful members are everywhere but on Earth," indirectly referencing Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Blok, Wildfire.....and White Witch, Tellus, and Quislet
  • Element Lad references that Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad now have two children, placing this story after Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #2 (1986)
  • There is a GilDishpan statue on the planet Hykraius.  
Status: 
This story has not yet been reprinted.  

3 comments:

  1. This issue has a few of my favorite moments that stuck with me for a long time even as most of the content faded away.

    I love that scene between Brainy and Projectra. I'm surprised you didn't mention that even as she forgives him, she's "gently" holding his hand and threatening him with bodily harm if he ever does it again. There were many missteps art-wise but that was a great scene. (Brainy rubbing his hand after she walks away.... amazing!)

    I am also a big fan of the moment where Dreamy basically calls Lightning Lass an idiot for not knowing how to use the Belt. I'd already disliked Ayla even before her ridiculous overreaction to the asteroid incident. Given that Supergirl once turned the belt on with a puff of super-breath, I'd say the belt isn't that hard to figure out.

    Lightning Lass has her moments for sure but her personality leaves a lot to be desired most of the time.

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  2. Good comments, thanks. I wanted to write more about Jeckie & Brainy's scene, but in the end I didn't quite understand what was going on, so I didn't. You think she's threatening him with bodily harm? Maybe. For sure she is "coming on strong," which was great.

    I know a lot of people like Lightning Lass, and she was one of my favorites for awhile, but, yeah, Dreamy is definitely calling her an idiot. Then she herself is shown to not know the first thing about how electricity works. So....I chalked it all up to bad writing, haha.

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  3. Aw. I love the Baxter series. One of my favorite Legion runs.

    Projectra is definitely...well, I wouldn't say threatening Braniac, but definitely warning him. There is also the subtle sound effect while she is holding his hand.

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