Friday, October 2, 2015

5YL: Legion of Super-Heroes #54

Recap: The Legion has gone through significant changes since the end of the Mordru war. Members have left. New members have joined. And after a battle, many of the team members were effected by Glorith's time magic. But things aren't about the get easier, the UP thinks the team are in cahoots with the Khunds. And Glorith has disappeared, apparently killed by someone who knew an awful lot about the Time Trapper...

Legion of Super-Heroes #54 continues the current transformation of this title into something completely new. The Giffen/Bierbaums era of this title ended about a year and half earlier. The Bierbaum solo era of this title last about a year. And now we are fully enmeshed in the Tom McCraw era as writer on this title. As if the topsy-turvy new universe of the 5YL wasn't enough of a change, McCraw, in just a couple of issues, grabbed the book and wrung it into the shape he wanted it to be in. Between the fallout of the Mordru war, the Glorith battle, and the revelations of this issue, we are starting a brand new direction. And DC took advantage of this fresh feeling, giving the book a 90's special cover (silver inked, and cut out window showing the underlying cover), as well as branding it 'The 1st Issue of a Brand New Era!'

And things do get very different from here on out. Those characters on the cover are the Legionnaires although you might not recognize them. That's Laurel in the red poncho, Jo in the green body suit and shoulder pad, and Celeste as the green energy being. They are undercover and on the run from the UP!

You don't have such a condensed upheaval of a title if things were firing on all cylinders. There is a sense as I read this that the writing might have been on the wall for McCraw. Recreate this book and bring in readers or the death knell of cancellation was going to toll. So why not cash in on the anti-hero zeitgeist of the time and make the Legion renegades. It is almost too much to grasp too quickly. After the slow burn of the early issues, this feels like warp 10.

As always, Stuart Immonen is a star on this book. Everything just looks gorgeous.
Nothing says change like a opening text page.

Unfortunately, Time's Change text is gold ink, font 'microscopic', written on a starry sky. It is basically unreadable.

I do like the odd typeface for 'Change'.

But the thing about this issue is that after months of flux, I think McCraw and the team finally have the book where they want it.
The book opens on Baaldur in the immediate aftermath of the battle. Remember Devlin had used his Reflecto power to fire her temporal magic back at her. And then, in some shadowy realm, Glorith got a lecture from someone on time streams and pocket universe before being killed by the unseen speaker.

But there is a lot of fallout. Kent Shakespeare has become a kid. Brainy is now elderly. Mysa and Devlin are now teenagers. Ayla has been de-aged by about 5 years. And Celeste has been killed.

Or has she?

Suddenly a green energy being rises from Celeste's corpse. This is Celeste, composed of the green energy she was wielding.

Even now, the current team has a sudden new dynamic. Will this sudden changes in age add a new dynamic to this team?

The team heads to the Quarantine medical center to see if Brainy can figure out a 'cure' for this age. But there is no cure for this. Whatever age Glorith made them is now the new reality.

Brainy is so ancient, he needs a exoskeleton to help him move around. He also has deduced that Celeste's body basically died when she first absorbed the green energy (way back when Roxxas attacked her in the first year!). The green energy kept her body alive and functioning to give the illusion of life. But when Glorith aged her body, even the green energy couldn't sustain it. Now she exists in her true form, a being of pure energy.
This change in age of some members is going to shake up the already changing roster.

Kent and Devlin are felt to be too young to be on the team. They will stay on Quarantine.

And we finally get just a little blurb about Rokk's 'power gauntlets', devices used to amp up the little magnetic power he still has. Brainy wants to run tests when they get back to Talus.
Wildfire and Spider Girl reluctantly join the team. Jo wants to leave the team to search for Tinya throughout time and space. But things get even crazier when the cruiser nears the Talus headquarters. The United Planets have put up a blockade, awaiting the Legion's arrival so they can be arrested as traitors. And, surprisingly, the Subs are part of that blockade.

Despite having the heavy hitters of Laurel, Jo, Wildfire, and now Celeste, the team is captured.
The team is brought to Weber's world where a brief hearing is held and the team is thrown into prison.

The people in the crowd are, for the most part, frenzied, calling not only for the team to be disbanded but for the members to be executed.

And there in the background is Universo. We have seen his cloying touch influencing things since Terra Mosaic. It isn't a surprise that he is still nudging things along for his benefit.
What is surprising is that it seems like Universo is the pawn of someone else. Invisible Kid, not implicated in the 'traitorous activities' eavesdrops on Universo and hears him speaking about secret deals.

Universo working for someone else? Who could be big enough to convince a megalomaniac like Universo to bow his head?

One thing I will say about this new direction, there is little time to ponder these sorts of questions. McCraw puts his foot on the gas and keeps it there.

I wish I could know what was being said in editorial meetings at this time. Did DC basically say that this book needed a complete overhaul in tone and style?
Jacques being free does mean that he can help out. He is able to help the team escape their cells leading to a great 'prison break' sequence. The Legionnaires pound and smash their way to the hangar where Loomis is ready with an escape ship. His references sound a lot like Han Solo talking about the Millennium Falcon.

One change I do like is the change in leadership on the team. Let's face it, as much as I love him, Rokk hasn't been portrayed as a leader since Giffen left the book. Mostly we have seen him sulk on Talus. With the need for clear direction during this escape, Vi takes over.

Rokk doesn't like it. In fact, his sullen attitude is very much a new take on this venerable hero.
 The last refuge for our scoundrel heroes to head to is Rimbor where Jo still has some safe houses.

Now on the run and well known, the team will need to change their appearance. Laurel can fly around in her tiny leotard anymore. It is too conspicuous. So a braid, head wrap, goggles, and giant Laurel Kent-style poncho makes her unrecognizable.

And Mysa? Well after her tortured life, she has decided that the best way for her too look different is to be very conspicuous. In her now nubile young body, she decides to use feminine wiles as much as magic to get men around her to listen.

Was the red poncho of Laurel Gand an homage to the red poncho of Laurel Kent? I sure hope so.

But this sudden flirtatious attitude of Mysa given her history of abuse makes my skin crawl just a bit. Is she over-compensating? Is she still damaged psychologically?
The rest of the team soon follows suit.

Rokk dons the red and black body suit seen on the cover. Armed with his gauntlets and a big angry chip on his shoulder, this is a different Cosmic Boy than I am used to.

Wildfire gets a new suit from Brainy, a sturdier one to protect his 'body' better. Hmmmm .... what body? This *is* Wildfire, right?

But, in essence, the Legionnaires are now criminals. They will need to operate from the shadows and try to figure out what is happening in the UP.

Whew ... talk about a whirlwind of an issue.

As I said last month, I have to tip my hat to McCraw and Immonen for so rapidly changing this book into something completely different. It certainly doesn't have the gravitas of the earliest issues of this title but it is a wild ride.


  1. You would think that the Legionnaires, whenever they are outlawed, imprisoned, or on the run from the law, would immediately suspect Universo, since that's basically all he does.

    That *IS* Wildfire... mostly.

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