Sunday, January 31, 2016

5YL: Legionnaires #7

Legionnaires #7 (October 1993)
title: "Devils in the Deep"
writers: Tom & Mary Bierbaum
penciller: Adam Hughes
inker: Mark Farmer
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Eddie Berganza & Mike McAvennie
editor (Flipper): KC Carlson
cover: Adam Hughes
reviewer: Siskoid

Mission Monitor Board:  
Andromeda, Apparition, Brainiac 5 (SW6), Ferro, Inferno, Invisible Kid (SW6), Matter-Eater Lad (SW6), Saturn Girl (SW6), Shrinking Violet (SW6), Triad, Ultra Boy (SW6)

Atlanteans (Tritonians), Keiki, her parents, Newlin, his parents, Science Police


Previously, the Legionnaires have just fought the new Fatal Five AND Mordru's army of the dead. They're due for some rest & relaxation.

Several Legionnaires go on vacation in the Atlantis Dome, which has recently opened its doors to tourism after centuries of isolationism. As the sole underwater dwellers on New Earth, however, things have changed. And are still changing. Somewhere in the adjoining Marsala Dome, an Atlantean child is taken by a scaly webbed hands.
Almost on arrival, Inferno falls in love with Keiki, the daughter of the innkeeper who owns the resort at which the Legionnaires are staying. They'll end up spending a lot of time together. Brainiac 5 and Andromeda start off on the wrong foot, fighting over her revealing bathing suit, but eventually make up. Ultra Boy and Apparition have no such problems. Matter-Eater Lad, meanwhile, tries to tell Shrinking Violet how he feels about her, but she only sees him as a friend.
Their vacation is interrupted by fighting between armed but untrained Atlantean forces and lizard-like "Devil-Fish". The Legionnaires tolerate neither side, as the Altanteans are careless and dangerous, and the Devil-Fish clearly hostile. Brainiac 5 quickly masters the latter's language, however, and clears up the misunderstanding. An alien species taking refuge on Earth now for centuries but never showing itself, the Devil-Fish had no way to know what was happening when Earth exploded, and these few survivors believe the Atlanteans wiped out their kind.
The Legionnaires thank their host for his hospitality and leave the Dome more peaceful than they left it, and don't catch the innkeeper's pained expression. It's the girls who figure out that they should have paid their bill and that Legionnaires don't necessarily ride for free as the boys seemed to think. Going back to settle the bill, they find Keiki crying because her father will lose his business for financial reasons. Not without some bickering, the Legionnaires figure out who owes what and save the poor man from bankruptcy, even if it costs some of them their duty allowance for the next few years.

I love the concept behind these downtime issues of the Legion. They still provide a little action, but focus on personalities, on the loves and lives of the Legionnaires, which has long been an important part of the franchise - possibly because it has such a large cast. The 90s creative teams were particularly good at differentiating the characters, so these issues do shine. And if you're not going to have Chris Sprouse on hand, you could do a damn sight worse than Adam Hughes to draw both cheesecake and beefcake in bathing suits and tropical locales. Hughes also allows himself cartoony touches like hair standing on end or glasses popping off a character's face during a double take, so it exudes charm.
But while I love the concept, I do think the execution is a little lacking in this case. The Devil-Fish stuff is slim, but it's background. It doesn't have to be much more than that. It does leave us with the question of what happened to Newlin, the child taken by the Devil-Fish in the first few pages. I'd feel a lot better about the peace brokered by Brainy if if were clear that they didn't kill a child. (Do like how he uses his 5th level intelligence to learn a language in seconds though.)

But the bit I don't think works is the comedy surrounding the Legion's lack of payment. It's great as a punchline, don't get me wrong. The portrayal of the Tritonians as 19th-Century Japanese innkeepers takes on its full meaning when they would rather go out of business than make the Legionnaires lose face, and the way the spendthrifts get some no-nonsense tough love from the girls is great. But it's not much of a punchline if a sensible character like Triad (one of her anyway) or Violet ask about what the vacation costs every couple pages. It really doesn't need to be telegraphed.

And while this is meant to be a more wholesome Legion than the hardened adults' in the other book, it does exist in that universe and is written by the same writer. So while the party doesn't get as orgiastic as the one Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #3, the Bierbaums can't stop themselves from dropping some major double entendres, some of them fairly lewd.
That's not even going into the various racial slurs the Legionnaires use on Atlanteans for "amusing" effect. I don't think it's right. "Sea monkeys"?

It's interesting to see Inferno in what could amount to a real relationship, undeterred by Keiki being not just from another culture, but imbued onto an opposite element. But will we stay in this reality long enough to see if if works out or if she's just his one-time "vacation girlfriend"? Status: Not yet redeemed. Violet's relationship to Devlin almost comes out of left field without the other series to put it into context, so phasing him out in favor of Tenzil is a good idea. She's at least open to the idea (as am I), not that she'd tell him that. Status: Developing.
Science Police Notes:  
  • The credits for this issue run at the bottom of the first few pages instead of all at once in a credits box as is usual.
  • The tourist attraction in Marsala Dome called Atlantic Park takes its sign's font from Jurassic Park's.
  • Shrinking Violet references her "long-distance boyfriend", Devlin O'Ryan, currently a member of the other Legion.
  • This issue features a very rare appearance of Atlantis in the 30th century. The surviving Atlanteans are fish-tailed Tritonians, Lori Lemaris' people, not Aquaman's.
  • The Devil-Fish appeared once before, all the way back in Superboy #202 (1974), in the Legion story "Wrath of the Devil-Fish!".

The issue starts a tradition with the so-called "Archie Legion", carried over from the SW6 Legion to the Reboot Legion of nearly annual "downtime" issues where the Legionnaires relax, indulge in character development and focus on romance rather than action.


  1. It was cool they used one of the non-human cities of the DCU in this future-lifeboat. I was always hoping they'd mention Gorilla City was one of them as well.

  2. "the Bierbaums can't stop themselves from dropping some major double entendres, some of them fairly lewd."

    I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, they're teenagers. On the other hand, they're teenagers. Granted, they all shouldn't that randy, but given different cultures and races, some of them should be.