Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #49

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #49 (Aug, 1988)
title: "A Time To Live"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Pat Broderick
inker: Mike DeCarlo
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger 
cover: Ken Steacy
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Sensor Girl, Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, Dawnstar, White Witch, Wildfire, Polar Boy, Lightning Lass, Sun Boy, Magnetic Kid, Element Lad, Shrinking Violet, Timber Wolf, Quislet, Invisible Kid, Shadow Lass, Dream Girl, Blok, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy

Duo Damsel, Rond Vidar

Starfinger, the threat of the Time Trapper

At the Legion HQ, Sensor Girl bursts into the Multi-Lab to confront Brainiac 5 and the other Conspirators. They refuse to admit to anything. Mon-El threatens her with violence if she doesn't  leave them alone. Suddenly, they are wracked by pain. Elsewhere, Phantom Girl and Dawnstar continue their argument about whether Phantom Girl was right to not contact Chameleon Boy when she had the chance. Suddenly, they, too, are attacked.
Out in space, Polar Boy's team almost crashes when they, too, are attacked. Luckily, Sun Boy is able to activate their cruiser's auto-pilot.

Somewhere, Starfinger is watching, but the only Legionnaire who is caught on-camera shrugs the pain off as indigestion. Angry, he sends Starlight and Starbright to bring him Dr. Hazeg. As the designer of the death ray attuned to the Legionnaires' flight rings, he is directly responsible for them not being dead. Desperate, the mad scientist begs for one more day to attune the death ray frequency more strongly.
At Legion HQ, after the pain subsides Saturn Girl asks for calmness, then explains "the Conspiracy." After Superboy's funeral, three members found themselves on Shanghalla. Embittered and angry, they swore to kill the Time Trapper for what he had done to them. Then, Duo Damsel joined them, and the Conspiracy turned into four. Sensor Girl doesn't press the issue, but she knows that the rest of the oath is to kill the Time Trapper or die trying, rather than risk the lives of the others.
Sensor Girl then travels to somewhere on Earth and asks a "dead man" to come back to life.

In the Multi-Lab, Brainiac 5 is ready to admit defeat. In the most emotional scene Brainy has ever played he collapses in frustration, unable to see a way to break through the time barrier. Suddenly, Rond Vidar enters the lab, telling the Legionnaires that there is a way.

Near Mars, Chameleon Boy and Colossal Boy are finally alone and can plot strategy. Colossal Boy admits that he took on the Dr. Hazeg identity in order to rescue his friend. Cham knows that he can escape at any time, but doesn't know how to escape with Colossal Boy.
The next day, Starfinger has finally (!) had enough. He confronts Dr. Hazeg and then realizes that he is in fact Colossal Boy. He blasts him and Chameleon Boy immediately, and swears to take down the Legion as well.

FINALLY, something starts to happen with both The Conspiracy plot and with Starfinger. And the art by Pat Broderick is like a breath of fresh air. As my mother used to say, "now we're cooking with gas!"

Let's talk about The Conspiracy first. We had learned only bits of the story in the last few issues, but here we learn it all: the reason these four came together, and the specific plot (to kill the Time Trapper). Going back and re-reading the earlier issues, you could argue that the Conspirators spoke a bit more sinisterly than they really should have (i.e., "We'll be successful in our vow whether the Legion is destroyed or not!" etc.), but I guess that's dramatic license. Here the emotions are on center stage. I'm a sucker for scenes of men crying, so to see the tear run down Brainiac 5's cheek, and Mon-El covering his face with his hand, really got to me. Later, the utter frustration that Brainiac 5 faces is heart-wrenching.

However, I wonder about the choice of these characters as Conspirators. Mon-El and Duo Damsel I absolutely agree with; they loved Superboy and would want revenge. Brainiac 5, I guess, took what the Time Trapper did as a personal affront, so there is the hatred there. But Saturn Girl? I would think Cosmic Boy or Ultra Boy would feel more strongly about wanting revenge on the Time Trapper than she would. And in the course of the story, she says that she and Brainy were acting as "honor guards" after the funeral. Surely Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad would have been with them? It just seems strange to include her, in lieu of some other members. What do others think?

As for the Starfinger plot, this guy is definitely not a rocket scientist. On the one hand it's good to see that this crime boss is totally not a criminal genius. On the other hand, it's hard to believe that the Legion has had this much trouble taking him down! In fact, why couldn't Chameleon Boy have taken him down on his own before he was blasted on page 25? Seems to me Starfinger is all talk and little action.

Besides that, Colossal Boy's idea to help his friend is incredibly foolish. Cham should have put Dr. Hazeg on a rocket-ship off of Mars immediately, and then maybe taken Dr. Hazeg's place? SOMETHING should have happened between these two friends. This part of the story was not well plotted at all.

Hopefully, the conclusion of both of these story-lines will be satisfactory.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The credits on the cover incorrectly claims Bob Smith as the inker instead of Mike DeCarlo.
  • Mon-El somehow loses his shirt between pages 2 and 3.
  • Duo Damsel claims that one of her bodies is buried on Shanghalla; however, this is not true. Her third body was totally obliterated by Computo in Adventure Comics #340. The Legion created a cenotaph in her honor instead because there was nothing left to be buried.    
  • Element Lad mistakenly refers to Timber Wolf as Ultra Boy on page 15....or Ultra Boy is mistakenly colored as Timber Wolf. Element Lad himself is missing his Interlac "E" symbol on his uniform in this scene. 
  • The Starfinger part of this story is continued in Legion of Super-Heroes Annual (v2) #4 (1988). 
  • This is the second time in Legion history for Pat Broderick to hand over the artistic reigns to Keith Giffen (next issue). 
This story has not yet been reprinted.  

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