Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #50

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #50 (Sept, 1988)
title: "Life and Death And The End of Time"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller/co-plotter: Keith Giffen
inker: Mike DeCarlo
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger 
cover: Ken Steacy
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Mon-El, Saturn Girl;
Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf, Element Lad, Dream Girl, Sun Boy, Quislet, Shrinking Violet, Shadow Lass, Sensor Girl, Polar Boy, White Witch, Tellus

Guests: 
Rond Vidar, Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy, Circadia Senius

Opponents: 
The Time Trapper, The Infinite Man


Synopsis: 
On Earth, Ultra Boy and Timber Wolf go to the Time Institute to pick up a time cube from Circadia Senius. Element Lad, Sun Boy, and Dream Girl are on another errand for Brainiac 5. Dream Girl is scared to foresee the future.
In the Multi-Lab, Brainiac 5 tries to find out from Rond Vidar how he managed to survive being killed by his father, Universo. He isn't talking. Saturn Girl and Mon-El are also concerned about who or what Rond is, but there is nothing they can do about him at this late stage.
The next day, while only a few Legionnaires are present,  Dream Girl brings in the comatose body of Professor Jaxon Rugarth. Brainiac 5 is planning on using him to fight the Time Trapper. White Witch strongly objects to this plan.
Dream Girl, Brainiac 5, and Polar Boy argue the case to use him, but she disagrees, quitting in a huff (and a puff of smoke) .
As the Legion prepares for the signal to depart into the time stream, the four Conspirators (and Rond Vidar) suddenly disappear on their own, leaving the others behind.
The four Conspirators and Rond arrive at The End of Time. The Time Trapper mind-wipes Saturn Girl, batters Mon-El, and destroys one of Duo Damsel's bodies. Rond reveals himself to be a Green Lantern and is able to fight off the Time Trapper somewhat. Brainiac 5 laughs at the Time Trapper, then flips a switch and the Infinite Man joins the battle, too.
Although the Time Trapper is the living incarnation of Time as Finite, the Infinite Man is the living incarnation of Time as Infinite. They battle each other, to the death of both.
Using the automatic return device and his power ring, Rond Vidar is able to will all of them back to their present. At The End of Time, the Time Trapper is gone.
Commentary: 
Although there is a lot going for this story, in the end I think it is a victim of too much too little too complicated.

For one thing, the idea that Rond Vidar is a Green Lantern is a great idea, but it comes totally out of left field. There was never any clue that he had any "side job" and the idea that he didn't die two years ago when he was supposed to have just seems off somehow. Even allowing for that, is he so brilliant that he is able to fix whatever Brainiac 5 had wrong in just one issue? This seems awfully convenient.

This issue tries to re-position the Time Trapper as some sort of Cosmic Deity in the Galactus mode. If he was always as powerful as he is shown to be here, how in the world did he not manage to destroy the Legion before this? I'm specifically thinking of when he fought them in Legionnaires Three and in the Cosmic Boy mini-series. If he is able to blink out one of the Duo Damsel's bodies, he seems to be much more powerful than he was shown to be before. The Legion, especially only four of them, really had no chance at defeating him.

Which brings us to the Infinite Man. The idea of having him fight the Time Trapper was truly inspired. Their cosmic battle truly seemed important. The last few pages where they face off against each other were the best of the book.

Keith Giffen does a great job, of course. His Metropolis and Legion HQ scenes are fantastically detailed, and his End of Time scenes are especially barren. I question some of his specific artistic choices, such as the 2-page spread on pp 28-29 (of....what? the universe?), his blank space when Time Trapper attacks Saturn Girl, and his full-page "You Dare!" on page 33, but overall he knows what he is doing.  As I mentioned the battle between the Time Trapper and the Infinite Man is fantastic. A tip of the hat to colorist Carl Gafford, as well, who paints everything beautifully.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Ultra Boy changes his uniform in this story by adding a jacket to his traditional uniform. It's a hint of things to come.
  • Although it appears that Polar Boy knows that the Conspirators are ready to travel through time, he has not called the entire membership back to Earth in preparation.
  • Bouncing Boy appears at Legion HQ for no particular reason. Clearly, Duo Damsel wanted him there to say good-bye, but no kiss or final scene was shown between them (or between Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, or Mon-El and Shadow Lass). The latter two did not appear in this story at all. 
  • Bouncing Boy now sports a mustache. 
  • Duo Damsel is shown with two different colored eyes for the first time in her existance. 
Status: 
This story has not yet been reprinted.  

Milestone: 
This story features the resignation of White Witch, the death of Duo Damsel's second body, and the return of penciller/co-plotter Keith Giffen. It also features the possible death of the Time Trapper and the Infinite Man, although villains are notoriously harder to kill than heroes. 

5 comments:

  1. I was going to say "I have mixed feelings about this story", but hell no, I have to say I love it.
    I understand how Rond's appearance is a big WTF, but I love the concept of him as a GL and that suit, oh boy.
    Also, I like how bad things turn out to be, even when the Legion "wins". Mon is hurt, Luournu dead once again, the Legion fabric torn apart, and then Brainy's trial around the corner.
    Giffen, god, I love everything that he brings here. Design (Rond, again; Chuck´s ´stache; Jo´s jacket).
    He was in his Maguire phase here, as seen in the faces, too bad DeCarlo screws him over with those thick, clumsy lines.

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    1. Clearly you are a bigger Giffen fan than I. ;-)

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  2. So, if the Trapper is Dead now, the Iron Curtain of Time must be down and the Legion/Time Institute should be able to go and visit their future...yet nobody seems remotely interested in actually doing that.

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    1. Good point.I hadn't thought of that. A few issues later Brainy wants to do experiments on time and is told No.

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  3. Rond Vidar as a Green Lantern was a brilliant idea. Too bad he wasn't utilized much in this role before being killed off in Legion of 3 Worlds mini-series.

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