Monday, January 18, 2016

The Lighting Saga (chapter 4): JSA (v3) #6

Justice Society of America (v3) # 6
Title: “The Lightning Saga, Part Four: Three Worlds”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Dale Eaglesham
Inker: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Jeremy Cox
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Reviewer: Myk-El

The Justice League has teamed up with the Justice Society to locate seven lost Legionnaires, who have come back from the future on a mission so secret even they don’t know what it is.  Or at least not until Karate Kid, Starman, Dream Girl, Wildfire, Timber Wolf, and Dawnstar come together. Turns out they all volunteered to sacrifice themselves to “bring him back.” Oh, and did I mention they’ll be using some very familiar lightning rods. Before we can find out any more, Dawnstar announces that she knows where to find the last Legionnaire.
At Justice League headquarters, our present-day heroes are trying to figure out why the Legionnaires disappeared so suddenly, after their flight rings disabled the security system (in Justice League of America # 9). 

Power Girl is confused by their actions. Superman explains how time travel can play havoc with memory. As an example, he cites “The Legion of Three Worlds,” an adventure which none of the participants can recall what actually happened. More on that later.

As Superman fondles one of the lightning rods the Legionnaire left behind, Wildcat asks if he knows what it is.  
Cue split-screen flashback of Lightning Lad’s resurrection from Adventure Comics (v1) #312. 

Cut to the Legionnaires flying through the night sky. Karate Kid regrets not telling Superman what they are doing. Dawnstar reminds him that it’s too dangerous, especially if Superman were to follow them back to the future.  Okay, that doesn’t sound ominous at all.

The Legionnaires descend into a swamp where their teammate is hiding. Unfortunately, they’re not alone. The Justice League and the Justice Society have already tracked a flight ring signal to the same location.
Turns out the last Legionnaire is being held in the abandoned headquarters of the Legion of Doom from the 70s Super Friends cartoon. Of course, copyright laws being what they are, Wonder Woman says it belongs to the Secret Society of Super Villains.  

Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to.

Black Lightning blasts the door open, and three silhouetted figures in capes and skirts appear. Ok, now I’m confused. What’s Triplicate Girl doing here?

Liberty Belle checks in with Power Girl, who informs her that the other Legionnaires have gone AWOL. Power Girl tells her to stay put. The others are on their way to her location.

At first, Luornu seems scattered. Then, she pulls herself together. Literally. At which point, it’s down to business. She tells the heroes that she and the other Legionnaires were sent back in time to stop the rise of an evil A.I. 

Cue the awakening of Computo, in all his Silver Age glory. Let the extermination commence. 

Sprouting numerous cybernetic tentacles, Computo ensnares Wonder Woman and Liberty Belle. Temporarily, at least. Hourman rescues his wife. Diana proves once again why she’s the Amazing Amazon, breaking free all by herself. Triplicate Girl orders them outside, where they are joined by the Legionnaires, as well as the remaining members of the Justice League/Society. 

Cue double page extravaganza of the combined heroes’ epic battle against Computo.

(click to enbiggen)
But, everything is not as it appears. While the present day heroes duke it out with Computo, the Legionnaires secretly block Green Lantern’s ring from communicating with him to keep him, and by extension his teammates, from sensing the truth. 

Then, Dawnstar flies into the wreck and locates a white-gloved figure, hidden in the shadows, and wearing a flight ring. One magic word later, Dawnstar and “Princess” disappear into the swamp, along with the rest of the Legionnaires.

That’s right, folks! The seventh Legionnaire is none other than the former Queen of Orando, and mistress of sensory perception: SENSOR GIRL!

That’s when the penny drops.  Triplicate Girl, Computo, the attack—it was all an illusion. Superman realizes it first, of course. X-Ray vision and all that.

Cut to the Legionnaires flying through the night sky. As lightning flashes behind them, the seven of them say their goodbyes. Then, they all fly off in different directions.

As much as I liked seeing Triplicate Girl (and I did!), her appearance in this issue really threw me. For several reason, the first of which being her outfit. It marks her as being from a much earlier period than the other Legionnaires. By the time Wildfire and Dawnstar had joined the team, she’d already donned a new outfit, and new name: Duo Damsel. As for the others, they’re wearing uniforms designed by the late-great Dave Cockrum. Even Timber Wolf, who seems to have reverted back to his beastly appearance. 

Speaking of Cockrum, there’s a cute moment when, after noticing his costume, Luornu asks Black Lightning if he is Lightning Lad. Dave Eaglesham does a great job on the art in this scene, really emphasizing her youth. Not only does she look like a sixteen-year-old, but she’s also a full head shorter than the adult heroes of the Justice League/Society. 

Computo also seemed a bit out of place. For one thing, if the Legion wanted to stop his creation, why send a team back to the 21st century? Wasn’t he created in the future? And didn’t he only have two metal arms? Since when could he sprout so many tentacle?

Needless to say, I was quite relieved and thrilled to find out that it was all an illusion. Though, I have to admit, Computo killing Luornu’s third body (again!) was a great way to tip off Superman, since he was there when it actually happened.

Now, there are two interesting bits of foreshadowing that I’d like to address. Let’s take them in order of appearance, shall we?

First up: “The Legion of Three Worlds.” According to Superman, this is a Legion adventure that, because of time travel shenanigans, none of the participants could remember what happened. Of course, neither can the reader. And there’s a very good reason for that, which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with time travel. 

Basically, it’s a retcon, inserted into Legion history by Geoff Johns as a way of explaining how the Reboot and Threeboot teams can coexist with the classic Pre-Crisis Legion. For those of you still scratching your heads, this whole mess will be cleared up in the Final Crisis mini-series by Johns, not-so-coincidentally titled, The Legion of Three Worlds. 

Don’t worry. We’ll get there. We just have to get through this one teensy-weensy little thing first.

Next up: Dawnstar’s ominous warning. Remember when she tells Karate Kid that they can’t tell Superman what they’re doing because they can’t risk him following them back to the future? “The future’s too dangerous for Superman now,” she says. Why? What’s happened to the 31st century?

The answers to these questions, and more, may be found in “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes.” I’ll be looking at this five-part storyline by Johns and Gary Frank, part of their critically acclaimed run on Action Comics, just as soon as we’re done with “The Lightning Saga.” 

Which, by the way, we will conclude next time in Justice League of America (v2) # 10. 


  1. I just recently finished rereading the Lightning Saga, and it's ... well, it's just not that good, divorced from the excitement of seeing the pre-reboot Legion's return to continuity. And the part of this issue I liked best at the time -- the introduction of the "Legion of Three Worlds" concept, which filled me with giddy excitement when I first read the phrase -- is now tempered somewhat by having read the "Legion of Three Worlds" miniseries. Nevertheless, this issue holds up as the best of the five parts of the Lightning Saga, if only for seeing Superman talk about how important being part of the the Legion had been to him. Prior to that point, the relationship between Superman and the Legion had always been focused on the former's importance to the latter. But Johns reversed that focus by having Superman explain how his Legion membership had been a crucial part of his development as a hero and as a person, and in so doing arguably made the Legion a more vital part of DC continuity that it ever had been before.

    1. I agree with you. This chapter was always my favorite, too. So much promise here that really wasn't delivered the next chapter, or ever, really.

  2. Was it ever fully explained how the Legion members in the Lightning Saga ended up in situations that were their fears? For example, Jeckie was cowering in fear, Karate Kid was a street thug, Dreamy was in chains and subservient, etc.. Was it just that time travel messes with your memory sometimes. I just assumed the Time Trapper had something to do with it when they went back in time. He placed them in scenarios that would be the antithesis of their character.

    1. Not that I know of. I don't remember ever reading an explanation for how or why this mission occurred.

  3. I thought that I had this issue, but I don't remember any of this synopsis! I had just started buying JSA. I stopped my regular collecting just after Crisis. Since then I've been collecting JSA and LSH appearances. I was the freakin' target audience for this story! But I didn't like it. It didn't compel me to buy the JLA parts of the story, and I couldn't glean who some of the chat eyes were or their relationships to others. The one on this cover, for instance. So, the issue before must have been my last. BTW, this is my first comment. I love this site! Now, I'll have to respond to Anj, Siskoid, and all the other fine super-bloggers!