Sunday, February 21, 2016

5YL: Legionnaires #12

Legionnaires #12 (March 1994)
title: "Street Justice"
writers: Tom & Mary Bierbaum
pencillers: Adam Hughes, Chris Sprouse, Chris Gardner
inkers: Karl Story, Dennis Cramer
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Chris Sprouse
reviewer: Siskoid

Mission Monitor Board:  
Alchemist, Andromeda, Catspaw, Chameleon, Computo II, Cosmic Boy (SW6), Dragonmage, Gossamer, Inferno, Invisible Kid (SW6), Kid Quantum, Leviathan, Live Wire, Matter Eater Lad (SW6), Saturn Girl (SW6), Shrinking Violet (SW6), Triad

Kono, Sadi, Tyroc, Science Police (Rinq); Durlan, Talokian and Dominator victims, doctors

Hykraine, Lothar St. Maixent (1st appearance), Parisian separatists, an angry mob

Previously... A team of Legionnaires have found Kid Quantum on Antares II, and Chameleon was eager to offer him a spot on the team, especially after a series of disastrous try-outs. In Acapulco dome, Cosmic Boy fights for his life after Live Wire's potentially fatal discharge hit him; the event has sent Live Wire and Saturn Girl's relationship into a tailspin. Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 was examining another victim of that discharge when he and his team disappeared in a rainbow blast. Just outside Paris Dome, Inferno and his date Sadi have been barred entry by mysterious giant chains.

The Legion holds a ceremony to induct Kid Quantum into the team, where Matter-Eater Lad's shenanigans make Computo and Chameleon want to teach him a good lesson. But first, they take in a meeting with New Earth's president who asks them to back up Inferno at Paris Dome, which has been taken over by a demagogue called Lothar St. Vincent, whose supporters have become a rampant mob out to kill all non-humans in their city. A team is dispatched, and though force can't break the chains that deny access to the dome, one of Triad's bodies is a fine lock picker.
As soon as they're inside, the Legionnaires are assailed at every turn by separatists in uniforms, and by angry mobs trying to hurt aliens. They rescue a Talosian from being burned at the stake, but then in trying to save a small Dominator female, they hit a snag. She thinks them part of the mob and uses a strange power on them that seems to make them turn into smoke... vanish!

Meanwhile, in Acapulco dome, Invisible Kid investigates the disappearance of Brainy's team and is almost sucked into a strange vortex in which he sees Gossamer. At the dome's Med-Lab, Saturn Girl uses her powers to give Cosmic Boy a mental boost that saves his life at a critical time. A jealous Live Wire complains about her ministrations, and the couple breaks up on the spot.
Computo is about to tell Matter-Eater Lad that he's been selected to infiltrate the Sklarian Raiders with Kono when he starts teasing her with a naked picture of her he took while she was in the shower. The girls gang up on this peeping tom, and he almost melts when he's told Kono is his new partner. The torture is only beginning...

Well, first of all, no matter what happens in the story, the book really needs to settle down on a single artist who can keep to deadlines. Asking the likes of Chris Gardner to do the lion's share of the action, possibly in a rush, just won't do. Even good artists would have a hard time competing with Sprouse and Hughes, but Gardner isn't ready for the big time here. His anatomy is all over the place, the panel layouts and actions are unclear, and I'm left puzzled by a number of scenes. What IS a Hykraine? Did Cham kill that guy? Why didn't Triad get hit in the head by the pot coming straight at her? And why does everyone think the Legionnaires have disappeared at the end when we can clearly see their forms?
Cool effect, I'll admit that, but a lot of the art leaves something to be desired. What about the writing? Well, the world-building is pretty solid. New Earth is inhabited by refugees who just saw their world destroyed, and who just went through a violent uprising against an alien occupier that had turned the planet into a fascist hell hole. No wonder it's easy to get them riled up. Lothar St. Vincent - no relation to Luthor, though he looks like a blond version of Luthor "Jr." - is a sort of Donald Trump, taking power by attacking alien minorities. If you know your Legion lore, he's obviously being backed by Grimbor the chain-master, and there are aliens among his troops, so... what's really going on? More to come.
The other problem facing New Earth is the food shortage, which is why Kono was called in. Those Sklarian Raiders have to stop hitting convoys meant for the struggling community. Partnering her with Matter-Eater Lad should result in some fun comedy, as both are trouble makers, but I do wish M-E Lad's character hadn't been assassinated this issue. It's fine that he's a goofball and that he makes jokes, even pranks, but turning him into a peeping tom who seeks to humiliate by brandishing Polaroids of his naked team mates? Come on now. I'm pretty sure this was as wrong in 1994 as it is today.
As for the relationship subplots, there's an intriguing bit where Sadi violently takes care of a Science Police officer Inferno flirted with... is that supposed to hint at a dark storyline between these two? And finally, FINALLY, Imra and Garth part ways. It feels like they've been having the same fight for several issues now, and I really hope they're really done. Live Wire is another character that's been pushed to the unredeemable pile lately, and I'm very eager to move on. Stop hinting at a Saturn Girl-Cosmic Boy relationship and do it already. There's also some flirting between one of Triad's bodies and Leviathan, but more to show how each of her three selves have different personalities, which is a fun wrinkle they're using more and more.

Not much movement on the Legionnaires that have vanished in Acapulco Dome - they simply seem to be in some alternative space - but the fact that Legionnaires in Paris Dome have ALSO been disappeared by an unusually powered, unnamed character (a clearly different occurrence) is an odd sort of repetition. Meh.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Kid Quantum is officially inducted into this version of the Legion.
  • Kid Quantum's stasis powers are shown to be more versatile than simply immobilizing foes. He can pacify enemies and turn them into sheep-like friends, and prevent a wounded person's health from deteriorating.
  • Presumably, the Hykraine is from Hykraius, as the creature seems to have similar yellow skin and big lips as Tellus, and breathes a green liquid, but its humanoid body type is completely atypical of the species. The proper term should be Hykraian.

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