Friday, February 5, 2016

Threeboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #3

Recap: The 30th century is a place of complete calm and peace, of sterile security. Shaking up that safe ennui are the Standing Legion of Super-Heroes, a progressive youth movement with a front-facing group of powered individuals. With their political power rivaling their super-heroics, the Legion is disliked by the authorities, including the United Planets, the Science Police, and planetary leaders. Faced with a Dream Girl vision of an intergalactic war, the Legion is deciding what the next steps to take. Do they rock the boat even more?

Legion of Super-Heroes #3 was another brick in the foundation of the this new reboot of the team. And it is evident from the cover that this is another character driven issue with the focus on Triplicate Girl. Last issue, writer Mark Waid craftily concentrated on Dream Girl and moved along the first key plot of the book, the upcoming interplanetary war. We might have some 'muscle memory' of these Legionnaires but these are new characters. I might know Cosmic Boy, but I don't necessarily know this one.

I think this is brilliant of Waid. We need to learn who these Legionnaires are. So why not focus on one at a time, introducing us slowly to this team. This issue Waid gives us a lot of back story of Triplicate Girl but has her interacting with a number of other Legionnaires as well. In this way, we get some inkling of their personalities as well.

This had to be a daunting task for Waid. He needed to teach us all about a new Legion and not have it be a monthly Legion:Spotlight issue all while having a big plot run through. But he made things even tougher on himself by adding internal conflict in the team. There was no rest for weary Legion fans. We were thrown into the deep end of a new Legion.

Luckily, Waid has Barry Kitson on art who brings a completely bright and polished look to the proceedings. I think Kitson is brilliant. He brings some vitality to these young characters, they all look unique, and his expressive work is wonderful.

The issue starts with Triplicate Girl in action, capturing a terrorist who is stuck in the burning building he has just bombed. The alien laughs at Triplicate Girl saying her power is pathetic.

To show it isn't true, she tosses him from the window while dangling from its ledge. And then, using her powers, makes a human chain to catch him so he doesn't fall to his death.

It is nice splash page because even though this is happening in a split second, we are given three panels. We know some action is happening, that is the fission of Luorno. And we see the man in different stages of falling that lets us know that time has passed.

But this emphasizes a point I think, that while all Luorno, each version is a different character deserving its own panel. very nice. It also shows us that this Triplicate Girl is fearless, hanging from a burning building with a gun in her face, she is still icy cool.

After that opening sequence we see that Element Lad is gearing up for a date with ... Triplicate Girl. He is looking at old comic books for advice on the culture of dating and gets some advice from Phantom Girl. Again, Waid is using the focus of Triplicate Girl as a hook to give us more information about the team.

Element Lad seems a little naive and a little offput by the mores of Earth. On Trom they walk around naked.

We also hear about Atom Girl, a tiny female Legionnaire that is shy and is unseen to the point people aren't sure she exists. So now we know a version of Violet is here.

Lastly, I like the costumes here. Jan's looks like a stage magician's and is covered with alchemical symbols, perfect for his powers. And Tinya's is a nice updating of the Cockrum classic.

Out on the date, Luorno tells some of her origin. She awoke on Cargg and discovered she was somehow the only survivor of some planet-wide holocaust. There was nothing but ruins and wild. And she had no recollection of anything before.

Roaming the world, she is confronted by a wild animal, and in desperation to survive, she somehow was able to split herself into three and scare it off. So in this continuity, not all Carggites could separate. And in fact, Luornu is the last Carggite.

But things get even wilder. She discovers that she can fission even more. She creates a planet of herself each of which reads and learns how to rebuild the planet. And when she fuses again, she has all the knowledge. She is more like Multiplex or Madrox. Interesting.

This reveal spurs Jan to reveal more about himself. Trommites can transmute only the materials they can touch. And even after transmutation, if nothing has been done to the object, it reverts to it's natural state. That is a major depowering of Jan.

But Waid keeps the sort of spiritualism we have come to expect in Jan, keeping him familiar. Jan talks of being in the Legion to be a spirtual duty as the team is a force of change. Interesting.

The threat of Dream Girl's vision becomes a bit more concrete as Cos and Brainy receive a message from the fringes of UP space. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are investigating a UP rimworld which has been attacked.

The two leaders of the team have an intense and heated discussion. Brainiac thinks a squad of Legionnaires should head out there as reinforcements and expand the investigation. Cos thinks they should plan more, trying to avoid the war all together. He orders Brainy to keep working.

But things aren't all rose petals. Someone in the shadows (Shady) has been listening and seems to agree with Querl. There is inner tension in this team.

Next we see Luorno out on a date with Sun Boy. Unlike the solitude of Jan's date on a remote island, Sun Boy brings them out in public where he signs autographs among fans. The two play a bit of role play about discovering super-heroes secret identities and we even meet Cham who is the butt of a joke.

Sun Boy talks about his reasons for being in the Legion. While he believes in everything Cosmic Boy espouses, he was pushed into joining by his parents. This sort of attention-grabbing Sun Boy with no underlying convictions sounds very similar to the Dirk we got in the 5YL world, again familiar but different.

As for Luornu, Cargg was approached by the UP and she sent three delegates off with that ship to learn of the world around her. The remaining duplicates continued their lives on Cargg. She ended up joining the Legion to meet more people and learn even more.

The last date we see is Triplicate Girl out with Ultra Boy. He is a classic sort of Jo, buzzing his car down air highways with the top down and generally having a good time. He describes himself as 'not complicated'. He likes having fun and being a super-hero. There isn't much behind his facade. He certainly isn't living his Legion life for political reasons.

Later, back at the headquarters, the two kiss and Jo asks Luornu to use her powers. He is hoping for a menage a quatre.

She says she is using her powers!

It turns out that these dates, which I assumed were happening at different times, are happening concurrently. All three dates run into each other in the headquarters.

Flummoxed, confused, and maybe a bit upset, the three boys run away.

It is a funny moment.

We then learn that Triplicate Girl returned to Cargg after joining the Legion only to be shunned by the other duplicates there. No one wanted to fuse with them because they had been so changed by their experiences. The ideas and concepts (I assume of social progression and freedoms, the theme of this book) was so radical, that this Luornu was left alone. That bottom panel is great, showing us that isolation.

And so Triplicate Girl returned to her new family, the Legion.

Waid gives us one last plot turn that makes this issue that much greater.

It turns out that Triplicate Girl is loyal to Cosmic Boy and his credo. She went out on these dates to get a feeling for the team's dynamics. Brilliant? Disingenuous? Both? The fact that Luornu would do this shows her respect for Cos.

It is clear that not everyone is behind the cause. The team is fractured. And there are probably two (if not more) factions, a Cosmic Boy group and a Brainiac 5 group. Interesting.

I can remember liking but not loving the Threeboot when it came out. But reading it again, now critically, I think this beginning was daring. Waid has to juggle reestablishing the team and reintroducing us to its members, all while freshening things up. Throwing in a major plot, an intergalactic war, is a great way to get us up to speed. But throwing in a disassembled Legion? Brilliant.

I wonder if, after reviewing the book, I'll like it even more?

1 comment:

  1. This issue was my first look at the threeboot legion, and it did not disappoint. One issue was all it took for me to find Luornu more interesting and complex than I ever had before.

    Also, Barry Kitson is the man, and every time this book hit the shelves without his art I was a little sadder...