Friday, February 12, 2016

Threeboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #4

Recap: The 30th century is a place of complete calm and peace, of sterile security. The Legion of Super-Heroes are young, super-powered progressives, working as well as they can to push their agenda while working with the authorities. They don't always see eye to eye. But the Legion have a large group of youths who follow their lead. And that youth movement carries political power, another concern for current leaders. Can the Legion co-exist? And how will a prophecy of an upcoming intergalactic war impact the Legion and who they ally themselves with?

Legion of Super-Heroes #4 continued the strong opening year for this new version of the old team. I have talked in the past about how Waid carefully walks a fine creative line. He slowly is reintroducing us to Legionnaires we know from before. These new Legionnaires are both familiar and fresh. Each issue of the book so far has focused primarily on one Legionnaire, letting us learn who they are and how they differ from prior incarnations. Each issue also seems to pick a couple of secondary Legionnaires to showcase a bit more than others. We learn a bit about these members, getting us up to speed on their motivations while not looking quite so closely. This issue we have a close look at Invisible Kid, who is again Lyle Norg (and not Jacques Foccart). And we have glimpses at Cham and Phantom Girl.

I have to give Waid credit. There is an stellar war on the horizon. The politics of this new future are fascinating. And he is able to keep those stories moving along by telling pieces of those stories while feeding us information about our team.

Art this issue is done by Leonard Kirk, who I know very well from a long run on Supergirl. His art is clean and somewhat evocative of Barry Kitson (if not as distinctive). There are nice fight scenes, showing us the Legion in action. There is a back-up feature discussing Phantom Girl and art there is done by Dave Gibbons. So that is a nice plus.


The issue starts out with a group of Legionnaires visiting Sun Boy's parents apartment. As we learned last issue, Sun Boy joined the Legion at the prompting of his parents.

In the past Sun Boy has been portrayed as a narcissist. Looking at his parents' house, I can see how that feeling might carry over into this threeboot version. The Morgna's house is basically a Sun Boy museum with statues, tapestries, and holos celebrating their famous sun.

We don't necessarily know this Sun Boy. We don't know his origin. We have only seen a bit of his personality. But this scene certainly added some background to him.

The time away from duty is cut short when the Science Police crash the premises to arrest the team. In fact, the headquarters is inundated with calls for back-up from all Legionnaires. The Science Police are trying to arrest every Legionnaire for violating a clause called 101.72

We have seen in the early issues that this Legion is definitely an independent body. They aren't deputized. They aren't partners with the SciPo. In fact, it seems like their only allies are their followers.

One thing I like is that despite this contentious relationship with governing bodies, they still try to help when they can. They aren't opposed to working with these groups if the cause is right.

But even within the team, things aren't rosy. Four issues in and we know that there is a struggle for power within the group. Cosmic Boy might be leader right now. But Brainiac 5 clearly thinks he can run things better. Their interactions haven't been adversarial. But they aren't exactly collegial.

Edict 101.72 states that the Legion are illegally skirting the public service signal, a way people are monitored in the future. Brainiac designed the flight rings to cloak the Legion so they could move about freely.

It is clear that this Legion won't be controlled by the security measures of the future. And that could lead to them being perceived as a threat.

During the issue, we see different groups of Legionnaires skirmishing against the Science Police.

It is during one fight that we learn about the new Chameleon Boy. This Cham is simply a shape-shifter. His form might change, but he is still just flesh. If, for example, he turned into a turtle, he wouldn't have a hard shell. He would have flesh which took the shape of a hard shell.

It limits Cham. But it also makes him less of a crutch for plots. He can't get poison, sharp talons, or other special abilities whenever a story dictated it.

Still, I don't know if I like it. What do you all think about this Cham's power set?

But the main character in this issue is Invisible Kid.

We learn that he is the son of a high-ranking Science Police officer. Lyle was smart enough to make his invisibility formula and also wise enough not to turn it over to his father to be weaponized. Injecting himself with the only version of the formula, Lyle deleted his files and left his family.

Maybe it is that inspiration of the Legion to be independent and do what is right that prompted this decision.

The Legion continue to fight off the Science Police. They aren't trying to harm these officers. But they won't get arrested either.

I love that Ultra Boy panel. He's just having a great time. Tells me all I need to know about him.

Realizing that this whole thing is stemming from the Science Police wanting his formula, Lyle turns himself in.

He stands up to his father, telling him that he will turn over the formula if the Science Police rescind 101.72 and call off the dogs.

Lyle's father explains that the rimworlds are being overrun. Dreamy's war is going to happen. And the UP needs that formula for their army. How else can Lyle feel safe.

In a great montage, we see images of Lyle's father hitting him. How can his dad talk about safety when he hurt his own children? It is a powerful moment within the story. The panel after the flashback, Lyle cloaked in shadow, conveys his sadness nicely.

But he does hand over a blood sample, a way for the Science Police to extract the formula.

With the sample in their hands, the Science Police call off their troops. 101.72 has been suspended.

Again, I love Ultra Boy needing to be held back.

But Invisible Kid has pulled a fast one on his father. Using a virus within his cells, Lyle has made it impossible for the UP to duplicate the formula. Furthermore, it put a worm into the SciPo database. Now Brainy can monitor everything they do.

It is an interesting solution to the problem. If Brainy is impressed, you know it is a big deal.

So we have more of a foundation of what this Legion is in this future. And that war seems to be coming up on the horizon. People should strap in.

The back up story has Karate Kid narrating a story of how smitten he is with Phantom Girl, a girl he can touch ... both figuratively and literally. It has been a while since we haven't had a Jo/Tinya couple so to see her romantically free was a little shocking.

We learn that she alone on her planet has been able to breach the dimensional rift. But an odd side effect is that when solid or phantom, she is visible in both places. The story shows she is tough as nails and slowly considering Earth her true home. She breaks up with her beau on Bgztl because she is interested in Karate Kid, even though that also falls apart at the end.

I definitely didn't like this 'visible in both places' idea for Tinya. What about when she is going to the bathroom? Showering? Having sex? Feeling sad and crying in a heap? Can she never have true privacy? This felt like a misstep and I forget if it stuck.

Still, overall this was another good issue to this opening arc. I feel, like 5YL, we are slowly building towards something massive.

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