Sunday, March 13, 2016

5YL: Legionnaires #15

Legionnaires #15 (June 1994)
title: "Worst Nightmares"
writers: Tom & Mary Bierbaum
penciller: Jeff Moy
inker: Dennis Cramer
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Jeff Moy and Karl Story
reviewer: Siskoid

Mission Monitor Board:  
Andromeda, Apparition, Brainiac 5 (SW6), Computo II, Cosmic Boy (SW6), Ferro, Gossamer, Inferno, Invisible Kid (SW6), Leviathan, Live Wire, Saturn Girl (SW6), Shrinking Violet (SW6), Ultra Boy (SW6)

Keiki, Sadi (behind the scenes), Science Police (officer Salazar), Mayf (the wounded boy), his mother (a mental creation)

Dominators, Khunds, an Ultra-Beast (all mental creations)

After Live Wire accidentally shocks a kid in Acapulco Dome (and Cosmic Boy, creating a rift between him and Saturn Girl), the wounded boy throws up a strange mental energy vortex that absorbs a number of Legionnaires. Computo sends a second team in to retrieve the first, including the aforementioned couple in trouble. To recap some gossip as well, Inferno has been playing the field lately, dating a mermaid from Atlantis Dome called Keiki while on vacation, and more recently, a girl he met at the Legion try-outs called Sadi.

The wounded boy is called Mayf, and in the mental vortex he created, the Legionnaires are struggling against their fears made real. Ultra Boy is attacked by the Ultra-Beast that gave him his powers, for example, while Live Wire relives a painful memory of a family pet dying and being discarded insensitively by his parents. Apparition is assailed by bugs and other vermin. Gossamer is frozen by the ghosts of people hurt by the Legion's actions. Ferro is paralyzed by his face turning into goo. Andromeda is caught in a nightmare of Khunds killing Daxamites, and Brainiac 5 is led to believe he is responsible for everyone's deaths. The one saving grace is that, partly thanks to Saturn Girl's telepathic bond, the Legionnaires can visit each others' nightmares and help each other snap out of them. They eventually come across Mayf's own nightmare, one in which the Dominators killed his mother and calm him down, releasing them all from his grip. Saturn Girl and Live Wire fall back into each other's arms.
Elsewhere, Inferno gets a visit from Keiki of Atlantis Dome who was recently shocked to receive a threatening letter from another of his girlfriends...
Let me start off my saying the Inferno subplot is interesting, but as Zero Hour-type shenanigans hit next issue, I don't think it is ever resolved. Too bad.

But if the preponderance of fill-in artists since Sprouse has stopped doing whole issues was an audition period (or in Legion parlance, a try-out) for who should be the next Legionnaires artist, then they finally hit on a winner - Jeffrey Moy. Though Sprouse perhaps inspired the Legionnaires' brand initially, Moy will be most responsible for the Reboot Legion being called the Archie Legion, with his clean line, big eyes and youthful faces. He'll end up drawing Legionnaires for the next five years (!), and roping his twin brother Philip to do a little Legion himself as well somewhere in there. He's a small way from hitting his stride, or getting his best inker, perhaps, but this is the best-looking and clearest issue in a good while. And a real showcase, since it's filled with different situations according to each Legionnaire's personal nightmare.
These are less revelatory than I would like, actually. Brainy's fear of failure is already well-known, for example, and exploring the death of Live Wire's childhood pet doesn't really mesh with how his personality's evolved, either in his adult or teenage/SW6 forms. Doesn't help the pet looks like a pink plush rabbit, a toy rather than an animal. Apparition is afraid of bugs? A girly stereotype that seems meaningless to a heroine who can make herself intangible. The better fears are Ultra Boy's and Andromeda's, since they connect to their origin stories and are visually more shocking, but I don't have a whole lot to say about them.
The end result is that Garth and Imra are once again together, but the Bierbaums have done too good a job making me hate Live Wire for this to be a positive. At least Garth gets elbowed in the face by Ferro for being a jerk. Freeing Mayf from his own nightmare would seem to herald his eventual addition to the Legion, perhaps as a new Kid Psycho, but as with the Inferno stuff, there's no future in it. The timeline's about to collapse. And that's surely the biggest problem through the end of this phase of Legion history, the unfulfilled potential, twinned with the sense that the creative team is just playing for time.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The Ultra Energy Beast that gave Ultra Boy its powers was first seen in his origin story (Superboy v1 #98, 1962); its look has changed over time, but this may just be a nightmare-enhanced version of the creature.
  • Garth's late pet is modeled on Ryo-Ohki, the mascot creature from the popular '90s anime Tenchi Muyo

Considering Jeffrey Moy would soon embark on a five-year run on the book, it's fair to call his first Legion work - and in fact, his first professional work! - a milestone.


  1. Been enjoying these SW6 reviews - it's a run that had a lot of potential but kept its focus (at least to me) on its weakest/least interesting parts. I also wish they had done that storyline with Inferno to give him a bit of redemption.

    FYI - Moy modelled Garth's late pet on Ryo-Ohki, the mascot critter from the super popular 90s anime Tenchi Muyo.

  2. Nice. I'll put that in the main text!

  3. "Considering Philip Moy would soon embark on a five-year run on the book..."

    Did you mean Jeffrey Moy?