Saturday, March 19, 2016

5YL: Legionnaires #16

Legionnaires #16 (July 1994)
title: "Saved by Zero"
writer: Mark Waid
penciller: Chris Gardner
inker: Dennis Cramer
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Adam Hughes and Karl Story
reviewer: Siskoid

Mission Monitor Board:  
Alchemist, Andromeda, Apparition, Brainiac 5 (SW6), Bouncing Boy (SW6, 1st appearance), Catspaw, Chameleon, Computo II, Cosmic Boy (SW6), Dragonmage, Dream Girl (SW6, 1st appearance), Ferro, Gossamer, Inferno, Invisible Kid (SW6), Kid Quantum, Leviathan, Live Wire, Matter-Eater Lad (SW6), Saturn Girl (SW6), Shrinking Violet (SW6), Star Boy (SW6, 1st appearance), Triad, Ultra Boy (SW6), Valor (SW6, as image)

Rond Vidar, Science Police (Commander Schafer), Tokyo Dome scientists

Khunds (Warlord Khezal), Polestar (adult Cosmic Boy), Tokyo Dome looters

Between Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #58 and 59. Previously, the adult Legion has been on the run thanks to Universo's machinations and have taken on new identities. They've been fighting the Khunds, but also Glorith the time mistress. Back on New Earth, the Legionnaires have resolved a number of open cases, and Cosmic Boy is currently recuperating from wounds suffered at Live Wire's hands.

In Tokyo Dome, a "domequake" has blown the gravity generators and flung people into the air to be rescued by the Legionnaires, most prominently, a teenage Star Boy, who was never part of the SW6 Legion before, even if almost everyone acts like he was.
In space, a Khundish ship is set on attacking New Earth, but is stopped by Polestar, the adult Cosmic Boy. Meanwhile, the SW6 Cos is training his powers back to normal at Legion HQ, while other Legionnaires are furiously trying to recover their version of Valor lost in 20th Century. One problem is that the time line is unraveling and Valor retroactively ceases to exist. These Legionnaires take a time bubble to the past, but we're suddenly back as if the trip never happened, with the Legionnaires wondering why their Valor files are even open. Is there some mystery surrounding him? Then an SW6 version of Dream Girl walks in, and only the founding members realize she shouldn't exist.
Back in Tokyo Dome, Legionnaires are dealing with looters taking advantage of the domequake when Ferro turns into an SW6 version of Bouncing Boy. Again, it all seems normal.
At headquarters, Invisible Kid and Rond Vidar discuss the changes in the time line. They know something's wrong with space-time and realize the three founders will try to fix history, which could have disastrous consequences. But too late, Live Wire, Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl have already disappeared in a time bubble. They next try to call a meeting, but a strange figure has appeared over Atlantis Dome and Computo doesn't have time for that. Andromeda doesn't heed the call, so Apparition tracks her down to the Legion's memorial garden and is surprised to find her at Ferro's statue - as he died saving Valor from the Sun-Eater!
And without warning, the Bierbaums are off the book and early career-Mark Waid is hauled in to write the last chapter of this version of Legion continuity. I'm not even sure I'll be able to make heads or tales of the way history's going to come crashing down, woven into LSH v4, Legionnaires, Valor and even LE.G.I.O.N. or if it even matters. Any promises made by the preceding writers are now moot, and my only hope is that Waid's trademark love of DC continuity will be enough to carry us through to the end. Cuz it can't be up to Chris Gardner's still amateurish art.

The idea of creating some new SW6 Legionnaires for this event is a fun one to be sure, but would have been so much sweeter if the designs had been Chris Sprouse's. As is, they're garish and I don't like them. The new Legionnaires are intrusive, stealing the others' thunder or outright replacing a guy like Ferro who stood out because his character hadn't been explored in decades.

But overall, yeah, confusing. I know that's what the Legionnaires themselves are meant to be feeling, but when neither art nor story are clear enough to make sense of even the action sequences that AREN'T part of the temporal paradox (like the nuclear reactor bit), they've failed. What are the Khunds doing in this? Or Polestar acting the villain? Inserting the Valor-searching trip in between panels which then represent 5 issues of another book you might or might not be reading is odious enough without the art making it confusing. And what's Rond Vidar doing at the HQ? Is he an anomaly himself? When did he get there? And that old trope where no one listens to the people who know what's going on? Spare me!

It's all a rush and a blur. Mark Waid has had to put lots of new pieces in motion to make the Zero Hour Legion finale possible, and it's like we're coming into the series having missed a few issues. Doesn't bode well.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Between pages 10 and 11 of this issue, Valor #14-19 take place. Valor #11-13 take place before this issue.
  • The anomalies in the time stream start here and will lead to Legion continuity rebooting after Zero Hour.
  • The issue marks the first (and anomalous) appearances of SW6 versions of Bouncing Boy, Dream Girl and Star Boy.
  • The story of Ferro saving Valor from a Sun-Eater is a reimagining of the original Ferro Lad saving Superboy from such in Adventure Comics #353.

This Mark Waid's first Legion story. He would go on to write a well-received run in Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 5 AKA the Threeboot.


  1. "but would have been so much sweeter if the designs had been Chris Sprouse's. As is, they're garish and I don't like them"

    They look fine (from what we can see) on the cover. The problem is the art. Gardner manages to uglify the designs on the other characters too.

    The story isn't too confusing, but it does seem to steer people into buying issues of Valor. A last minute attempt to boost sales of Legion related titles before the big reboot? A better artist would have made it a much better read, but in the end, the confusion of the story makes it work, somewhat (for me, anyway).

    1. Yes, the cover. "Guess who's back"
      Is that a double entendre on Dream Girl's butt? Which is so obviously on display.

    2. They're all showing their backs, but yes, Dream Girl is the only one we notice.

    3. I was thinking that they thought panting teen boys would buy the issue for the cover alone (and what they might think was inside)

    4. Partly that, but also a nice shock for long time fans as well. Seeing that there were now SW6 versions of Dream Girl, Bouncing Boy, and Star Boy (which you can basically figure out from the cover based on their appearances and costumes) would have been a nice way to have old and new readers wonder and guess what was going on.

    5. I really would not have known from that cover alone that those two were star boy and bouncing boy, if I hadn't read the story inside. Of course I recognized dream girl on the cover. she never changes.

  2. Dream Girl looks like she was drawn by Barry Blair of Leather and Lace fame of Eternity Comics

  3. It is a gorgeous cover though.