Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #56

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #56 (Jan, 1989)
title: "By Hope Ensnared"
writer: Paul Levitz
co-plotter: Keith Giffen
penciller: Eduado Barreto
inkers: Mike DeCarlo (1-18), Al Gordon (19-27)
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
asst editor: Art Young 
editor: Karen Berger 
cover: Steve Lightle
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Blok, Dawnstar, Ultra Boy, Wildfire, Element Lad, Lightning Lass, Magnetic Kid, Shrinking Violet, Shadow Lass, Mon-El; cameo by Polar Boy

SP Chief Zendak, Earth President Desai

The Inquisitor, his unnamed slave, the threat of the Emerald Empress

Somewhere, Blok is imprisoned by the Inquisitor, who is trying to understand the silicon being's secret of immortality. He pounds at the walls of his prison, hoping to escape from the darkness. The Inquisitor's unnamed slave offers to help him by increasing his hostages.
On Manna-8, four Legionnaires approach a sky city hidden in the clouds. As they get nearer, clouds turn into guards and attack. Dawnstar is grabbed as the others fight them off. Dawnstar realizes that the Emerald Empress had been there but is gone, so they all depart.
On Earth, Lightning Lass talks to Element Lad as he tells her of their failure. After she signs off, she comes on to Magnetic Kid again, but he escapes from her, saying that he has "developed a respect for her." Lightning Lass chases after him, but runs into Shrinking Violet instead. They go off to talk.
On Verzwei, Shadow Lass brings Mon-El to the planet of secret cures and prohibited medicine to try to cure him. However, the doctor she is conferring with kidnaps Mon-El and starts to send him to the Inquisitor. Shadow Lass can't prevent the kidnapping, so goes along with Mon-El through the space warp. They arrive in a dark prison cell similar to where Blok is being held.
Somewhere else, the Inquisitor tells us that he has been asked by someone to try to uncover the secret of immortality. Because Blok and Mon-El are two of the longest-living beings in the universe, his slave suggests that they might be able to help him uncover something.
On Earth, Science Police Chief Zendak is fired by Earth President Desai.
Somewhere else, the Inquisitor's probes hurt Mon-El. Blok finally manages to break through the walls of his prison, splitting into theirs. Together, Mon-El and Blok manage to break through the walls into the Inquistor's laboratory. The Inquisitor escapes through another space warp, but Blok captures the slave who tricked him into captivity in the first place. The dwarf explains how the space warps work, so Shadow Lass chooses to return to Verzwei. Blok then programs another warp to take him back to Earth. He has decided that he is content to live amongst the humans after all.

It's a shame that as we head towards the last year of the Legion, we have such peaks and valleys of quality. This story is definitely a low-point in the Baxter series run. I can summarize the action (or lack of) in two sentence: Three Legionnaires are kidnapped but escape. The others are searching for the Emerald Empress but don't find her."

Is this Paul Levitz' idea of a spotlight on Blok? He doesn't actually do much of anything this issue. He certainly doesn't do any "soul-searching" or pontificating on silicon life vs carbon life. At the end when he admits that he has come to accept his lot in life, that basically says we've wasted three issues just watching him punch things. There is no "moment" where he realizes that he misses the White Witch (or Timber Wolf) or even that sitting around pounding things isn't the answer. Not quite the spotlight I was hoping for. And although Blok tells us that he doesn't care why the Inquisitor kidnapped him or what he hoped to gain, as a reader I would have liked to have known.

Elsewhere, Dawnstar is grabbed by cloud creatures. Here is one of the fastest humans in the universe, and she's caught by a gas monster?

Even the cover, by the usually fantastic Steve Lightle, is dull this month.

On the bright side, the art by Eduardo Barreto is excellent. Dare I say I prefer his more realistic style to that of Keith Giffen's cartoony look? It's interesting to see the effect of the inker on the pencils, too, as the first half is inked by Mike DeCarlo and the last half is inked by Al Gordon. Gordon's inks are infinitely more crisp and clean. Oddly enough, Blok's uniform changes color in mid-story, and he loses his gloves and boots. DeCarlo must have taken them with him when he left.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Blok's uniform pants change from yellow to red mid-story. 
  • Magnetic Kid and Lightning Lass have not yet changed their uniforms to Giffen's standardized versions. 
  • Polar Boy is inexplicably back in his former (non-pocket) uniform. 
This story has not yet been reprinted.  

This is the debut appearance of inker Al Gordon in Legion of Super-Heroes. His tenure on this series would be short, but he would return to the Five Year Later series with a vengeance.


  1. I wonder how much of the story we are getting is Levitz, and how much is Giffen. Supposedly, Levitz wanted to leave after #50, but Giffen convinced him to stay on for another year. And Giffen is a co-plotter...

  2. The art work was grade C at best!

    This could have only gotten a lower grade if Jimmy James or Jim Shooter had done the art work .