Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #58

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #58 (March, 1989)
title: "If Thine Eye Offend Thee"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller/co-plotter: Keith Giffen
inker: Al Gordon
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
asst editor: Art Young 
editor: Karen Berger 
cover: Steve Lightle
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Tellus, Magnetic Kid, Blok, Quislet, Timber Wolf, Lightning Lass, Polar Boy, Colossal Boy, Wildfire, Dawnstar, Element Lad, Ultra Boy, Invisible Kid, Sensor Girl

Guests: 
Yera

Opponents: 
Emerald Empress



Synopsis: 
In Metropolis on Earth, the Emerald Empress and the Legion continue their stalemate. Polar Boy orders the Legionnaires to stand down, but when they do the Empress decides to destroy the Fusion Powersphere anyway. Luckily for Metropolis, Colossal Boy surprises her and she is unable to carry out her threat. Tired of fighting the Legion, she departs Earth.
At Legion HQ, Dawnstar tells Wildfire that she loves him, but because his touch burns her, he decides to walk away from hurting her. She is heart-broken, but decides to move on from him, doubling her efforts to find the Emerald Empress.
Elsewhere on Earth, Colossal Boy has a fight with his wife, Yera. She doesn't understand his life of adventure, and he doesn't understand her need to be "on the stage." They make up, trying to overlook their individual passions.
On Trom, Emerald Empress has decided to give up on her search for the secret of immortality. Instead, she decides to rest on the deserted planet. This does not sit well with Trom's lone survivor, Element Lad. He battles the Empress fiercely as Ultra Boy battles the Emerald Eye of Ekron. They are putting up quite a fight when reinforcements arrive.
Elsewhere, Sensor Girl tells Invisible Kid and Timber Wolf that they don't have to rush to Trom. Invisible Kid asks her if she is afraid of the Empress, and Projectra strongly denies this. She knows that soon enough the Empress will come to her.

On Trom, the Emerald Empress absorbs more and more energy from the Eye and grows proportionately larger. She knocks out everyone except Quislet, who then tries to inhabit the Eye. Quislet finds that it resists him, the first inanimate object he ever came across that he could not possess. Instead, he takes over a headstone and knocks the Eye into orbit.

Quislet asks the Empress to surrender, and she laughs at him. Then the Eye returns, destroying Quislet's ship. The Empress vanishes.
Quislet possesses another headstone to say good-bye to his fellow Legionnaires. Without his ship, Quislet can't remain in our dimension. He has no choice but to return to his home world.
Somewhere in space, the Emerald Empress is now desperate to die. She goes to Sensor Girl and asks to be freed.
Sensor Girl eventually decides to grant her request, hiding the Empress from the all-seeing, all-knowing Eye. Sarya of Venegar promptly withers away to nothingness, shocking Projectra and us.

Commentary: 
This issue has a lot of things going for it, but still reads as something of a disappointment. I think I would have liked more follow-up from that last page shocker, instead of so many pages of mindless fighting preceding it. We never do learn how or why the Eye of Ekron "possessed" the Empress, or where it went after Sensor Girl "blinded" it. I would have liked more of that, frankly.

Speaking of Sensor Girl, it seems like Paul Levitz has lost his way with her characterization and power set. Perhaps this is the effect of working with Keith Giffen? She seems more obscure and less well-defined here. Specifically I am referring to the scene where she says she "knows" that the Emerald Empress will search her out. A few issues ago she told Polar Boy that she didn't have telepathy or future-vision, but here she is (again) saying something that is extra-sensory. It's as if Levitz and Giffen want to portray her as some sort of mystic or oracle or something. It just seems false.

The only other criticism I have of this issue falls squarely on the shoulders of Keith Giffen and his designs. Here we get the brand-new, creepy yet interesting Sensor Girl mask.....no face at all, which is similar to The Question. That's fine, I guess, but we then have that design diluted several pages earlier when Colossal Boy's wife uses the exact same look! This is laziness on Giffen's part, pure and simple. Likewise, has Element Lad changed his uniform again, already? His suit doesn't look like what he was wearing just a few issues ago. Maybe that's due to a different inker (Mike DeCarlo before, Al Gordon now) or coloring. But the whole sense of "uniformity" is lost when members are changing their uniforms every other mission.
Is this the same uniform as that shown above? 
The scene between Dawnstar and Wildfire should have been more poignant and sadder than it was. I don't know if that is because the characters are so basically un-likeable, or because Levitz and Giffen had more important stories to tell so didn't want to spend a lot of time on this. As written, it seems ho-hum.

I am happy to see Quislet go, I cannot tell a lie. He (it?) was never one of my favorite characters, possibly because we never got any real characterization for him. I'm sure it's partly the "people prefer dogs to pigs" syndrome, but I don't care. I didn't like him, and I was happy to see him go out in (sort of) a blaze of glory.

That cover by Steve Lightle is another winner. However, Sensor Girl in her original uniform looks so much cooler than the others in their one-size-fits-all togs. Does anyone disagree with me? However the placement of Quislet is a little bit off; I never quite see him the first time I take the image in.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Sensor Girl is still in her original uniform on the cover. 
Status: 
This story has not yet been reprinted.  

Milestone: 
Quislet leaves the Legion in this issue. The Emerald Empress dies in this issue. 

6 comments:

  1. I was happy to see Quislet go too. I was less happy about the Emerald Empress. I did not mind the change in dynamics that put the Eye in charge, but I found it hard to believe that she had been craving freedom from the eye all these years. Her sudden death wish didn't ring true for me. If I remember right, it was because the Eye was about to be shown possessing a hero in L.E.G.I.O.N. and they wanted to show that he wasn't in control.

    Changes in uniforms have happened before, but I never had problems telling the team members apart until these issues.

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  2. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I hate Giffen's new uniforms for the Legion. Giffen's art stinks in this issue, and I never reread them unless I have to. Artistically, this is a Legion era that I try to forget.

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  3. I like this issue. While the costumes aren't favorites, I do like the art. Its certainly better than what we get during 5YL. With regards to the costumes, they should have kept the previous color schemes for all of them. Not sure why Element Lad is wearing white & black instead of pink & black, but oh well. And yes, it is the same costume, mostly, there just isn't the black strips on the thighs.

    As for the story, it was all right. Sensor Girl might have known due to the magical elements people from Orando seem to be aware of. Maybe she can also occasionally see through the illusion of time? lol

    I like Quislet, he was at least different. But this does seem like Giffen is clearing some of the decks for the 5YL relaunch, which is a bit unnecessary, given the whole idea of a 5 year gap.

    And it's a shame he killed off the Emerald Empress. Given that the Glorith we got during 5YL was basically a knock-off of EE, Giffen and co. may as well just have used EE.

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  4. I always kinda liked the new costumes, though I'm not sure how many I would say are better than the classics.

    But then, I also always liked Quislet (hey, somebody had to), so what do I know?

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  5. @wwk5d, the black strip on Jan's thigh is there in the earlier scene too; you can see it in the panel where he's leaping at the Empress (might have to embiggen it to be able to see it but it's there).

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  6. This two issue story is actually one of my favorites in the Baxter run. (Keep in mind that I am a Giffen fan, however.) One funny thing I never hear mentioned is that members of the Legion don't even seem to like the new costumes they have now. At some point, Polar Boy lists it as one of the reasons (among several others) as to why he doesn't think that he'll be reelected leader. In #53, I think, Shrinking Violet and Timber Wolf express their dismay over their new outfits, too.
    The big development in the Dawnstar/Wildfire relationship feels restrained or at least to the point, which keeps the scene--as sad as it gets--from becoming maudlin, and it doesn't require a huge leap to assume that this would be how both of the characters would react to the situation.
    I didn't mind Quislet, but beyond providing a more detailed backstory to him, the series never did very much with him. One plus was that he hardly made the book more angst-y, and here, he gets what I would consider a great sendoff.

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