Recap: The United Planets is under attack. The Rim Worlds have been overrun. Orando has been brought to ruin. The advancing army is led by a group of super-powered terraformers aptly called Terror Firma. But the real power behind them is Praetor Lemnos, a man whose power is to influence and then be forgotten, never even able to be captured on sensors or film. The Legion is poised to intercede but the political landscape is standing in their way. Eat it Grandpa!
Legion of Super-Heroes #7 continues Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's attempt to both tell a compelling story while introducing us to the new versions of characters we know and love. It is the bane of the reboot. You need to start absolutely fresh but you also know that readers of prior incarnations are still bringing some baggage and knowledge.
Waid and Kitson have been pulling that off by focusing on one or two Legionnaires each issue and having the main plot of the UP War revolved around them. This issue stands out as one of my favorite as it showcases three of my favorite Legionnaires. The main focus is Brainiac 5 as we travel to Colu and learn about that planet's culture. But we also learn more about Light Lass and Chameleon Boy.
Barry Kitson and Art Thibert provide all the art on this issue after the last two had some guest penciled pages. I love Kitson's style and he really brings a feel to the title.
On to the issue!
Last issue Praetor Lemnos revealed himself to Brainiac 5, explaining his powers and his mission before erasing it from Brainy's mind.
This issue opens with Brainiac receiving a cryptic message from himself which reads 'Colu is next!'. During the interaction with Lemnos and before he was forced to forget, Brainy sent himself a note to head to Colu and protect it. It is the sort of sly, smart move that this Brainy would do to warn himself about Lemnos' next target.
Brainiac gets Cham, Saturn Girl, and Light Lass and heads to his home.
While we have seen plenty of Brainy's arrogance in this book, we have only seen snippets of Ayla. It is clear she is a sort of a flighty, happy-go-lucky, party girl. In this issue we see that there may be more to her. I like how she is willing to sass Brainy throughout, unfazed by his superiority complex.
This is a different Ayla than the last incarnation, the hardened Lightning Lass who had a lot of history behind her before settling into a relationship with Vi.
We haven't seen too much of Chameleon either. He has mostly been around to be the punchline of a joke.
Earlier we learned that he doesn't necessarily gain the powers of a particular species or shape. He only takes their form. Here we learn that his antennae are bioreceptors, a way for a Durlan to scan new life forms and be able to mimic them.
One thing I don't have a good sense for is the history of this Legion. Who joined first? Who is still considered a 'new' Legionnaire? It seems weird that Saturn Girl is asking Cham about his powers. Aren't they both veterans?
I don't know if I quite grasp his powers as we see him imitate Lightning Lad with a 'lightning effect'.
Throughout this book we have seen that the Legion is something of a progressive, pro-active force while the UP is content to be complacent and safe. That difference is emphasized here. The Legion wants to actively defend. The UP wants to negotiate.
Terror Firma razed Orando. I don't know if they are open to negotiation. This feels like European politics before WWII.
Another thing that I find interesting about this book is that the Legion feels fractured. There is a Cosmic Boy faction. There is Brainiac 5 faction. They might espouse a political zeitgeist but there are different personal motives for being there. They seem like a happy team but under the surface they aren't. That is new for the Legion.
Back in issue 3 we saw that Triplicate Girl was a sort of spy for Cos. One person she flirted with to get information was Sun Boy.
Here he tells her that the team knows all the machinations happening behind the scenes. Everyone knows Cos is trolling a bit.
This splintering of the team is the most interesting plot thread for me.
I can remember visiting Colu now and then in the old comics.
In this incarnation, Colu is famous for their intellect (obviously) but they are also known for their work on force fields and miniaturization. The planet's populace has shrunk and compacted themselves to get more efficient use of the planet's surface area.
Of course, this is a nice nod to the original Brainiac and his infamous 'shrink ray'.
Unfortunately, the team is too late. All the Coluans seem to be plugged into a central data source. And some malware is within that source. The entire population has been infected with a virus and left comatose.
This is a planet which prides itself on its intellect. For Brainy, this is akin to a macabre genocide.
The best way to cure the planet is to head to the most intelligent researcher on the planet and try to rewrite the code.
En route, Brainy disparages Light Lass. He tells her that gravity is one of the most fundamental and powerful forces in the universe. With her powers, she (and conversely Star Boy) could be considered the most powerful Legionnaire. But she uses her powers for 'parlor tricks'. She shouldn't be giggling about lingerie.
Ayla's body language says it all in that last panel. She probably wants to say 'Eat it, Brainy!'.
The 'greatest researcher' turns out the be Brainiac's mother. And she is just as compromised!
I can remember seeing Brainy's parents back in the Staton issues when he is 'cured' of his madness. But not much more. This whole thing is horrible for Brainy. But this makes it personal.
As the Legionnaires are flying to escape the semi-zombified Coluans, Cham's antennae begin to twitch. That means some other life form is there, even if unseen. (Love that second panel showing nothing else living is visibly around.)
So Light Lass decides to unleash that power that Brainy was talking about. She basically removes all gravity in the area hoping to force this being to reveal himself.
This gravitic storm forces Praetor Lemnos to reveal himself. He is grabbed by Brainiac.
Suddenly Brainy remembers the prior conversation and Lemnos' plans.
Impressed by this strategy that forces him to reveal himself, Lemnos says he will let Brainy remember him. (He does imply that Brainy's mind is so strong that Brainy would probably remember Lemnos on his own.) But then Lemnos dislocates Brainy's shoulder and escapes.
But the proverbial cat is out of the bag. The Legion knows that Lemnos exists.
But even Lemnos knows that the bigger foe that Legion has is its internal squabbling.
And that point is hammered home when we see Cos and a group of Legionnaires breaking into Brainy's lab.
This is such a great issue for me. It focuses on some of my favorite Legionnaires. It pushes the over-arching plot forward nicely. And it reinforces the in-fighting Legion as a major thread.
This truly feels like a reboot. We know these characters. But they are fresh and different.
And Kitson's art just brings a great polish to the proceedings. I love how this universe looks. And the new costumes work for me. Love Light Lass and Phantom Girl's looks, updated classics.
Things are going to start moving even faster, so buckle up!