Friday, March 18, 2016
Threeboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #9
Where prior issues of Legion has looked at individual members and made the plot revolve around them, Legion of Super-Heroes #9 is clearly a team book. Or rather, it is an anti-team book. I commented about this last issue but this is the most fractured Legion team I have ever read. Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 are vying for leadership, have their factions behind them, and have cracked the foundation of the team. Last issue, Brainiac 5 grabbed the reins, shoving Cosmic Boy out of the group's trust. Members fought each other. And in the end, Rokk was going to have to head back to Braal. His planet is seceding.
This issue shows the fallout of all this turmoil. One thing that classic fans know, it is that Rokk is the rock of the team. Writer Mark Waid brings that piece of history into the book. We see exactly what will happen without them. The team can't function. For someone like me, driven away from the book because Rokk became the Time Trapper, I greatly appreciated this.
Barry Kitson is again not on art. But he is replaced by Georges Jeanty whose work is lush and wonderful. It has a nice organic feel to it which fits the tone nicely.
There are Cosmic Boy factions and Brainy factions. And they come close to brawling among themselves over these loyalties. After all, last issue they saw the Legionnaires fighting themselves as well.
Luckily, Invisible Kid is in the crowd and seems too cool things down. But it is there that he learns that he is being considered a scapegoat and turncoat. Rumors have spread to the followers that Lyle has been feeding information to both Cos and Brainy. As a result, he is being blamed for this upheaval.
For Invisible Kid, who hasn't wanted the limelight, who has wanted to remain generally unseen, who already has a mark against him because his dad is in the Science Police, this is devastating. I like this subplot.
I loved this two panel flashback. The first shows simpler times, the three original members smiling as they fight a monster.
The second panel is much more interesting. This is a war time Legion, their banner torn, their costumes in tatters. And many more members around them. Who are all these people? That is definitely Ferro Lad. That could be Catspaw. It brings a sense of history to this newly minted team.
There is a great discussion about politics and passion, about the ardor of youth versus the complacency of the old.
It is very fascinating to me, as a long time reader, to hear Imra talking about passion and emotion. She has always been considered the cold impersonal person on the team. So this is Imra's character turned on her head a bit.
Of course, it is all about degrees of emotion. She isn't screaming and gesticulating here. Maybe for folks from Titan this is high emotion.
The team is in a holodeck, seeing which planets are dropping out of the UP, which planets have fallen, and what that will mean. It is interesting to see that a battlefield map in the future is the galaxy.
Thanagar and Rann are going to drop out of the UP just as Braal did.
The team is still fractured though.
Chameleon makes an awkward attempt to repair some hurt feelings. He disguises himself as Ultra Boy and apologizes to Lightning Lad. Of course, that is a deceitful and creepy thing to do. And when Jo discovers it, tempers flare again.
This is truly a non-team right now. Someone needs to unify them.
The United Planet Helegyn, an important planet for its production of liquid inertron is under attack.
Brainiac 5, now leader, mobilizes a very specific team to fight them.
Interestingly, Lemnos laments the lack of an alliance with the Legion. He still doesn't understand why their 'Eat it, Grandpa' ethos doesn't mesh with his 'raze and rebuild' sensibilities.
Rokk overhearing this gives a wonderfully inspirational speech. He picks out individual teenagers and talks about why they joined the Legion movement. He talks about how they are a force for change if they stay together. It is the job of the Legion to stand as one and make people listen.
It is a very good speech.
But it falls flat. Rokk himself is leaving. He is saying one thing and doing another. The disenchanted group disperses, leaving Cos crestfallen.
Jeanty shines here, changing perspectives, showing Rokk's emotion, and keeping the crowd very diverse.
The Legion meanwhile are losing badly. It is clear that Brainy doesn't have field experience. The team he mobilized isn't gelling as a force.
In a great moment, Invisible Kid slips into the starport and changes the coordinates on Rokk's gate. Instead of standing at the precipice of Braal, Rokk sees the combat on Helegyn. Invisible Kid tells Rokk the Legion cannot survive without him.
Rokk has to make a decision ...
So he flies into the fray.
Now that is my Cosmic Boy. Long live the Legion!
Barry Kitson does make a brief appearance in the issue. One of the ongoing gags of the book was an illustrated 'letter column' where Legionnaires would answer snippets of letters. That is brilliant.
Things are moving nicely in this book. There is a real sense of suspense both within and outside the team. While I would love Kitson to do all the art, the fill-in artists (especially Jeanty here) are of high quality. And the book continues to mesh a sense of both freshness and Legion history. That isn't easy.
So we are 9 issues into a long form story. What do you guys think?