Sunday, April 24, 2016

5YL: Valor #23

Valor #23 (September 1994)
title: "Infinite Valor"
writer: Kurt Busiek
penciller: Colleen Doran
inker: Dave Cooper
lettering: Bob Pinaha
colorist: Dave Grafe
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Stuart Immonen
partners in time travel: Mark Waid and Tom McCraw
reviewer: Siskoid

Mission Monitor Board:  
Alchemist, Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5 (both), Celeste, Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl (both), Duo Damsel, Element Lad, Ferro, Ferro Lad, Gossamer, Inferno, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Live Wire, Matter-Eater Lad (both), Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl (both), Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet (both), Star Boy, Sun Boy, Triad, Ultra Boy (both), Valor, Wildfire/N.R.G.

Guests: 
Night Girl, Superboy (pocket universe)

Opponents: 
Glorith, Mordru, Time Trapper

Recap: 
This issue of Valor fits between Legionnaires #18 and Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #61. Time is falling apart. Legionnaires from times past (and times impossible) are appearing out of nowhere and others are disappearing. An attempt save New Earth by bringing the pocket universe Earth into our universe has backfired and the planet is on the verge of exploding. Mordru and Glorith have taken advantage of this to reshape reality in their image by killing the Infinite Man and absorbing his power. They have also captured Rokk Krynn and placed him in the Infinite Library for as yet unrevealed reasons, but he has escaped and entered the domain of the Time Trapper.

Synopsis: 
Valor and Shadow Lass reach the Legion and help them fight Glorith and Mordru, with the additional help of Superboy, somehow returned to the timeline. By playing on Glorith's 1000-year unrequited love for Valor, they defeat her and the Infinite Man's energies start bleeding off her. The two Dream Girls push Valor into the stream and he is imbued with the energy, now able to fight Mordru one on one.
Meanwhile, outside time, the Time Trapper tells Rokk Krynn his story: That knowing of the upcoming Crisis in Time, he has ever been dedicated to preserving the Legion and its version of the 30th Century. That it was he who created temporal duplicated of the Legion and stored them in the vaults of the Time Institute; these became the SW6 Legion. That he created the pocket universe Earth as a refuge for the Legion, but that it was destroyed in events out of his control. That he acted behind the scenes to keep the team safe, at the risk of playing the villain. And that he is... Rokk Krynn himself!

Back in normal time, Valor unleashed the Infinite Man's energy on Mordru, who absorbs it until he overdoses. Everyone attacks him in his moment of weakness and he vanishes, sent to the interior of a planet by Saturn Girl's implanted suggestion, where his natural claustrophobia should keep him prisoner. Except it didn't work as well as she wanted, and he teleported to the core of the pocket universe Earth, which is about to explode and free him once more.
The one casualty of this last battle is Shadow Lass, fatally injured, but she is wiped from the timeline before she can actually die. Valor soon joins her. All seems lost, but Superboy gives a rallying speech before vanishing himself, and the Legionnaires, filled with hope vow to find a way to win the day.

Commentary: 
Couldn't the revelation about the SW6 Legion have been told in Legionnaires #18? Their last pre-Reboot issue wasn't about them at all! Carrying it over to this issue seems a mistake. Of course, the idea that they would be temporal clones doesn't quite fit the facts, and Busiek jumps through a couple hoops to make it work, but I think it's nice that it means we don't have to decide which was the "real" Legion; they both were. As to the rest of the retcon, trying to make sense of the Time Trapper's shenanigans through Legion history, shows his research, but unless the reader has all that lore memorized, doesn't really mean anything. It goes on too long. And he's Rokk Krynn? Yes, the franchise has played with that before, no revelation there for this old reader.
If the SW6 Legion wasn't served right in its book's finale, Valor, at least, is the hero of his last issue (though of course, the 30th-Century Valor wasn't actually the star of this book for its first 21 issues). He narrates the tale, and it's well-written narration, explaining plans clearly, and giving us the emotions of the moment, whether that's the beacon of hope Superboy represents (nice to see him restored to the continuity in its final moments), or the despair he feels when Shadow Lass, the love of his life, dies/vanishes, mutilated. It's really kind of gruesome and undermines the tearful farewell, I think, but is an important moment nonetheless. The series couldn't have ended without it, I think.

As for the big magical battle, well, it is what it is. Mordru is reduced to a punching match, which seems out of character, colorful splashes of light or not. And the thing with the pocket universe Earth? Gee, I'd forgotten it was even there! The last issue of Valor left it as a massive ticking bomb, but everything else has just distracted from it.
And so end my 5YL reviews, I leave you to Anj's own farewell now, since he covered the End of an Era finale already. What of the Legionnaires starring in Zero Hour itself? That's up next weekend. But it's never truly over, is it? The Reboot Legion was the heir to the SW6 Legion in many ways, and I'm to tackle that next, with the help of a friend or two. Stay tuned, and Long Live the Legion!

Science Police Notes:  
  • This is Part 5 of the End of an Era crossover event. The issue also bears the Zero Hour banner.
  • In the wake of the temporal anomalies, Valor has visions of alternate timelines, including onewhere he joined the Justice League of America.
  • Temporal anomalies mean Legionnaires from different eras are collaborating: Duo Damsel, Dream Girl and Element Lad are from the 80s; and Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad from the 70s, according to their costumes.
  • The Time Trapper references several Legion stories, some of which "never happened" as he tells them, including the Legion's run-in with Matter Master, and the wedding of Garth and Imra.
  • The Time Trapper explains the SW6 Legion are actually temporal clones of the Legion, a sort of back-up to make sure the Legion survives the Crisis in Time. To explain some of the discrepancies, the Trapper adds that he restored Live Wire's arm and took Triad from a time earlier when she hadn't lost a body.
  • Superboy, presumably the version from the pocket universe, is next seen in Superboy #8.

Milestone: 
Final issue of Valor.
This issue technically signals the end for 5YL iterations of Valor and Shadow Lass.
It also explains the long-standing mystery of where the SW6 Legion came from.

2 comments:

  1. "End of an Era" was the natural result of TMK's butchering of the mythos. 5YL started so strong but right after the Terra Mosaic I thought TMK really blew it. The Mordru storyline, the destruction of earth, the reliance on Glorith (considering she was supposed to counter balance Mordru, she showed up way to much in their stories which just made her annoying not a badass.

    I can't recall if I realized that Zero-hour would be a full reboot. If memory serves me I thought it was just a retelling and a way to fix up the mess that the Bierbaums left behind them.

    Now I think of the Beirbaums as the Superboy Prime of the Legion before there was such a thing as Superboy Prime. They punched so much reality to fit their version of what the LSH was supposed to be they didn't bother to make sure it was still viable at the end of it all - which obviously it wasn't since they had to reboot).

    Busiek and Waid did their best to make the team feel right again at the end but it was too late. "We're all together again, it should feel good but why does it feel like the end"

    rant off

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  2. I loved the moment where they give infinite power to Mordru and his claustrophobia does him in again! I actually thought that pretty clever. More than an overdose, it was the natural reaction to having infinite perspective in a finite world.

    And as silly as it was, I found the "power of love" to keep Lar around was charming (corny but charming).

    "We're the Legion of Super-Heroes. We stand for someting. We fight til we win." What a mission statement for a group.

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