Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #61

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #61 (June, 1989)
title: "Will Magic or Science Prevail?"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller/co-plotter: Keith Giffen
inker: Al Gordon
lettering: Augustin Mas
colorist: Carl Gafford
asst editor: Art Young 
editor: Karen Berger 
cover: Steve Lightle
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Tellus, Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf, Sensor Girl, Shrinking Violet, Lightning Lass, Invisible Kid, Colossal Boy, Sun Boy, Polar Boy, Magnetic Kid, Blok, Saturn Girl, Element Lad, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, Mon-El; cameos by dead Legionnaires Karate Kid, Invisble Kid (I), Ferro Lad, and Chemical King

Bouncing Boy, Antonio Stefannacci, Sarvisa, SP Chief Cusimano, former Substitute Heroes Chlorophyll Kid & Fire Lad

the unnamed source of the return of magic

In Metropolis, Tellus and Ultra Boy are trying to keep people calm as more science fails and magic takes over. People want to use elevated trains to get home, for example, so they are frantic and scared as they mob around the space ports. Science Police officers use water hoses on them, which angers Ultra Boy. Bouncing Boy supports the SPs and their efforts to maintain order. In the background, a satyr plays his lute.
At Legion HQ, Sensor Girl and Timber Wolf as Leader and Deputy try to plan a response to the chaos. Computo explodes as science continues to fail. Sensor Girl sends out a call for help.
In the Eastern Aquafer, Shrinking Violet is bitching about her job as she does what she was asked to do: un-clog a portal because the technological control of the water locks no longer works.

Sensor Girl orders everyone to meet at the Museum of Mystic Arts, joining Element Lad's team there. People there are scared, too, because magic is actually working. They do something....shown below.....to create a magic spell, but it doesn't work.
Somewhere else, the Legion's actions have hurt whatever the source of the magic is. He (it?) swears vengeance against them as he gets closer and closer to breaking his bonds.

Back at the Museum, Sarvisa admits to the Legion that their efforts probably failed because he doesn't understand what "science" is! So Sensor Girl grabs Sun Boy as the Legion's expert scientist; she then asks Saturn Girl to telepathically link him and Sarvisa. Now using Sun Boy's knowledge, Sarvisa and Antonio's spell of "science" wraps around Earth, protecting it from more magical damage.
Elsewhere, the "Prometheus" creature finally breaks lose.

In deep space, the cruiser carrying Shadow Lass and Mon-El is hit by a "magical" wave. The life support system helping to keep him alive fails....and so Mon-El dies?

Back in Metropolis, Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl, and Tellus are still heading towards the others at the Mystical Museum, saving others as they go.

At the Museum, Sensor Girl leads a seance to talk to dead Legionnaires. She hopes to figure out what the Legion's next step should be. She requests them, "Tell me what I must know."
Although Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, and Ferro Lad appear before them, only Chemical King gives helpful advice, telling Projectra, "Go to Zerox!" Then the Emerald Eye interrupts, taking away Projectra's Orakill abilities. She knows that they must now go to the Sorcerers' World.
This issue is probably the worst in the Magic Wars story arc, as important things seem to be happening, but they aren't shown clearly. Exhibit A is, of course, whatever happens at the museum to "fix" Earth on page 10 (reprinted above). Because Giffen is more interested in creating an "atmosphere," he neglects to let us know what is actually happening! We can assume that it was some type of a spell based on what happens later when Sun Boy and Saturn Girl are invited into the Magic Circle. But I would have preferred a clear camera-angle of the players, and not, literally, scenes of candles, a green mist, and a darkened museum.

This issue is not Giffen's best work. The layouts, again, are just plain dull and boring. Mon-El's death is seven completely black panels. Is this drama? Or is it laziness? Likewise, when the Emerald Eye attacks Sensor Girl, instead of real consequences we get one full-page of "Zammmm!" Drama? I'm more interested in seeing what actually happens. It looks like the Eye explodes, but that doesn't make any sense. And the blast is yellow, not green. And where are the spirits of the dead Legionnaires, being blasted out of Projectra's realm of vision? All of that is supposed to be conveyed by one whole page with the sound effect, "Zammmm!"? I don't think so.
Worth a whole page to itself? You be the judge. 
Also, on page 13, when we are supposed to be seeing that the spell wrapping Earth in "science" (rather than magic) is working, we get five panels of dark Metropolis. Although the onomatopoeia says "blink" per lights coming on....there are no lights shown coming on! Coloring mistake? Editing mistake? Regardless, it keeps the story confused.

The cover by Steve Lightle is a clever way to show the very specific "war" between Science and Magic. And for the first time that I can ever recall, NO Legionnaires are on the cover of their own comic.

For the second issue in a row we get Shrinking Violet on a "solo" mission under-water. What's up with that? And I am not a fan of Bouncing Boy's neo-fascist "order must be maintained" comment. Ultra Boy gets huge brownie points in my book for standing up for the common people when they are hosed off by an SP squirt gun just because they are scared and confused.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Keith Giffen continues his current 9-panel per page layout, except when he shows the Arch Mage (six panels, four panels, one full page) or gives us a full page splash page. 
  • This is the last appearance of Shadow Lass in this volume of Legion. 
  • This is the last appearance of Chlorophyll Kid and Fire Lad in this volume of Legion. 
This story has not yet been reprinted.  

Mon-El appears to die in this story, and he is not seen again in the next two issues. His status is left unspecified until the next Legion of Super-Heroes series. 


  1. At the time I remember liking a lot of Giffen's experimentation and thought it fit the story (everything is weird!). I also remember liking a lot of the story including the binding of science using Sun Boy and Sarvisa.

    I do suppose that after Brainy, Dirk is probably the most physics oriented of the Legionnaires. It would have been nice if they had included a bit that Saturn Girl also understands science. She did invent Serum XY-4 after all.

    The seance was cool. The Eye taking revenge for stealing Sarya away was a great bit. My read was that as each figure appeared she either dismissed them or they vanished before they could help. Who were the two other presences in that last panel?

    1. The two presences could have been Luornu's two deceased bodies. That's what I assumed at the time.

  2. My theory on the "Prometheus" figure. I guessed that the figure was the true Mordru. The one buried in the planet by Amethyst centuries before. The Mordru we knew was a shadow of the real one. I thought this story was going to be their way or reinvigorating Mordru as a bad-ass Villain after they had defanged him over the last few years.

    That's not the way they went of course but that's next issue.