Recap: All-out war has been declared between Praetor Lemnos and his Terror Firma army and the United Planets/Legion forces. Putting their differences behind them, Brainiac 5 and Cosmic Boy split the Legion into four groups. Cos leads a squad on Dormir, a planet of thought which is the communication hub of the UP. Lightning Lad is on Ttrxl, a 5th dimensional world which provides energy for the teleportation tech of the UP. Karate Kid has a team at Lemnos' headquarters. That leaves Brainiac 5 and Invisible Kid alone on Earth to fight Elysion the Terrakinetic. Already, Dream Girl has died at his hands.
Legion of Super-Heroes #12 is the penultimate chapter of this first long arc. Writer Mark Waid has been slowly unraveling this story of Praetor Lemnos and his behind the scenes machinations pushing the UP to the brink. At the same time, Waid has had the unenviable task of reintroducing fans to the Legionnaires here, rebooted for the third time, both fresh and well known. Now, with the team established, one member dead, and the simmer coming to a boil, the story moves toward an action-packed conclusion. As a fan, I was ready. It felt to me then as it did to me now as I reread this arc. At this point, I wanted to move on to the next story. I was thirsty for all sorts of Legion stories with this new group and so I needed to get this one behind me.
Penultimate chapters always worry me when I am done reading them. Has the writer brought the story to a place where one more issue can satisfactorily wrap everything up? Is there a great cliffhanger to get me ramped up for the conclusion? In some ways, I am more critical of the second to last chapter than the last one. Waid does move all these moving parts closer together, getting us where we need to be. He also leans heavily on one of the themes of this book, that the Legion is more than 20 super-powered teens, it is a political movement.
Barry Kitson is on art here again and brings a nice cinematic approach to the book giving us close-ups, splash pages, and great action when called on. I think his contributions are just as critical to the success of this book as Waid. There is some great art in this issue as I will show.
Upon seeing the armies that Lemnos is about to teleport around the UP, Karate Kid and Cosmic Boy change the Legion plan dramatically. Rather than defend the ability to 'port, they'll shut it down completely. Lemnos' troops will be marooned on this planet.
Of course, that also means that a handful of Legionnaires will need to fight this army. I love Karate Kid's determination. He tells Cos to do it.
On Ttrxl, the squad defeats Skelter through some old fashioned deception. Cham envelops Lightning Lad in a skin that appears to be Saturn Girl. When Skelter attacks the 'helpless Imra', he is actually battling Garth and gets electrocuted.
I love the crazy pages on this world with the bizarre panels, apt for a 5th dimensional world. But that picture of Cham as Imra, unwinding himself from Garth is great.
On Earth, Elysion continues to level Metropolis with his earth-moving powers. Brainiac and Invisible Kid seem ill-equipped to stop him. But then Brainy grabs a random rock and begins talking to it.
At first I thought this was a sign that Brainiac had completely snapped. After all, he has a history of mental illness in prior incarnations.
But earlier in the book, there was a panel of the rubble of the LSH headquarters where it was hinted that the key to defeating Elysion was amid the debris. At first I assumed it was an artifact shown half-buried. They couldn't be talking about this pebble? Could they?
But he also inhaled something else. Atom Girl! Or as I still like to call her, Shrinking Violet!
She expands within his body, erupting from him and nearly splitting him in half. She then knocks him out with a vicious kick and cauterizes his wounds with a laser pistol.
I usually don't include whole pages in my reviews but as a fan of Violet I had to. This was her introduction to the 3Boot team. And it is clear that she is one tough cookie. That aspect of her prior incarnation is still present.
Earlier in the book, Atom Girl was said to not exist.She was a joke played on new teammates. We should have known better as fans.
At his headquarters, Lemnos whips his army into a froth by delivering an impassioned speech. He talks of stagnation. He talks of how these people have been forgotten in the new sterile world order.
It is a decent speech. But it reminds me of how easily those who feel disenfranchised can be radicalized like this. It also has a sense of finality. He doesn't seem to care about these people. He makes it sound like they will die but as long as his cause moves forward it will be worth it.
The Legion team there have a simply plan. They will fight as long and as hard as they can. They need allies and so they spring Brin Londo from his prison cell.
To break him out without alerting Lemnos to their presence too early, Projectra uses ancient magic to create an illusion of Londo in the mind of his guard. Her power is similar to the prior Projectra's in that way. From the outside, people don't see what she projects. Her opponents alone 'see what they want to'.
We learn she inherited this power when Orando was overrun. The death of her family and father passed the power on to her.
There's nothing left to do but fight.
I love this splash of Jo and Val just wading through Lemnos army, bashing as many as they can. I also like how they realize that this isn't exactly what Superman would have done.
Just a great splash page!
Hooked into the 'Public Service' communication grid, Cosmic Boy gives his own impassioned speech to the Legion youth movement everywhere.
Unlike Lemnos, he calls upon the optimism of youth. This is their moment.
Fight ... and hopefully not die.
It is on!
There is another back-up feature which is an interesting story which doesn't impact the main arc that much. In the recent past, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl try to convince the planet Vash to join the UP and fight Lemnos. Because of the radiation of Vash, they population has extremely short lives. Everyone is a teenager. They mull over this decision to join the UP for a 'decent interval' - forty minutes. Forty minutes to someone who will only live 19 years is a long time. Nice wrinkle.
The rest of the story is Garth talking about how the Legion being an instrument of change and progress is needed. It is a reminder of the foundation of this team.
Overall, this was another good chapter in this story. We see the self-sacrifice in the Karate Kid team. We meet Atom Girl. And we learn that everyone who wants to be a Legionnaire can be in the upcoming war.
Next week: the finale!