Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Reboot: Legionnaires #19

Legionnaires #19 (November 1994)
title: "The Quick and the Dead"
writers: Mark Waid, Tom McCraw and Tom Peyer
penciller: Jeffrey Moy
inker: Ron Boyd
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Jeffrey Moy
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Apparition, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Kid Quantum (corpse), Leviathan, Live Wire, Saturn Girl, Triad, XS

Marla Latham, President Jeanne Chu, R.J. Brande

Mano, Roderick Doyle, the would-be assassins of R.J. Brande

The United Planets have drafted a number of super-powered teens to the Legion without the core members' consent, and one of them, Kid Quantum, is already dead following their first disastrous mission. Leviathan, named leader by the U.P., blames himself and has given up the reigns of leadership to Cosmic Boy. And when the going got tough, XS ran away, which has her questioning her place on the team...
As the Legion prepares to bury their fallen, R.J. Brande lets the President of the United Planets that their interference with the team caused this tragedy. Though annoyed by the draft, he nevertheless encourages his brilliant young employee, Brainiac 5, to answer the summons he has up til now ignored. In the wake of Kid Quantum's death and her own poor performance, XS wonders if she should quit the team; Cosmic Boy gives her a pep talk that might change her mind.

Meanwhile, Saturn Girl and Live Wire interrogate the men who tried to kill R.J. Brande when they all first met, and Brande's employee Roderick Doyle is implicated. Invisible Kid and Chameleon very quickly make the arrest, but Doyle threatens that this isn't over. And so, at Kid Quantum's funeral, the casket explodes, and would have taken out Brande, the President and the Legion had XS not been there to save them at superspeed. Through her courage and wits, she even overcomes the challenge posed by the Kid's stasis belt, slowing her down and the explosion in its automatically-projected field.
Elsewhere, on the planet Angtu, everyone is dead following the use of a chemical weapon sold to one side of a long-standing war by Earthman Leland McCauley. Only one person has survived, Mano, a man gifted with a disintegrating hand. In an attempt to commit suicide, Mano turns his power on the planet, which explodes. To his despair, he survives...

I was expecting to witness the aftermath of the Legion’s first mission. There is a lot to cover and I’m glad that they took the whole issue to analyze every aspect of it. Brande’s reaction is great! I was surprised that he seems to be completely out of the loop regarding the selection of the recruits. You’d think that he would at least be informed that the team was formed and that they had gone on their first mission together. My favorite part about this is the eavesdropping. They are kids after all! Like Siskoid mentioned last week, we again have the chance to discover a bit more of Triad’s different personalities. She must be really conflicted when the three parts are merged. Or is there one main personality and the others are just an emphasized version of her “good” and “bad” sides? One thing is certain, she’s a really interesting character! The Live Wire / Saturn Girl pages have a “good cop, bad cop” vibe and I like it! They are quite the pair actually. Where Saturn is more patient and cautious, Live Wire is totally impulsive. Aren’t they ending up together? Because I can clearly see it becoming a thing.
Their common effort let them get the information on the mastermind behind the assassination attempt leads to an arrest. I guess that Doyle wasn’t that much of a threat… Or was he? Maybe he’s the one behind the belt explosion. I’m also confused about the last pages of this issue. Is the character we meet at the end a future Legionnaire or an enemy? This backstory rings a bell but I don’t want to cheat and go back through our Hot or Not posts (shameless plug!) to find out. If he’s not a villain, then I’m convinced that we’re not done with Doyle just yet.

Now if you read last week, you’ll remember that I was curious about the three characters that I thought weren’t given enough of a spotlight. With three issues done, I must admit that I’m not quite satisfied yet. I want more of Chameleon and Invisible Kid! I am absolutely biased, I realize that. But what can I say… I just love Invisible Kid! The plot is suffering a bit from the “too many characters” effect. Hopefully, the upcoming arrival of Brainiac 5 won’t accentuate this problem. On the other hand, this issue gave me plenty of information on XS. The character is growing on me. She is becoming one of my favorites to be honest. Her fears and self-doubt are making her more realistic. The moment that really got me was during the funeral. She’s in a middle of a crisis and needs to save everyone from certain death, yet she is mad at herself because she didn’t think of saving Cosmic Boy first. COME ON!! Like you’d have time to analyze and get a solid plan in those circumstances. Give yourself some credit, you’re doing great, girl!! The fact that she still questions her capacities and decisions at this point makes her seem insecure, but also really humble. I hope that her character develops more confidence with time. I feel that it's important to show that not all members of the Legion come to it naturally, but it could also get old really fast.

To your points first, I'll say you're far from the only person to say the Legion has too many characters - and we're not even at full size yet! The original Legion had more than 30 members you might have wanted to look in on, and it's probably one of the reasons the team could sustain two titles during this era. Each creative team can, for example, concentrate on certainly characters over others, leaving the neglected ones for the other. Mano, however, is not one of those characters, but it's very interesting that, as introduced to a new reader here, he could appear rather noble. His people are dead, and he's distraught, which normally would be a superhero origin (I mean, they show him with a dead body in his arms). But what is was his role in the perpetual war fought on his planet, exactly?

As for XS, whose issue this actually is, I like her too. But then, I like superfast characters anyway. The whole "I'm thinking of quitting" trope has been seen before, many times in the Legion, and unsurprisingly, she "arcs" by the end of the issue and chooses to stay. But it's well motivated. On the one hand, the way she frenetically cleans up her room when Cosmic Boy comes calling, there may be a crush developing there that makes her receptive to his pep talk.
On the other, she was uniquely suited to deal with the explosive stasis belt - yes, Doyle must be behind it, or is there someone also behind Doyle? - even if her inexperience makes her make mistakes. A mistake she must be even more clever to fix, so it becomes a moment that pushes her to be even better. XS is the first completely new Legionnaire of the Reboot era, so focusing on her early one is a must. We have a sense of who the others are, and now that same sense about her. And it makes thematic sense that this new character act more like a newbie than any of the others.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Brainiac 5 is currently working on Talus, a planetoid that once serves as Legion HQ in the previous (5YL) continuity.
  • Leland McCauley, here referenced as the weapons dealer who caused a near-total genocide on Mano's homeworld of Angtu, was, in the previous continuity, R.J. Brande's business rival introduced way back in Adventure Comics #374 (1968); his son would go on to plague the Legion during the 5YL era.

First appearance of the Reboot's Mano.


  1. XS was probably my favorite character throughout the reboot. She has to work at being a hero -- and is really more human for it. And I always liked the little impulsive tics like the speakingreallyfastsoherwordsallruntogether.
    Artwise, a solid outing for a new team (I assume), although nothing compared to what Moy was capable of later in the run. And the lightning effects in these early issues really bugged me. They make sense but just don't have a sense of real power behind them.

  2. XS was an amazing addition to the team. Though sorely underutilized after she returned from the 20th century until Legion of the Damned. (Darn you Flash editorial!) A great entry point for new readers and right away helped this Legion feel fresh.