Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #63

Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #63 (December 1994)
title: "Things at Hand!"
writers: Mark Waid and Tom McCraw
penciller: Lee Moder, Brian Apthorp and Scott Benefiel
inker: Ron Boyd and Tom Simmons
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Lee Moder
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

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

Athramites, President Jeanne Chu, R.J. Brande, Science Police, Tenzil Kem

Leland McCauley, Mano, the White Triangle

Billionaire R.J. Brande's grand experiment, the Legion of Super-Heroes is still new, but they've lost one member already; Kid Quantum died in action, something then-leader Leviathan still blames himself for. Brainiac 5, the Legion's new Coluan member has been late in showing up for duty. Elsewhere, the planet Angtu has exploded, leaving only one survivor. He is Mano, and he wants revenge on the weapons dealer who sold his people the chemical that killed them all...

While Apparition tries to teach Chameleon Interlac, her lesson is interrupted by diminutive Athramites eager to tailor the Legion some new uniforms. The Legionnaires rather think the lack of proper facilities is a more urgent problem, so R.J. Brande takes them to their new, expansive headquarters. They visit and meet their new member Brainiac 5 already hard at work on his own projects.
They are interrupted by Leland McCauley, Brande's biggest and slimiest business competitor, headquartered on the Moon and under threat from Mano who blames him for the genocide of his race. He wants help from the Legion, but also wants to take a closer look at what Brande has built. After an interlude in which four mysterious Daxamites reveal themselves behind the assassination attempt of R.J. Brande and of having a xenophobic anti-U.P. agenda, the Legionnaires arrive at Moondome where the soon come into conflict with Mano and his highly destructive hand. Saturn Girl is almost disintegrated, but is saved by XS, and Mano threatens to blow a hole in the dome that would kill them all. Live Wire calls his bluff, but he wasn't bluffing...
This issue begins so oddly with the Athramites. I feel like they wanted to start with something lighter since the rest of the comic rapidly becomes dark, but they confused me with the talk about new images for the heroes. Isn’t that what the reboot just did? This seemed all very weird until Brande came in, stopped the little creatures, and brought the team to their new headquarters. Maybe I missed it before, but they are actually living in Metropolis...? THE Metropolis?! I mean sure… Why not! It just took me a bit off guard. Wasn’t expecting the city to have survived all this time. The building is pretty neat, but it’s sad that it needs to be seen from the top to really enjoy the beauty of it. Brande surely thinks that by giving the kids official headquarters, the population of the U.P. will take them more seriously. Good job on giving them more space and lots of practice ground. It’s just sad that it also put an obvious target right over their heads. Hopefully the place is well protected.

Now I really want to talk about the villains because, just like the Legion, they really keep on multiplying, don't they? First we had Doyle, then Mano, and now we’ve been introduced to Space Boy Band of Doom! - Not gonna lie, if that’s not their name, I will be disappointed! I mean just look at them. They are FABULOUS!! – I guess that the more Legionnaires we’re having, the more villains we should have as well. We need to keep it balanced. Plus, it proves that there was actually a need for such an organization. I don’t like how the Science Police treats the Legion as a nuisance. You’d think that recruiting Leviathan would have created a bond between the two parties, but clearly it was all wishful thinking on my part. I can’t help but think that they’ll get in the way of our heroes quite often. Isn’t it enough to have to fight the baddies without having to also deal with them?
As for Mano… Well that guy is terrifying! Seriously, he creeps me out! His only wish seems to be to destroy the one he deems responsible for the death of his kind… If only he hadn’t killed innocent workers in the process! That man has some serious issues and I can’t believe that Garth was stupid enough to calling his bluff! The guy’s a maniac that tried to kill many members of your team and you challenge him, really? It was great to see them all act as a team though! I especially liked that Cosmic Boy trusted Leviathan with the lead of the second group. He’s doing terribly well as their leader and he keeps gaining more respect and trust from his teammates. We had a chance to see a lot more of Invisible Kid during the fight, but also just interacting as a new member of the gang, and I just can’t get enough of him! Now to see what Brainiac 5 is actually going to bring to the team.

Yes, the Legion has always been based in Metropolis since they were designed as part of Superman's (or Superboy's) universe. The city is so big by the 30th Century, I bet even we'd live in Metropolis by then. And yeah, the Athramites are an odd bit of fluff given that everyone's JUST gotten new costumes. If they'd appeared when everyone was wearing a blue unitard, then maybe.
For me, the biggest introduction in the issue is Tenzil Kem because I really, really like Matter-Eater Lad. In fact, I tend to like all the underdogs. Sadly, this new Legion isn't going to use him as a member. He's their chef instead. And it heralds similar roles for other classic Legionnaires deemed too "silly". And he was doing so well in the previous continuity too, I thought for sure they would bring him back as is. Shame. Still, the idea of a support staff in the HQ isn't a bad way to keep some of these beloved characters in the game without raising the eyebrows of fan boys who never thought them worthy in the first place. Cool new HQ anyway, though I agree with Shotgun that it's only impressive from one angle.
The issue is balanced just like I think a Legion story should be. About half character development with the kids hanging out, and half classic superheroic action, with Mano raising the stakes. It aslo divides the art chores between three artists, which shows an annoying lack of consistency (a problem the Legion books had even before the Reboot), as regular penciller Lee Moder's fun expressions give way to Apthorp's doll-like faces and Benefiel's big heads on small bodies. I'm being a bit facetious, because they all have their moments, whether the former's dynamic entrance for Mano or the latter's expressive work on the last few pages. But though you certainly need the action (whoo! XS saves the day AGAIN!), and Mano presents a worthy threat (I like that the Fatal Five aren't already all together), the character moments are where it's at for me: The kids avoiding a boring tour from the president and racing to see they new rooms and toys, Brainiac 5 refusing to engage, and yes, definitely, Cosmic Boy growing very well into his role as leader. (I wonder, is this changing your mind about the character all you girls absolutely DESTROYED in the first installment of Hot or Not?)

Science Police Notes:  
  • Some of the Athramites' suggestions hark back to past costume designs, most recently the late 80s/early 90s' jacketed look.
  • The issue features the first instance of the classic Legionnaire emblems (fat Mars symbol for Leviathan, triple Venus symbol for Triad, etc.) in the Reboot continuity (p.4). They haven't changed, only added XS' chest emblem.
  • The new Legion HQ, seen from above, looks like their emblem, with an L-shaped building, and a shooting star-like pool. The conference room looks exactly like the SW6 Legion's from the previous continuity.
  • Chameleon is seen watching the Looney Tunes. Bugs Bunny and friends are, like DC Comics characters, owned by Warner Bros.

First Reboot appearances of Legion Headquarters and of Tenzil Kem who, in this continuity, does not become Matter-Eater Lad. The Reboot's Leland McCauley also appears here for the first time, despite having been mentioned before.
First appearance of the White Triangle.


  1. Wow... Now I'm just sad I never realized Tenzil Kem was Matter-Eater Lad! I'm even sadder that he won't be a part of the team except as their cook.

    To answer your question Siskoid, I can absolutely say that my opinion changed regarding Cos. I went back to look at what we wrote and, well you didn't really help with the choice of pictures! Maybe if we'd seen the reboot version, we would've liked him a bit more. I guess the poor kid was a bit of a victim of being the first member to be judged. The structure of the blog wasn't established yet and he basically suffered of not enough different styles and too short a description.

    If you'd ask me today, Cosmic Boy is definitely Hot!

  2. You guys should also look at the toys when making that call (yeah, little late now, I know). It's sad when the only thing you guys get to look at is inconsistent art .

    - Boston Moss

    1. Inconsistent art (Open bracket: coff - Giffen! Close bracket).

      - Boston Moss

  3. This was the second issue I read when I discovered modern comics. I was hooked. Some solid character development, humor, action, and a great cliffhanger. Main downside was that the art was definitely a bit of a jostle between the three pencillers, but heck, at 11 I still thought it was amazing.

    One thing I really liked about these early issues in particular is how they integrated the characters' powers into their personalities and daily lives. Like, Apparition is always walking through things (not just when it's dramatic) because that's just something she can do. Triad's personalities, and XS's impulsiveness. It makes their abilities feel more intrinsic to them as characters.

    As noted above, in retrospect the whole costume design thing with the athramites doesn't really make sense. Still, Page 3 still amuses me and panel 6 still makes me chuckle.