Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #66

Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #66 (March 1995)
title: "Membership Drive"
writers: Mark Waid and Tom McCraw
penciller: Lee Moder
inker: Ron Boyd
lettering: Bob Pinaha
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Lee Moder and Ron Boyd
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Andromeda, Apparition, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Kinetix, Leviathan, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Spark, Triad, XS

Athramites, Gates, Ion, Lume, Marla Latham, President Chu, Thanot Saugin, Science Police, representatives of various worlds' governments


Previously... The Legion has just returned from Planet Hell. The United Planets have not finished sending them heroes from member worlds.

Daxam has sent the Legion their representative, the first of which is the Superman-class Laurel Gand AKA Andromeda. From an isolationist world, she's an angry xenophobe who doesn't want to stay with the team more than she has to, and must wear a transuit to protect herself from a fatal weakness to common lead. Brainiac 5 is supposed to be working on a more permanent fix.
In the meantime, Leviathan and Chameleon are visiting different worlds to bring back potential recruits. On Silvan, they meet a being of sentient light called Lume who, as it turns out, can't leave his world. They have even worse luck on Vyrga, where the teleporting insectoid Gates refuses to come despite being drafted by his government. He seems to consider the Legion a death squad, and after a scuffle, the Legionnaires leave without him. On Aleph, they finally hit the jackpot with Kinetix, a young archaeologist who can animate and transform matter, and who Leviathan falls in love with at first sight.
On Imsk, Apparition and Spark audition three possible Imskians for membership - the jerky Micro, the highly competent Ion, and the timid Shrinking Violet. Ion is killed during the try-out, however, and Violet solves the murder and defeats the culprit, Micro of course, winning her place on the team. The Legion now stands at 8 women to 5 men, though a new male representative from Xanthu is apparently on his way.

Back to the base to introduce some new characters. First, to follow up on Siskoid’s comments last week concerning the Legionnaires' headshots, I must say that it’s the first thing I noticed in this comic. Really fun to see the members react to Andromeda’s audition instead of having a dull graduation picture. As for Andromeda, can I just say that I hate her already? She seems so pretentious and over confident. And to think that I was unimpressed by Brainiac 5’s behavior, I knew nothing! She’s everything but a team player. I wonder if everyone on her planet is like her and she was the least xenophobic of the lot. At least she is really powerful and might prove herself useful within the team the minute she’ll decide to work with them. Another thing that bothered me is the way the cover spoiled the end of the comic. We clearly see that Brainiac 5 is charmed by Andromeda on the cover. Yet at the end, we only see that his attention is directed toward the ladies. From the headshots, I would’ve thought that he was interested in Violet or Kinetix since he clearly doesn’t react to Andromeda’s demonstration at that point. Anyway, it just seemed weird to me that they were so direct on the cover, yet tried to remain enigmatic within the comic.
Shrinking Violet is next. I don’t know how I feel about her personality. In a way, I think they went overboard with the shyness. I still find it pretty interesting how in her “normal” height she tries to vanish while she’s so fierce when she shrinks. She stepped up eventually and destroyed Micro. I’d say poor guy, but he really deserved it! I’m curious to see how her power will serve the Legion. I mean, I saw Ant-Man and Civil War so I have a small (no pun intended) idea of what she can provide within a team of superheroes. I just fear that it is a bit too specific and that she won’t necessarily feel all that useful most of the time. Maybe I’m wrong. Actually, I hope I am, because I actually like her. I mean, she’s got some sweet moves, so that might be helpful!
Last but not least we have Kinetix. I’m really wondering what it is she’s searching for at the very beginning. She’s talking about being energized by it. I’m afraid she considers her powers limited and tries to increase them by finding some sort of powerful artifact. It scares me a bit to say the least. It is just a couple of panels, but it gives me a bad feeling. Like she will never be satisfied with the amount of power she is wielding. It might put her in a lot of trouble. Then again, when she presents her skills to Leviathan and Chameleon, she looks absolutely confident. Gotta admit that I LOVE her yellow outfit. Cosplay goal right there!! Leviathan’s definitely not the only one that’s been seduced after these panels! I think that her powers are really interesting and I love how, in a way, it all depends on her imagination. Hopefully the stressful environment of a fight won’t stop her from creating great things. So there you have it, another lady joins the rank. WOOH! You go, girls!!!
Yeah that cover spoiler... This is definitely a wink to older readers. They would know that Andromeda is a stand-in for Supergirl who, in the original continuity, was a Legionnaire AND Brainy's love interest, but in this one (and for a while by this point), Supergirl didn't exist. I can totally see how that would be off-putting for a new reader though, which is exactly the kind of difference we set ourselves up to uncover when we decided to review these comics as a pair. Now, I loved Laurel in the previous continuity, and making her a xenophobe here is unfortunate, though necessary to the plot (we've seen Daxamites before, remember the sinister boy band hovering over Earth?). And I can't stand her loin cloth (okay, why am *I* the one talking about fashions?).

Speaking of fashions, Kinetix trying out different outfits is a fun bit and makes me instantly like the character. The yellow number of actually better than what the Athramites stick her with. Regardless, I'm eager for more completely new Legionnaires to join and switch up the old dynamics. She's kind of a version of Life Lass from the Heroes of Lallor, and from memory, I think Shotgun is more correct than she knows about her trajectory. Sadly, Gates doesn't join, though at this point, that would be too many antagonistic Legionnaires at the same time. I mean, they just fixed the Leviathan-Chameleon relationship (which I think is cool).
The A-plot is about recruiting Shrinking Violet, who definitely started out, back in the Silver Age, as a sexist portrayal. The female Legionnaires all had the most passive, girliest powers, you know? And Salu was the archetypal wilting flower. Over time, she grew to become a real hardass, but the Reboot resets her to past attitudes. What they HAVE kept from her evolution is a proficiency in martial arts using her shrinking powers to her advantage. I like how Spark is so impressed - these two were lovers in a past continuity, and though I don't think it'll head that way again, it's a nod to that. And while the murder mystery wasn't all that mysterious (there was only one suspect, after all), everything surrounding it was cool. The tiny Imskian buildings. The racist Science Policeman getting dressed down by Apparition and only then realizing she was the daughter of a UP VIP. The atomic sized action. All fun stuff.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Andromeda has been Legion continuity's replacement for Supergirl since the 5YL era. To set her apart from her Kryptonian equivalent, her powers are referred to differently: Mega-strength instead of super-strength, for example, and laser vision rather than heat vision.
  • Micro is the Reboot's version of Micro Lad, in the original continuity a member of the Legion of Super-Villains.
  • Though Gates rejects the Legion, he will be seen again with an updated and less alien design.
  • Lume and Ion make their first and last appearances in any continuity.
  • Xanthu's new champion is said to be recovering from a space-cruiser accident, which may be a reference to Star Boy's origin story.

First appearances of the Reboot versions of Andromeda (Laurel Gand), Shrinking Violet and Micro (Lad), and of Kinetix and Gates.

1 comment:

  1. I really do love the action on Imsk -- that is an awesome looking kick that SV uses to take down Micro, if a little physically impossible. Oh, and Gates is pure awesome. You're probably right that now wasn't the time to make him a full-fledged member, but I love how the writers on the reboot really made an effort to showcase characters like Gates and Andromeda. Not everyone wants to "join the superhero club" like they did back in the Adventure days.