Friday, September 2, 2016
Threeboot: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #29
Review by Anj
Recap: The Dominators have invaded Earth. In a well-orchestrated series of attacks, the Dominion shut down all technology on the planet and then sent in their genetically modified, incredibly strong shock troopers. The Legion and the Wanderers seem stretched thin and overmatched. All seems lost. Until Cosmic Boy turns the tables. Using chicanery, he tricks the Dominators into opening a portal to the Dominion homeworld. Suddenly the Legion and the Wanderers are tearing apart the Dominators' planet just as they are razing Earth. It is an odd two-front war.
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #29 is an curious chapter in this Dominator war arc. And that makes it one of the most interesting issues within this run. Let's start off with the creator credits. Mark Waid and Barry Kitson aren't here. Waid isn't even listed as plotter. This issue is written by Tony Bedard. The art is by Kevin Sharpe. I wonder how Bedard got this gig. Did Waid need a month off? Did Waid tell Bedard where the story was going? Or did he write this on his own based solely on what came before?
Next, it is something of a pause in the action. After the last issue ended with the Legion invading the Dominion, I assumed this was going to be a knock-down, drag out action issue. Instead, Bedard slows down the action to give us back story. And the most amazing thing is that it is told from the viewpoint of a Dominator scientist. Hearing the Dominator's story adds some depth to the proceedings. Heck, you almost can understand the Dominator's actions based on this issue. How amazing is Bedard to make me sympathize with the enemy? That is incredible!
And there is so much more. The plot ties into the '52' title and the 'One Year Later' themes of the main DCU. The few action scenes we see show vividly that this is war. There is a feeling that this is a seed planted for even future stories. Not too shabby for an issue that doesn't have the main creators.
Kevin Sharpe's art is fine. It has a sort of house style to it. It isn't flashy. It does what it needs to do.
On to the story!
We see how as a student he saw films that showed how stronger, less intelligent beasts can still defeat the wily, brilliant Dominators. The Dominators are always shown as thin, almost frail beings. And this scientist realized that they would never be able to overrun the universe with their physical stature. They needed brute strength.
Despite the cultural belief that Dominators are perfect in belief and form, this scientist goes against the status quo and 'taints' their blood. Despite his plans, the Legion has arrived. The homeworld is in peril.
I find this Dominator intriguing. He is a progressive. He sees his world and culture stagnating. He wants them to advance and move forward. He is a radical. He wants to protect his people. He could be looked upon as a hero.
The homeworld is defended by some infantry but most are away on Earth. The Dominator army chants their rallying cry ("Remember the 52!"); the Legion and Wanderers continue to decimate the Dominator troops and landscape.
In fact, one might look upon this page as proof that this is a new sort of Legion. Is there a Legion constitution in this threeboot? Is there a rule against killing? Because Cosmic Boy just leveled an entire building. For all I know, that's an apartment building! There must be casualties.
I guess this isn't your father's Legion. "Eat it, Grandpa!"
The scientist is chastised by the higher castes for both polluting the Dominator bloodlines and failing to keep the homeworld safe.
Heading back to his lab, the scientist recalls how the Dominators got to this place. It goes all the way back to the Invasion crossover event. The Dominion and their allies lost in their bid to conquer Earth. It is a rare defeat for the 'superior' race. And their culture reeled from this.
Centuries later, the Dominion signed the 'Nameless Treaty' with the United Planets. The treaty is nameless because their is no Dominator word for non-aggression.
That is a great little way to tie all this into the then landscape of the main DCU. It also clued me into just how blood-thirsty, expansive-minded, and almost insecure the Dominion culture is.
Things change when Booster Gold, for some reason, time travels to the homeworld to grab a 'tachyon disruptor rifle'. I don't know if this actually happens somewhere in a different title. But Booster says this weapon is needed to protect the 'fifty-two worlds.' Was this scene in '52'?
But being a human on the Dominator homeworld and speaking of 52 worlds, the Dominion thinks this is an act of war. They assume the UP has organized 52 worlds against the Dominion. And so the Dominators begin planning for intergalactic war.
I do like the explanation of 'Remember the 52!' as a rallying cry. It reminds me of 'Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!'
Based on this, the scientist knew that things needed to change. The Dominator infantry needed to be bulked up. And so they began raiding the frontier settlements, overwhelming the powerful by sheer numbers, and then stripped the beings of their metagenes.
We see that they skirmished with the Wanderers in the past.
And so we see how this scientist committed heresy, speaking to the highest castes that the 'perfect' Dominators needed to be improved. But instead of being killed for this, his ideas are accepted.
And so Bedard explains the frontier raids and the Dominator troops all while again letting us peek behind the curtain of the Dominator culture.
With the Legion running roughshod over the world, the scientist knows the war will soon be over. He releases Sun Boy and his team.
And then we see just how complex this Dominator scientist is as a character. He says that he never did his experiments to defeat the enemies. He instead wanted to bring the Dominion into a 'catastrophic war' as a way to shake up the Dominator's immutable world view. He wants to raze their 'flawed society'. Imagine, a Dominator acting as an agent of change.
Unfortunately, that is heretical. One of his troopers clings to the old beliefs and smashes the scientist.
Still, this one-off nameless character is just three-dimensional and fascinating.
And yet, despite dying, he seems content. He knows his enhanced Dominator troops will be scattered throughout the cosmos after this war. A new generation of Dominators will be born, improved, and stronger. And so he is willing to be sacrificed.
This is a Legion book. And so we finally see all the teams united. The Legion. The Wanderers. Sun Boy's Squad. They are ready to take down the Dominator homeworld. Nice ending splash page.
So this title is now a war book. And here we have an issue told from the other side. And it is a compelling story of a person not satisfied with the world and societal norms and decided he needs things to change. Is he a hero? A radical? Are his ends worth the means?
And so I have questions to mull over. And do you.
Kudos to Tony Bedard for stepping in and giving us this interesting read.