Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reboot: Legionnaires Annual #2

Legionnaires Annual # (1995)
title: "Four Horsemen"
writers: Mark Waid, Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
penciller: Jeffrey Moy
inker: W.C. Carani
lettering: Pat Prentice
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Jeffrey Moy and W.C. Carani
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Andromeda, Apparition (dies), Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Leviathan, Live Wire, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Spark, Triad, XS

Alchemist, Evolvo, Inferno, Karate Kid, President Chu, R.J. Brande, Spider-Girl, Ultra Boy, Athramites, hospital staff, many rioters and victims

Roxxas (dies), White Triangle

Armed with a cure to lead poisoning, Daxamite members of the White Triangle have just destroyed the planet Trom so its inhabitants can't manufacture the rare element that powers R.J. Brande's stargates, and are now attacking Earth...

Four Daxamites, under Ambassador Roxxas' direction, are attacking the four corners of the planet Earth, and both the Legion and the Workforce have split up to help the various affected communities. Evolvo and Spider-Girl are unable to save the inhabitants of Miami, the first city to completely fall. Ultra Boy and Apparition are likewise unable to protect the weather control satellite network, while an important power plant inside a volcano is destroyed despite Leviathan and Inferno's best efforts. Invisible Kid and Chameleon aren't any more successful at stopping an attack on a church. XS is interrupted from her attempts to save people from a tsunami in Japan, and in Capetown, Karate Kid somehow routes one of the Daxamites as anti-alien rioting starts to take hold everywhere.
Meanwhile, Cosmic Boy visits the brain-damaged Saturn Girl one more time and then proceeds to give Live Wire a flight right and access to Imra who is figuratively shocked back into her right mind by Garth's presence. Her telepathic abilities will become crucial to the coordination of the heroes' efforts. Andromeda, for her part, attacks Roxxas, who has used her to make this attack possible. Only with the help of Shrinking Violet does she manage to defeat Roxxas, who sets off a nuclear explosion that kills him and, apparently, Andromeda too. Violet barely escapes.
Ultra Boy and Apparition take a break from fighting to admit they love each other, but that gives a White Triangle member an opportunity to fire his heat vision at them. Jo is left with Tinya's charred corpse in his arms.
The White Triangle is finally defeated when R.J. Brande arrives on Earth with Jan Arrah (AKA Alchemist) who furnishes Brainiac 5 with the necessary element to activate a stargate right above Legion HQ just as the Daxamites attack, sending them to a barren world with a red sun where, powerless, the Science Police can pick them up. Saturn Girl sees SOMEthing important in the 'gate, but we don't know what. As statues to fallen heroes go up, Cosmic Boy learns that Andromeda, at least, isn't really dead, but has turned herself in for her contribution to the White Triangle plan and is serving time, alone, on the prison planet inside the sun.
I want to apologize in advance. I have so many questions and emotions and I’m sorry if I don’t make any sense!

One thing that bothered me as I was reading was the realization that the White Triangle didn’t have a plan. All they wanted was to create as much suffering as possible and to make the destruction of the planet as slow and painful as possible. I will never understand the idea of loving your race so much that you need to destroy everything that’s different. The U.P. wasn’t a threat to them at all. Why do they care so much about the fact that other planets are able to communicate, exchange and prosper by working together? If they were that repulsed by the other races, why didn’t they just stay away from them and kept on living in isolation? It’s insane that only 4 Daxamites – well 5 if we include Roxxas – could create that much destruction! While the White Triangle didn’t seem to have elaborate any course of action, the Legion and Workforce seemed to have planned their movement a bit too much to my liking. They obviously wanted to buy enough time for Brande and Brainiac 5 to complete the stargate, but at what cost? Plus, they didn’t even know what the plan was! They were extremely trusting in Cosmic Boy’s capacities as a leader and I’m glad he didn’t let them down. Leviathan is absolutely right though, the Legion is extremely lucky it lost so few members.
I am thrilled to see Imra back in her normal state. Ok, it might be too early to say normal but at least she seems to react more like her old self. I am also glad to have Garth back on the team and hope that most of the Workforce will follow his lead and join the Legion. Let’s be honest, there’s no way that Cos gave him a ring just for this event. Live Wire is a Legionnaire, period. Now what can I say about Jan? Actually, the answer is nothing. I guess he will eventually become Element Lad, but that’s pretty much all I remember about him. The addition of these members clearly means one thing, we needed some room for them and boy, did the writers create some!

It was a shock to me to think that Andromeda could die, but it also made sense. She would pay the ultimate price for her betrayal. I’m not disappointed that she’s alive, but I must say that I’d rather have her dead than stuck in this prison all by herself. It’s a terrible fate for her and I hope that, at some point, something can be done for her to come back. Now for the real kick in the feels. About that panel… That one page that’s only one panel… That damn page 31… It just broke me. This is so tragic and frustrating. I loved Apparition so much. She was impulsive, kind of a rebel, but also gentle and caring. It’s pretty incredible how attached you can become to a fictional character. The bastard waited for them to lower their defenses and struck when it hurt the most for the characters and for the readers. In retrospect, there’s really only one thing left to say: I hate them! I hate them with a passion! I will never not hate them. I prefer not knowing what sanctions they will receive because whatever the punishment is, it’s never going to be enough! I’m glad this storyline is over and I hope we will move on to something a lot less heavy for a little while.
First of all, that's a real big blow-out with the White Triangle, and getting the Workforce in doesn't just make sense from the standpoint of this being a global crisis, but because the team features several characters who were Legionnaires in another lifetime. And so, Inferno saves Leviathan's life, just as Sun Boy might have saved Colossal Boy; Karate Kid surprises by super-kicking a Daxamite and actually destabilizes him; and not Workforce but still, Jan Arrah vaporizes the Eiffel Tower as it's thrown at his ship. And Ultra Boy? Might as well be a Legionnaire at this point, and perhaps they'll need his brawn to replace Andromeda's.
We do, in fact, lose two Legionnaires this issue, and I was concerned about Shotgun's reaction when I read it. Was she going to be OKAY? Apparition really was her favorite (and an early favorite of all the Hot or Not girls) and making her the lone casualty (even if the Legion believes there were two) is pretty poignant. I don't want to spoil anything for those reading along, including Shotgun, but obviously, you don't set-up a star-crossed lovers vs. grouchy mom story only to abort everything with a character's death. Where will this tragic turn of events take Jo and the Wazzo family from here? I remember some things, but not all. I can only say that Tinya will not be forgotten.
Losing Andromeda is less likely to hurt, because she was never really integrated into the team. I'll miss the IDEA of her more than the character herself. She won't be forgotten either, but look for a complete change of attitude. You know, it's odd. I'm reliving the 90s here, and though I remember the Legion as "happier" than much of the era's comics output, that's mostly a function of the art. In reality, the stories have been rather dark, and I agree with Shotgun that the team could use a lighter story in its near future. It feels like they've been put through the wringer consistently since Zero Hour. Maybe we can look forward to some fun after the funerals...

If I have a complaint, it's that not enough was made of the cure to lead poisoning apparently causing madness in those it wasn't calibrated for. Roxxas and friends were already psychopathic racists before they took the serum, and they're never debilitated by it, so it seems like a missed opportunity and confuses their motivations and diminishes their responsibility in these actions. It's like their forgot to pull the lever on a third act reveal.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The Annual features the Year One banner, like all of 1995's Annuals, but unlike most, does not tell a "flashback" story. It nevertheless works because the Legionnaires are still technically in their first year as a team.
  • Live Wire rejoins the Legion. Saturn Girl is cured by the end of the story and rejoins the active Legion as well.
  • Alchemist is revealed to be alive, the last Trommite, though his presence has been hinted at since R.J. Brande left Trom.

Death of Apparition and apparent death of Andromeda. Both characters get a statue in the Legion's Hall of Heroes, alongside Kid Quantum's.


  1. For an annual this was actually a great story with Waid and Moy doing the art!

    This Legion really had the feel of the old Adventure Comics and was one of my favorite books .

  2. Oh man, this annual. While I can't argue with the analysis of the weaknesses in the storyline ... man. There aren't enough words on this one.

    There was a point in time in which I thought I'd never actually be able to read this book. It was one of the last ones that came out before I figured out the whole "two series at once" thing (hey, I was 12), and I had a hard time finding it. So by the time I read it I'd already seen five or six issues at least of the aftermath.

    And it was STILL intense.

    This is one of the issues where I felt like Moy and Carani leveled up in their artwork. They really took it to another level and it was totally worth a few issues of guest artists to make this one happen.

    That one page ... man. Apparition's death is still a gut-punchingly powerful sequence.

    Other highlights. Andromeda finally turned onto the path of the hero, and SV as her sidekick - awesome. One of the things I like about Andromeda is that she has to WORK to be a hero. It's fun to see her be part of the team for just a little while. Karate Kid justifies his existence handily as the only guy without superpowers.

    AND on top of all that, on top of all the action, they still managed to tease upcoming storylines.

    Not perfect, but real close, by damn.