Friday, October 7, 2016

Threeboot: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #34

Recap: Supergirl has been elected leader. Cosmic Boy is missing. Three Legion away teams are sent by Brainiac 5 to sites where Cos might be hiding. But Brainiac's motives seems a bit worrisome. The teams seem set up to create conflict, perhaps clearing the way for Brainy to take over. Timber Wolf, Atom Girl, and Shadow Lass are on Lallor trying to track down their missing friend when they get caught up in a planetary conflict. 

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #34 begins the second mini-story in the Tony Bedard/Dennis Calero era on the team. As I said during the Winath story, Bedard really concentrates on one of the away teams during this 'Quest for Cosmic Boy' arc so the rest of the Legion is basically absent in these issues.

This approach does allow us to learn more about these particular Legionnaires. But I feel that one of the strengths of the Legion is its large cast. Certainly, in the past, issues focused on some team members. But often a couple of pages would be thrown in checking in on the others. Even if it was a monitor board showing who was where, it at least let us know the team still existed.

That said, Bedard really gives us a lot to think about when it comes to this team. We have barely scratched the surface of characterization for Atom Girl, Shadow Lass, and Timber Wolf. We learn more here.

But the biggest thing that sticks out about this issue (and in retrospect the prior Winath arc), is that Bedard is leaning into Legion history, adding some old continuity into the current series. Last story we learned about Tenzil Kem, Validus, and the Ranzz origin. Here, Bedard veers into Dave Cockrum territory, bringing in some classic stories and looks. If only I liked Calero's art more. It is just way too muddy for my liking.

On to the issue!

Last issue ended with a shot of Wildfire.

This issue opens with him in the President of Lallor's office, there to assassinate him. That sounds pretty evil for the Wildfire character. And why is he going to kill the President.

This is a classic look for Wildfire, the stars/wings motif and the hood is pure Dave Cockrum.

But I love how Atom Girl just appears. That is an interesting way to show her power. A few issues ago I spoke how Vi was put in a sort of provocative pose. That carries forward here with this 'come hither' look and dialogue.

The story then rolls back to three hours earlier.

The Legion is being attacked by the Lallorian police. They don't know why.

Again, Atom Girl is a star here, a sort of brutally efficient fighter with a sensual appetite. This isn't the dour, angry, 'partner of Ayla' Vi from the last incarnation. Here she lusts after Timber Wolf for his animalistic fierceness. That second panel shows a sort of lustful gaze at him, a departure from her prior sexual identity. And that last panel is a basic butt shot showing who she is here.

She is also a killer, shooting up people and keeping a running tally of her victims. This isn't your dad's Legion. This is Atom Girl, not Shrinking Violet.

It turns out that Lallor and its President are trying to get back in the good graces of the UP. But there is a faction against it. These rebels have purportedly hired an assassin to kill the President. The police assumed the Legion team were the killers. Some assume Cosmic Boy is the assassin, especially since everyone thinks he murdered all the Dominators.

Remember, the Legion are there to find Cos not get wrapped up in this political turmoil. But now that Cos might be involved, they decide to visit the President.

Meanwhile, we see who the assassin is. Wildfire.

Except, here we see that he is called Energy Release Generator, a big call back to Wildfire's first appearance as E.R.G.

Wildfire's brother is sort of the money man for his brother's missions. This Wildfire is a killer for hire.

Again, this is a throwback to old while bringing in a new wrinkle.

Meanwhile, Shadow Lass uses her rank as 'Champion of Talok VIII' to get an audience with the President. The hope here is two-fold. One, she wants the President to call off the police so they can look for Cos. And second, they will leave Atom Girl behind for protection (just in case Cos shows up).

Once more we hear that Brainy was the one who sent them there. 

We finally get a look back on Earth and away from Lallor.

There Brainy says that the Legion is going to be attacked. He demands that Timber Wolf lead the fight. This all sounds like Dreamy giving him some advice. But it is hard to know. Maybe Brainy wants to manipulate this fight so that it evolves the way he wishes.

I don't really like this Brainiac 5.

And so we get back to the scene in the office.

E.R.G. gives his back story. He had been added to the Legionnaires and went on a mission. Unfortunately, he seemed to sacrifice himself while disabling a Faminebot. His suit got cracked and exploded, his energy self dissipating.

This is a straight up homage of Superboy #195, ERG's first appearance. 

Now, in prior continuities, ERG was able to get his energy together and make his way to the Legion HQ, becoming Wildfire in Superboy #201.

Here, he became angry that the Legion wouldn't know to look for his energy and basically abandoned him. And so his brother saved him and put him on this killing course.

What I like here is that ERG shows that his costume has been upgraded to self-repair.

Heck, he even calls himself Wildfire in the last panel.

Now Wildfire is my favorite Legionnaire. So seeing this retelling/reimagining of his origin made me happy. I don't like he is a killer. But Bedard acknowledging the old stories was just fabulous.

The other Legionnaires arrive to help and, per Brainy's recommendations, Timber Wolf takes the lead. And after a brutal blast from Wildfire, we see that Brin has mutated or evolved. Now we have the pointy hair, white eyes, and fangs of the Cockrum era.

Wildfire and his original origin? This look of Timber Wolf? This is definitely Bedard expanding this Threeboot world, making it seem more comfortable or classic for older Legion fans. But we also are getting the back stories and seeing these changes happen. And so it is a starting point for the new fans.

I have said, this isn't easy. How do you court new and satisfy old without isolating one or the other?

I thought this was a decent issue. I don't know if I like the personality of Atom Girl given how much I loved the old Vi and all her character growth. But I loved the Wildfire and Timber Wolf homages.

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