Friday, October 28, 2016
Threeboot: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes # 36
Recap: Cosmic Boy is missing. Timber Wolf, Atom Girl, and Shadow Lass didn't find him on Lallor, finding Wildfire instead. Sun Boy, Tenzil Kem, and Star Boy didn't find him on Winath, instead arresting Mekt Ranzz for (purportedly) running a mind control lightning cult. And now Supergirl, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad are in the Gobi Jungle, fighting Evolvo Lad, and hoping to find Cos there. But they are in a fight and it isn't an easy one.
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #36 is the final issue of the interim creative team of writer Tony Bedard and Dennis Calero. Mark Waid and Barry Kitson left the book 6 issues ago. Since then Tony Bedard and Dennis Calero have been giving us The Search for Cosmic Boy. The plot has been three away teams searching three areas where Brainiac 5 feels Cos may be hiding. While each story has been interesting, bringing in elements of the old Legion into this new continuity, it has somehow shrunk the book. We haven't seen much of the cast of this book since this turn. And that seems to rob the book of some of its energy.
This issue actually marks the end of this creative team. It was pretty widely known at this point that Jim Shooter was coming back to the Legion with #37 and so Bedard also has the job of sweeping the deck and setting everything up for the next regime. One of those elements is Supergirl, who is removed quickly and efficiently. Was this an editorial decision? Was it Shooter's idea?
As usual, Dennis Calero's art just doesn't work for me. But, ironically, I think this is his strongest issue to date. There are some nice shots in this issue.
But for me, unofficially, this is another ending in this book. In my mind (because I haven't reread the Shooter issues yet), this book takes a big turn creatively once Shooter comes on. As a result, I think this issue slams the door on the Waid era.
On to the book.
Last issue Supergirl and Lightning Lad were taken out by the primitive form of Evolvo Lad. That has left Saturn Girl alone against the brute. And somehow, in this form, Imra can't use her telepathy to incapacitate him. Perhaps his brutish mind is too incomprehensible for her.
So instead, Saturn Girl uses her powers to rouse Kara from her stupor, leading to this fantastic splash page of Kara flying in with both fists.
But this Cromagnon form is incredible tough. He shrugs off this blow. It is only when Lightning Lad uses his powers to blast the floor beneath Evolvo Lad's feet do the Legion get a bit of an upper hand.
The destroyed floor leads to a shaft that the Legions spill down to confront the beast. It turns out this isn't a simple teleporting pad.
I like these panels as well Calero does a nice job with shadows on this upper panel. And making Kara burst through the borders makes it seem like she is flying down. And then switching the POV 180 is a nice turn. I feel like Calero was just finding himself here.
The portal turns out to be something of a time machine ... a ChronoNexus. And using her supervision, Kara can look back to see that it is set for her original time. She is witnessing the events of the World War III which happened at the tail end of 52.
Just like that, Kara remembers her friends and her responsibilities in the past. And she is horrified at what she is seeing. You can see that she feels she needs to be there to help.
I don't even remember what kicked off World War III. That feels like a million years ago.
Evolvo Lad evolves into his advanced form and lays down some significant exposition. Brainiac 5 built the device (he had done something similar in Action Comics #850). Brainy knows that Supergirl is needed in her own time. She has to be the inspiration for the Legion in the past.
So Brainy makes this convoluted plan to make it seem like Evolvo Lad fired a bomb into the past that Supergirl would rush to save, sending her back under false pretenses. Despite how despicable this is, Saturn Girl agrees with the underlying idea. Supergirl needs to return to the 21st century.
This whole thing makes little sense.
If Brainy had the tech, why all the chicanery? Why not just tell Kara he can send her home? Why lie? I think this is pretty awful ... even for Brainy.
I don't know if we ever got a good explanation of how she got to the 31st Century.
I don't know if this is a good explanation for her to leave right then. (It's a time machine! She could stay another day and go back to the Marvel fight any time she wants!)
But I do know that I liked Supergirl in this book, much more than her portrayal in her own book at the time.
Bedard does give Brainiac 5 a bit of comeuppance. In his mind, Brainy is slapped around and yelled at by both Saturn Girl and the spirit of Dream Girl.
Neither of them are happy with Brainy's plots. But he feels that the ends justify his means. The Legion was in significant danger. And so he concocted all three away missions to save the team.
There was an 87% chance that Mekt Ranzz would take over the Legion. He needed to be removed. So Brainy trumped up charges against him. (So the Legion is for unlawful imprisonment now?) As a bonus, the Legion has an ally in Tenzil Kem.
The Lallor team stabilized that planet and kept them in the UP. Plus, ERG-1 could be a great Legionnaire.
But still ... why lie?
Why not tell his team about Mekt? Why not kick Mekt out? Why lie about sending the team to Lallor?
And how can Imra just roll with this?
We do get one last look at Supergirl. Brainy explains that Supergirl had to go back in time to be the hero she was meant to be there. Of course, Imra removed all her memories of the Legion on the way out.
But, as I said before, why lie about this?
Now you can say it is a personality flaw in Brainy that he felt he needed to lie about all this. But the Legion doesn't have to accept it or like it.
I do like this panel. While Supergirl looks just a little off, I like the split with the Legion on one side and the Titans on the other.
And Lightning Lad becomes the Legion Leader.
Bedard does bring this story to a close by repeating the opening words of Waid's run, describing the team. But it also felt a bit like a eulogy ... or a final toast to this interpretation.
Things are about to get even weirder.