Thursday, November 3, 2016

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #72

Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #72 (September 1995)
title: "Absent Friends"
writers: Tom McCraw, Tom Peyer
penciller: Lee Moder
inker: Ron Boyd
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

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

Alchemist, Ambassador Wazzo, Brad Majors, Evolvo, Gigi Cusimano, Inferno, Karate Kid, President Chu, R.J. Brande, Shvaughn Erin, Spider-Girl, Ultra Boy, Science Police, U.P. ambassadors and delegates, Morgna Industries employees

Dr. Regulus, Leland McCauley, White Triangle

In the wake of the White Triangle's devastating attack of Earth, the Legion has lost two members - Apparition and Andromeda...

Earth is licking its wounds, the Science Police are rounding up human members of the White Triangle, and the Legion and Workforce are attending a funeral for their fallen. After R.J. Brande's eulogy, the heroes are encouraged to mill around and talk to U.P. ambassadors, but Cosmic Boy loses it when asked to smile and take pictures, angering President Chu. Apparition's mother, Ambassador Wazzo, vows to put a stop to the Legion, which is clearly unsafe for the young people serving as members. Brainiac 5 does not even attend, smashing his lab in rage instead.
Reminded by Saturn Girl that team morale is especially low, Cos calls all Legionnaires to a meeting where he talks about life going on and his choice to admit two new members to the Legion: Jan Arrah and Ultra Boy. President Chu interrupts and not only prohibits this action, but also undoes Live Wire's reinstatement. Beset on all sides, the last straw for Cos seems to be Brainiac 5 asking for a leave of absence, which he refuses him. Unable to tell Brainy or anyone else that Andromeda is alive and in prison, he lashes out when he senses Saturn Girl reading his mind. This leads to a fracas after which the entire Legion intervenes, takes sides, and leaves Cos alone to deal with his crap.
Meanwhile, at Morgna Industries, two lab technicians are killed by the just-fired Dr. Regulus using a stolen battlesuit...

There I was, thinking the last comic was depressing and hard to read. I guess it’s a different kind of emotion the writers wanted their readers to feel by going into such detail over the mourning period. Last week I was, in a way, grieving the death of Apparition and the exile of Andromeda. This week, I’m feeling empathy toward the remaining members of the Legion. Seeing Cosmic Boy going from being really calm and composed to a total wreck felt too real since he really is at the center of this issue. They definitely did a wonderful job bringing out the frustration he feels when facing the decisions made by the U.P. If he’s to be the leader, why won’t they let him do it his way? Cos is trying to keep his calm and work around these problems, but you can’t obviously expect anyone to go through all this without breaking up at some point. Don’t you understand that they need some time? The new villain that appeared in this issue is nothing compared to the controlling forces floating above the Legion. The president, the ambassadors, everyone of influence wants them to act like their own personal puppets. They don’t even take into account that they’re just kids! Heartless robots, the lot of them.
Even though the focus of the comic is clearly on Cosmic Boy, I can’t help but feel even sorrier for Ultra and Brainy. They’re grieving for something much more complicated than a friendship or a partner; they are mourning a possible future with someone they loved. I’m glad they used the power of silence when approaching these two characters. The simple fact that Brainiac 5's panel was blank in the roll call, and that he didn’t even attend the funeral, broke my heart in pieces. Andromeda never even showed him any kindness except for her inability to call him an inferior, yet the guy was so attached to her. He believed in her. *Sigh* At least Ultra Boy had the chance to spend some time with Tinya. Plus the feelings he had for her were mutual. This won’t make it any easier for him - or for me, for that matter. Apparition will definitely be missed.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch Les Misérables or something. I feel I’m in the perfect mood for such a story!

R.J. Brande's eulogy, about truth and lies, is a great piece of writing; I love it as an opening. And they really do play the grief in a varied way, depending on the person. Jan Arrah sees death as just another state of being and is at peace with his entire world dying. Ultra Boy cries silently, Brainy loudly. XS doesn't know what to say. The Ranzz twins comfort each other. Violet worries about Andromeda's memory, especially since she contributed to its soiling. Saturn Girl monitors morale. Ambassador Wazzo angrily vows to dismantle the organization that got her daughter killed. President Chu uses the event to score political points (I've come to loathe this woman). And then there's Cosmic Boy who tries his best but is literally being picked apart by everyone.
Just look at that funeral again. On page 6, XS goes to him for advice, but a journalist puts a microphone in his face before he can counsel her; the interview ends with the Legion accused of being a death trap. He heads for Ultra Boy because he's thinking about replacing his fallen members, and on page 7, doesn't have time for Science Police liaison Shvaughn's condolences. Then he gets into a legal tangle with McCauley, which in turn (page 8) interrupted by Kinetix's ambassador who wants to know where she is, then Wazzo goes on the attack, and so on, Even after the funeral, he's shown throwing back-seat leader Invisible Kid out of his office, and in his irritation, uses his powers against Imra, pushing his best friends away. The pressures of leadership, in this crisis time, have taken their toll. He's gone too far and is now very much alone.
So sorry, Dr. Regulus. I know you're trying to make your dastardly debut here, but we can hardly be bothered to notice your murderous teaser.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Alchemist and Ultra Boy are asked to join the Legion, but President Chu prevents Cosmic Boy from making it official, just as she reverses Live Wire's reinstatement.
  • The Legion meets a journalist for GalaxyNet, which seems to point to Morgan Edge's Galaxy Communications in the contemporary DC Universe still existing in some form a thousand years later.
  • There is a moment where R.J.Brande puts his hand on Chameleon's shoulder and calls him "son", a possible reference to those characters' familial relationship in the previous continuity. 
  • Morgna Industries is named after Dirk Morgna's father; in the previous continuity, Dirk would become Sun Boy. In that timeline Dr. Regulus worked at Metropolis Fusion Power and was involved in an accident there, along with young Dirk, giving the latter solar powers. Regulus' experiments with "radioactive gold" would yield dangerous solar technology he would use to commit crimes.

First Reboot appearance of Dr. Regulus.


  1. Once again I really enjoyed this biweekly run of Legion of Superheroes and Legionaires !

    This was some of the best written storylines and art in league with Shooter,Swan, Levitz, Cockrum, Grell and Giffen!

  2. This really was a masterfully plotted issue. Given Cos' good intentions, your list of how the funeral went down really just showed the pressure of his position. I can get why he lost it at the end given what he had to deal with this issue -- doesn't make it any better but man, they really make you feel the strain.