Friday, December 9, 2016

Threeboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #39

Legion of Super-Heroes #39 continued the new direction by writer Jim Shooter and artist Francis Manapul. In rereading these issues now I am struck by just how depressing this book and the characters are. After the brighter, political tone of the early issues of this title, Shooter really decided to bring the misery.

No one necessarily seems happy here. Shooter concentrates on three main storylines. One is the away team on Triton recovering from the monster construct attacks. The other is an away team in Beijing working on a rodent problem. And the last storyline is the slow descent into evil by Projectra. And that sort of lack of happiness seems to veer into anger. I guess after writing a sticky sweet, silly Silver Age team, Shooter probably wanted to make it more 'real'.

But who wants a depressing, angry future? And even if the world as a whole is dark, I would want the team to sort of rise above.

Francis Manapul and Livesay continue to bring a sharp, beautiful look to the book which is definitely the upside. But I can't help but notice that there is another semi-needless cheesecake scene in the book. Was that writer's choice? Editorial edict? Artistic choice? Hmmm ...

The book starts with Projectra arriving at the Orando embassy on Earth. It is surrounded by Science Police officers who tell Jeckie she cannot enter. But she uses her powers to make the officer think he is being attacked by robots, making him fire his weapon haphazardly.

Walking into the Embassy, Projectra finds it basically empty. Everything has been repossessed and sold to recoup the debts that Projectra has run up. Inside, Projectra finds Councilwoman Ardeen. Imra's mother cautions Projectra about her behavior. Projectra (and Orando) has no standing in the UP. She is penniless and basically alone. Ardeen knows about the recent illusion attack on the UP security guards last issue and the officer outside. Projectra needs to stop.

This seems to be something of a quick turn to anger by Projectra. She could lean on her friends for support. But her treatment at the hands of the UP is overtly rough as well. I can't believe the government would simply jettison Projectra into the general population rather than embrace her as a liaison of some sort.

Nice last panel here hammering home just how empty the embassy is.

Meanwhile at the Headquarters, we see an unknown person manipulating the monitor board, looking at the active roster and what missions everyone is on.

Remember that one of the plots here is Lightning Lad just being overwhelmed in his role as leader. So seeing someone look at the board a bit more reasonably hinted that this wasn't Garth.

Who is this?

Meanwhile, on Triton, the survivors of the construct attack are picking up the pieces of this incredible attack.

Remember, the Legion came out to Triton and repelled this attack ... but not easily. The team members were injured, almost killed.

And yet, the media coverage is pretty one-sided, against the Legion. They report that it was the Legion that caused all this damage and it was only when the Science Police arrived and took control that things calmed down.

Timber Wolf hears this and is ticked off, appropriately. I do like that Brin is something of a hothead here, a throwback to his earlier incarnations where he was Lone Wolf with a hair-trigger temper.

Again, this is an unhappy team being treated badly.

It is clear that Giselle, the metabolic anomaly, is going to be a recurring character. But for the third issue, we see the Legion wooing her and she rejecting their friendship.

Here Timber Wolf applauds her battle skills and asks why she didn't hide. She says the citizens of Triton closed the bunker doors on her, locking her out.

Why Giselle would want to live here, as hated as she is, is beyond me. You think she might be looking for any way off the planet. But she seems to hate everyone, the Legion included.

The situation on Triton becomes even more dicey. When a leader of the planet goes on a loud, ridiculous rant about how the Legion will need to pay for the needless damage they did, Timber Wolf lashes out. Wolf goes to grab the leader but is stopped in his tracks by Saturn Girl and her powers.

She then mindwipes everyone who witnessed the potential attack.

But now we see that there is even internal strife within the team. Wolf basically threatens Imra for stopping him. And she chastises him for his idiocy, flying off.

So the team is feared, blamed for things they are not responsibe for as well as internally fractured, basically leaderless, with a member becoming a villain ...

Not the bright glittering future inspirations I am used to.

There is a new plot introduced where Ultra Boy, Micro Lad, and Element Lad sent to Beijing to stop an infestation of Venusian muskrats, basically a skunk.

So the Legion is pest control??

The team ends up descending into the bowels of the city and skirmish with a gang of low-level thugs who surprisingly put up a good fight. Is this a one and done plot? Are the muskrats a big problem? Will the gang, led by someone with superstrength, be a recurring villain group?

It just seemed silly for me that a team this powerful was sent to round up rats. It also seemed off that this group, including two of the most powerful Legionnaires, had trouble with some street-level goons.

Then we get the mandatory, gratuitous cheesecake scene.

Ayla and Tinya slink around the headquarters in panties and teddies, basically lingerie. Ayla talks about how she is worried about Garth who just seems unfit for the position of Legion Leader.

One thing I do find fresh about this run is how bureaucratic the role of the Legion Leader would be. This isn't a warrior leader, a battle strategist. This position is one of a government cog. You need an administrator for the political side of the job and a fighter for the actual missions.

After this heavy talk, Ayla basically walks away with Karate Kid where it is strongly implied that they were going to get busy. Ayla knows what she wants and gets it.

I can understand that the Legion are young sexual beings. But the lingerie and hinted at tryst seem superfluous to the story. Does either of those things move the story along.

This is taking nothing away from the art. Remember, I am an Ayla fan.

Finally, we see Projectra turn the corner. In the aftermath of the Dominator war (nice continuity look back), looting has become rampant. Projectra, despondent that she isn't leading the opulent life she once did, decides to join in. Using her illusion powers, she renders herself invisible, walks into a jewelry store being robbed, and snags a gem encrusted necklace. She is now a thief.

What a downbeat issue! Nothing seems to go right here!

I keep trying to put this in some metatextual context. If DC kicked Waid off because he wasn't courting old readers, did they think this Shooter direction did? Did editorial really think this was better?

I am just thankful for the art. That remains, so far, the highpoint of this run.

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