Thursday, January 19, 2017

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #77

Legionnaires #77 (February 1996)
title: "Lock Up"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
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; all others in flashback: Andromeda, Apparition, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Kid Quantum, Leviathan, Live Wire, Saturn Girl, Triad, XS

Takron-Galtos guards; in flashback: Brainiac 4, R.J. Brande, Rond Vidar, Vril Dox, Coluan care-bots

Nara Minsork, Warden Kreyton; in flashback: Brainiac, Computer Tyrants, Lyrl Dox, Coluans

Brainiac 5 has been arrested for illegal time travel experiments, been taken to the prison planet Takron-Galtos, but has to date resisted all interrogation attempts...

Takron-Galtos' warden coerces a rogue telepath called Nara Minsork into helping him get information on Brainiac 5's time travel activities in exchange for her freedom. Her attempts to probe Brainy's mind are stymied by Brainy's 12th-level intelligence, but she gains access to his childhood and how he was coldly raised by the Coluan government. After she is ejected from his mind for brushing up against a memory of a female figure we initially think is Andromeda (who turns out to not be the reason he was working on a time machine), Nara makes another attempt, this time with an illegal mind-grabber.
The technological boost allows her to see more of Brainiac 5's young life, and how R.J. Brande rescued him from Colu and put him to work at the Time Institute until he eventually joined the Legion by force. Nara heads for Brainy's last happy memory, which was the moment of his birth. He was then immediately rejected by his mother Brainiac 4, around whom an unknown scandal hovers. And that is a memory directly related to Brainy's interest in time travel. Just how, we do not find out, as his total mind control allows him to strong-arm Nara into giving the memory up. She is ejected once more and the warden brands her a failure as she is taken back into custody.
Back in time... in Impulse #11: XS is asked to stay with Iris West and Linda Park while the rest of the Speed Force take on Savitar. Iris comes up with a plan that involves her young granddaughter.

Before I talk about the comic as a whole, I need to stay true to myself – and to the Hot or Not crew - and talk about the lady of this issue. Nara Minsork is HOT! If I’d be her, I would could cover up a bit more but eh, if she’s comfortable with being exposed, then that’s fine by me. I love the skirt of her outfit and I’m a HUGE fan of the half-scraped PSI-I.D. on her face. I don’t really know the purpose of it, or why she wanted to remove it, but the result gives her a badass look. I think it’s sexy as hell, but this is coming from a tattoo addict so, you know, I’m biased!

Let’s move on to Brainiac’s mind. Oh wait! Not yet. Before heading that way let me just take a second to talk about his position. That pose is pretty much The Thinker... Is that supposed to make him look more intellectual? His code name is Brainiac 5. Like we needed that, come on! I had to address this because it was bothering me. Like he would feel the need to take this particular pose…
…Anyway! I’m glad we were able to learn more about Brainy’s past. Actually, not only his but also of the other Brainiacs which helped a “muggle” like me understand the implication of the name. I’m also glad to know that the Brainiac intellect was, at least once, borne by a woman. It’s sad to see that they all seem to be disconnected from their emotional intellect though. Yeah you read me right. Being able to empathize is a form of intellect and it is a powerful one too. I always knew that Brainy had issues, but this… this is terrible. To be abandoned from the moment of birth to become a lab rat… Brainiac 4 is vile and cruel and I hate her so much for being this way. His need to see her face, to remember it, reminds me of an adopted child wanting to meet his biological parents. I fear if he ever gets the chance to meet her, he will probably end up being annoyed and disappointed.
These revelations are definitely giving us an opportunity to see some major character development in the future. I have to add that I loved how he was in control all along and basically played with Minsork. Finally, I hope that, at some point, the Legion will actually give Brainy a reason to be at peace. Not necessarily happy, but at least to feel like he’s part of something. Yeah… I guess I still like him…

Flash #110 and Impulse #11... Two whole comics and XS only has two panels? Outrageous! At least, the Flash recognize that she would’ve been of great help to them and Iris seems to be giving her a big responsibility for the next issue. I hope I won’t be disappointed this time!

As you know, Brainiac 5 is one of my favorite Legionnaires, and while I wouldn't call myself a Brianiac 1 fan necessarily (he's okay), I count Vril Dox (B2) in my Top 10 comics characters of all time. Heck, I even PLAYED a (heroic) (well, as heroic as Coluans get) version of Brainiac 4 in a role-playing game for a year. So seeing the entire bloodline (though there's that weird 1000-year gap) referenced in Brainy's origin story made me happy.

I also love how Brainy was amending his own memories, with his keepers represented as apes for example, a psychological artifact until he reveals he has "complete mental control", which implies he was toying with Nara all that time and was always going to rip the memory from her at the end. The only way to keep her from trying again, presumably. Nasty perhaps, but I think we can empathize with him. We've all had those bouts of frustrating boredom. Imagine having them all the time. That's Brainy's reality. Everyone is tedious, everything takes too long to explain, and it's all so predictable. Intellectually, at least. Emotionally, he's driven by his mommy issues, and lashes out against Nara's probes when she touches a memory of Andromeda. He's a genius, but not a cold logician.
And I'm always interested in how powers work, and Nara's telepathic visit gives the writers a chance to show how a "12th-level intelligence" works. Not all Coluans think on separate tracks; Brainy can isolate thought processes and let them run their course, just a computer can. And that total mental control thing allows him to shape reality for the rogue telepath as well. So playing Rodan's Thinker? I like it. It makes it clear that whether we're on the first or last page, Brainiac 5 hasn't actually budged. She hasn't gotten to him. And he's exercising that considerable brain power of his... but to what end exactly? There are some people who should definitely be afraid. And you only get that effect if his pose is noticeably the same.

Science Police Notes:  
  • This issue continue the common numbering system between the two Legion books started with Legion of Super-Heroes #76; this is 1996/3.
  • The origin story of Brainiac 5 draws a direct line between him and all former Brainiacs (the Superman villain, Vril Dox, and Lyrl Dox) and creates a fourth Brainiac who was Brainy's mother.
  • Impulse #11, "Dead Heat Fifth Lap: Breaking the Barrier", was crafted by Mark Waid (writer), Humberto Ramos (penciller), Wayne Faucher (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Tom McCraw (colorist), Ruben Diaz (assistant editor) and Brian Augustyn (editor). XS' participation is minimal.
  • Flash v2 #110, "Dead Heat Fourth Lap: Cut to the Quick", was crafted by Mark Waid (writer), Oscar Jimenez (penciller), José Marzan Jr. (inker), Gaspar (letterer), Tom McCraw (colorist), Alisande Morales (assistant editor) and Brian Augustyn (editor). It occurs before Impulse #11, but XS only makes a cameo in flashback.


  1. I quite like the Carmine Infantino style Brainy on the cover.

  2. Point of order! The image that boots Nara on Page 11 is not Andromeda. There are similarities there but I think it's pretty clearly supposed to be his mother, given the memories that are being explored when the image appears, and the callback on Page 20. There is enough similarity to make the ambiguity a deliberate attempt to confuse the reader, though.

    Regarding Nara Minsork's hotness level -- I think the Alan Davis cover works the outfit better than the interior pages.

    Overall, this issue still holds up for me. It's fun to see a bit into Brainy's thought processes and why he's such a jerk most of the time. And also interesting to explore it from the perspective of an anti-hero instead of doing something where Saturn Girl has to go exploring a la the plotline with Cham.

  3. You're right. We were too romantic. Adjusted.