Thursday, February 2, 2017

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #78

Legion of Super-Heroes #78 (March 1996)
title: "The Gathering Doom"
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, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Gates, Invisible Kid, Leviathan, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Spark, Star Boy, Triad

Guests:
Evolvo, President Chu, Takron-Galtos' warden, the president's bodyguards, U.P. ambassadors

Opponents:
Empress, Leland McCauley, Mano, Persuader, Sun-Eater, Tharok, Validus, Winema Wazzo

Recap: 
A Sun-Eater is bearing down on Earth's Solar System, threatening an entire part of space. The Legion are ordered to collect five villains from captivity, each apparently designed to face such a threat...

Synopsis: 
While President Chu tries to assuage the galaxy's fears by saying U.P. worlds will be protected - leading to some unaffiliated planets to finally join - the Legion has split into five groups to efficiently get the members of the so-called Fatal Five.
Cosmic Boy and Violet retrieve Mano from Leland McCauley's off-book detention cell. Saturn Girl and Spark capture Validus just as it has broken free on its home planet. Leviathan and Chameleon get the Empress, who has recently killed her prison's staff. Gates and Invisible Kid are surprised to find Tharok surrendering to them after recounting his bloody origin. They all meet on Takron-Galtos where Triad and Star Boy are getting the release of the Persuader. But within seconds of the "Fatal Five" being in the same room, Tharok has freed and armed them all, and they stand against the Legion!
Back in time, in Impulse #12... XS believes she's found a way back to the 30th Century, but before she leaves, she and Bart hang out and save the school dance.

Commentary: 
Shotgun
Not sure about Ambassador Wazzo being the one behind all this anymore. She’s grieving and plotting against the Legion like a fool, but I’m not sure she qualifies as a mastermind. I’m pretty convinced now that the person talking to Tharok in the last issue was President Chu. She was the only one to notice such a fleeting detail as the Sun-Eater in Jan’s memory, it will give a push to many planets to join the U.P. in a matter of days, and she would be able to get rid of the Legionnaire which she doesn’t seem to want around anyway. Everything seems to point toward her as the real evil in this storyline. Can’t wait to see if my prediction’s right.
After a couple of issues that were full of side plots and minor details, I was glad to read something that was a lot more continuous and easy to follow. We had plenty of time to learn more about each individual member of the Fatal Five – kickass name by the way. I can’t believe that the Legionnaires fall into such trap that easily. Hopefully the Legionnaires are a step ahead of them and had something planned just in case they were victims of a mutiny. I mean, they would’ve been pretty stupid not to prepare just in case. I sure hope this will give them the opportunity to free Brainy so he can help them get out of this mess. Man, he must be all cramped up after all this time without moving…

Impulse #12... That comic was a lot of fun. Didn’t see that coming after the drama/action filled issues we had. Jenni’s a gamer AND she plays the saxophone like me… NO WAY!! Like I needed some more reasons to love her. I almost feel sad for Bart. He developed a great relationship with her and he now has to let her go. She decided to leave, but is this enough for her to just magically reappear in the 30th Century? I wonder how she aims to accomplish this. No matter how she does it, I’m ready to have her back within the team!
Siskoid
I think you're right about Chu. We're running out of suspects. She might still just be an opportunists, but unless she's running her personal transport hot in the garage, she seems too confident that her plan will stop the threat and using it to leverage more membership fees/power out of non-aligned worlds. I'm hoping it's her because I've long wanted the Legion to gain its independence from the government and her downfall is what I think it takes.

As for the rest of the issue, there really isn't much to it. The Legionnaires pair off, we're introduced to a member of the Fatal Five (or in my case RE-introduced, give or take), the end. The Empress is a very different character from the Emerald Empress of the original continuity, a dangerous killer by all accounts, but it's hard to see how she's a perfect Sun-Eater killer. It all seems too up close and personal for that. One might say the same of some of the others because the comic doesn't really let us see their capabilities. We get a sense of Validus', but not of the Persuader's. Tharok at least gets a one-page origin, and we know Mano from the early issues. Love how McCauley imported rats from Paris' sewers just to make his would-be assassin miserable though.
But y'know, they ALL could have bee jailed on Takron-Galtos and we could have saved an issue getting to the good stuff. Even the interaction between the Legionnaires, which might have been a highlight, doesn't really tell us anything new about them, except perhaps to see the new, brasher Violet's personality in the field. Oh well.

Impulse #12... This is more like it. Finally, XS gets to do something, and the story is just charming as all get-out, especially with that fun Humberto Ramos art. If Jenni sort of disappeared in the big story arc with so many speedsters around, she's been shining in quiet human stories like this one. It's a real screwball comedy where the kids rescue a rock star before their school mates riot and then the guy knocks himself out within seconds of coming on stage, so they use their speed learning to become good musicians so they can give a show. It's completely bonkers and I love it. When she leaves, Bart is beside himself - she isn't just his cousin and a friend, but who he wants to be. He too wants to go home to the future, there just isn't anyone there waiting for him. He must accept his new family. And now XS can return to hers... and ours.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1996/5.
  • Sending Saturn Girl and Spark to get Validus is a wink at the fact the creature was really the child of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, mutated by Darkseid and sent back in time with powers that combine both their power sets.
  • The secret origin of the Reboot's Tharok is told.
  • This issue introduces a new "Omnicom" look to the letters' pages of both this series and Legionnaires.
  • Impulse #12, "Sonic Youth", was crafted by Mark Waid (writer), Humberto Ramos (penciller), Wayne Faucher (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Tom McCraw (colorist), Alisande Moralses (assistant editor) and Brian Augustyn (editor).

2 comments:

  1. While I understand the desire to speed up "getting to the good stuff," I kinda disagree that the issue was a waste in terms of story. Given the machinations going on behind the scenes, making the Legion gather the Fatal Five from across the galaxy makes more sense. How would things have been plotted in advance if they'd already all been in jail?

    But mostly, I think having them all introduced like that allowed for a glimpse of their villainy overall or powerset (Tharok getting an origin story since he "turned himself in"). And in doing so, I think it makes the next issue more effective because we had an entire issue that focused on building up these baddies.

    Oh man, I remember how agonizing it was waiting two weeks between these issues back in the day. I couldn't wait to see how this storyline concluded.

    Lee Moder has some lovely art. And he also has some art that really bothers me. As his run goes by it tends to tip more and more toward the latter, but here it's only a few places. Like the Empress' enormous forehead on Page 21.

    Keep up the reviews! It's so much fun to follow along with you two and revisit my early comic collecting days!

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  2. That's just it, most of them already were in jail, just different jails, with some chance for action thanks to convenient break outs just as the Legionnaires arrived. But I'm not that down on it. Pacing wise, the series went from a million miles an hour to a crawl between issues; I would rather it be somewhere in the middle.

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