Thursday, March 2, 2017

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #80

Legion of Super-Heroes #80 (April 1996)
title: "Trust"
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:  
Andromeda, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Gates, Invisible Kid, Jan Arrah, Kinetix, Leviathan, Live Wire, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Spark, Star Boy, Triad, Ultra Boy, Valor, XS

Dr. Micah Aven, Marla Latham, R.J. Brande, Winema Wazzo, the President's bodyguards, Science Police, Titan Home Guard, U.P. delegates

Empress, Mano, Persuader, President Chu, Tharok, Validus

The Sun-Eater bearing down on Earth is a hoax. The Fatal Five are working with a person unknown to start a second war between Braal and Titan. Cosmic Boy has just gotten all the Legionnaires, past, present, and once-invited, together and sent them in teams to take care of each problem. On Earth, the Espionage Squad has tried to arrest Ambassador Wazzo, the presumed culprit, but she apparently kills them all before heading to President Chu's office where Brainiac 5 is surrendering to her authority...

R.J. Brande walks in on Cosmic Boy who is trying to remotely coordinate the Legion's various actions, and with the apparent death of the Espionage Squad, it may all have gone wrong. One team blocks Titan's ships from crossing into Braalian space, and Saturn Girl finds an ally in Dr. Aven who uses his considerable telepathic power to turn the fleet around. On Drak IV, another team goes up against the Fatal Five and stops the missile heading for Titan. In the scuffle, Mano learns of what Tharok was planning and disintegrates his mechanical half. Andromeda drops everything to save his life, standing up to Valor in the process. The Daxamite hero is encouraged given her usual (and unwanted) reverence for him.
Meanwhile on Earth, Ambassador Wazzo explains how she was behind it all - the Sun-Eater, the Fatal Five, Jan Arrah's brainwashing, even the FIRST Braal-Titan War - before accidentally shooting Brainiac 5 dead and breaking down, all in front of the cameras. President Chu takes advantage of the situation to destroy the camera then ask how Wazzo knows all her plots and why she would take responsibility for them in front of the united planets. It is then revealed that this isn't Wazzo. It's Chameleon who, with Brainy and the Espionage Squad, created this whole situation so Chu would be exposed while a secret camera kept rolling. All dead Legionnaires turn up alive, war between worlds is averted, Wazzo is cleared of charges, and Chu is deposed.
In her place, the United Planets draft R.J. Brande who grudgingly accepts and immediately gives the Legion its independence from government oversight and pardons those members who were in trouble with the authorities.
Ok, you fooled me, comic! I actually thought that it was Wazzo after all because of Cham’s amazing talent. Thank you, Mr. – Oops! I mean President Brande for asking the same question I had! The fake phasing, the vocabulary (gee! I can’t even speak, or write, in my second language comfortably after YEARS of learning and practice). I guess that Chameleon can also imitate voices. That’s amazing! I didn’t know that Lyle could control his power in a way that only his skeleton would show. Again, that’s so cool! I’m shocked and impressed and so pumped! The Espionage Squad is by far my favorite gang. I also loved the interaction between Andromeda and Valor. His satisfaction when he realized that she stood up to him: Brilliant! That last panel though, it actually sent shivers all over my body. I can’t wait to see what our heroes will do with this new freedom.
I feel like they went way too fast with the Fatal Five. Clearly, Empress is incapacitated from the start. Validus gave them a bit of a hard time and Jan stopped Persuader in a matter of seconds. It just felt like they should’ve won far earlier, you know, when the whole team was fighting them on Takron-Galtos. I understand that the Five weren’t really fighting as a unit, it makes it a lot easier to deal with with them one at a time. I also understand that Mano turned against them, which definitely helped. It still felt like the big baddies weren’t a threat at all though. Really, what I want to know is what happened to them? Did Tharok survive? Were they all sent back to their cells? Is Mano’s sentence going to be reduced for turning his back on them and helping the Legion?

I am frustrated by the choice that was made for the cover. Way to spoil everything! Not even an ounce of subtlety… You should be ashamed of yourselves, group of people who made that weird decision. They could at least, I don’t know, only have put some of the team in the image so we would still “believe” the Espionage Squad and Brainy were dead. Sigh… I should be a comic consultant if such a thing exists. Or even better, create the position and give it to myself!
While it's a beautiful cover by Davis and Farmer (they always are), it really does spoil the ending and literally declares victory before the fight is even fought. They should have held it off until the next issue. That victory really is total and complete as all story lines converge and end with a positive result for the Legion. Here we see that a long game was being played by the writers, and that Cos hadn't lost it after all. All is explained, and somewhere in the middle of the rather long info-dump, you might be justified in asking whether this was planned all along, or if they're just trying to fix everything in a massive retcon. Looking back, most of this tracks. I think we can safely say it's the former. Congratulations are in order for a game well played.
I have definitely been vocal about the books' pacing issues, but mostly out of impatience for the Legion to get out from the U.P.'s thumb. We're finally there and I couldn't be happier. I'm ready for the growing pains to be over and for this Legion to start drafting its own constitution, holding try-outs, and letting the readers vote for their leaders ;-).

As loose ends are tied, others are born, and the issue gives us hints at what might come in the future. Ultra Boy's phantom pains, for example. And Andromeda's new compassionate attitude. Will Gates stick with the team now that the draft order is over? Has this last collaboration been enough to convince him of the Legion's beneficial effects on the galaxy? Who else might leave or join? We're in for some exciting times...
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1996/9.
  • The picture of Kinetix in the roll call us, like most of the others', reused from another issuem but it means her look hasn't been updated.
  • Alchemist destroys the Persuader's Atomic Axe by turning into cheese spread. This was previously thought to be a unique artifact.
  • This issue also marks the end of Chameleon's (apparently feigned) difficulty with Interlac.
  • Chu is deposed and R.J. becomes President of the United Planets.
  • The bearded man raising the Legion flag on the last page is a caricature of editor KC Carlson.

The Reboot Legion is finally free to forge its own destiny, independently of the United Planets.


  1. Three things bother me with this issue. The cover concept, as noted in the review, is one. The second is a few mis-appropriated word balloons... But the one that really gets me is Cosmic Boy's tears. Like, okay, maaaaybe he didn't know what Lyle's plan really was, but it certainly seemed like he did when he showed up at the room where they were keeping President Chu. So he was putting on a big show to keep ... RJ Brande from knowing the truth? What? That doesn't track for me.

    But! All that aside, I still love this issue. And yes, they crammed SOOOO much into it that the Fatal Five got a little short shrifted, but at least each of the Five got their own individual defeat, which could have easily been written out.

    This, right here, is prime Legion for me. As crazily packed to the brim as the Fatal Five storyline was, it really feels like something gelled and the team went full burn. The next year and a half or so, particularly the group in Legionnaires, has some of my favorite stuff in it.

  2. Actually, I've figured out the way they could have used exactly the same cover image without ruining the story: simply change the exclamation mark to a question mark so it reads "Victory?" and turns the image into a potential dream cover.

    I'm really looking forward to reading the reprints of the Reboot Legion in the forthcoming trades as a result of your reviews. I've no idea why the series didn't appeal to me at the time, considering I was a fan of the Giffin/Levitz/Levitz Baxter runs and the initial year and a half of the the 5YL Legion.

  3. I remember loving this cover, partially because we knew they were going to win at some point and the cover signaled that this was the issue. I wanted to know how they'd get to that victory. Also, the image itself: so bright, happy, full of hope letting me know that all that darkness, all that dark stuff was wrapping up and the Legion I loved was coming out of it all.

    Shocking confession: I think it was this storyline (and this conclusion) that brought me 100% around to this version of the LSH. I finally felt they had taken on a life of their own. I honestly still miss these guys.