Thursday, March 30, 2017

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #82

Legion of Super-Heroes #82 (July 1996)
title: "Lifestyles of the Dead"
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:  
Apparition, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Gates, Invisible Kid, Leviathan, Live Wire, M'Onel, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Spark, Star Boy, Ultra Boy

Atom'X, Chuck Taine, Dr. Gym'll, Insect Queen (Lonna Leing), Kid Quantum II, Konk, Lamar, Monstress, Phrenologax Lad, Winema Wazzo, Xanthusian dignitaries

Lamar, Xanthu's president

Previously... Ultra Boy, still grieving for the loss of his true love Apparition, has been suffering from mysterious phantom pains. Star Boy has been recalled to his home planet of Xanthu, but doesn't want to go back so Leviathan is sent to Xanthu with Star Boy and part of the team to convince its leaders to let him stay in the Legion. And Shrinking Violet has just been elected leader...

At home, Brainiac 5 is rather happy Violet has become leader because she gives him a lot more lab time. Meanwhile, the team reaches Xanthu out on the frontier, and they are met by the Uncanny Amazers, a team of young heroes who think Star Boy is re-joining them, a team that, to Leviathan's distress, includes Kid Quantum's sister; he still feels responsible for James' death.
It soon appears Xanthu's government is really only interested in Star Boy because of his stint in the Legion and the P.R. coup of having him back on the planet. Since he doesn't want to go, they offer a challenge: If the Legion can beat the Amazers in a cage match, he'll be free to go. Duplicitous, they make Kid Quantum remotely paralyze the Legionnaires at key moments. Until she realizes they are embarrassed by her brother's death that is, at which point she lets the Legion win.
Back on Earth, Ultra Boy is awakened by crippling pain again, but notes these pangs are always followed by a good feeling. He becomes convinced Tinya "Apparition" Wazzo is responsible. He goes to her rooms and finds her mother there, throwing things away. Before he can stop her, the room goes crazy and objects start flying around of their own accord. Ultra Boy is knocked unconscious and brought to the infirmary where Dr. Gym'll detects ectoplasm suffusing his molecular structure. As the poltergeist effect stops, a ghostly Apparition manifests before Jo's eyes, telling him she did not die but "hid" inside him. No one else can see or hear her though, except for her mother, who sheds tears of joy.
I feel Bad for Xanthu and I’m relating so much to Star Boy’s will to stay with the Legion. I know where he comes from. I also lived most of my life in a small corner of our province that is both isolated geographically (it is a peninsula after all) and culturally as we were 99% French in a province where the majority is anglophone. We have the same “hick” reputations and, to be honest, it is actually pretty accurate for most of the region. I tasted the city life where I made some long-lasting friendships and would NEVER go back. I’m glad he’s able to stay with the Legion. Let’s figure out what is going on with his powers so he can become full-fledged Legionnaire!
Mmmm... what else is there to say about this comic?... Oh right!

AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!! YYYYAAAAAASSSSSS!!! SHE’S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!! Considering the fact that Apparition’s code name was originally Phantom Girl, this storyline gives a whole different meaning to it. Actually, is Wazzo’s outfit supposed to be a tribute to the original Phantom Girl’s costume? I like it. I’m a bit puzzled as to why Apparition can only be seen by Jo and her mother. I guess it has something to do with phasing powers and, for Jo, the fact she was living inside of him for so long. Let’s get Brainy to work for her to become tangible again!
p.11 – Apparition had an Ultra Boy plush toy… Is it just me or isn’t it just a bit weird? Imagine having a plush toy version of your boyfriend. Although, to tell the truth, I *do* want that plush toy!!
To answer some of your points... I wouldn't put it past McCauley to have made merch of his Workforce heroes. Tinya probably bought that from Brande's main competitor. They should do a whole Legion line. Collect them all! Secondly, I don't know that the costume is a reference to her previous look. I mean, it's white, but that's because she's ghostly. Looks like her Reboot one, bleached of color. You seem VERY sure of yourself that she really is back when so much evidence points to her being a spirit (the poltergeist stuff, the intangibility, and whose charred body was that?). I may just be screwing with your head though...

Though I'm of course happy to see Apparition back (in some form), I really want to talk about the Amazers. I don't want to spoil anything, but they will return when Xanthu's potential as the "first line of defense" is realized. Any of them with potential for Legion membership Shotgun?
Shotgun: Not really. There's nothing they can do the Legionnaires can't already do.

True enough (not that we see very much of Atom'X), but I think Kid Quantum has a lot of potential. Not because her powers are all that great (the original Kid's felt abstract and passive too), but she does have an interesting history as the sister of the first Legionnaire to fall, and shows a lot of gumption when she disobeys Mr. Lamar. I also like Monstress; I think it's at least interesting to see a female hero who isn't an outright babe. Diversity!
Finally, though we don't see a LOT of Violet's leadership, we do hear about it from Brainiac 5. Is she perhaps better than Cos at figuring out her teammates' psychology? Giving Brainy a little slack makes him much more willing to do things to please her. Or is something else going on? Who knew she was so popular with the group? Hm...
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1996/13.
  • Xanthu is on the very edge of the United Planets, and serves as the first line of defense against what might come from deep space, which is why it needs its own team of super-heroes the Uncanny Amazers. The name evokes Marvel Comics such as the Uncanny X-Men and the Amazing Spider-Man.
  • Insect Queen was a moniker sometimes adopted by Lana Lang in those pre-Crisis stories where she used a magic ring to turn herself into large insects. Xanthu's version is Lonna Leing, clearly a reference to those stories.
  • Atom'X appears to be the Reboot version of Atmos, with a similar sounding name and power, though his look and attitude are very different.
  • This also marks the first appearances of Kid Quantum II, the original's sister, and Monstress. Both will become important to future stories. 
  • Other members of the Amazers include Konk, and Phrenologax Lad (who is not named in this issue).
  • The issue marks the first instance of the Encyclopedia Galactica being used in the captions, something prevalent under Paul Levitz' tenure in volumes 2 and 3 of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

First appearance of Monstress and Kid Quantum II. Apparition is returned from the dead.


  1. If I remember right, the reboot had both an Atmos and an Atom'X.

  2. Monstress, despite being an interestingly atypical body shape, is wearing a ridiculous costume. That always bothered me a little. Konk is delightfully ridiculous (really? her power is a floating head??).

    I love the bit with M'Onel and Lamar. Kind of the one really hero thing that happens in this issue -- M'Onel bowing out so that it can be a fair fight. Which brings me to a complaint I have now that I'm thinking critically about this issue ... the heroes don't really do anything. Both storylines are resolved without any real agency on the part of the protagonists. On Xanthu, the Legion was only losing the match because of Kid Quantum, and they only won it because she had a (totally justified) change of heart.

    Tinya comes back (yay!) but really -- did Ultra Boy really do anything?? He had chest pains and went to her old room. Ambassador Wazzo at least had some agency in getting him to the infirmary -- but storywise, that wasn't really even necessary.

    Continuity issues. The Reboot always had some problems with keeping their stories straight across two books coming out each month. This time we see a reference to Violet hiring Dr. Gym'll -- but just last issue of Legionnaires, it was clearly Triad who did so. Also, if I recall correctly, despite it happening in full view of the doctor AND Live Wire, no one else knows that Tinya is "alive" in future issues (yes, they can't see her, but seriously -- the two who CAN see her aren't going to explain to the others? Really?).