Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #83

Legion of Super-Heroes #83 (August 1996)
title: "Big Tears"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
pencillers: Lee Moder and Mike Collins

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, Element Lad, Gates, Invisible Kid, Kid Quantum (flashback), Kinetix, Leviathan, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Spark, Star Boy, Triad, Ultra Boy, XS

Evolvo, Inferno, Karate Kid, Spider-Girl, Sun Boy, Taran and Garra Arrah (as visions)

Dr. Regulus, Emerald Eye of Ekron, Leland McCauley

Everything is strangely coming up roses for the Legionnaires... Shrinking Violet has been elected leader, Apparition has been resurrected, Triad is splitting into three different forms, and everyone's falling in love. The team is currently on the planet Gallen where McCauley's holdings are being attacked by escaped convict Dr. Regulus. The Legion has brought Sun Boy along to help...

McCauley leaves Gallen with part of the Work Force, writing it off as Regulus and pollution make the planet collapse under the Legion's feet. But as the heroes dodge environmental disasters and supervillain attacks, many of them inexplicably seem to get their heart's desire: Cosmic Boy jumps into XS' arms thinking she's Saturn Girl, Sun Boy is cured of his uncontrollable powers, Gates finds people willing to listen to his socialist diatribes, Saturn Girl must stop Element Lad from sublimating his form so he can join his parents in death, Live Wire's arm grows back, and Brainiac 5 is left alone even when he tries to get attention.
Regulus' power levels keep growing as he bonds with the planet itself and as the environment's toxicity levels increase, Violet orders the Legion to withdraw. A 30-foot tall Regulus tries to stop them from boarding their cruiser, so Leviathan takes him on, killing him and fulfilling his own heart's desire by dying himself, as a hero. A despondent Vi's eyes flash green and suddenly, everyone's back on Earth, at Legion HQ, and Vi has the long-lost Emeral Eye of Ekron and has become... Emerald Violet!
………. Wait…. What? I am 1000% - not a typo – with Saturn Girl here: “What in the hells is going on here?” The answer is simply everything all at once. I had to give up reading for a while because it was too confusing. I blame morning brain! A cup of coffee helped my focus and I could start again. It’s just that everything feels so rushed. I think that the writers want the readers to be confused by the action and the tricks – Cos seeing Saturn Girl when it’s actually XS he’s holding, for example. It’s part of the experience and the sense of chaos that reigns in this comic gives the readers a feel of what our heroes are actually experiencing.
Everyone’s getting what they want. But seriously, after Siskoid pointed out the title of the last issue, "Wishful Thinking", I can’t help but agree with him. There are some things happening that are too good to be true. Apparition’s return, Imrokk with a twist of XS because that’s what she always wanted (THAT’S going to end well!), Spark and Cham, Brainiac’s invisibility, Triad’s being three completely different beings, Dirk’s cured, people actually listening to Gates, Jan’s wishing for his death, Live Wire’s arm. Are these all tricks by the Eye of Ekron? The magical sentence here is “My heart’s desire”. It is said too many times not to become obvious. I’m curious to know what is an illusion and what actually happened.
I also wonder, have we even met the real Shrinking Violet at some point? Or is this why she changed so radically in the past? Or was she always carrying the Emerald Eye? She sounded interested in it while interrogating the Empress with Kinetix and Leviathan but nothing that seems quite out of the ordinary (Legionnaires #37). I actually went through all the comics since she changed her attitude and style and I can’t seem to find a clue as to when she would’ve changed. Her eyes are always purple except for that last couple of panels. So is Emerald Violet a completely different person? Or part of her from the start? SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!

I take it you don't believe in Leviathan's death, seeing how little you react to it, but that part's real, at least. Killing off a relatively new guy like Kid Quantum was par for the course, but a long-standing member of the Legion across the various continuities like Colossal Boy/Leviathan is more ballsy. Making it HIS heart's desire to be a hero makes it more tragic, and making him give his life so that another Legionnaire need not die like Kid Quantum makes it ironic. If the Emerald Eye is handing out wishes (or something else is, if the Eye is itself a "desire" fulfilled), it's acting like a genie. Be careful how you phrase those. And it's not a pretty death either. Brr.
Dr. Regulus dies too, of course, but as I said last week, I dislike this molten version of the character, and his new power set, which I'd call unlimited, isn't really justified (is he getting wish power too?), so good riddance to bad rubbish. Which I guess is McCauley's attitude towards Gallen, an unregulated, polluted, industrial world that makes him complicit in Leviathan's death. It's this hell world Regulus was feeding off of, and its toxic environment that drained everyone's reserves. But he's gonna get away with it because corporations always win, it seems. I guess that was as true in 1996 as it is now.
I don't want to talk too much about individual wish fulfillment because it remains to be revealed what will stick and what won't, as you say. The Eye's corrupting influence on Vi is of the most interest, and just what the Eye can do in this continuity is also in question. We're so far from projecting green blasts and force fields that this old Legion reader is wondering if this is somehow a Miracle Machine (see Adventure Comics #367, et al.) story instead.

Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1996/15.
  • Both Leviathan and Dr. Regulus are killed in this issue's climax.
  • Shrinking Violet in essence becomes the Reboot's (first) Emerald Empress.

Leviathan is killed in this issue, the second Legionnaire to die post-Reboot, replacing Apparition in that spot.


  1. Wait, he's actually dead???!! Of course I didn't believe it.

    But... but he was my first real crush on Hot or Not! That' not fair!!!

  2. Oh Emerald Vi, how I loved your storyline. Leviathan's death: what a twist. It can't really be permanent (spoiler alert: it is). Shotgun, if Leviathan is really dead, doesn't that imply that some of the other wishes are also permanent? I remember being troubled by that thought when this issue came out.

  3. Oh man, this storyline. Coming right on the heels of the big triumph of the Fatal Five storyline, and man, it just keeps getting crazier.

    I have this vague recollection of finding it really kind of creepy how everyone was talking about getting their heart's desire ... but I never saw Leviathan's death coming. A bit of a shock!

    Dirk is suddenly wearing a legion-style jumpsuit under this transuit, which actually makes more sense than having a transuit on over bulky clothes. But still, continuity issue there.

    I like how all the characters on the roll call page are framed with green backgrounds. And on Page 4, Regulus' heat vision shows Chameleon to really be an alien -- nice touch. And I like on Page 14, when the Emerald Eye actually appears, they did it in such a way that you can read it as essentially just Kinetix THINKING about it -- you don't necessarily realize that it's actually there until the climax of the issue.