Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reboot: Legionnaires #40

Legionnaires #40 (September 1996)
title: "Emerald/Violet"
writers: Roger Stern, Tom McCraw and Tom Peyer
penciller: Jeffrey Moy
inker: W.C. Carani
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
associate editor: Ruben Diaz
editor: KC Carlson
special thanks: Mark Waid & Karl Kesel
cover: Jeffrey Moy & W.C. Carani
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Apparition, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Gates, Invisible Kid, Kinetix, Leviathan (body), M'Onel, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Spark, Star Boy, Triad, Ultra Boy, XS

Guests: 
Evolvo (flasback), Inferno, Karate Kid, Shvaungh Erin, Sun Boy, an Al'Khaulyte, Metropolis Necrological Institute android

Opponents: 
Emerald Eye of Ekron; in flashback - Empress, Scavenger, Tharok

Recap: 
The Legionnaires' greatest desires have magically been coming true - including the resurrection of Apparition, albeit as a ghost only her mother and Ultra Boy can see - but this has led to Leviathan's death fighting Dr. Regulus. As the Emerald Eye of Ekron appears, distraught Legion leader Shrinking Violet shows herself to be under its influence and teleports the whole team (and members of Work Force) back to Earth...

Synopsis: 
"Emerald Violet", now speaking with distinct, angry green-bordered speech balloons, sends the Work Force away and brings all active Legionnaires to the conference room where she tells them they have to find a way to bring Leviathan back to life. She also explains how the Eye latched on to her in the Scavenger's lair, which was her first moment of confidence, and how its power grew as it fed on her insecurities. Eventually, it helped make her Legion leader and give the Legionnaires their most fervent wishes. When Science Police liaison Shvaughn Erin tries to interfere, Vi turns her into a baby.
The Legion dare not disobey her, but when they try, they're either turned into animals or taken control of. M'Onel is sent to the Temple of Al'Khau where religious rites are used to revive the dead in some circumstances and is made to attack the uncollaborative friar there, for example. But the Eye's possession leaves him when Vi focuses her attention elsewhere to possess XS at the Metropolis Necrological Institute where Leviathan's body has been brought, so she can research what might be done more quickly. While there, a technician detects Apparition's presence, suggesting she's not one of the wishes granted by the Eye.
Saturn Girl and a small team try to conspire against Vi in virtual reality, but the Emerald Eye is all seeing and they are caught and almost killed. For a brief moment, the Eye manifests its own, inhuman version of Violet, but almost immediately joins with Vi again. She then turns the entire team into her own personal Emerald Legion...
Commentary: 
Shotgun
What I have learned from this comic - First: Apparition really is here! That’s awesome! Second: Be wary of everything that seems too good to be true! The Eye was behind everyone’s desires coming true after all. Even though I’m not sure how the Legion will defeat Vi and the Eye, I’m eager to see how they will deal with their desires being taken away from them once it’s done. What will change, what will remain. Lots of tension and embarrassing moments coming up, folks! Third: Is it just me or the fewer clothes you wear, the more evil you become. Gotta watch myself as summer’s just around the corner!

The Eye of Ekron was in the Scavenger’s lair. That’s brilliant! It has its own mind and that’s scares me. It aimed for the most insecure of the bunch to slowly take control of her and its plan is working just fine. When you think about it, the moral of the story is: Never EVER! underestimate the power of a crush… OK no… Seriously just don’t mess with powerful artifact, guys, no matter how desperate you might get! If you do it anyway, be careful not to lose yourself in the process… Spoilers – No matter how strong-willed you are, you WILL lose yourself in the process!
What I have yet to learn after reading it – First: Why is it that only Wazzo and Ultra can see Apparition? How will she fare without Jo next to her? At first, I thought she needed to stay close to him, but I guess I was wrong. Something’s telling me she’ll become a key element in the fight against the Eye. Second: Is the Eye powerful enough to resurrect Gim? That was its main focus before because that’s what Violet really wanted. You could feel her losing her grip on the Eye during this issue as she was getting further and further away from him.
Good job on the last panel for keeping me invested in the story: “Our heroes are changed for all time” then “See who’ll survive”. Would they really kill another Legionnaire right after Leviathan? Come on! Give me a chance to mourn a bit please… Not digging the variant outfits even though I’ve only seen them in this green shade. I’m not even sure which ones are supposed to be Invisible Kid and Brainiac 5 in the bunch anymore. And is the one with the weird helmet supposed to be XS? At least the Eye symbol is a nice detail on the costumes.

Siskoid
Though it's been brewing for a while (and indeed, ever since Violet showed any gumption, more on that in a bit), it seems the creators see this issue as the proper start of the Emerald Violet story. Why else waste a page on a roll call where everybody present already knows everyone else's name if not for new readers who might jump on at this point? (Though I'm not sure what would make them especially want to jump on... hot evil Vi on the cover?) Whatever the case, I'm not sure the issue's frenetic pace is all that friendly to new readers. It's not that friendly to old ones either.
I mean, there's entirely too much jumping around. Par for the course on a Legion book, you might say, but this isn't catering to various subplots and characters. It's just Eyeful Violet transporting people here or there, then back, then there. Splitting off from True Vi (to show she's still in there and guiltless?) then back into her body. The Eye just can't seem to make up its mind about what it wants to do, though perhaps that's because Violet's impulses are driving it only some of the time. Still makes for a haphazard reading experience. At least it looks like Apparition really is back from the dead. That would have been one too many jerk arounds.
But while they're giving or taking away Live Wire's arm or playing havoc with various relationships, there's one change that appears to sadly be temporary we're not mentioning, and that's Violet's more confident personality. As an older reader, I know she's got it in her, as she was one of the stronger-willed Legionnaires in the late Levitz and 5YL eras, but it's disappointing to think it was a personality implant here, and that it might go way when the Eye does. Hoping for the best, as I don't quite remember where this plot thread goes.

Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1996/16.
  • The Eye apparently gave Violet her first boost in Legionnaires #31. The Eye does not appear, but one green atom in the sequence could be said to have a pupil. The flashbacks also shows the scene in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #76 where Violet invokes the Eye's power, but the green energy surrounding her here did not originally appear.

3 comments:

  1. The Eye is in that issue. It rolls out of the clutter in the Scavenger's lair while the fight is going on. Go back and watch the background arti!

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    1. Actually, I think technically the note is correct in that the Eye didn't appear in Legionnaires #31... but it DID briefly appear the issue before in LSH #74 in Scavenger's lair, in the background as you said.

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  2. There is, in LSH #76, the faintest suggestion of a green glow in the background. Just enough that I can go back and say, "okay, fine, I guess so," in regards to the Eye's energy being there to comfort her. A little bit of a stretch on the art though.

    The whole "evil characters wear less clothes" trope is on full display here. Kind of ridiculous, although I shamefully admit to loving the metal shoulderpads and the ridiculous armor on her obliques.

    McCraw's colors just keep getting better and better. Really levelling up here. But overall, I think my favorite part of this issue is the splash page, with the graying of the inks contrasting with Violet's figure in the foreground.

    I'll admit to being baffled by the whole "two Violets" sequence toward the end, but overall I enjoyed this issue.

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