Monday, June 5, 2017

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #2

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #2 (July 2007)
title: First Flight
writer: J. Torres
penciller: Sanford Greene
inker: Nathan Massengill
colorist: Heroic Age
letterer: Rob Clark Jr.
editor: Jeanine Schaefer
cover art: by Steve Uy
reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Mission Monitor Board: Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Superman, and Timber Wolf

Cameos: Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Triplicate Girl, and Phantom Girl

This issue is a continuation of the second episode of the cartoon. The team went to the planet Raal in response to a distress signal. The signal was sent by Dr. Mar Londo, who claimed he was being terrorized by a wild creature. The creature turned out to be Brin Londo, the doctor's son, who he purposely mutated as part of his experiments. Saturn Girl helped the wild Brin regain control over his bestial side, and Brin destroyed his father's equipment to put an end to his experiments. Brin left Raal with the Legion, and was sworn in as the newest member, Timber Wolf.

The comic picks up as the team departs Raal and Timber Wolf is sworn in as a member.  In addition to those present aboard ship, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, and Triplicate Girl observe the ceremony on screen.

Timber Wolf bids goodbye to the planet and to the pain and suffering he experienced at the hands of Dr. Londo. He fears what might happen if he cannot control the monster inside of him but Saturn Girl assures him that he is a Legionnaire now and the team is here to help.

Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy bicker over how to fly the ship, but Saturn Girl reminds them that this is Timber Wolf’s first flight and that they are not helping him to feel less nervous. Bouncing Boy tries to reassure him but then sends the ship into warp so quickly that even the experienced space travelers feel disoriented. Sparks fly and it is clear something is wrong. Brainy realizes that the warp drive has failed.

Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy struggle with repairs as Lightning Lad grows inpatient. Saturn Girl is the first to hear a repeating “Klud” sound from outside the ship. A nervous Timber Wolf asks if space travel is always so unnerving and Brainiac 5 tries to assure him that the noise is probably only meteors. Superman sees the source of the sound with his x-ray vision, but is not sure what he is looking at and can tell them only that it has a lot of teeth. Brainiac 5 realizes they are being attacked by lunar leeches.

Brainiac 5 plugs into the ship and takes Lightning Lad's hand. Bouncing Boy knows what he is up to and objects because of the risk of damaging the ship further. Timber Wolf grows more nervous and Bouncing Boy relents, deciding its probably best to just walk Timber Wolf away so he cannot see what is about to happen...

Lightning Lad and Brainiac 5 electrify the exterior of the ship. The leeches flee but the ship’s systems are further damaged. They get caught in the gravitational pull of a nearby asteroid field. Bouncing Boy tries to maneuver the ship away but there is not enough power.  The team works to restore full power and Timber Wolf asks if there is anything he can do. Superman says they have it under control and tells him to stay calm. Brainiac 5 shouts that they are running out of time and looks to Superman, who understands what his friend is trying to tell him. Superman flies out and guides the ship away from the asteroids.

The team inside is thrown around and Bouncing Boy uses his powers to make sure no one is hurt. But Timber Wolf is nauseus again and Brainiac 5 realizes they need to get him out of the ship fast. They land on one of the asteroids and Timber Wolf is able let it out.

After he recovers, Timber Wolf asks how they are able to breathe and why they are not floating off into space. Brainy lights up at the chance to tells him that its because of his invention, the Legion flight ring, but before he can explain every feature of the ring in detail, Lightning Lad reminds him that they have a ship to fix.

Timber Wolf feels useless as he watches the team repair the ship, but suddenly a lunar leech hidden under the ship attacks Brainy. Saturn Girl stops Lightning Lad and Superman from blasting the creature out of fear that might hit their teammate.Tired of merely standing around watching his new friends act, Timber Wolf confidently steps forward.

He leaps on to the creature and uses his claws to partially dismantle the leech, before tossing the rest far away. Timber Wolf fears he may have frightened his new friends, but is relieved to hear the praise of Saturn Girl and the gratitude of Brainiac 5. A smiling Superman shakes Timber Wolf's hand as the team boards the repaired ship to depart.

I enjoyed this issue much more than the last one. I liked the personal nature of the story and the focus on the interplay between Legionnaires. While that gives the issue the feel of being small-scale, quite a bit actually happens in this book.

Timber Wolf's nervousness over space travel and his insecurity over finding his place on the team made for a perfect follow-up to the animated episode. It was particularly nice that all it took was a brief conversation between Timber Wolf and Saturn Girl to give the reader everything they need to know about his introduction. Quite a contrast to how much I felt the last issue dropped the ball in connecting to the premiere.

The way the team just keeps running into new obstacles keeps the story moving at a good pace. The interplay between the characters is nice, with a good bit of humor that is lighthearted but not silly or over the top. The sudden confidence displayed by Timber Wolf at the end could be read as being a bit abrupt, given how his character has struggled throughout most of the book, but it is actually very consistent with his feral nature. Everything he has encountered up to that point is foreign to him, but when given a physical foe he could fight on the ground, he is back in a world he knows.

Long-time Legion fans may notice the peculiar detail of Brin being from the planet Raal, but the comic is merely following the lead of the animated series. I have no idea why that name was chosen.

Overall, this is a solid, entertaining story that does a great job mixing characterization and action. I think it is one that would like appeal to very young readers but still keep older ones engaged.

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