Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #2 (1983)

Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #2 was something of a celebration issue for the team and it couldn't have come at a better time for the team. They are still reeling from the Great Darkness Saga. Much of the team is still helping Daxam reform the very planet itself. Team members are dealing with the loss of family. An away team has recently fought the Emerald Empress and the Dark Circle. Chameleon Boy has just gone through a personal crucible on Durla. And we have just learned that there is a traitor within the ranks.

Despite all of that happening, storytellers Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen decide to pump the brakes a little bit and let us see the more familial nature of this team. The cover announces the event. We are gathered this day to read the wedding of Karate Kid and Princess Projectra. And getting everyone together to witness this celebration allows Levitz and Giffen to give us little peeks into these characters and their lives. We see their feelings. We see their personalities. It isn't just combat and adventures. And it is this deep, layered approach to these characters that makes this particular run so fantastic.

We also get a side story of a team stuck in the distant past, something of a page filler with a story problem that I have a question about.

But perhaps the most intriguing thing about this issue is that Dave Gibbons is on art here. Obviously this is pre-Watchmen. I do like seeing Gibbons' take on these characters. In particular, the hairdo he gives Dream Girl is early '80s delicious.

On to the story!

'Whatever Gods there be ...' was written by Keith Giffen and Paul Levitz with art completely done by Dave Gibbons.

We start on Daxam with Dream Girl's away team.still terraforming the planet. As I have said in past reviews, I like how Levitz has carried this along. A planet could not have been reformed in a day. To see the work going into this reformation rings true.

And while our looks at this team in the past have mostly been to show how aggravating Dream Girl has become as a leader, this time it is all smiles. Everyone is ready to celebrate. Everyone wants to head to Orando to be at their friends' wedding. I love it.

On Orando, we see the planet readying itself for the celebration. But we also get one quiet glimpse at Jeckie and Val. These two come from pretty different lives and have lived through a lot of tragedy. For some reason this quick look at how much they are in love and ready to take this step just made my heart soar.

And then we get some pages where we see all the different away teams arriving. As a Legion fan, seeing all these different groups coming together and greeting each other is wonderful. One of the things I love about this team is the sheer size of it. Seeing them all together is great.

But there is one other guest on the list ... Superboy! Unfortunately, he leaves the time stream right in front of the Daxam away team. They are sucked into the warp and flung through time.

I love that Giffen and Levitz include Supergirl and Superboy in the occasional issue. There is no real reason why they can't be part of the book and the adventures. But I think having them out for most issues allows the other characters to breathe a bit.

As I said, this is truly a gathering of the Legion. I love this page where we see most of the team together and laughing.

And how wonderful that we see the super-cousins interacting together. Gibbons really draws a great Supergirl.

As usual, Levitz calls back to prior Legion history without making it clunky. Superboy says he'll simply kick back this anniversary and not worry like the last time.

Unfortunately not everyone is at the wedding. The Daxam away team has been thrown backwards in time. And using Ultra Boy's reconnaissance and Cos' history knowledge, they realize that they are back in 200 BC. And without a time bubble or someone who can travel at super-speed and be invulnerable at the same time, they are probably stuck!

One of the bubbling new subplots in this issue is Star Boy's relative dissatisfaction with how Dream Girl treats him. He feels that she doesn't think much of him or his powers. He spends most of the issue sulking.

But check out Nura's hairdo. Totally Farrah!

The Legionnaires stuck in the past begin to fly around their world and have the usual run-ins with Roman soldiers. Luckily, Nura has a brief vision that they should head to a 'stone city' which ultimately leads them to Greece.

Once there, they are thought to be messengers of the Gods and brought before the Greek Pantheon. Recognizing the Legionnaires as aliens, the Gods lash out with their powers, incapacitating the group.

Now I don't know if I 100% buy how easily the team is taken out. But I guess I'll roll with it.

It turns out the 'gods' are also aliens who adopted the Pantheon roles so they could live comfortably and mine for 'metals' they need in their ongoing homeworld war. Zeus becomes a bit chummy with Dream Girl, telling her that he cannot help her with her need to travel through time. As a scientist, he knows such technology doesn't exist.

She then uses her powers to see into 'Zeus's' future and sees that his planet will be ravaged by a war. It turns out that they are Durlans and this is before the 6-Minute War.

Nice use of surprint here to give the dream an other-worldly feel.

Realizing they need to get back to their homeworld,  and having obtained all the supplies they need, the Durlans shape-shift to elude capture by the Legionnaires and head to Olympus.

Once gathered, it is revealed that the temple was actually their rocket. They escape leaving the Legionnaires behind ... or so it seems.

Earlier in the issue, we saw Cham investigating the away team's disappearance. Using some detective work, he tracked them to this time. Now, using 30th Century time travel he can bring them home.

Here is my one problem though. I thought, just issues earlier, we learned that the Durlans obtained shape changing powers as a result of the radiation of the 6-Minute War. This predates the war but these Durlans have shape-changing abilities. And I guess their 'godly' powers were simply weapons?

So there is nothing left but celebration.

But again, in a pitch perfect way, Levitz shows us what many in the crowd are thinking. It once again shows how fully formed these characters are.

Garth and Imra reflect how lucky they are to have each other.
Sun Boy somehow scored two beautiful women even with his busted jaw.
Brin still misses Ayla.
Shady thinks one day she and Mon-El will marry.
Even though Dawnstar is next to him, Wildfire harasses Blok (maybe he doesn't want too think to hard about a romance that can't happen?).
Kara wonders if she should stick around now that there will be two spots open on the team.
And Gim and Vi, so early in love, just swoon.

8 small panels. Tons of characterization.

And then we get the kiss.

Now, I won't be Dreamy and look into the future......but I hope these kids enjoy the time they have together.

So a relatively event-free super-hero wedding. How awesome is that?

The Olympian storyline seemed like filler. I actually would have preferred the whole issue just be checking in on everyone mingling at the wedding. But no complaints here. This was a blast!

This issue features the wedding of Queen Projectra and Karate Kid. It is only the third wedding of Legionnaires; Duo Damsel & Bouncing Boy were first, then Saturn Girl & Lightning Lad were second.


  1. Great issue.

    And I always love Legion issues where Superboy and Supergirl interact. Here, Kal actually treats Kara as his close cousin rather behaving as an overbearing parental figure.

    1. Well, in this case, they're closer to the same age, so Kal would act more like a sibling than a parent. Since he'll have no memory of her once he gets back to Smallville, his attitude will change as he gets older. Pity, but that's time travel. :(

  2. Re: Nura's hair, as drawn by Gibbons, it looks like Hedwig drag (in itself Farrah drag, how's that for post modernism?)

  3. One of my favourite's from this era.

  4. I only bought LoSH when it jumped out at me, and the Gibbons art here sure did. I loved his stuff, even as a kid!


  5. Re: Gim and Vi, what I've always LOVED about their romance is that most of it happens off-panel. From their conversation here, it's obvious that they're already married, but unlike Val and Jeckie (not to mention Chuck, Luornu, Garth and Imra) we don't get to see their wedding. We don't even get to see the proposal. One minute they're dancing the night away in Metropolis (LSH #296), and the next they're honeymooning at a Himalayan resort (LSH #298). The fact that they kept their nuptials private says a lot about them as individuals and as a couple.