Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reboot: Superman #119

Superman (v2) #119 (January 1997)
title: "Sunburned!"
writer: Dan Jurgens
penciller: Ron Frenz
inker: Joe Rubinstein
lettering: John Constanza
colorist: Glenn Whitmore
separations: Digital Chameleon
associate editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: Joey Cavalieri
cover: Ron Frenz & Joe Rubinstein
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Gates, Saturn Girl, Spark, Ultra Boy

Guests: 
Dr. Marx, Inferno, Johannsen, Perry White, Shvaughn Erin, Superman

Opponents: 
Erica Alexandra del Portenza, Lex Luthor, Luthor's security

Recap: 
Half the Legion has recently been trapped in the 20th Century, just in time to participate in a world crisis known as the Final Night, in which a Sun-Eater almost consumed Earth's sun.

Synopsis: 
During the Final Night, Superman, cut off from the sun's rays, lost his powers.
The Legionnaires, looking for technology to help them return to the 30th Century, infiltrate LexCorp. However, something - or rather someone - sets off the alarm, and the kids have to fight Luthor's security before the big man himself arrives. As does the culprit, Superman, who covers for the Legion by saying they're with him. And he's looking to use LexPort, a satellite base, and one of Luthor's space ships to investigate dangerous flare activity. It's a lie, of course. What Superman really wants is to reboot his powers by getting closer to the sun. The Legion agrees to help.
In orbit, Brainiac 5 builds a device to focus the sun's rays onto Superman. Despite the heroes' best efforts, the attempt fails, the machine explodes, and Superman is almost killed. Returning to Earth, Superman is resigned to look for answers elsewhere, and Luthor is suspicious despite the Legion keeping the Man of Steel's secret.
Commentary: 
Shotgun
Hasn't Brainiac ever heard of something called a paradox? Of course, legal issues are nothing to fear when you’re a time traveler, but it doesn’t mean that their actions won’t impact their own time. I surely hope he won’t help Luthor get more advanced technology just for the thrill of being successful with such primitive technology. Then again, it might be their only way to bargain out of the 20th Century. I absolutely enjoy how he takes everything so literally. For someone claiming to be used to sarcasm, he has a hard time spotting it!
Now, I’ve never been a Superman fanatic so even the fact that he’s powered up by the sun is news to me. I wonder what happened following the Final Night that would explain his incapacity to regenerate. With Luthor knowing that something’s wrong, this situation could get real messy real quick! I hope the Legion will stick around long enough to help him figure it out instead of leaving this time zone while it being vulnerable.

Siskoid
Spoiler: Superman gets better in about a month (reader time), but the Legion wasn't the catalyst for his recovery. Oh well. You tired of all these side-quests into other people's books yet? I really want to cover all of  the Reboot, including such appearances, but aside from increasing the Legion's profile and telling readers of other books they should now read LSH because it's actually contemporaneous with most of DC's output (a reason some readers give for not collecting Legion is that it's "easy to ignore" in continuity), there's always a danger of not amounting to much.
Like here. The Legion was fairly important to Final Night (though they have yet to integrate Ferro into their roster officially), so sure, put them in this epilogue. But they don't succeed at what they're trying to do, and furthermore, you're absolutely correct about the danger Brainy presents to the timeline. As a time travel fan, it really annoys me, especially from someone who should understand the variables at work. So I guess what I'm saying is that the Legionnaires should have an impact in the books they guest-star in, just not SUCH an impact that it creates a paradox.

Except this is the post-Crisis, post-Zero Hour DC Universe... It's all about paradox, I'm afraid.

Science Police Notes:  
  • This story occurs some time after Final Night #4, presumably between Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #87 and #88 (the former occurs simultaneously with Showcase '96 #11-12, in which the Legionnaires were outraged Brainiac 5 was infiltrating tech labs; here, they are in on it; counter-argument: Superman also mentions Brainiac's lack of humility, and Brainy doesn't say he met his ancestor; that, and Apparition is nowhere to be seen).
  • Superman references the events of the Superman/Aliens mini-series, in which he launched a ship from Luthor's space platform, solidifying the canonicity of a story featuring characters DC does not own.
  • Superman doesn't go close enough to the sun. He gets his powers back by Boom Tubing into its heart in Superman: The Man of Steel #64.

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