Thursday, August 3, 2017

Reboot(ish): Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #7

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) Annual #7 (1996)
title: "One Shot"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
penciller: Mike Collins
inkers: Mark Farmer and Robin Riggs
lettering: Pat Prentice
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Ruben Diaz
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Alan Davis
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Argent, Lode-Stone, Graft, Lode-Stone, Magno-Boy, Metro, Membrain, Nervosa, Phase, Shape, Shift, Silver-Wing, Triad III, Triplicate, Wildfire; in flashback: Blok, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, Live Wire, M'Onel, Projectra, Quislet, Saturn Girl, Spark, Star Boy, Tyroc, Umbra, XS

Guests: 
Gizi, Ziga, Space Museum guard; in flashback: Flash II, Martian Manhunter, Professor Vultan, Superman, Wonder Woman

Opponents: 
Durlans, ocean thieves, star cannon robots

Recap: 
Far in the future, Earth is long gone, but its heroic legends live on...

Synopsis: 
In the 75th century, long after Earth has been destroyed, the immortal Wildfire leads a group of raw Legionnaires on the planet Rimbor. The new team consists of Nervosa of Bismoll; Graft of Durla; Phase of Bgztl; Metrox of Colu; and Membrain, a Brain Globe from Rambat. Their first mission is to stop a giant cannon that appears every century to destroy a star and whose creators have disabled communications throughout the former United Planets, causing member worlds to distrust one another. The Legionnaires fight the robots that guard the cannon but cannot overcome their own mutual distrust. Their mission fails, and only Wildfire and Membrain survive.
Membrain helps Wildfire remember his long-lost memories of the Legion to figure out how they worked together as a team. He then recruits new, teenage Legionnaires, two from each selected planet so that he can train their children and successive generations for when the cannon returns. These are Magno-Boy and Lodestone from Braal; Triad III and Triplicate from Cargg; the winged Reniians, Argent and Silverwing; and Shape and Shift from Durla. Wildfire trains them well.
The new Legionnaires stop a water pirate, but this success prompts the UP’s hooded enemies to send the star-destroying cannon to Rimbor’s sun 97 years ahead of schedule. As Wildfire and the Legionnaires approach the cannon, they are attacked by robots, as before. But this time Wildfire realizes that the robots are actually Durlans, and that the two Durlan Legionnaires, Shape and Shift, are spies. While Membrain and the other Legionnaires distract the Durlans, Wildfire destroys the cannon from within. On Winath, in the Space Museum, a long dormant view screen is activated as Wildfire announces that communication has been restored across the United Planets, giving full credit to the 30th-Century Legion, one of Dead Earth's last great legends.
Commentary: 
Siskoid
Shotgun is on a well-earned road trip vacation this week, so I'm going to tackle this one alone. Just so happens it's not REALLY a Reboot story, even though it was published in the Reboot era, was written by the usual Reboot creative team of Peyer and McCraw, and sort of shows the Reboot Legion in flashback. I say sort of, because as chronicled in the Science Police Notes below, there are some important discrepancies between the 30th Century Wildfire remembers and what eventually ended up happening. For one thing, Peyer and McCraw hadn't yet introduced a Reboot Wildfire, so this feels like a promise among promises. Blok, Quislet, "Galaxy"... there are stories and characters here the Reboot team might have had plans for, but none of them came to fruition. So it's an odd tale, one that like the Legionnaires Annual that was also part of the Legends of the Dead Earth initiative, featured an actual Legionnaire (as opposed to people simply acting on the legend), but not one from the actual Reboot continuity.
So I guess it IS a "One Off" slightly out of continuity. And accepting that, it's just great fun to see Wildfire again, and hey, basically the original Wildfire who was one of my favorite Legionnaires in the 80s, and one who helped getting me hooked on the book. He's training new Legionnaires, just like he used to, and still the hard-luck hero. Great! The new Legionnaires aren't very interesting, seeing as they're mostly from former member worlds of the United Planets and thus copies of Legionnaires we know from the 30th Century, but there are some exceptions. Membrain is an awesome call-back to an early Legion threat, a neat, useful, thoroughly alien member I wish they could play with in the main comics. And I would have liked to know the story behind Metrox and how he acquired New Gods technology. The winged Reniians, bargain bin Thanagarians, are a new race I found completely uninteresting however. It feels like they ALMOST hint these are the reincarnated Hawkman and Hawkwoman, but they miss it by this much.
The plot is epic, though I do wonder why the century-long wait between the destruction of various stars. It's an odd time table that only really serves Wildfire as immortal hero waiting on the longest game ever played by villains. I suppose it's interesting that Nervosa's racist suspicions turn out to be correct, but since this time frame and its characters only exist for the one issue, it's hard to get much development going, and therefore, no twist is particularly shocking. Ultimately, it's about Wildfire restoring the United Planets to their former glory and reinstating the Legion, and that's pretty great. Next stop, DC One Million, where the Legion and Justice League are basically synonymous. But the groundwork has been set, in a way.
Having been left to my own devices this week, I feel a little like Wildfire did. Thankfully, I won't have to wait a century for my writing partner to return.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Part of the Legends of the Dead Earth annuals published by DC in 1996; each annual presents a story set in the far future when Earth no longer exists.
  • This is the first and only appearance of the 75th-Century Legion and all its members (except Wildfire).
  • The story does not fit the Reboot timeline, despite a flashback showing what appears to be the Reboot Legion. Though Wildfire will become a member much, much, much later in that version of history (in Legion Lost, though his first appearance as ERG-1 is in Legionnaires #74), he would not wear the same costume seen here and in flashback, and there's no accounting for his remembering a Legion with Blok, Projectra, Quislet and Tyrok as members. Other discrepancies might be explained as taking place later, and undercut by the Threeboot, including the wedding of Brainiac 5 and a Supergirl/Andromeda-like character called Galaxy, or the inclusion and death of a hero named Reflecto.
  • Phase is a 75th-Century Phantom Girl, but bears the code-name of the 20th-Century Phantom Girl.
  • Membrain is a heroic Brain Globe of Rambat, a threatening species first seen in the Legion of Super-Pets' first outing in Adventure Comics #293
  • Though Metrox is from Brainiac 5's homeworld, he floats around in a Moebius Chair like the New God Metron. 
  • Magno-Boy is the 75th-Century Cosmic Boy, but Lode-Stone is a dead ringer for the Doom Patrol's magnetic heroine Lodestone.
  • The Cargggite heroes have taken shades of Luornu Durgo's code names: Triad III and Triplicate.
  • Scenes of Wildfire training a new Legion evokes his role in the original continuity as the Legion Academy's principal teacher and mentor to a number of initiates.
  • The Space Museum on Winath is a call-back to an Earth institution that appeared in a number of science fiction comics stories, in Strange Adventures, starting with #114 (1959).
  • The title "One Shot" is a reference to Wildfire's very first story "The One-Shot Hero" in which he also destroyed a giant weapon, though at the seeming loss of his life. The threat is more akin to the Sun-Eater, however.
  • Wildfire's claim that the Legion won the day "75 years ago" is a mistake. He means "75 centuries ago". Oops!

5 comments:

  1. I'm the weirdo that liked the "Legends of the Dead Earth" annuals, and this was one of the better ones. It bugged me that the Durlans were the villains, though, because the Reboot Legion had done such a good job portraying the hatred they faced as wrong; by making them the villains, it sort of justified it by saying "see, they could turn out to be evil SOME DAY", something I hear too much about real people in the real world.

    A couple little things:
    - I'm bummed the Reniians never seemed to turn up in the Reboot after this. They're pretty cool.
    - I read the "Galaxy" memorial as possibly being one of Lori Morning's H-dial identities, which makes the memorial extra depressing.
    - Do you have any idea why the Bismollian woman was named "Nervosa"? Cuz I don't, unless she had some sort of psychic power.

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    1. The full name of the eating disorder is Anorexia Nervosa. Which makes it a particularly poor choice of name for a Bismollian, but poor in a vaguely understanable way I guess...?

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  2. I liked Dead Earth too, kind of a sci-fi only Elseworlds idea.

    Didn't think Galaxy might be Lori, an interesting idea.

    As for Nervosa, it confused me too. I decided that she had a nervous stomach.

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  3. Nervosa is likely a reference to anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder. No idea why that would be a good superhero name though.

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