Friday, September 1, 2017

Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #313

This is it ... the last newsprint issue of the Legion of Super-Heroes ... sort of.

Legion of Super-Heroes #313 was the last issue before the title transitioned to Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes. It also meant that the 'main' storyline for the team was going to shift to the Baxter series.

I can only imagine how hard that continuity was for Paul Levitz to keep in his head. He needed to write a year's worth of stories in Tales that didn't impact or interact with the Baxter stories. Those stories were going to be reprinted in Tales a year hence. I can only imagine the headache. No one in Tales could mention the takeover of Orando, the missing Legionnaires after that fight, or deaths and people quitting. And yet, we also had to have stories that could be squeezed in continuity wise between this story and the beginning of the Baxter.

But enough about the future. This issue closed out the in-depth look at the Science Police and the terrorist bomber arc. It also gave us the usual nice character moments and subplot teases. For me, the best part of this was that look at the science police and its mechanics. This isn't an army.

On to the book.

"Death Threat" had the usual creative team of plotters Paul Levitz (writer) and Keith Giffen (artist) with inker Larry Mahlstedt.

It picks up where last issue left off. The bomber is still active. The bomber has infiltrated and tampered with the SciPo early warning system. He isn't stopping. And he is aiming at bigger and bigger targets, for example the UP President.

One thing that always impressed me about Levitz was his ability to make the minor characters feel much more three dimensional. For example, here we learn that Marte Allon was Dean of Metropolis University. It gives us a better sense of her credentials.

The Legion and the Science Police continue to scour Metropolis for the bomber and his materials. When  an SciPo drone detects radioactive materials at the spaceport, the Legion and the SciPo officers jump into action.

It appears that the crooks might escape but the White Witch is there to cast a shrink spell and grab them all in the palm of her hand.

White Witch was still a relative newcomer to the Legion and Levitz definitely was doing his best to define her powers. She can only have a set number of spells ready (unlike someone like Zatanna who seems able to do most anything at any time). She had prepared the shrink spell for a different reason but was able to adapt.

Magical characters are tricky. I am glad Levitz was reining Mysa in so she couldn't be a crutch.

Meanwhile, Colossal Boy and Element Lad remain under cover in the science police.

It is interesting here that Sun Boy comes off as the jealous type when Gigi is seen talking to her 'old friend' Gim. I wonder if Levitz was planning on the Gigi/Dirk romance to be more set than it ever felt it was.

As for Gigi and Gim's origins, we don't get to read about that until the third year of the Baxter series. Incredible!

This SciPo story was a great exploration of that aspect of the Legion mythos. But this bomber story seemed more like a reason to dive in than anything significant. But Levitz keeps hinting at what is to come.

We saw Sun Emperor on a medieval planet. Now we see Dreamy have a vision of a Legionnaire dying.

Spoiler alert --- big stuff is about to happen on Orando.

As I said before, the SciPo isn't an army.

As we look deeper into their system, we learn that there are only about 100 or so officers for the whole planet. The prediction computer and the drones do most of the heavy lifting.

It is hard to believe that there are so few living beings in the field. But maybe there are way way more working the administrative side of things.

The character progression of Shrinking Violet also continues in this issue.

Last issue she left Medicus One with a few scores to settle. Victim number one? Duplicate Boy.

Vi thinks Duplicate Boy could have sensed that Yera had taken her place. She is furious that he didn't tell anyone. And she isn't going to take it anymore. She force feeds him what is presumed to be an engagement ring.

I love Vi. This was a great scene.

Unfortunately, the main team isn't as successful in being proactive as Vi. The bomber is actually able to detonate an explosive in the elevator the president is riding in. Only Brainy's force shield belt saved her.

It makes me question a lot about the Legion and the Science Police. Why have her walk in the open, entering an elevator? Shouldn't the Legion be scanning every place she is going to beforehand? Wouldn't it be wiser to have Cham replace her and have the real President get to her meetings in a less obvious fashion?

And then we get a bit of closure on a long running subplot. At last, Daxam is back to being normal. How many times have we had a scene on the planet with some Legionnaires terra-forming?

Initially I thought we got too many.

But in retrospect, I like how drawn out this was. The Great Darkness Saga was released almost 2 years before this issue came out. It would have been easy to just have Daxam 'fixed' in one issue or only mentioned. By constantly bringing us back, Levitz is able to show just how devastating Darkseid's planetary facelift was. Even in the magical world of the future, it took a long time to return the planet to normal.

Finally, both sides of investigators - the Legion and the Science Police - get a lead. An independent contractor, a civilian programmer who worked on the SciPo computers was the one who tampered with it.

While rare, civilians do occasionally work within the SciPo.  Interesting.

With that info in mind, Brainy looked for which individuals information was tampered with. This man tried to erase himself from the system to avoid detection. That actually made him stand out more.

Meanwhile, the Legion figured out a fascinating way to find him as he tried to escape to Khundian space with his ill-gotten booty.

White Witch cast a spell to trick him into walking into the Legion's arms. Just like that, he's captured.

Really this brief arc was more about enriching the mythos of the team than specifically about this villain. And I loved it for that reason. Nice little story before the mega-arc of the Baxter book.

I couldn't leave this book without once again showing the add discussing the upcoming two book format. Once more we see that wonky logo for the Baxter series which was never used. I wonder when the change was made?

Anyways, so closes this chapter of the Legion and Fridays with Anj.

What did you guys think?


  1. When you are done reviewing this part of Legion history will you review the Retroboot and Post-Flashpoint Legion?

  2. I have been tasked with the New 52 Legion ... yes.

  3. There were parts of this artwork that looked very Greg Larocque-ian, and the inking didn't seem consistent either.

    I enjoyed the part where Sun Boy got jealous. It indicated that his feelings for Gigi were more than just a casual dating thing.

    And how amazing would it be to get a whole year of high-quality Legion stories for just ten bucks in 2017?!?

  4. Reading all these reviews makes me wish DC had an all-you-can-read digital service like Marvel Unlimited.

  5. This issue has a special meaning to me. The first Legion comic(s) I ever read were from one of those "three-packs" at the grocery store. It included the second part of the Omega story, the Sklarrian Raiders story where Dream Girl and Princess Projectra tried to cure the insane Matter-Eater Lad and the first half of the League of Super-Assassins story. I was left in awe as six Legionnaires were "killed" in this last story. I bought this three-pack on a trip up north to a cabin. I spent the entire week reading and re-reading these three issues. I was not able to find any comics in my hometown until many years later. I looked for "The Legion of Super Heroes" one day and saw this cover. I immediately recognized Blok and Phantom Girl. So, Phantom Girl wasn't killed! (Which I always suspected, but didn't know how...When I finally did, it was such a lame revelation to learn, but that is another story). And there was Blok! This "killer" of Light Lass on the cover. How? Why? It was the beginning of my obsession with the Legion. And, I did not know anything about the Baxter run just starting, which just pulled me right in further. While certainly not a very memorable, or stand-out issue, this one is special to me.

  6. I like “little” stories like this one. I did enjoy this particular story, also.

    100 Science Police does seem like an incredible low number, even with drones taking care of “nuisance crimes” and I know that someone did have a letter in the letters column which questioned that.

    I liked how Levitz tried to limit White Witch’s powers, and also to try and define those limits. Even so, I know there was at least one published letter complaining of her vague powers.

    I like the idea of Chameleon Boy taking President Allon’s place. Maybe they suggested it and she said no?

    Drawn out stories are a lot easier to read later, when you can read them all at once instead of having to wait another month for the next development. I wonder how many of these long plots would have annoyed my if I couldn’t read the next one whenever I wanted to?

    I found it hard to believe that none of the other UP Council members reported their blackmail threats (wouldn’t extortion be a better word?) to the Science Police. Isn’t that what they’re there for?

    Why on earth did Superboy break through the wall instead of using the door? That was pretty dumb. Typical superhero action. I’m glad at least GiGi had the sense to reprimand him. Someone in a subsequent letter column also mentioned that Superboy was completely in the wrong here.