Thursday, February 8, 2018

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #99

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #99 (December 1997)
title: "When the Reign Comes"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
pencillers: Lee Moder and Derec Aucoin

inker: Ray Kryssing
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

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

Impulse, Iron (flashback), Koko, Oracle, Phase, Robin III, Shvaughn Erin, Superboy, Taptree, Tiffany Cross; Happy Harbor nuclear power plant technicians


Apparition has been sucked into the Touchstone where she meets her lookalike Phase from L.E.G.I.O.N. Meanwhile, to get the team back home to the 30th Century, Brainiac 5 has created a sentient computer from a Mother Box and a Metal Man responsometer. Dubbing itself C.O.M.P.U.T.O., the machine created a temporary time portal over Metropolis, but fearing it would then be deactivated, it turned on the Legion, made Ultra Boy's ship crash, and took over one of Triad's bodies...

Spark and Gates are the only Legionnaires left standing, but C.O.M.P.U.T.O. is surprised to find it doesn't know about Spark's new powers. It teleports away to have a think. Elsewhere, Taptree, Tiffany and Ultra Boy make it out of the crashed ship, but Jo has to switch quickly between powers to rescue the Touchstone in the flaming wreckage. Inside it, Phase and Apparition touch and start to violently merge!
The Legion is shocked to learn that Shvaughn has been keeping files on them, files C.O.M.P.U.T.O. has used to hurt them (she just hadn't updated Spark's powers). They call a few heroes C.O.M.P.U.T.O. might not know to help: Superboy and Impulse. At the same time, Oracle sends Robin Tim Drake to check out the weird power fluctuations occurring in the Happy Harbor area. Indeed, C.O.M.P.U.T.O. has taken over a nuclear power plant, causing an emergency. When the heroes get there, the evil computer reconfigures the plant into a giant tank.
Robin manages to get the better of his Triad body and knocks it out long enough for the team to take care of the tank, with the help of Taptree's L.E.G.I.O.N. craft. But C.O.M.P.U.T.O. awakens and takes Cosmic Boy over as well. Though Brainy tries to reason with it, it announces it means to stamp all humanoid life off the face of the planet so it can be safe.
Oh… we are getting ready for something big, clearly! The big 100 is coming and we can feel it in this issue. The special guests coming in to help our team are sign enough. On top of it, have COMPUTO take control of the leader is a bold move and I love it. Still wondering why Cos was suddenly with them, though, as he was just stopping the tank's missiles with the rest of the team. And is it weird that I kinda feel bad for the villain? I mean his decisions are rash and impulsive, especially for a computer-based organism, but his main goal is self preservation so, you know, it’s almost acceptable, don’t you think? Aaahhh of course he wants to eradicate mankind… NEVER MIND!!
Another odd thing is how I care about Brainiac’s opinion and perspective in this whole mess. To me, he seems to be right on many levels and his attempts to calm COMPUTO, even if they were pointless, felt genuine and I almost believed it would work for a second there. Cosmic Boy, who keeps on saying “we’ll distribute the blame later”, still seems more than willing to pin most of it on Brainy. I’m surprised at how calm Triad looks while forcibly separated from one of her selves. If I remember correctly, one of them died in another continuity, right? Could it be that she’ll have to pay the price in order for the team to defeat COMPUTO?
Also, I have to say, the fact there’s a portal open for the Legion to leave yet no one seems to bat an eye is concerning. I guess the general public is getting too used to these sorts of shenanigans to care anymore.

Or it's not actually visible to the naked eye. That's my guess. My favorite part of the issue is probably seeing Ultra Boy have to switch powers multiple times, not just switching but sacrificing some abilities to enable others, to save his precious Tinya. That's an important wrinkle in his powers that isn't explored enough.
Otherwise, a good issue. I like that Shvaughn's files weren't just a throwaway idea and that is has a real impact (perhaps also on the trust within the team). Ferro wanting to do the right thing and inform the Metal Men that two of their number have been deactivated by COMPUTO, Brainy's loyalty to his creation, COMPUTO crushing an ant as it formulates its Forbin-like plan, everyone's reaction to Impulse... it's all well played.
As for the guest stars, you'll note they're all teenagers, like the Legionnaires themselves, which is fun. Of course, Impulse and Superboy have guested before, and judging by COMPUTO's reaction, they may have been in Shvaughn's notes. That's perhaps why it's Robin, who the Legion has never officially met (you're not getting me to rifle through issues of Genesis or even Final Night to check), who puts the biggest dent in the computer's armor. Or in Triad's, to be fair. Those Bat-guys are ruthless.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1997/24.
  • The cover for every DC comic dated December 1997 showed a character's face as part of the Faces of the DC Universe initiative.
  • The cover erroneously credits Ron Boyd as inker, and fails to credit Derec Aucoin as one of the pencillers.

1 comment:

  1. The two different art styles are a little jarring -- but other than that, this was a pretty effective Issue No. 99. We knew going in that this one wasn't going to wrap up anything, but the action and humor and characterization were all on point. Superboy needling Impulse "the missiles are up here" cracks me up every time.

    Nice comprehensive review!