Thursday, March 1, 2018

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #100

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #100 (January 1998)
title: "OK C.O.M.P.U.T.O."
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
pencillers: Lee Moder and Derec Aucoin 
inkers: Drew Geraci and 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, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Ferro, Gates, Invisible Kid, Kinetix, Live Wire, Monstress, Saturn Girl, Sensor, Spark, Star Boy, Triad, Ultra Boy, Umbra, Violet, XS

Guests: 
Durlan (flashback), Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Highfather (flashback), Impulse, Koko, Martian Manhunter, Metal Men (Iron, Lead, Mercury, Platinum, Tin, Veridium), Metron (flashback), Phase, Robin III, Shvaughn Erin, Superboy, Superman, Taptree, Tiffany Cross; innocent bystanders

Opponents: 
C.O.M.P.U.T.O., Luck Lords (flashback)

Recap: 
Part of the Legion has been trapped in the 20th Century for a while now, while the 30th Century Legionnaires have been busy increasing their ranks and building a new HQ in Earth orbit. But now, they're closer to home than ever. Brainiac 5 has used a Mother Box and a Metal Man's responsometer to create C.O.M.P.U.T.O., a sentient machine able to calculate and create a time rift over Metropolis. Except C.O.M.P.U.T.O. doesn't want to be deactivated after it's done its job and immediately rebels, trying to rid the planet of humanity. The Legion can't leave until it's dealt with it, hopefully with help from 20th-Century friends. Especially since C.O.M.P.U.T.O. has taken over Cosmic Boy and one of Triad's bodies. Meanwhile, Apparition is trapped inside her touchstone with lookalike Phase of the L.E.G.I.O.N...

Synopsis: 
The Justice League is helping the Legion prevent loss of life in the various disasters C.O.M.P.U.T.O. is creating by hijacking computer systems, while Superboy alone guards the time portal to the 30th Century, stopping flying cars from accidentally coming through and such. The heroes help Brainiac 5 work through his depression and figure out a way to knock the mad machine, perhaps with an electromagnetic pulse created by the electric Superman, though enhancers will have to be placed at Earth's poles by combined JLA/Legion teams, the roster of which is decided by Triad.
At the South Pole, C.O.M.P.U.T.O.-as-Cosmic Boy intervenes, ready it seems for their plan. Ferro uses Iron's responsometer, which he'd secretly taken from Brainy's lab, to change his form to that of the "Weirdo Legionnaire", while the Martian Manhunter changes this up by making himself look like Superman, all in an effort to confuse C.O.M.P.U.T.O., as its computer mind keeps adapting to any opponent it has faced. They confuse it long enough for Iron to remake himself from the hardware surrounding Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl uses the distraction to break through to Cos and free him. Cos then accuses Triad of being connected to C.O.M.P.U.T.O. through her third body, and informing on the Legion. While under the machine's control, he also saw that its next target would be the portal itself.
At the North Pole, C.O.M.P.U.T.O.-as-Triad is making short work of the team sent to set up the EM enhancer. Meanwhile, inside Apparition's touchstone, currently carried by Ultra Boy, Tiffany Cross' mind tries to help Tinya and Phase. Psychically, they are given a vision of their own birth, that their father was a Carggite and that the two of them are "twins" in the same way Triad's three selves are "triplets". Separated at birth, Phase was sold to the Luck Lords to pay a gambling debt and so it goes. By choosing to join rather than split, they are released into the real world, and it's a solid-again Apparition that sucker-punches C.O.M.P.U.T.O. In that moment, Superman fires his EMP from orbit, but it's not enough to stop the computer.
In the meantime, Cosmic Boy had flown through the portal, and some might have been right to think he was also still connected to C.O.M.P.U.T.O., but he returns with the 30th-Century Legion! Thanks to Sensor's illusions, they're able to keep the mad machine on uncertain footing, apparently switching powers between them (but actually, appearances). Weakened, C.O.M.P.U.T.O. is unable to fend off a computer virus prepared by Brainiac 5, and the villain is split back into its constituent parts - a Mother Box, an OMNICOM, Doc Magnus' responsometer, and Triad.
The threat defeated, the Legionnaires say their goodbyes and head home, leaving Inferno behind (she's still AWOL - look for her here next week), but taking the orphan Ferro with them. To Brainiac 5's dismay, Koko comes with him.
Commentary: 
Shotgun
Not only is Brainiac’s being humble and showing remorse, it’s basically the first thing we see in this story. I’m still not sure why and when I started loving this character so much, but I guess I’ve always had something for condescending douches – see Cumberbatch’s Sherlock as main example. Triad’s little plot was so obvious, why else would she want to be separated making her more vulnerable. How could no one there notice this? They really need to step up their game and learn a bit more about “human” nature – I realize they aren’t really humans, but I’ll say it this way for lack of a better term. Cosmic Boy’s return with the rest of the team, along with a great plan to confuse COMPUTO, was a sight for sore eyes. That plan was really good and, for once, something I didn’t expect, so kudos, kid! I particularly liked the page where everyone was showing off the wrong set of powers.
Tinya’s story is giving me the shivers. From what I could make out of the random frames, her story is more than tragic. Really, that’s so awful. I knew her father’s power had something to do with her surviving through Jo though, so go me! I wonder if we’ll ever hear more about her backstory, make it clearer, because so many questions remain without answers and the shards of memories just created so many more! I must say I can’t wait to see the exchange she’ll have with her mother about her newly regained tangibility, her shady past and her shadier husband.
Siskoid
They certainly could have been clearer about Apparition, so I do hope we get to see that origin explored a lot more, especially since the Luck Lords are apparently involved. My big question though is whether she'll retain the ability to split into two people, and what that means to Triad, for whom this is the only power. I don't remember it happening, but I could be wrong as we get into murkier territory as far as my memory goes.

As for the C.O.M.P.U.T.O. finale goes, I quite liked it. The Legionnaires played it smart, as did the villain (I didn't really know why the Triads were wearing sinister smiles when they got their way and assumed they just had designs on eventually leading the team). Ferro did particularly well with the Weirdo Legionnaire bit (see Space Police Notes for why it made me smile), and the guest heroes also did well. Among my favorite bits is the two-page spread where they give their farewells. Tin and Violet as the shy kids. Robin befuddled by Sensor. Brainiac 5 estimating he's a threat to history. All those amusing little interactions. The Legion stayed too long in the past, I think, but they leave with the proper bang and heart.

***

title: "Reflections"
writer: Mark Farmer
penciller: Alan Davis
inker: Mark Farmer
lettering: Pat Prentice
colorist: Tom McCraw

Mission Monitor Board:  
Chameleon, Element Lad, Ferro, Gates, Triad, Ultra Boy, Violet

Guests: 
Athramites, scientists, visitors to the Legion Day event

Opponents: 
Rarb, Stheno

Synopsis: 
It's Legion Day, and the team's fans show up in force to celebrate. Only the newly-arrived Ferro seems blue. A kind old man accosts him and Ferro tells him he doesn't know where he fits yet, or whether he's worthy of Legion membership at all. He recount his first official mission with the team, in which two bandits were raiding a scientific outpost. One of them, Stheno, was a real live Medusa, turning people who looked at her directly into stone. Violet's quick reflexes allowed her to cover Ferro's eyes just in time, and aiming with the reflection off his helmet, she used him as a battering ram to knock Stheno out. The old man comforts Ferro, telling him it couldn't have been done without him, and that he did fine. After Ferro contentedly joins the Legion parade, the old man transforms back into Chameleon, who gives us a naughty wink.
Commentary: 
Shotgun
AAAAWWW I LOVED THIS SO MUCH!!! Way to go Cham! What a great way to give the new kid some much needed confidence. I’m glad Ferro joined the team and it was to be expected that he’d feel a bit off at first. New millennium, he’s joining a team that mostly worked with each other for… actually how long? Has it been years since the Legion was created? Months? Hard to keep track of this. Of course, you’d feel out of place but hopefully, this conversation with a “stranger” will take care of his insecurities for good.
Siskoid
And of course, superlative art from Davis and Farmer. The big spreads look detailed and beautiful, but I especially love the short superhero battle. Triad knocking that Tyr wannabe out... The way Vi lunges at Ferro's eyes... The choreography as she uses Ferro as a living weapon. I get it, not a lot of dignity to his role in this victory, but hey, it's team work! And what Cham does is too.

***

title: "All Together Now!"
writers: Roger  Stern and Tom McCraw
penciller: Jason Armstrong
inker: Ron Boyd
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw

Mission Monitor Board:  
Apparition, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Ferro, Gates, Invisible Kid, Kid Quantum I (memorial), Kinetix, Leviathan (memorial), Live Wire, M'Onel, Monstress, Saturn Girl, Sensor, Spark, Star Boy, Triad, Ultra Boy, Umbra, Violet, XS

Guests: 
Andromeda, Athramites, Atom'X (memorial), Blast-Off (memorial), Chuck Taine, Douglas Nolan/Ingot (flashback), Koko, Magno

Synopsis: 
The Legion inaugurates its new orbital outpost, Outpost Allon, named after the fallen Leviathan. The story gives us a tour of the facilities and takes a peek at the Legionnaires' private lives in the process. Magno decides to stay as a member of the Legion's support staff, on permanent monitor duty.
Commentary: 
Shotgun
I don’t know if this is due to following XS running around the place, or if it was the attempt at seeing a bit of everyone in so few pages, but this story just felt rushed and incoherent. We’re eavesdropping on romance, imaginary or not, it's filler basically. Yay for more Chuck though. I wish we could see a bit more of Tenzil as well, but of course, with everyone back in the 30th Century, it’s going to be tough on the supporting cast. Good to know that Magno will stick around. Even without his powers, I’m sure he’ll do great stuff with the team.
Siskoid
Less a story than a behind the scenes interlude, but I generally like these as a way of advancing the personal stories of everyone in such a large roster. Notable to me: Triad falling for Chuck. Gates hating on Sensor because she's a "royalist". Cham still in love with Ayla (who I hope isn't feeling wobbly for health reasons), but still having the deepest of friendships with Sensor. Brainy thinking Andromeda is a nun in the "first convent of the combat evangelists". Awkwardness between Imra, Garth and Rokk. And the girls teasing Apparition re: Ultra Boy. Oh, and that big sinister mystery from the previous issue of Legionnaires where the entire Legion was missing so they called back M'Onel? Well I guess they were just back in the past fighting C.O.M.P.U.T.O., no big whoop. M'Onel returns here and they don't even mention it. Ooops!

***

title: "The Brainiac Adventures: It's a Wonderful Legion"
writer: Ron Boyd
pencillers: John Delaney and Adam Hughes
inker: Ron Boyd
lettering: Tim Harkins
colorist: Tom McCraw

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Ferro, Invisible Kid, Live Wire, Saturn Girl, Triad

Guests: 
Chuck Taine, Koko, Tenzil Kem

Opponents: 
Time Trapper

Synopsis: 
Brainiac 5 dreams a ghost called Clarence (who looks like the Time Trapper) shows him a timeline where he never joined the Legion. The Legionnaires are happy kids having fun with their superhero club, and Koko is back is back in the past, hosting a talk show with his expanded intelligence. Brainy confronts Clarence with how he undercut his own objectives by showing him a BETTER past, at which point he wakes up.
Commentary: 
Shotgun
What was this? No really, what was the point of this? Except for the part about the Koko – I so want to watch Monkey Business, someone get on it NOW! – this short story was upsetting at best. It feels like they’re making Brainy’s character regress. He showed some remorse earlier in the same issue and then he wants to come back just so he can keep on being an ass and making the team’s life “miserable” ...Come on!

Siskoid
Well, it's a spoof of It's a Wonderful Life, isn't it? Very directly so, with "Clarence" and everything. I had fun with it, but DID IT HAPPEN? It's apparently a dream, and very silly to boot, BUT look back at other Time Trapper stories in the Reboot era to date. 1950s and 40s pastiche. The Trapper, from behind the scenes, is creating alternate timelines where even the tone of the stories is changed. Is this any different? How else does Brainy know Tenzil was making a foul new drink, unless there was a bit of time travel in there? And I ask because this is maybe the WEIRDEST way to introduce the Time Trapper to the current continuity! So I choose to think it happened, but also didn't, just like the Trapper's other tricks. Also fun how Adam Hughes takes over the art once we're in the "real world".

***

title: "The Fires of Creation"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Walter Simonson

inker: Bob Wiacek
lettering: John Workman
colorist: Tom McCraw

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Gates, Invisible Kid, M'Onel, Sensor, Umbra, XS

Guests: 
Andromeda, Athramites, Koko

Synopsis: 
Sister Andromeda flies into a gravity well, hoping to get closer to God. Suddenly, an inexplicable projection of a giant Andromeda appears on the Legion's doorstep, asking for M'Onel to come. He agrees and they vanish together. The Legion is determined to follow them somehow.
Commentary: 
Shotgun
This short story is by far my favorite of the lot. Some pretty interesting choices were made for the colors and shapes in space. I’m just a bit puzzled with the close-ups. While Andy’s are well defined and pretty, when it comes to Lyle and XS it plainly looks bad. Having both Daxamites in this location, with talks of starting creation anew, it creeps me out a bit. Yet, I’m really intrigued as to what’s going to happen next to them.
Quickly have to add: There is something that’s almost hypnotizing about seeing Andy’s skeleton. I love both shots!
Siskoid
Walt Simonson is a great artist and perfect for epic, cosmic, mythic stuff. Sorry you didn't like all his portrayals. This, obviously, is just a teaser to an upcoming storyline, and incomplete as it is, it's really the art that makes it as good as it is. Hopefully other artists can keep this level of blazing artistry up when they get a shot at the "fires of Creation".

***

Pin-ups
The issue includes a number of pin-ups, many of them which could be termed "Elseworlds", explained on the credits page as trips in the Legion VR Room:
The artists, in order: Chris Sprouse and Bob Wiacek, Colleen Doran, Dan Jurgens and José Marzan Jr., Mike Collins and Drew Geraci, Philip Moy, John Delaney and Ron Boyd, Cully Hamner w/colors by Stine Walsh, Dusty Abell and Drew Geraci, Paul Pelletier and Drew Geraci, Todd Nauck and Ron Boyd, Jeffrey Moy and W.C. Carani, and Alan Davis and Mark Farmer (all colors by Tom McCraw unless noted)

Commentary: 
Shotgun
3rd one – What a weird team to go against what seems to be a foul creature from the bones left behind and the shadow on the cliffside. Is this a reference to another cover or something else? I’m asking because it almost feels like it should be an homage. Love the triple sun/moon situation and the shadow on the team’s face. By far, my favorite of the pin-ups.
9th – OK see, when I was told there would be some pin-ups, this is pretty much what I expected right there. I feel like a pillow fight between superheroes must be quite the sight, and probably very dangerous as well!
11th – That’s so cuuuuute!!! Teeny-tiny Legionnaire! I would collect every single one of them if they were to market figurines following this design. Poor Gates though…
One last thing - WHO THE HECKK IS THUNDER?! Am I drawing a blank, not remembering meeting her before or is it not just me… Even the story, saying “Captain Marvel” and gaining super powers… what is this? Was she in front of a mirror and did she repeat it three times?

Siskoid
I don't believe the "VR Room" conceit for a second as a lot of this stuff - the newspaper article for the Prohibition Era Legion, the silly Tiny Legionnaires - doesn't really fit the story. Was it too early or complicated to say these were some of the realities created by the Time Trapper that we just never saw? Anyway, my favorites are the most Elseworlds ones and I'd have loved to see specials telling those stories. What's most disturbing about the Tiny Legion pin-up? The fact that Sensor is gobbling Gates up, or the Legion founders using a cup of coffee as a hot tub?

But Davis and Farmer's team shot is my favorite (hey, where's Proty?). While the Thunder appearance is a spoiler (or a teaser, I guess), there's just so much personality that comes across. Triad not keen on another self playing with Star Boy's hair. Garth unhappy with Cos and Imra's closeness (and worried Ayla). Tinya on Jo's knee. Chameleon pranking M'Onel. Umbra with her back to the group. Very nice expressions, show of powers, and general layout. And a match to their gorgeous gatefolded cover as well!

Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1998/2.
  • The issue has a gatefold cover that unfolds on the right edge revealing the 30th Century.
  • The title of the lead story is a reference to Radiohead's seminal album "OK Computer" released in June of 1997.
  • The Justice League is called in by Superman as per Action Comics #741.
  • The Martian Manhunter references Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Relics" in which Scotty admits to padding out repair estimates.
  • Ferro tries to confound C.O.M.P.U.T.O. by using Iron's responsometer to take on the form of the "Weirdo Legionnaire", a reference to a story from Adventure Comics #341. They look dissimilar, but for the tentacled arms. In the original story, the Weirdo Legionnaire turned out to be Proty II.
  • Inferno is mentioned, but not seen. She has apparently decided to stay in the past. (See the Inferno mini-series for more.) Ferro and Koko leave the 20th Century to join the Legion in the future.
  • Apparition is revealed to be half Carggite (though he father was shown to be fully Carggite earlier), and Phase her "twin" sold to the Luck Lords by their father to settle a gambling debt. The story is shown in fragmented flashback, but not properly told. Her two selves are reunited in this story, making Apparition solid again. It is not clear if she can split into two again at will.
  • The male villain in "Reflections" has been misidentified as Tyr on some websites. They are probably members of the same race, but the Reboot's version of Tyr appears later in the series. 
  • Though "All Together Now" seems to say this is the start of the Legionnaires using personalized icons (as per the classic era), they actually appear for the first time in "OK Computer". That first instance is either a mistake or the 20th-Century group originated the idea.
  • In "All Together Now", one of Triad's selves expresses an interest in Chuck Taine for the first time; these two were married in the previous continuity.
  • The "Brainiac Adventures" uses the logo design for The Batman Adventures, the comic tie-in to Batman The Animated Series, with art to match. This is not the first time this has happened. The previous continuity's Brainiac was given a similar short story in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #50. The Legion trapped in the 20th Century also appeared in that style in Adventures in the DC Universe #10, previously reviewed HERE.
  • The "Brainiac Adventures" is a tribute to It's a Wonderful Life and features the first full appearance of the Time Trapper in Reboot continuity. IF it happened. The timeline Brainy is shown features the Legion as little kids wearing their Silver Age costumes. He dismissively makes a reference to the Super-Pets.
  • On the credits page, Paul Levitz is erroneously credited as "writer/inker" on "The Fires of Creation", but is only its writer (Bob Wiacek is credited as inker normally). It is, in fact, the first Legion story he's written since the end of the third volume in 1989 (and is only his second comics writer's credit since then, having undertaken the duties of Exective VP and Publisher at DC).
  • Characters appearing in pin-ups and nowhere else: Inferno, Lori Morning, Marla Latham, Proty, R.J. Brande, Thunder. The latter seems to be a teaser for a character that isn't YET a member of the Legion, having first appeared in the Legends of a Dead Earth Annual of the Power of Shazam! series.
  • The last pin-up is followed by a two-page key as to who each character is, with notation for homeworld, height, weight, eye and hair color, and powers. Spark is here said to have electrical powers, not gravity-reducing ones - mistake or foreshadowing? Lori is shown as Slipstream, one of her Dial H identities; her file does not even list her name, or any data, a complete mystery.

Milestones: 
This is the first and only time a comic titled Legion of Super-Heroes hits #100; volume 2 of the series ended in the 300s, but was called Superboy and did not yet feature the Legion when its 100th issue came out. The book takes the opportunity to reunite the two halves of the Legion into a single, 30th-Century team, and inaugurates the new Legion Outpost in Earth's orbit, which was teased in the last couple issues of Legionnaires. The issue also marks the first, not behind-the-scenes, appearance of the Time Trapper, though the story he appears in may not be canonical.

9 comments:

  1. And the Sixtieth anniversary is coming up.

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  2. I always thought that Tinya was triplicates but one of the triplicates was always intangible and never split out into physical form. When Apparition was White Triangled the physical body was destroyed leaving the 3rd apparition body. So when Phase merges with the Apparition form, they are just one body again.

    Total Fanwank but in the absence of any other explanation, it made sense in my own head.

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  3. The bit in the outpost story when Magno stays on and Umbra thinks "How, he's lost everything..." was an interesting bit of characterization. It could mean "How can we keep him, he's lost everything" but I always thought it means "How is he able to go on and still want to be a part of this, he's lost everything" I've always read it as the latter since it kind of fits in more with her character.

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  4. I loved the Levitz/Simonson collaboration here along with the return of Andromeda. Would have liked to have known what Levitz had intended (then again, given how the latest LSH run ended up, it could have been a matter of being careful what you wish for).

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  5. Intended? He was probably setting up a story the regular writers were about to write and had no personal intentions.

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    Replies
    1. Well that's literally true but I can still ponder what he might (emphasis on might) have had in mind when he wrote it.

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  6. Boy, Jason Armstrong really makes you appreciate Lee Moder.

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  7. It's quite cartoony, but I don't dislike it, personally. Kind of a looser Steve Leialoha.

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  8. I wasn't a huge fan of Jason Armstrong at first, but he grew on me. His style is actually a much better complement to Jeff Moy's work. And Lee Moder was really taking a weird turn as the years went by. There's an issue a year or two after this where he came back for a guest artist spot and it was just ... strange. Figures distorted and twisted and bulbous heads and such.

    I guess I'm saying that tonally speaking, the shift in artists was probably wise.

    Story-wise -- main story is a fun ride with some weird plot holes (Triad has telepathy now? She didn't before; how exactly is C.O.M.P.U.T.O. controlling Cosmic Boy when all the tech is removed?). Other stories are overall enjoyable, although I agree with Shotgun that some of the portraits in the last story are off -- even if the rest of the art is pretty spectacular.

    I feel like, however, that this was a point where a bar was set that was never really met again. The Mordru storyline and much of the C.O.M.P.U.T.O. storyline are pretty strong -- there are some highs in the following years but they never quite reach the same heights for me. While the team was split both series added new characters -- now the roster is big enough that the writers can't ever really seem to juggle them well, so they have to resort to artificial measures to handle it. There are two Reboot eras in my mind -- pre-100 and post-100.

    Anyway, thanks for leading such an enjoyable review of the Reboot era. I'm looking forward to following along to the end, as uneven as it may!

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