Thursday, June 7, 2018

Reboot: Legends of the Legion #4

Legends of the Legion #4 (May 1998)
title: "Casualty: The Secret Origin of Star Boy"
writers: Barry Kitson and Tom Peyer
penciller: Todd Nauck
inker: Larry Stucker
lettering: Albert T. De Guzman
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: Steve Lightle
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Spark, Star Boy, Ultra Boy, Umbra; flashback: Kid Quantum I

Antennae Boy, Chuck Taine, Color Queen, Doro, Infectious Lass, Night Girl, Porcupine Pete; flashback: Atmos, Dr. Kvorkgian, Insect Queen, Kid Quantum II, Monstress, Radion; mechanics, Science Police

Flashback: Algamenon Raiders, Bone Spikes, High-Brow, Klamorr, Rimborians, Slopp, Violence Queen; asteroid miners

Four Legionnaires have stumbled upon a kids' tour of Legion HQ and been asked to recount their origin stories...

As the kids don't want to go back to school, they entreat Star Boy to tell HIS story. Bored of fighting low-level threats on the rim world of Xanthu, Star Boy decided to go where the action is - Earth. His team mates in the Uncanny Amazers were not pleased, so sabotaged his ship so he'd be assailed by Durlan space shanties all the way there. Trying to find a mechanic to fix the sound system eventually brought him to Ultra Boy's home planet of Rimbor where, while waiting for the repairs to be completed, he had an altercation with the Bone Spikes gang and narrowly missed Jo Nah.
He continued on and came across four escaped convicts, the very villains Ayla Ranzz had stopped on Winath when she was forced to come out as the superhero Spark. He stopped them dead in their tracks with his mass-increasing powers, right into the Space Police's lap. Exhausted, he let his ship drift for a while, but that put him in the line of fire of an asteroid mining operation. His ship was destroyed and he faced years of recovery. To add insult to injury, the grossly negligent miners bragged about having shot a space whale not long before.
Angry at Star Boy's reaction to their violence against a protected species, they found a piece of space whale blubber taken aboard for study and put it in his food. His recovery suddenly became quick and miraculous, the blubber would also go a long way explaining how he started developing powers akin to Ultra Boy's, but Thom has yet to make the connection.
There you have it… the last issue of Legend of the Legion starring Star Boy. Let’s jump right into it...

The poor kid really had a hard time getting to the Legionnaire’s HQ! I can’t say that I blame Kid Quantum from wanting to stop him, especially after what happened to her brother, but to see that even the rest of the Uncanny Amazers wanted to stop him, that was pretty harsh. I’m especially not a fan of their attitude towards the Legion considering how they simply jumped on board as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Could it be that they were jealous they didn’t think about trying out before him? Guess we’ll never know.
It’s incredible to think that Star Boy was connected to his partners even before he met them. The way the storyline connects in this last issue is very fun and a nice way to conclude everything with quick reminders of what was presented before. Of course, he’ll never know that he helped arrest Ayla’s enemies and we can’t say for certain that the space whale from which he ate was the same as the one that swallowed Jo, but I thought it was still very neat from a story-telling point of view. What better way to finish it all up then with a wink at Bouncing Boy’s abilities in another continuity. Definitely liked these short origin stories.
Now to continue with the main story and its hundreds of plots!

I know it slowed down our coverage of the main series, but I for one, am sorry Legends is over. It was fun and humorous, and informative too. I could have done with, if not all, then most Legionnaires getting their turn. And to end it on a strange farce where Star Boy's story crosses paths with the other Legionnaires', well that's just gravy. I can't quite believe they had this reason for Star Boy's changing powers in mind when they introduced the subplot, but it connects the powers together very well.
The sore spot, I suppose, is that his story didn't connect with Umbra's! He couldn't meet the U.P. delegation before it got to Talok VII? Or did that not fit the time frame? And one might say the story cheats by showing things Star Boy was not aware of, so the readers are allowed outside the frame of the tale strictly being told.

Lots to like anyway, from the art, to the Durlan music torture, to the near misses, to the "choose your own lesson" left to the kids who may or may not be the Legion of Substitute-Heroes.
Science Police Notes:  
  • Star Boy's original origin was told in some detail in Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #306.
  • The kids listening to the Legionnaires' stories are (or look like) members of the Legion of Substitute-Heroes. If so, this is the first speaking appearance of several of them (all except Night Girl), though a few had had cameos in Legionnaires #43. Note that Color Kid is here represented by Color Queen (a tribute to Legion of Substitute-Heroes Special #1).
  • Star Boy's origin intersects those of Ultra Boy (Legends of the Legion #1) and Spark (Legends of the Legion #2).
  • One space garage is called Sal's and its mechanic appears to be a chimp, both a "monkey wrench" joke (as per the signage) and a reference to the Muppet by that name, Sal Minella.
  • Dr. Kvorkgian is a reference to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a famous proponent of euthanasia. Perhaps she didn't think Star Boy would pull through.
  • The last panel of the story has Chuck Taine say his power is to control his appetite, or else he'd blow up like a big rubber ball, an obvious reference to his role as Bouncing Boy in the previous continuity.

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