Thursday, June 14, 2018

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #104

Legion of Super-Heroes #104 (May 1998)
title: "Heroes' Return"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
penciller: Jason Armstrong

inkers: Ray Kryssing and Ron Boyd
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Apparition, Brainiac 5.1, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Gates, Kinetix, Live Wire/Lightning Lad, M'Onel, Spark/Light Lass, Ultra Boy, Umbra, XS

Andromeda, Chief Rapolchellack, Commodore Baraka, King Charlz, Kono, Magno, Nyurt Roz, R.J. Brande, Wimena Wazzo, Winathian Presidents Fegg; Durlans, Mellorusians, Nova Express crew and passengers, Science Police

Composite Man, Evolvo, Khunds (Amilia Crugg), Leland McCauley, Time Trapper (behind the scenes)

Planets have been leaving the United Planets for an alien alliance, including Xanthu, though Legionnaires have discovered the Khunds and others have been staging invasions by third parties so they can act as saviors and dirty the U.P.'s good name. Evolvo has created a machine for Leland McCauley that accesses the time-space anomaly known as the Fires of Creation, currently being investigated by Andromeda and a number of Legionnaires. And Chameleon and Sensor have each taken a leave of absence from the Legion, having been recalled home after a small scandal.

The Nova Express is ferrying, among its passengers, the Durlan thief known as the Composite Man through Alliance space, when a Sklarian with phasing powers shows up, introduces herself as Kono, and frees the Durlan. Passengers and crew jump into escape pods and are left stranded, as the Science Police and U.P. government wonder how this might be connected to the planets' defections. Then the news cycle hits and it becomes clear: The Durlan is being used as an excuse to foster xenophobic sentiment about Durla, a U.P. world.
The Legionnaires decides to head into Alliance space to rescue the escape pods, which they manage through a combination of Element Lad turning their hulls into iron and Cosmic Boy moving them like a human tractor beam. Unfortunately, they have a hard time bringing the pods to a space port because nearby planets fear a dangerous Durlan may be hidden aboard.
Leland McCauley hopes to sell Evolvo's machine to the Khunds and tries to negotiate a price with Minister Amilia Crugg. Just as she starts showing an interest, the Legionnaires that were investigating the Fires of Creation come out of the portal. Kinetix, Andromeda and Brainiac 5 look different. Brainy even sounds different, laughing and complimentary, amiably adopting the name "Brainiac 5.1" Gates sarcastically gives him. Crugg leaves angry that her security was compromised. Once the Legionnaires have left, Evolvo uses the machine to summon Crugg, teleporting her from where she was. Could a deal now be struck?
Meanwhile on Durla, Chameleon transfers his family's political power to another and enters the Cave of Atonement where he is expected to stay for 12 years! No word on Sensor's return home, but her world of Orando, and the Lightning Twins' Winath have both seceded from the United Planets. And speaking of the twins, we find them training at the Legion Outpost. One second everything is normal in 2998, the next they are Light Lass and Lightning Lad in 2968!
How else would you turn an entire union against itself if not by making it completely paranoid? This is pure, evil genius at work! I understand the inherent fear a shape-shifter can produce in other races, but the reaction of the members of the U.P. still seems an overreaction. One Durlan gone bad and the whole race should be blamed for his sin... At this point, it doesn’t really matter how the team is going to defeat the Dark Circle, what I really want to know is how they will fix all the problems they create. How is Durla going to react after this affront? Are the planets that left going to be welcome back without consequences? I guess it’s the political side of the story that’s keeping me going right now. It’s very complex and there’s room for so many different avenues. I’ll be very disappointed if the process to bring everything back to the way it was isn’t well developed.
I’m even more concerned and confused by the Fires of Creation than I was before. Okay, Evolvo’s contraption brought back our Legionnaires (about time!), but this techno-babbling isn’t getting us anywhere. I guess at this point what’s important to know is that McCauley and Evolvo have control over something very powerful and somewhat unpredictable – don’t you dare try and tell me the change of appearance of the twins isn’t related to it OR that Evolvo planned that. Ok, bringing back the old costumes can be fun, but to what purpose? Please tell me there’s an actual reason for them to revisit their past timelines and it’s not just a useless wink to the past.
We are definitely on the cusp of finding out what the heck has been happening with the various alternate Legion realities that have cropped up. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I do wonder if the new looks are actually from some of those alternate realities. If so, what does that mean for the originals? In other words, is it a transformation, or is it a switch? I feel like we should get more of an explanation. The Legionnaires are a bit too matter-of-fact about it, especially considering Brainy just got a total personality change. Not clear how much Andromeda and Kinetix have changed - Andy looks like a mechanic, and Kinetix is like Mary Jane Watson in a bustier.
Otherwise, yeah, the political story... Feels more relevant today, in this era of fake news and fear-mongering than it did twenty years ago. I think this is the cleverest the Dark Circle has ever been, in any continuity. I also like the introduction of a female Khund warrior, as past timelines had Khund women subservient sex kittens (or is that just 5YL?). And I wonder if they have any plans for Kono? The Sklarian thief was fun as a junior member of the adult Legion, but could never have a place in the Reboot Legion (not with powers akin to Apparition's). So it's odd to see her, even working for the wrong side (I'm sure it's just for the money and she doesn't know how bad this is going to be... or am I just giving her the benefit of the doubt because I know her in another life?).
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1998/10.
  • First appearance of Kono in the Reboot timeline; she first appeared in the Five Years Later era, and became a member of the Legion.
  • The Fires of Creation give certain heroes a make-over in this issue, namely: Andromeda, Brainiac 5 (renamed Brainiac 5.1 by Gates), and Kinetix. Other changes, like Umbra's hair style, will prove to merely be artistic license.
  • On the final pages, Spark and Live Wire are translated from 2998 to 2968, the Silver Age era of the Legion (and thus become Light Lass and Lightning Lad). The date appears to be March 23rd, which in 1998, is two days before the issue was on the stands. The clock says 23:47:47, possibly an allusion to the Legion's first appearance in Adventure Comics (v1) #247.
  • The next issue blurb says "Adventures in Action!", referring to the two comics series that originally published the Legion's stories, Adventure Comics and Action Comics. It also features a checkerboard pattern, just as did the covers of DC Comics through most of 1967.

First appearance of Kono in the Reboot timeline. Brainiac 5 evolves into Brainiac 5.1.

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