Thursday, July 19, 2018

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #106

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #106 (July 1998)
title: "High Crimes"
writers: Tom Peyer and Roger Stern
penciller: Jason Armstrong

inker: Ron Boyd and Prentis Rollins
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, Cosmic Boy, Gates, M'Onel, Saturn Girl, Sensor, Spark, Triad, Ultra Boy, XS

Guests: 
Andromeda, Koko, Marla Latham, R.J. Brande, Rond Vidar; Imskians (Bohb, Stasi), Science Police (Regs), Winathians (Dalya Ranzz, Kirth and Vaz Ranzz. Zakk and Feg Arn)

Opponents: 
Composite Man, Dark Circle, Kono, Leland McCauley, Sklarian Raiders, Tyrazzians

Recap: 
The Dark Circle has been working behind the scenes to split up the United Planets and make them fall behind the Affiliated Planets' banner. A large part of this plan is a xenophobic smear campaign against the Durlans...

Synopsis: 
Kono and her Sklarian Raiders attack an Imskian facility, but the Legionnaires show up in time to prevent any damage. During the altercation, a Tyrazzian ship destroys the sector's star-gate, stranding the team and all Science Police personnel in the area. The ship then beams the Raiders aboard and vanishes in a portal of its own making, using Leland McCauley's technology. It turns the ship inside out however, and kills half the crew. The Dark Circle doesn't really care, as soldiers are expendable.
On the recently-seceded Winath, the co-presidents are holding a reception for Spark, which she and Triad will use to learn more about the Affiliated Planets, even if it makes Ayla feel like a traitor. Then, the reception's fiddlers kill one of the co-presidents with energy powers before revealing they are, in fact, Chameleon of the Legion! Well, no. Spark and Triad reason that this is the Composite Man since he's using their powers against them. He escapes and the traumatized Winathians decide the entire Legion is in on it. War is declared on Durla. The girls run for their lives and steal a presidential speeder to do it.
Back at Earth, Brainiac 5.1 is asked to help save the stranded Legionnaires and, with his new positive attitude, manages it with ease and good humor. He boosts a signal to that sector to tell XS to vibrate a part of the star-gate so as to create a portal for a micro-second, long enough for M'Onel to fly through with a replacement gate.
Not long after, Andromeda is stopped at customs trying to reach Durla where she helps the Science Police stop a group of Winathian farmers from taking a ship there to exact revenge. On that station she is also reunited with Sensor, who is also on a mission to help Durla. But it's not a matter of bureaucracy that's preventing them from reaching that world. Ships from different worlds are now blockading Durla, and tomorrow, it'll be war!
Commentary: 
Shotgun
How can no one recognize Composite Man except the Legionnaires? This is so ridiculous. He’s a well-known criminal in all the U.P. yet no one wants to admit that he’s just a rogue. He looks nothing like Cham in the first place, and, on top of it all, why would the criminal clearly state his name and show his face after such a bold move when he’s a shape shifter. Of course, it is to frame someone else... duh!!! Well done by the Dark Circle to play on people’s fear of Durlans by working with this terrorist to unleash a war against their world. It’s a classic tale of generalization when facing something – or in this case someone – different. Poor Ayla not only sees her people turn against her when she leaves the crime scene, she must feel completely helpless knowing her family and her kind will never accept her budding relationship with Cham. Will they ever forgive the Durlans after this assassination?
Still not a big fan of the changed Legionnaires, but I have to admit that working with Brainiac 5.1 seems a lot easier on everyone. The attack on the Stargate was to isolate a world from the rest of the U.P., but it failed thanks to his genius. Then there’s Andromeda and Sensor stuck at customs when trying to enter Durla to appease tensions. At this rate, their presence won’t do a thing to calm anyone and it scares me to think of what’s coming next. It all feels too real as I watch from afar, completely powerless, hoping people will come back to their senses sooner than later. I’m with Sensor here. She looks completely frustrated and over it. But now that our heroines know the extent of the situation, what can they possibly do?
Siskoid
I guess Winath really is in the sticks and wouldn't know one Durlan from another (i.e. that only this one can duplicate powers). And he's is a unique position to frame any number of races. He can take their form and their abilities. In fact, I sort of feared he was Sensor, since she looked so wicked mad and sort of came out of nowhere. For me though, the more damning part of the plan is Kono and her Raiders wearing AP (Affiliated Planets) satchels. I mean, is it war between the Affiliates and the Union, or are people just thinking Raiders be Raiders? As a fan of the 5 Years Later era, I do hope Kono turns on the AP, because I can't think of her as anything but a good soul.
As for the new Brainiac 5.1, I would much rather his personality had evolved naturally as opposed to fast-tracked by editorial fiat (or however the Fires of Creation work), but I do think the grouchy recluse side of him was played out. This 180-degree turn is shockingly different, but it's fun, and we can finally see what happens when he applies his powerful mind to team work. A plan is quickly hatched, the various abilities of the Legionnaires well used. I could see this Brainiac 5 as Legion leader some day.
Finally, some words about the art. Jason Armstrong still draws goofy caricatures, but he's getting more solid by the issue (consider his work in issue #100 for comparison). If his figures aren't always polished, there's a definite Walt Simonson influence in his spaceships and special effects, and that's not a bad thing.
Science Police Notes:  

  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1998/14.
  • The issue includes a Dark Circle Rising banner and a circle in the background, as does every issue in this story arc. 
  • Chameleon seems to appear on the cover (and interior), but is actually the Durlan known as the Composite Man.

2 comments:

  1. On page 21, am I the only one seeing Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian among the "truck full of angry farmboys" being escorted off the rogue Winathian ship? And really the third guy could be Han Solo if the colors were different.

    I don't recall being a huge fan of Jason Armstrong back in the day, but I agree he was consistently improving. And I think he's actually a decent counterpart to Jeff Moy -- his art complements Moy's art way more than Lee Moder's did.

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  2. Yeah I guess it could be them. These books are always throwing sci-fi Easter eggs at us.

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