Monday, October 8, 2018

Action Comics #859


Action Comics #859 
Title: Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes Part 2 - Illegal Aliens
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editors: Nachie Castro and Matt Idelson
Executive Editor: Dan Didio

Legion Roster: Superman, Dawnstar, Wildfire, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, Invisible Kid II, Ultra Boy, Shrinking Violet, Blok


PREVIOUSLY: A rampaging Brainiac drone in Metropolis catches Superman's attention, but the drone turns out to be controlled by none other than Brainiac 5. A blast from the robot brings forth long buried memories and Superman recalls his first time meeting the Legion of Super-Heroes when Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad traveled to 20th Century Smallville. It's been a long time since Superman saw the Legion, and now they need his help, because as Superman discovers, someone's messed 31st Century Earth up, starting with the fact that Earth's sun is red and the Legionnaires are fugitives.

I'll be picking up where the previous reviewer left off and attempt to finish recapping "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes." As always there will be my hate/love/hate with Geoff Johns and what he did to the Legionnaires when he brought them back. I look back on how much I loved everything about this story. I can't believe I was so young, so naive, so stupid.


Our issue opens with the Legion founders navigating down a dark cave. Lightning Lad complains it would be easier to use their flight rings, but Cosmic Boy says they’ve had to make do without them. Saturn Girl says they’ve reached their destination, and Garth lights up the area to reveal that they’ve found the Batcave.

(Image courtesy of comicbookbrain.com)

It looks like the cave was abandoned at some point in the early 21st Century, like maybe something happened to Batman...

The founders don't look very good. All of them appear to be tired and malnourished.

They're trying to find Batman's fabled Kryptonite Ring as proof of Krypton’s existence. Lightning Lad finds it absurd; why would Batman have such a ring if he and Superman friends?

Garth insists the Legion needs to take the fight to “Earth-Man and his rejects” after they drove the Legionnaires, including Garth’s sister Ayla, underground with their lies about Superman. Garth also mentions that the Espionage Squad has gone missing. Rokk argues taking Earth-Man down without proof to dismantle his lies won’t change anything. Garth thinks that’s bull, but then Imra asks what Superman would think.


Imra attempts to play peacemaker between her husband and Rokk until she senses the thoughts of those who wish to do them harm. At which point THEY appear.


The Justice League of Earth, consisting of: Tusker, Spider-Girl, Golden Boy, Earth-Man, Storm Boy, and Radiation Roy.

The JLE and the Legion Founders engage in a fight. Earth-Man asks why the founders didn't flee Earth like the other Legionnaires. Rokk states those that left did so because of all the riots and xenophobia the JLE instigated with their lies about Superman. Tusker’s all “YOU’RE the ones who lie, you big liars!” We’re then treated to a nice butt shot of Garth before he electrocutes Tusker and sends him straight into Batman’s giant T-rex.


Rexy no!

Unfortunately, a solid gold punch to the jaw and a blast from Storm Boy take Garth down. Imra tries to stop the assault on her husband, only for Spider-Girl to toss her into Radiation Roy’s clutches. While Imra is horrified by the perverse thoughts in Roy’s head, he fries her with an energy blast. Down to just Rokk, Earth-Man declares who Earth’s future truly belongs to.


Oh please. Everyone knows that the Justice Society could whup the League’s asses on any given day. Am I right? #JayGarrick&AlanScott4Life

We then catch up with Superman and the other Legionnaires Dawnstar, Wildfire, and Colossal Boy, who are hiding in an abandoned Braal embassy. They explain to Clark that they didn’t want him involved because Earth’s sun turned red due to some “solar shuttle accident” a few years ago. They were worried Clark would be vulnerable and if he anything happened to him now it would completely undo all the important work he’s set to do in the 21st Century.

Clark, humble cream puff that he is, doesn’t think he’s THAT important. Dawnstar explains the peace treaties he’ll initiate in HIS future paved the way for universal laws that made the Legion’s present possible. So if he dies NOW that’s all *poof*!

Gim briefly despairs at what Earth has become, saying aliens are no longer welcome and even his Durlan wife Yera was driven away. Dawny assures Gim that they’ll find her and the other Legionnaires who went missing, and together the Legion will once more stand for unity, diversity, and tolerance.

Wildfire insists that they find a way for Clark to return to the 21st Century, which is when Clark realizes that the Legionnaires are hiding something else from him.

Cut to the Human Cultural Center, the JLE’s headquarters. A classroom full of Earth children (wearing clothes with the JLE's symbols and some with toys of the JLE on their desks) are shown a holographic display of Superman (based on his Golden Age appearance). The teacher, Miss Niwtyn, asks what the class can tell her about Superman. And here’s where the other boot drops.

The children say Superman, biological child of the Kents, was bestowed power by “Mother Earth” to become her champion against alien threats. And then the Legion Founders came to Earth as teenagers and said Superman was from the planet Krytpon. Miss Niwtyn says the Legionnaires established a massive alien invasion by lying about Superman’s heritage and getting Earth to welcome alien immigrants from across the universe. She says the Legionnaires never brought Superman from the past and their tryouts were biased against Earth-born applicants, including Kirt Niedrigh. After Kirt was rejected as Absorbancy Boy, he studied archaeology and one day uncovered evidence of Superman’s human origins and his disgust for aliens. So Kirt formed the JLE and spearheaded a campaign to “Make Earth Great Again.”

The kids then rush from their seats as the JLE arrive on the satellite, bringing with them the Legion Founders in crystal tubes. The kids cheer for their heroes and in a genuinely disturbing scene cry out “LONG LIVE HUMANS!”


Kirt settles the Founders on display. He is showing off the power he’s sucked out of them when his knock-off flight ring relays a message from Sussa. She informs him that a group of Legionnaires were reported with someone dressed as Superman, and that remnants of a Time Sphere were also found. This causes Kirt to worry, but he recomposes himself and, as he makes his way to the rest of the JLE, we find out what happened to the Espionage Squad.


Meanwhile, Clark expresses disbelief that anyone could think he was an Earthling, but as we all know, stupidity spreads like a virus. The Legionnaires explain all it took was enough people to believe the lies even if it wasn't unanimous among the population. Now Earth’s seceding from the United Planets. Clark is sure Brainiac 5 will know what to do since he sent the Time Bubble to Clark in the first place. Dawny directs the group’s attention to the end of the trail Brainy left behind, to “Alien Holding Camp 6736.”


From the background, it's clear Earth, or at least Metropolis, has not fared well thanks to the JLE's travel ban policy. The mud colored sky, the derelict buildings, the freaking internment camp....the future's a mess.

Dawny claims the path to Brainy and one another Legionnaire is inside the camp. 

--

It breaks my heart seeing what Johns turned Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl into, from the way Garth is yelling at Rokk and Imra to the way Imra has to keep him under control like he's a child. I really hate the way he portrays them, and I hate myself for having applauded this story so much when I was younger.

I want to give Johns credit for somehow predicting the 2016 presidential election with the use of fake news and trying to keep immigrants out of Earth, but I really can't see him having that much foresight and I don't want to give him the satisfaction.

I still don't understand how Garth can be hurt by Storm Boy's electrical blasts, the same way I don't get how the Ranzz Siblings are able to hurt each other with their lightning abilities. Maybe it has something to do with the blasts being positive or negative or something.

The only possible way I can see the Legionnaires losing to these Justice League morons is due to fatigue and poor health. There's no way in hell Iron Ass Imra would've been that scared of the thoughts in Radiation Roy's head. THE WOMAN WENT UP AGAINST DARKSEID, FOR GOD'S SAKE.

Dawnstar said the solar accident happened "a few years ago," which can imply the Post-Crisis Legion stories did happen up until the end of the third volume. However, given what we learn in later issues about who is and isn't still alive in this continuity, it becomes evident Johns only includes the pieces he cares about, despite how some of them contradict stuff before the last time Superman saw the Legion.

So in terms of Legion continuity rebuilding, Johns has left the following intact:
  • Garth and Imra are still married, but no mention of their kids
  • Gim and Yera are still married
  • Jacques Foccart is Invisible Kid, meaning Lyle is still dead
  • Ayla is still a Legionnaire
  • All of the JLE are characters who were rejected from the Legion during Silver Age, but Storm Boy and Golden Boy never became villains, even briefly.
So let’s run down the roster for the Justice League of Earth:


Reject #1: Tusker – Horace Lafeaugh / Power: Unbreakable skeleton
Tusker’s original power was merely a set of extendable tusks, but they've seemingly evolved to the point he resembles a blue-gray version of the Hulk. Following his try out, his only other appearance was in the Substitute Heroes one-shot special where he attempted to start a life of crime with his girlfriend, fellow Earth reject Eyeful Ethel.


Reject #2: Spider Girl – Sussa Paka / Power: Prehensile hair
Ah yes, Sussa. She has the most versatile history of the JLE.
A constant mainstay in the LSV in the original continuity, by the FYL Legion she’d become a semi-reformed thief and thrill-seeker who joined the Legion and developed a crush on Ultra Boy. She briefly changed her code-name to Wave after dyeing her hair blue while the Legion went underground.

In the Reboot era, she was a long-standing member of Leland McCauley’s Work Force but avoided becoming a full-on villain. A nameless background member of the Threeboot Wanderers MAY have been her, and she appeared in the Legion cartoon under her Wave persona but as an LSV member.

It seems Sussa dyed her hair gray to create the appearance of an actual web in order to really play up the spider part of her name. God those heels look so pointy I keep thinking she got them from Esme Squalor from "A Series of Unfortunate Events." Honestly I think it sucks that she's evil again. She was one of the better parts of the FYL Legion verse.

NOTE: Esme Squalor is a character from Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events," who at one point is wearing stiletto heels that are literally heels made from stiletto blades. Because they were "In."



Reject #3: Golden Boy – Klint Stewirt / Power: Midas touch and solid gold body
Klint’s probably the most underused member of the JLE. In his one appearance he was rejected because the Legion figured his power would bring down the value of gold. Now his powers have evolved too, turning his whole body solid gold. His Midas touch probably makes him the most dangerous power-wise since he could likely kill the Legionnaires with a single touch.


Reject #4: Earth-Man – Kirt Niedrigh / Power: Temporary power absorption and duplication
The Hitler wannabe, a man only as powerful as the people he surrounds himself with. Kirt was a Bronze Age reject who originally called himself Absorbancy Boy. Following his rejection he stole the phony “Zoraz” villain identity the Legion used for Tyroc's tryout and attacked the Legionnaires. After his defeat, his only other mention was as one of the captives of the Dominators in the FYL era.


Reject #5: Storm Boy – Myke Chypurz / Power: Storm and weather generation
Jesus Myke what the hell did you do to your hair?

Here we have a man who’s currently in the “Mall Goth” segment of his life. Myke originally tried out for the Legion as part of a fraternity initiation stunt, pretending to have powers with a machine hidden in his costume. Although granted that came from the "Who's Who" segments and those are dubiously referred to by the writers and artists.

The only other mention of Myke came from extra notes pertaining to the Five Year Gap. Myke made a career working with weather machines, but went to the Legion after discovering the Dominators were tampering with Earth’s weather. At that point they were so strapped for members he was allowed to join. Seems this Myke never got over the rejection and, as we’ll soon learn, went to some very dark places. Also, his costume's pretty much a dark rip off of Garth and Ayla's.


Reject #6: Radiation Roy – Roy Travich / Power: Living radioactive isotope
Roy you look like the unholy spawn of a 1980s Cylon and the lipstick tube armor Iron Man from the 70s Marvel movies. But this IS an improvement over that horrible costume you used to have with those giant shoulder things.

Like Spider Girl, Roy was another Legion reject who became a mainstay with the LSV. Like Earth-Man he was brainwashed by the Dominators in the FYL continuity. However, his Reboot counterpart, Radion, was a bit of a jerk but ultimately never became a villain and helped the Legion defeat Mordru during the finale of the “Emerald Vi” arc. After quitting the Work Force, he joined Xanthu’s Uncanny Amazers.

I swear, for some reason I remember when I read this in single issue format, the girl in the Superman class said Lightning Lad was from the planet "Ranzz." Was this an actual editing mistake or am I remembering it incorrectly?

I'm sorry for the quality of some of these photos. I had to scan them from my hardcover collection.

I'm going to save my opinion on whether this issue is good or not at the end of the reviews when I discuss the story as a whole.

2 comments:

  1. I was happy that Johns was writing Legion since he gets them a lot of press. But I was very disappointed in the story for this whole arc.

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  2. I can't wait for Brainiac 5 (wherever he may be, lol) to get a look at Neidrigh's "uncovered evidence of Superman's human origins."

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