Tuesday, August 13, 2019

L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 #2

L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 #2 (March 1989)
title: "So You Want to be a Despot?"
plot/breakdowns: Keith Giffen
script: Alan Grant
penciller: Barry Kitson
inker: Mike DeCarlo
letterer: Gaspar
colorist: Lovern Kindzierski
assistant editor: Art Young
editor: Karen Berger
cover art: Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon

Future L.E.G.I.O.N.airres: The Durlan, Garryn Bek, Lyrissa Mallor, Stealth, Strata, Vril Dox.

Their Opponent: The Computer Tyrants of Colu

Recap: After escaping from the Starlag prison during the Invasion! series, Vril Dox has tricked his fellow escapees into attempting to free his people from the Computer Tyrants of Colu. Their attempt appears to have failed after they are seemingly killed in an explosion.

Summary: Coluan soldiers search the explosion site and can find no sign of survivors. The Computer Tyrants assume their objective has been achieved and their attackers eliminated.
Deep underground, Vril insists to his unhappy allies that they were never in any danger because he had calculated the radius of destruction to within meters. Needless to say, this does not improve their mood, although Bek concedes that having Lyrissa and Stealth use their powers to cancel out sight and sound so Strata could make them an exit was a good plan. Based on knowledge gained through the Durlan's reconnaissance, the group agrees to head for the spaceport.

Unfortunately, they encounter small drones, or sterilization units, sent to clean the tunnels of contaminants from the explosion. If they get close, the drones will treat them as contaminants and destroy them. Lyrissa uses her powers but this alerts the Tyrants.
Strata has blocked the drones long enough for the group to escape but Vril realizes they were likely detected by the Tyrants and do not have much time. While the groups argues, Stealth scouts ahead and discovers a large structure.
Vril explains that it is a much large version of the small drones they encountered earlier and its purpose is to sanitize the tunnels by crushing everything in its path. Vril suggests they head to the central core, but Bek is suspicious he is only trying to pursue his foolish plan of overthrowing the Tyrants. Lyrissa agrees they have no choice though since the Tyrants likely closed all ways off world after discovering they were alive. The Durlan agrees to scout ahead.
Despite the soldiers awaiting them, Vril insists their best course is to continue to the central core. The group is skeptical but we soon see that Vril realizes they have a special ace up their sleeve as the sanitizer approaches.
It turns out that Vril has sent the Durlan ahead to reprogram it and direct it towards them and the central core. The soldiers are easily dispatched while they just ride through.

They soon arrive at the core and Vril is able to quickly end the Tyrants' control. Only then does the magnitude of what he has done sink in He has turned off the keystone that kept all of Coluan society together and forced a society of children to become adults, whether they want it or not.
Commentary: Another strong issue that reminds me of why I loved this series from the start. There is some decompression to this origin story in that the first two issues (probably three) would likely have been just one issue had this series come out even just a few years prior. Nevertheless, the pacing is solid, and it is the characterization that keeps us engaged. Vril continues to manipulate his future teammates into helping him achieve his goals while Bek never stops complaining along the way.

In what will be a recurring feature in the series, he gets them into a position after they are discovered by the Tyrants where Lyrissa acknowledges that their best shot is to follow his plan. Since her character is quickly established as more trustworthy and, frankly, likable, everyone else soon goes along. We get more exposure to Strata as a character in this issue and like Lyrissa, she establishes herself as one of the more likable characters. The Durlan and Stealth remain mostly blank slates, although they are certainly shown to be very competent. We just have yet to learn their motivations or much about their personalities.

The setting of this story on Colu works well to reinforce connections to the classic Legion and Brainiac 5, which is important since there is still nothing here to suggest that this group is going to form the foundation of an interplanetary police force. It is fairly obvious just from the name of the series, but I do like the fact that Giffen and Grant are in no hurry to get there. Although things will start to move more quickly very soon...


  1. Although Stealth uses her powers to nullify the sound of their escape (and it's even referenced in dialogue), later issues will work off the idea that no one else is aware of this power (even a narration box will mention something about her "unknown power" or somesuch). I guess she was always intended to have the power (I mean, her name *is* "Stealth"), but someone just forgot she had actually used in before.

  2. It’s interesting you mention decompression because I was thinking these would be like a year’s worth of stories now.