Tuesday, November 19, 2019

L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 #16

L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 #16 (June 1990)
title: "Monster, Monster!"
co-plot: Alan Grant and Barry Kitson
script: Alan Grant
penciller: Barry Kitson
inker: Mark McKenna
letterer: Gasper Saladino
colorist: Lovern Kindzierski
editor: Art Young
cover art: Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon
review by: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane


Recap: Garryn Beck was leading a mission into deep space when his crew encountered a strange emerald eye. The eye formed a telepathic link with Bek and began overreacting to every thought that he had. Bek was unable to gain control, and the eye soon murdered his entire crew. By the time he arrived back at L.E.G.I.O.N. headquaters, his mind had become unbalanced and he appeared intent on killing Dox. When Bek finally found him, he merely collapsed to his knees in tears and began begging Dox for help.

Meanwhile, Lobo was sent to infiltrate a criminal gang. Their leader, Dagon-Ra, welcomed Lobo but also warned that if he tried to betray them it would be fatal for him. On Talok VII, the Computer Tyrants of Colu artificially aged Lyrissa's daughter to adulthood and brainwashed her into a weapon to use against her mother.

Dox is having the L.E.G.I.O.N.'s newest recruit, a Daxamite, demonstrate his powers to Lyrissa. Like Krypton, his home planet of Daxam rotates around a red sun, and similar to Superman, he is shown using flight, invulnerability, and super-strength. We learn that his name is Lar Gand and we also learn that he is vulnerable to lead when Dox purposely exposes him to it. Lar Gand collapses and Dox explains that lead is fatal to Daxamites. Fortunately, Dox has the antidote, which Lyrissa quickly administers. Lar Gand does not appreciate Dox's stunt and comes close to punching off his head.
Marij'n is conducting tests on her husband, Garryn Bek, to try to understand his bond with the emerald eye. He is losing patience and also seems to be losing his marbles. Instead of fearing the eye as he had, he seems to be embracing its power. Marij'n's appearance has also changed subtly, and she looks thinner, as Bek notes when he asks if she has been dieting.
Dagon-Ra is taking Lobo on a tour of his asteroid base, which holds over a hundred ships and over a thousand men. His interest is not in gaining money though, which he has no need of since he has the ability to transmute the very air into gold. Instead, he seeks power. To prove his, he introduces Lobo to his newest prisoner, Lady Quark. Despite her power, she fails to challenge him, probably in large part due to his threat to transmute her brain into slime if she does. He makes a similar threat to Lobo, warning him that he will turn every organ in his body into cyanide if he seeks to deceive him.
Dox is meeting with Stealth to discuss her pregnancy. Although he previously suggested that their baby should be aborted, he now offers to take custody instead. She rejects his offer, and he tries to assure her that he only wants a chance to be the kind of father that he never knew. He says he was wrong to suggest an abortion but reminds her that the baby is the result of her raping and murdering him when she was out of her mind. Their conversation is interrupted when the emerald eye appears and nudges Dox away.
Dox arrives in Marij'n's lab and is furious at Bek for bringing him there. Bek laughs off Dox's anger and tells him to give him a total rundown of everything going on with the L.E.G.I.O.N. because he is ready to assume command.  Thinking quickly, Dox questions why Bek would want to concern himself with the mundane running of their forces when there were higher concerns to be dealt with. He tells Bek they do not need another leader but instead a philosopher who is capable of seeing the bigger picture and being their guiding light. Bek appears to buy into Dox's bull and dismisses him so that he can give the matter some thought.
Lyrissa confronts Dox because she discovered that weapons and supplies were being gathered for an attack on Dagon-Ra's asteroid. She reminds him that he promised to consult her on L.E.G.I.O.N. matters and he reminds her that he only promised to consider her ideas. He declares that he remains in charge of the team but also tries to assure that he has a plan for Dagon-Ra and that nothing could go wrong.

Lobo is proving to be a disruptive influence among Dagon-Ra's troops as he starts a bar fight with over a dozen of them. Dagon-Ra shows up and uses his abilities to change the air around Lobo's legs into a concrete-like substance too heavy for him to move in. While Lobo lays helpless on the ground, the troops take turns getting their revenge.
Dagon-Ra decides that Lobo is too proud and needs to be broken so he is carried off to a cell. On the way, they pass a torturer who is currently working on another prisoner, the classic DC science fiction hero, Captain Comet!
This was another issue where the creators have to balance a lot of storylines but they managed to keep things moving at a brisk pace without letting it get confusing. The biggest development was of course the arrival of Lar Gand, also known as Mon-El, also known as Valor. As fans of the classic Legion know, this is the character who first appeared in Superboy #89 (June 1961). In that story, the young Lad Gand arrived on Earth with amnesia and was thought to be Superboy's brother from Krypton. He was given the name Mon-El but was soon exposed to lead, which is fatal to Daxamites. His memory was restored but Superboy had to send him to the Phantom Zone until a cure could be discovered. One was eventually discovered in the 30th Century and he became a long-standing member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Of course, once Crisis on Infinite Earths removed Superboy from continuity, problems were created for both the Legion and Mon-El's history. The initial attempt to use a pocket universe created by the Time Trapper where a version of Superboy still existed was soon abandoned and what we are seeing here are the beginnings a new history. One that would make Lar Gand the original inspiration for the Legion rather than Superboy. But we will get to all of that in more detail later. For now, it was just nice to see join our cast and to see another connection established between the L.E.G.I.O.N. and the classic Legion.

A few storylines that moved along nicely included Bek's embrace of the emerald eye and Dox's acceptance of his pending fatherhood. Bek is clearly out of his mind, which is ominous given then power he now wields. It does feel like the team should be giving this situation more attention but I understand they are not really in a position to do anything about it at this point. And it was amusing to watch Dox manipulate him. Dox's discussion with Stealth is somewhat surprising given the circumstances that led to the baby and how intent he was on her having an abortion last issue. I could see some readers possibly being skeptical of his change of heart but he seemed sincere. This storyline remains fascinating but also difficult to read at times given the more mature themes involved.

Lobo's mission is more intriguing than I expected, mostly because of how quickly Dox's plans went south when Dagon-Ra revealed his power. It is also great to have Lady Quark return, and seeing such a powerful and proud woman held at bay by Dagon-Ra certainly ups his threat level in the eyes of the readers. For me though, the high point of the issue was the surprise appearance of Captain Comet at the end! I am a sucker for classic DC heroes like him and when I initially read this issue back in the day I was excited to see how a hero from a more innocent comic age would interact with the darker tone of this series.

5 comments:

  1. Spell check: Gaspar Saladino, not Gasper.

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  2. Too bad Mon lasted about as long on that team as a potato salad at a picnic in Miami during August.

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  3. I also loved the shocking appearance of Captain Comet at the end of this issue. And, also Mon-el and Lady Quark! Every month, this series would surprise me...

    Until a certain point where (I'm sure) we will get to...

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  4. Great sites.Very helpful blog for me.Thanks for sharing this blog

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  5. Thanks for another great review Mr Lane!

    I love me some Daxamites (evrn just half of the very specific Legion ones) and throw in Captain Comet and the Spacefaring Lady Quark and I'm likely to love it before even processing the issue, so you always help me(if needed) to take the fog off the lens' with your review style
    Cant wait until next issue Sir!

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