Wednesday, September 16, 2020

L.E.G.I.O.N. '93 #53

L.E.G.I.O.N. '93 #53 (June 1993)
title: "Shadows of the Past"
plot: Barry Kitson & Mark Waid
writer: Mark Waid
penciler: Barry Kitson
inker: John Stokes
colors: Lovern Kindzierski
letters: Gasper Saladino
editor: Dan Raspler
cover: Barry Kitson
reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: During the team's battle with Ig'nea, the body of the cyborg, Darrius, was destroyed. Fortunately, his head lived, and his fellow new recruits swore  to find his maker so he could be repaired. In examining the head, Vril Dox found evidence of technology more advanced than even that of his home planet of Colu. He believed that it might come from the planet Acheron, which was rumored to have incredibly advanced cybernetic technology. He granted the recruits permission to travel there in hopes of finding their friend's creator. The team was also forced to deal with an intruder that came to find Lydea. They presumed him to be a threat but once he was caught, he turned out to be the husband of their deceased teammate, Lyrissa Mallor, and Lydea's father.

Lydea's father recalls when his wife, the heroic champion of Talok VIII, was turned over to over to the alien Alliance as part of a peace pact. In his grief, he later handed over his daughter to a false Priest-God, who was really the computer tyrant's of Colu in disguise. They tortured and brainwashed young Lydea and tried to use her to destroy the L.E.G.I.O.N., but their plan failed. After the Tyrant's departed Talok VIII, another Priest arose that began calling for infant sacrifices to be fed to the Shadow cave. This was the same cave from with the Mallor bloodline had always drawn its power. Out of desperation, Lydea's father made an attempt to rescue the infants but failed. 
Lydea at first refuses to help because of what the Talokian's did to her mother, but Phase and Lady Quark point out that her mother would have helped in an instant, if for no other reason than to rescue the children. Lydea is still reluctant but Phase orders her to accompany them to Talk VIII.

Meanwhile, the new recruits approach the planet Acheron in hopes of finding the key to repairing their teammate Darius. On the surface, they discover a huge fortress divided into vast sections encircling a central dome. As they fly over it, they come under attack by an army of winged warriors. The attack ceases when they land outside the fortress but Davroth foolishly tries to rush over the wall again.

Borrb volunteers to teleport inside and scout the city. They agree to his plan, but Amon warns against any theatrics or heroics, and instructs him to focus on finding a door to let them in. Once Borrb lets them inside, they find a grotesque display of lifeforms being modified against their will with electronic parts.
Instead of fighting back against the recruits, the robots see the head of Darius and immediately bow down before them as if he was some sort of God.

On Talok VIII, the L.E.G.I.O.N. arrives just as the Priest receives two more infants from the frightened populace. Lydea's father pleads with them to stop but the crowd begins to stone him. Lydea uses her powers to push them away and she confronts the Priest. He calls her a pretender, and points to the fact that her powers are not quite the same as her mother's. While she is able to throw bolts of black force, her mother was able to manipulate shadows, which makes all the difference to the crowd. Under attack from the mob, they fear they will be unable to rescue the infants in time.
Lydea creates a massive blast using her powers, which impresses the crowd. They see it as a sign and accept her as their savior, but the Priest ignores them and continues into the cave. Lady Quark speeds ahead and recovers the infants, while Strata goes after the Priest. She removes his mask and finds a raving madman insisting that he had no choice. He explains that the spirit of the cave is seeking a champion and that his hunger must be sated for the sake of Talok VIII. Strata scoffs but fails to notice whats has begun to emerge from the cave behind her.
As much as I like the new recruits, I was concerned as to how the creators would pull off handling such a large cast. Fortunately, splitting them into two missions like this is working perfectly. We are missing a few of our regulars but so far each of the new recruits was given a chance to shine as were each of the core members that are present.

While I realize Phase did the right thing in forcing Lydea to return to Talk VIII, I definitely understood Lydea's anger at the propect. Her mother was their champion and they abandoned her to the Alliance, just as her own father abandoned her to the Computer Tyrants. Who can blame her for never wanting to set foot on that world again. I want them to be successful in stopping the sacrifices and rescuing the children that were already turned over, but I also hope the population of Talok VIII ultimately gets a good shaming as well. Its amazing that a hero as noble and wise as Lyrissa Mallor arose from such a superstitious, backwards society.

One minor point about this issue that I did not notice until afterwards and really appreciated was the complete absence of Vril Dox. He is an engrossing character and obviously one of the best parts of this title, but he also has the tendency to overwhelm stories and turn all of the focus on to him when he is around. Had he been present, I doubt the creators would have been so successful at giving everyone else their due.

I mentioned last issue that I was curious which of the new recruits would step into the leadership role in Lydea's absence. While there was no clear standout yet, there were signs that the Khund, Amon, may be the best candidate. He was the one who warned Borrb against careless action and he led the charge to rescue one of the beings that was being modified against his will on Acheron. The degree to which his loyalty and competence level go against the stereotypical portrayal of Khunds has always made him the most fascinating of the new recruits, and it was nice to see how naturally the others follow his lead. I would love to see them build on that dynamic in the future.

Please check back with me next week as we see more of the cave "spirit" and hopefully learn the full origin of Darius!

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