Friday, September 26, 2014

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #3

Legion Reviewer: Anj
Super-power: nonchalance at death of characters I don't particularly care for

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #3 by Keith Giffen, Tom & Mary Bierbaum, and Al Gordon continued the radical new direction of the property, a dystopian future where the Legion has been disbanded. The first issue was a tour around the galaxy, setting the table of this darker future, and setting up the dominoes of a Legion reformation. The second issue concentrated on Jo Nah and his native planet, Rimbor, giving us an up close look at one of the dingier corners of this new order.

Here, in the third issue, we again hop around a bit, catching up with some Legionnaires we haven't seen yet. But more importantly, this issue sets up some of the bigger threats the Legion will be facing. We have been given glimpses of how bad the universe has become. Now we peek behind the curtain and see those who have made the future this dismal place. Of the first three issues, this one is the darkest.

But as I have trumpeted in these reviews, the point of this series has been to show just how powerful the  Legion is ... not only as a group of heroes, but as a concept, as an inspiration. So even though we see powerful Evil plotting, we see them worried ... worried that the Legion might come together again. And it is that glimmer of good which shines bright in the blackness.

As a reader, perusing the racks, you might not grasp the power of the cover, a flag for the darkness within. Yes, a man is dressed in a dandy fashion and is leaning on a pedestal at first glance. It is only on closer look that you see that pedestal is, in fact, an arm. And those rocks are body parts.

So far we have seen Rokk, Jo, Reep, Dirk, and Lydda. On our first page this issue, Giffen gives us a quick look at the whereabouts of other Legionnaires. At least we know that these Legionnaires have survived.

Nura Nal, Dream Girl, is high seer on her home world of Naltor.

Dirk Morgna, Sun Boy, who appears to be a pampered spokesperson for the new Earthgov is speaking with a Dominator. For the first time we learn ... Earth has been compromised and is part of the Dominion, even if it puts on the airs of being a free world. The more we learn of Sun Boy, the less I like him.

Jan Arrah, Element Lad, is on Trom, guarding the graves of his people.

Mon-El, killed in the last issue of the previous series, is in his grave. But there are voices present.

Dawnstar is under fire.

Brek Bannin, Polar Boy,  is unemployed.

Thom Kallor, Star Boy, is a coach of a sports team.

Brainiac 5 is on Colu, studying one subject.

And Rokk Krinn, Cosmic Boy, is on Rimbor, hoping to recruit.

Which of all these ex-Legionnaires will join?? This page certainly whet my appetite. At least I knew these players were on the board.

But then we see others. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are running the Ranzz farm on Winath. And, surprisingly, Lightning Lord, Mekt Ranzz, seems to be rehabilitated and is downright chummy with Garth.

They aren't the only Legionnaires on Winath. Vi has been reunited with Ayla. Winath seems to be something of a hedonistic place, an Eden-like garden and a stark contrast to the narrow grimy streets we have seen everywhere else. After the emotionally painful scene with Vi last issue, I was actually happy to see her and Ayla sharing some alone time. A romantic relationship had been heavily implied back in the Baxter series. Here it is out in the open.

We also see the risks of being in the Legion. The Legion graves and tributes have been moved to the Ranzz farm.

As I said, this issue we see some of the big evil forces who are active in this current state of the galaxy.

The first big power ... big bad ... is Mordru. Earlier in the issue, we see just how powerful he has become. He crushes a Green Lantern ring to powder, setting a hunger demon onto a captured Rond Vidar. And he knows that the Legionnaires are starting to gather. While Rokk and Reep are led to Jo by a hulking lupine creature, Mordru is magically eavesdropping.

The mere gathering of 3 Legionnaires, one of them powerless, is enough to get Mordru's attention. Fantastic.

And the Dominion isn't too happy about it either. There are three Legionnaires on Rimbor. There are 4 Legionnaires on Winath. What if they were to reform!?!

This is an interplanetary Dominion which is ruling Earth. And 4 Legionnaires working on a farm is a scary enough notion to make it take action!

This is the power of the Legion and the theme of this series. That the Legion, as a symbol, strikes fear in evil.

As for the Dominators, they decide the best thing to do is release a genocidal killer. The dapper man we met last issue, the person gracing the cover, is Roxxas. Hopelessly insane, Roxxas was the killer of all the Trommites except Jan. And he is a lunatic, a cacophony of multiple voices speaking all at once in his mind. Creepy.

And, to show the reader that Roxxas is a threat, we see him dispatch, almost too quickly, Blok.

Now Blok has always been a tough Legionnaire. I always thought he was one of the more invulnerable Legionnaires. Here, in the span of one panel, Roxxas blasts him to bits.

Alas ... poor Blok ... we hardly knew ye.

And Rokk, Reep, and Jo? They are already thinking of their next steps. And it involves trying to free Mysa ... the White Witch ... from Mordru.

'They mean to test the old man once again.' Unlike the rattled Dominators, he seems more annoyed by this, like an old man yelling at kids for playing on his lawn.

But really ... a Durlan, Ultra Boy, and a powerless Braalian taking on Mordru, at the height of his power? It sounds like a suicide mission.

The Dominators were hoping that Roxxas would go off and kill the Legionnaires in a quiet fashion, skulking and assassinating from the shadows. But that isn't Roxxas' way. He sends the bits of Blok to the Ranzz farm to be placed in the Legion graveyard. Except he sends it to Garth and Imra's son Graym. Look at that note, a collection of hand-writings ... a mirror of the multiple personalities he has.

He is a blatant threat to the Legion; that can't be what the Dominators were hoping for. It will only spur the Legionnaires to team up and avenge ... instead of shattering their resolve.

Brutal and terrifying though. It lets the reader know just how off the deep end Roxxas is.

But this series is about hope and inspiration. And Rokk is suddenly feeling it. With he, Reep, Jo, and Kono (who Jo insisted joins them - he knows her powers and abilities), there is already a mini-Legion.

And even without powers, Rokk knows that the Legion is needed.

"We're good. We've got the power and we know what to do with it.
Long live the dream."


The back matter includes information about 'the Validus plague', a wave of disease which spread through Winath to all who came in contact with Garridan, the Ranzz child who had been Validus. It seems Darkseid's curse isn't so easily defeated.

And now, reading this, we know that Brainy's patient on the first page is Garridan, held in quarantine.

But the issue ends with a blockbuster cliffhanger. We hear three voices talking and arguing ... and they all are coming from Mon-El, who is suddenly alive and well. Three voices? Not dead? Trust me ... next issue is a doozy and nothing will be the same.

What a fabulous issue. First off, we continue to see the Legionnaires congregating, reforming even if they don't realize it yet. And we see the evil they will have to fight, classic villains from their past - Mordru, The Dominators, Roxxas. This series was off to a flying start.

And, as I have said before, Giffen walks the fine line of luring in new readers and satisfying old Legion fans. This issue is so steeped in Legion lore, I don't know how any new reader could follow it. Everyone is called by their real names, not their code names. No powers are discussed. No exposition about Mordru, the Dominators, or Roxxas is given. Blok is barely named. How anyone who hadn't been reading the Legion for years could fully appreciate this issue ... well I don't know if they could.

But for me this issue stoked the fires. Rokk's enthusiasm for reforming the Legion is balanced effectively by the threats we have seen. But we are still in basically uncharted waters. This is a new universe and a new Legion.

MILESTONE: This issue features the death of Blok. I will be writing a true requiem for him later but Blok died as he lived, quietly and without much fanfare. He was never one of the stars of the book but he had some depth. A reliable friend in good times and bad and a gentle giant, let us hope he found some peace.


  1. I never liked Blok but this was an ignoble and evil way to go. This was the issue that made me think I wasn't going to like this series so much...

  2. I get chills and joy just by reading the recap of a story that came out 25 years ago and that I have read tens of times since. That is the power of the 5-years-later series.
    Keep it up!

  3. Interesting Russell! I was shocked as well. But so damn intrigued by the rest of it!

    And thanks for kind words Gus!

  4. This review is making me want to read this run for a 3rd time. Outstanding review and I don't think I ever fully appreciated the length of its roots. I didn't recall Blok's death, but after this review I think the sudden nature of his death hammers home the magnitude of the forces against the Legion. Most Legion fans recall in great detail the deaths of previous Legionnaires, and it looks like Giffen is giving us something to ponder early on.

  5. Many thanks for these reviews. They certainly recapture the excitement we experienced back then, dialoguing Keith's amazing penciled pages, feeling like we were getting a glimpse into an intense, fully realized universe where the Legionnaires were living, breathing, growing people.

  6. Thanks so much for posting here! I am glad you found the site!

    As you say, this feels like a very three dimensional place with joy and sorrow, victories and defeats, and a lot of personal drama. Hope I am doing the comics justice.

  7. Yes, every reader's point of view is valid and important, and I especially value the perspective of a reader for whom the series connected and who was in synch with the many things we were trying to do.