Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #2

Legion of Super-Heroes (vol 2) #2 (Sept, 1984)
A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

title: "....Where A Villain?"
writer/plotter: Paul Levitz
penciller/plotter: Keith Giffen
inker: Larry Mahlstedt
letterer: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Keith Giffen & Larry Mahlstedt (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Light Lass, Wildfire, Dawnstar, Element Lad, Cosmic Boy, White Witch, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, Blok, Dream Girl, Star Boy, Shrinking Violet, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy, Lighting Lad, Saturn Girl, Queen Projectra, Karate Kid

Lightning Lord, Lazon, Magno Lad, Titania, Cosmic King, Spider Girl, Terrus, Ol-Vir, Radiation Roy, Esper Lass, Neutrax, Chameleon Chief, Sun Emperor, Silver Slasher, Mist Master, Ron-Karr, Zymyr, Tyr, Hunter, their unrevealed leader

The story begins in a dungeon, somewhere, while we also get an alert from Element Lad warning the membership that the the Legion of Super-Villains is on the attack. We soon realize that in the dungeon is Light Lass, captured last issue, and her brother Mekt, aka Lightning Lord. In a tense exchange, he demands that she either join the LSV or die!

On planetoid M-17W, a manufacturing center for fusion power-spheres, LSV members Lazon, Magno Lad, and Titania are in the midst of stealing some when Wildfire and Dawnstar happen by. They battle each other, and Wildfire's containment suit is destroyed.

On Earth, several Legionnaires try to anticipate what the LSV is planning. They get an urgent summons from planetoid M-17W, and Element Lad dispenses the closest members to help out.

In space, Dream Girl and Star Boy have been called back from their vacation on Ventura, and are not particularly happy. However, Shrinking Violet, who is itching for action, *is* happy to be back on active duty (after having been kidnapped by rebels on her home planet).

Back on M-17W, Mon-El leads a group to stop Titania and her group, but they are not able to stop the LSV members from stealing the power-spheres and then teleporting away with them.

On Medicus One, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad prepare for the birth of their child(ren) as Cosmic Boy briefs them on the LSV in general and Lightning Lord in particular. Lightning Lad is concerned for his sister, who had quit the Legion after their battle with Darkseid several months ago and who has not been heard of since.

Elsewhere, on their unnamed base of operations, the LSV plots and waits. Sun Emperor kills a local girl, only because he wanted to. Some of the other members are shocked at his actions, realizing that he is a madman.

Above Earth, another group of LSV members are stealing Earth's polymer shield. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl attack (being the closest), but unfortunately, Saturn Girl starts to go into labor while fighting Tyr. Element Lad arrives to help, but the LSV members teleport away again, mere moments before Tyr was about to kill Saturn Girl.

In space, Dawnstar is following the trail of Titania and her group when they stumble into traps set by Terrus meant to delay, confuse, or kill them.

Then Queen Projectra and Karate Kid arrive back on her home planet, Orando, after their honeymoon, to find that this is where the LSV has made their nest. The LSV force their cruiser to crash land and they are taken hostage. An unseen, white-gloved former Legionnaire takes Karate Kid's Legion ring and sends an emergency signal, beckoning the Legion "to their doom."

This issue feels like a "number two." That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. After the great start last issue, this story feels like a place-holder in the story arc, as the tension and anxiety slowly creeps higher and higher. We get to see most, but not all, of the membership of the Legion of Super-Villains, and we see first-hand that they are a bad lot. We get a few great scenes of action, but also a few scenes of characters asking questions, echoing what the readers are thinking, namely, "What in the world could be going on?" The big piece of the puzzle, "where?" is answered this issue, so perhaps in the next issue we will learn the "why." The other mystery is the identity of the leader of the LSV. He claims to have once been a Legionnaire, but when I read this my knowledge of LSH history was not sufficiently deep to hazard a guess besides Tyroc! Of course, Tyroc wore white gloves and short boots (shown in the silhouette), so I do think that this was the intended mis-direction Paul and Keith were going for....
Speaking of Levitz and Giffen, they both seem to be at the top of their form here. Each of the pages is a sight to behold, and although I commented that this issue reads like a bridge between the Start and the Finish, it still goes by quickly and smoothly. There are several little character bits that are great, such as between Chameleon Boy and Wildfire, and Dawnstar and Wildfire. And more praise should be given to colorist Carl Gafford, whose lightning, power-spheres, exploding Wildfires, and racing Legionnaires are beautifully colored. This was definitely another well executed issue.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Last issue's cover featured the Legion of Super-Heroes bursting forth; in a nice bit of symmetry, this issue the cover is taken over by the Legion of Super-Villains.  
  • This issue features the first "in-continuity" appearance of Adult Legion of Super-Villain member Cosmic King. 
  • In a nice bit of continuity, Wildfire and Dawnstar comment that they stopped by M-17W on their way home from Starhaven, Dawnstar's home planet. They visited there in Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #311. 
  • In a savage bit of irony (or is it satire?), Keith Giffen draws the LSV in the style of Leonardo DaVinci's famous painting "The Last Supper," with Lightning Lord cast as Jesus Christ. 

Reprinted in the TPB An Eye For An Eye


  1. Great review.

    I also jumped on the Tyroc band wagon at the time. I don't think I even knew who Nemesis Kid was back then and needed to do some research after this series.

    For me, the Ayla scenes are the most powerful and she remains steadfast in her rejection of evil. And Mekt is pretty creepy saying Esper Lass can put in mental blocks to force her if she won't submit. I love Ayla here.

    And Levitz and Giffen were cresting here. Just a great opening arc.

  2. Mekt's plan is even creepier than that. He wants to kill Garth and brainwash Ayla so she can be his twin. Winath must have been one screwed-up place to be a kid without a twin.