Friday, October 17, 2014

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #5

Legion Reviewer: Anj
Super-power: Devourer of Crisis style timeline destruction  (two months in a row!)

The future world of the Legion of Super-Heroes had been radically altered with the inception of the Five Years Later comic. Gone was the bright, optimistic future. Instead we got something of a dystopia, a place were the Legion was scattered.

And then even that timeline was erased. In Legion of Super-Heroes #4, Mon-El killed the Time Trapper. The Trapper had built in what he thought would be an immunity clause. If killed, the Trapper would erase all he ever did. Remember, it was his machinations with the pocket universe and the timeline which directly led to the formation of the Legion and the ultimate defeat of Mordru.

But, history be damned, Mon-El was not going to have the Time Trapper be any sort of threat. He executed the Trapper, erasing the Trapper's involvement in the universe. Without the Time Trapper, there is no pocket universe, no inspiration of Superboy, no movement of Tinya Wazzo to the past and RJ Brande to the future, no Legion. And without that counterbalance, nothing will stop Mordru from ruling the universe.

In Legion of Super-Heroes #5, we see the result of Mon-El's actions, we see the universe as it would have unfolded without the Time Trapper. And that means a universe based on magic and mysticism, not technology. It is a place where Mordru rules with an iron fist as a despot controlling every aspect of life. If you thought the first three issues of the 5YL Legion was a dark place, you ain't see nothing yet.

Despite this being a completely different universe, Giffen does what he has been doing all along, infusing new stories with elements of Legion history, keeping new readers rapt and old readers happy. There are plenty of Easter Eggs here.

I love the cover of this book as well. The technology based prior history in one end of the hourglass, the sand running out on it. And the darker, more magical, more rural and provincial world now present at the bottom. The hourglass itself is tucked into a candlelit room, another sign that science is an afterthought here.

Enough intro! On to the issue.

But one more thing ... if you thought the universe was radically changed at the end of last issue ... wait til you get to the end of this one!!

The 'new universe' is apparent from the first page, a text piece, a proclamation from Mordru which was probably posted in the villages and towns on the planets. This isn't the video screen text pieces we have seen in this book before. It is written. And it has a stone-like stamp seal on the bottom. This isn't a tech heavy universe. It is magic-based place.

And Mordru is no benevolent despot. He is a tyrant. On this day 'celebrating' his 'liberation' of Earth, he has put a hold on executions and extended curfew to 8PM. This doesn't sound like a fun place to live.

Not that there isn't some pockets of rebellion. Here we meet Andrew Nolan (that's Ferro Lad) meeting in secret with Mordru's wife Mysa (that's the White Witch).

It turns out that Mordru has been passing the time by telling stories ... almost fairy tales ... of the Time Trapper timeline, a timeline he has intimate knowledge of. "The puppet master delivered to them the mercantile power of the Durlan knight." That means the Trapper brings the finances of RJ Brande into the future. These 'stories' have an internal consistency so great that the rebels believe they aren't just Mordru's imagination ... but were at one point reality.

We know that the pocket universe and RJ Brande are the key components of that other timeline which led to the formation of the Legion.

As a Ferro Lad fan, it was great to see him in action here, covered by that mask, hiding his face.

Now I try to avoid whole page scans in my reviews unless they are a splash. But this was so fantastic, it needed to be shared in its entirety.

This is Ferro Lad passing information on to Rond Vidar, the head of the resistance. The tale that Mordru told Mysa was that of the Sun Eater and how the Legion defeated it. There is some irony that Nolan tells how the 'knights of the 30' (the Legion) struggled. But one warrior, with 'courage of iron' (Nolan himself as Ferro Lad), saves the day.

It is fantastic to see this story, laid out as folklore, in that same sort of magical tome sort of prose.

And I like that Rond Vidar plays a huge role in this story as well. Vidar is a hero in all universes.

We also meet Mordru's conniving first wife Glorith. She is something of a vamp. She is power hungry, looking for ways to promote herself. And when I first read this issue, I thought for sure she was Dream Girl.

But it is Glorith. And here we see her talking to Mano, one of Mordru's lieutenants. Mano talks about shutting down another rebel cell, led by the Winathian clan that hurls lightning. Even in this universe, Legionnaires are still heroes ... just scattered and ineffective.

But Vidar lays out the plan nicely. Somehow the other timeline, the one where 'the knights of the 30' are able to defeat Mordru, was erased. The current one becomes prominent. There needs to be some way that, through magic, the other history can be re-inserted into the universe. There needs to be a way to stop this horrible Mordru-led universe from happening.

The only way to do that is for Vidar to use magic to learn all the key details and then try to put together a complicated spell to bring back the other world.

Tell me that Glorith doesn't remind you of Dream Girl, luxuriating in her pile of pillows, moaning about Vidar and his 'cute butt', and realizing that she can use him.

I know ... I know ... no cute star birthmark on her face.

But this seems like Dreamy to me.

Just in case readers didn't quite get what happened last issue, Giffen and company review the key parts of the history again, this time from Mordru's point of view. The Puppet Master (the Time Trapper) warped time to thwart Mordru. The Mercantile Knight, the switch with Phantom Girl... it is the key moment.

Without that moment, without the Trapper, Mordru rules.

But Vidar isn't mystically strong enough to pull off the big spell, the rewriting of history. But there is someone who is ... Glorith.

She wants power. So she captures Vidar and makes him tell her all his ideas. Ones she will usurp. She doesn't like her life as first wife to Mordru anymore than the peasants who live under his thumb.

I love that second panel so much. I love how she talks about 'mutual service' as if she and Vidar are equal. He is naked and in pain. She is seated comfortably, practically asking him to kiss her feet. Mutual? Hardly.

And so the rebellion moves forward, this time with Glorith at the center of the spell.

First things first though, Ferro Lad has to save Mysa from being assassinated by Mano. I really like Ferro Lad. I am thrilled he remained a hero, potentially sacrificing himself to save the White Witch.

But it is the text panels here that really set the stage. It is key to understand this book moving forward.

Glorith and Vidar need to recreate the key moments. So let's review and keep notes!!

1) The legendary source of inspiration needs to be replaced. That means Superboy can no longer be the past hero which spurs the Legion on. (Instead it will be Valor, introduced into the DCU within a couple of months of this issue).

2) The Daxamite strength must be restored. This can't be Mon-El. He is now Valor in the past. So who will be the Daxamite muscle in the Legion moving forward. We know now it will be Laurel Gand. But back then who knew??

3) The financier must be delivered. The Brande for Tinya switch needs to happen.

But this is just as important.

4) There can be no puppet master. And what they don't know, they make up. There needs to be some sort of presence to be the Time Trapper. We know it will be Glorith.

But more importantly, anything could be changed or rearranged. Anything might be altered. The entire bedrock of the Legion history ... the pride and joy of many old Legion fans ... is now sandstone. Some things might be solid other things might be different.

Because the spell works!

And for the second issue in a row we have a universe and a timeline destroyed, the classic white out panel sequence seen again!!

Can you ever imagine this happening in today's market ... two complete universal timelines erased in just two issues. Each of these single issues would be long arcs.

So we know the history from 5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #4 is gone.
And we know the history from 5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #5 is gone.

How daring is this? What were the meetings like discussing this??

And what about Rokk and Reep and Jo and Kono and everything from the first three issues? Is that all gone? What will 5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #6 be like????

Let's just say Giffen and company don't miss a beat, picking up the Legion story with this now tweaked timeline, but remaining as daring and experimental as ever.

Bold, creative, experimental.
Acknowledging and loving the past.
Rewriting the future.

More has happened in five issues of this title than sometimes happen in years in other books.

This is why I love this book.


  1. I'm loving this review series so much... it's like reliving those amazing years, which, BTW, I read in real time as they were coming out.
    This is issue is all about dialogue lines: "the spell is brutal..", "many of the original pieces gone", "so we make our own". And lastly, Mordru's "NO!"

  2. Thanks so much.
    I also read these as they came out!
    And I am loving reliving these issues.

  3. For continuity purposes, everything after this issue until Zero Hour is sometimes referred to by fans as "V4.5" or "Glorithverse", so if those terms come up, this is what they refer to.

  4. Thanks again for these great, insightful reviews. While we have many stories we loved through our time on the Legion, #5 is certainly in the running as possibly our favorite issue of all. I wasn't prone to hyping the stories we worked on, but even before the issue came out, I remember telling a very skeptical friend who was not at all a fan of the 5YL run that I felt like the Mordru issue had the potential to rank among the series' all-time classics.

  5. Thanks for stopping by again!

    For me, the panel that made this issue incredibly special, was seeing Andrew Nolan dive onto Mano to save Mysa. I have always been a Ferro Lad fan. Seeing his heroism and selflessness in all universes was special.

    I lump #4 and #5 together in my head as fantastic and near the top of my favorite issues of this run.

  6. "Bold, creative, experimental.
    Acknowledging and loving the past.
    Rewriting the future."

    As I mentioned in a comment for the previous issue, it was forced on them by DC editorial...

    Glorith was ok, but she was pretty much Levitz's Emerald Empress with a different hair color (minus the Eye, of course).