Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #3

Legion of Super-Heroes (vol 3) #3 (Oct, 1984)
A review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
title: "Everywhere A Villain...?"
writer/plotter: Paul Levitz
plotter/designer: Keith Giffen
penciller: Steve Lightle
inker: Larry Mahlstedt
letterer: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Keith Giffen & Larry Mahlstedt (signed)

Mission Monitor Board:  
Dawnstar, Wildfire, Ultra Boy, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, White Witch, Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Brainiac Five, Sun Boy, Blok, Element Lad, Cosmic Boy, Light Lass, Dream Girl, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl

The Legion of Super-Villains! Membership includes Terrus, Lightning Lord, Hunter, Silver Slasher, Titania, Chameleon Chief, Radiation Roy, Sun Emperor, Lazon, Magno Lad, Tyr, Ol-Vir, Esper Lass, Micro Lad, Ron-Karr, Neutrax, Cosmic King, Nemesis Kid, and Zymyr

The tension is ratcheted up a notch as the Legion rushes off The Sorcerers' World to answer an emergency summons from Orando. As they discuss what the Legion of Super-Villains' motives could be, another space warp suddenly opens directly in front of their cruiser, and only Dawnstar is fast enough to escape its pull.

On Earth, Element Lad believes the alarm from Orando to be the LSV's work, so dispatches a full contingency of Legionnaires to respond. He leaves Cosmic Boy on Earth per his request to stay close to Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl and their newborn, kisses Shvaughn, and departs with the troops. Cosmic Boy and Shvaughn worry about them as they head into Legion HQ.

On Orando, Light Lass awakens to find that Karate Kid and Queen Projectra have also been captured. Lightning Lord comes and gives her one more chance to join the LSV, an offer she refuses absolutely. He goes crazy, blasting her repeatedly with lightning. He walks off, leaving her for dead. Elsewhere on Orando, Dream Girl wakes up at her team's cruiser's crash site and immediately faces Hunter and Silver Slasher.

On Earth, RJ Brande is having drinks with President Marte Allon and her husband, discussing the upcoming election for Earth President.

Near to Orando, on the other side of the space warp, the Legionnaires are fighting the membership of the Super-Villains. In the atmosphere around Orando, Nemesis Kid is overseeing installation of the stolen polymer shield and power spheres. Nemesis Kid wants Zymyr to teleport the planet away with as many Legionnaires as possible on it, so he waits and monitors the battle as the combatants come closer and closer to Orando. Faced with the possibility of defeat, however, Nemesis Kid gives the order to teleport, and the villains disappear.

On Medicus One, the three founders are discussing the possibility of "new blood" in the Legion.

In the space above Orando, the Legionnaires realize that some of their members disappeared when the villains did. As they are planning their next step, the whole planet Orando disappears, too. Nemesis Kid gloats on his triumph and then finally hits Ron-Karr in the mouth for being loud and stupid.

The third chapter of this multi-part epic hits another home run. From the splash page of the Legionnaires rushing off the Sorcerers' World through the wonderfully choreographed pages of battle to the last page of mindless violence, this issue never lets up. With the introduction of Nemesis Kid as the LSV leader, the craziness of Sun Emperor is shifted off the main stage and the obsession of Lightning Lord takes its final form. Is Light Lass dead? She certainly looks it! The next issue box says "the deadly and we do mean deadly final confrontation..."  That's Karate Kid's hand shown, but is he the one who will die? As all Legion fans know, no character is safe, and the tension during and after this issue was palpable. I gotta know what happens next!!

The cover is a wonderful scene, and the same type of organized chaos is present on all the battle pages inside the book. Pick a character to follow and see what happens to him/her. Timber Wolf, for example, is flipping over in one page, bouncing off an asteroid in another, and then getting blasted by Lighting Lord in a third (Mekt never approved of Brin and Ayla). This is wonderful work and a joy to examine. Each time I look at these pages I see something new. Great work by penciller Steve Lightle, inker Larry Mahlstedt, colorist Carl Gafford (kudos for not getting Lazon's yellow mixed up with Lightning Lord's blue), and letterer John Costanza for placing the word balloons in the least conspicuous places.

The conflict between siblings Mekt and Ayla is also drawn to ratchet up the tension. Note how the camera continues to get closer and closer to each of them as Ayla continues to say "No" to her brother. Then as soon as we get a good look at the determination in Light Lass' eyes, her brother goes crazy and takes up the whole page in torturing her. Steve Lightle really knows what he is doing here.

One more scene to praise Lightle on: when the planet Orando disappears, there is a clear exclamation point reflected on Wildfire's face-plate. Very nice touch! 

The pages with RJ Brande and with the founders were supposed to help ratchet up the tension, and they succeed. However, with a dozen of good guys fighting a dozen bad guys in the main story, I really would have liked those two pages to be more battle scenes.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Karate Kid, and Queen Projectra are shown, but spend the issue unconscious (although Shrinking Violet is shown fighting on the cover). 
  • Wildfire is shown on the cover opening his face-plate, although it has been established that his energy goes "through" his face. 
  • Although Colossal Boy was with Phantom Girl's team on the Sorcerers' World in LSH Annual #3, he somehow makes it back to Earth and LSH HQ in this issue. 
  • Dream Girl's team is shot down off-panel, but after crash-landing on Orando, they somehow survive the attack from Silver Slasher and join their friends in space.
  • Ultra Boy mistakenly refers to Titania as "Silver Slasher" during their battle. This might have been because he was too busy switching his ultra-abilities to trigger his ultra-memory. 
  • How or why did the space warp only manage to take five Legionnaires? The whole point of the battle scenes show the back-and-forth nature of the battle, so it seems odd that only five Legionnaires were "close enough" to be pulled into the warp. 
  • Although he is mentioned, we never see Invisible Kid. He is the only current Legionnaire not to appear in this story. Seriously, he wasn't there. 
Collected in the TPB Legion of Super-Heroes An Eye For An Eye

MILESTONE: This is the first Legion story to be drawn by Steve Lightle. He came to the Legion as a relative newcomer (as a graduate of DC's new talent search, mentioned by Dick Giordano in his column in this very issue). Lightle had the unenviable job of replacing well-loved Keith Giffen as penciller in the middle of this LSV arc. However, his wonderful page designs and character bits soon charmed the readers. Although he stayed on the series for only one year, he provided covers for many years afterwards, and was important in the designs of the new Legionnaires who made their debut in LSH (v3) #14.


  1. When I try to tell people about the power of comics as a medium with words and pictures, I reference the Ayla/Mekt page with her repeatedly saying no. The simple small no in the large balloon; she isn't shouting but instead flatly saying no. The steel look in her eye with the enlarging panel size, the increasing closeups.

    That is about as perfect comics can get.

    And it began my life long love for Ayla Ranzz.

  2. I totally agree with you. Light Lass was always a "light-weight" for me. Anybody remember her hitting Mano with her purse!?!? But here....she really faced her fear of death and pain and conquered it. LightNING Lass was one of my favorites from this story on.