Friday, November 21, 2014

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #10

Reviewer: Anj
Super-power: Predictor of head trauma injuries based on comic art

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #10 brings the title back to their 'present' and hits the reader like a freight train. The threat of Roxxas was clearly real before this issue but here we see just how deadly he is. And perhaps most importantly, this issue reads more powerful and more action-packed because it was preceded by 2 flashback issues. And to keep that sense of suspense, that lull into false sense of security, within the issue, things start slowly and almost nostalgically only to derail into horror.

The creative team of Keith Giffen, Tom and Mary Bierbaum, and Al Gordon move the Roxxas plotline forward immensely. They move the reformation of the Legion plot forward as well. But as has been the case with this book, we get some new mysteries and some hints about the events of the 5 years between series. After two months of looking far into the rear view mirror, we are moving ahead again.

And it all starts with the cover. That is a battered Mekt Ranzz lying in the ruins with Roxxas stalking away. We know that something violent will be happening soon ... but not when.

And the universe turned and looked at Winath.

There are suddenly a lot of Legionnaires on the planet. Cos has arrived with his group including Jo, Kono, a fragile Mysa, and Cham. Furball is there. Garth, Ayla, Imra, and Vi are all on the planet going about their lives. Brainy is there tending to Garridan. And Jan Arrah has arrived with Celeste Rockfish, Bounty, and Devlin O'Ryan. No wonder the Dominators are getting a little bit antsy.

But Roxxas is also there, armed to the teeth and disguised. I love how he disapproves of the near-norm nudity of Winath, asking if there is any morality left in the universe. How ironic coming from such a remorseless killer. Everything about this Roxxas is interesting, a stew of paradoxes. He is dressed like a nobleman, down to the mascara and kerchief. He speaks of morality. But he is as far away as you can get from that exterior.

But Giffen and the Bierbaums don't dive right into the brawl. We might know Roxxas is on the planet but the Legionnaires don't. And this is a reunion of sorts for these characters. While in the context of mourning Blok, this family can't help but love seeing each other.
And the creators go for the heartstrings immediately: a Garth and Rokk reunion. These two are the founders, best of friends, essentially brothers. As fans, we needed to see this scene. And the playful banter before the hug is perfect characterization.

Meanwhile, Ayla admires the decommissioned Legion cruiser which brought Celeste and Jan to Winath.

Seeing the 'old battle wagon', realizing that there are so many ex-teammates together, she wonders if having a Legion isn't such a bad idea. The knowing smile in the middle panel, the look out on the horizon at the future in the last panel ... you get so much added emotion from the art.

It isn't all sentiment and sweet memories, though. Vi is still fearing what she will say or do when she sees Cosmic Boy, knowing she was part of the Venado Bay massacre.

And Mysa is still wounded from her time on Tharn, tortured by Mordru. She truly is a shell of herself and hearing Blok is dead isn't making things easier. She has shut herself out even more, watching a video of her as the White Witch being saved in battle by Blok.

I love how Imra asks Brainy to help Mysa. If anyone should know what it is like to feel alone, to be skirting insanity, it is Brainy. I love that he leaps to the task, too.

They are Legion. They are family. They want to help each other.

But the time to soak in paradise, reminisce, and grieve ends quickly.

Bounty sense that Roxxas is on the planet and goes after him, telling Devlin to spread the word.

Just how did Bounty sense that?? Is she some sort of tracker?? Hmmmm ...

Unfortunately, the first person Roxxas runs into is Bounty and the reformed Mekt Ranzz, formerly Lightning Lord. Roxxas proposes a super-villain team-up, assuming that Mekt is still evil and there to hunt ex-Legionnaires as well.

Immediately Mekt tries to talk Roxxas down, telling Roxxas that killing isn't worth it. And when Roxxas doesn't listen, Mekt begrudgingly uses his powers to shock him.

But look at those lower panels. Mekt looks almost defeated that he is using his powers, his head held low, his shoulders slumped. This is not the Mekt who looked like a living lightning bolt in the early Giffen years. This isn't someone screaming threats. He seems almost gentle!

Mekt's redemption was one of the more fascinating wrinkles of the 5YL universe.

And Bounty? Well Roxxas seems to think she is a Legionnaire despite some changes in appearance. A female tracker who was on the Legion? Should I go out on a wing and guess who she is??

At one point, Mekt was one of the deadliest and most powerful Legion villains. But here, with his new attitude, he can't even bring down a 'normal' human like Roxxas. And he suffers as a result. But even nearly unconscious, he is still preaching his new platitudes of needing to conquer personal sins.

Roxxas blasts him and then stomps on him repeatedly. Roxxas is a killer. But he is also savage. And that makes him scarier. Brutal ... and it only gets worse.

Pages earlier I was feeling warm and fuzzy seeing Garth and Rokk hug like brothers.

Now I have seen Mekt literally crushed under foot by Roxxas.

And then I see Cham shot in the head by Roxxas!

Then Celeste gets shot in the leg and has her face shattered by Roxxas. That doesn't look pretty and this is just the beginning. Poor Celeste takes more punishment. Surely no human can survive this much trauma ... even in the 30th century.

And I don't know about you but I didn't expect Roxxas to be this tough. I suppose you need to be pure evil to be the genocidal maniac who killed the Trommites. But there is a glee here that unnerves me.

Luckily Saturn Girl is able to detect Roxxas' mind (although it pains her ... he must be an awful mind to try and read). And armed with his location, Jo flies in and finally thrashes Roxxas. But before Jo can finish him off, Roxxas tosses a grenade.

Once again we see the white out effect. And when the dust settles, Jo is simply gone.


Just like that our 'new' Legion is decimated.


Two retro flashback issues. Several pages of sentimentality.

Then bloodshed. And a lot of it.

But the issue ends on a different cliffhanger.

That 'sentient' energy that has been following the Legion cloaks itself and streaks to Winath.

Is it a sentient energy cloud who has affection for a female Legionnaire who is a tracker?? I can tell you that when I first read this I was hoping it was.

As I said, the redemption of Mekt is a great part of this new universe. Of course I wondered how the guy who was one of the primary leaders of the Legion of Super-Villain could become a peaceful farmer. Luckily, Giffen et al give us the details in the back matter. Here we have part of Mekt's medical record. I love the back matter of this series as it adds so much. Was this the first series to use text pieces to add to the foundation?

Overall this was such a wild issue. I feel like Giffen and the Bierbaums knew just what they were doing when they set up the second half of this issue. I was bamboozled by the sunny flashback issues and sappy reunions. And then ... wham .... death and destruction.

And after all this rapid fire movement of the plot I can only imagine what the next issue will bring!

10 issues in and it has been a roller coaster ride.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty sure Watchmen predated v4, as well as Cary Bates and Gene Colan's Silverblade.

    By re-reading the story after the backmatter, it seems possible that this is the first time Mekt has used his lightning in years, and his defeatist pose is because he fears all the hard work has been undone, and he's doomed to become the Lightning Lord once again.

    It's not just Roxxas who's dressing stylish, ever since the Mordruverse interlude, the frilly shirts have shown up more and more often, at least among the better off, like Sun Boy earlier, and the Ranzzes