Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #5

Legion of Super-Heroes (vol 3) #5 (Dec, 1984)
A review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

title: "An Eye For An Eye, A Villain For A Hero"
writer/plotter: Paul Levitz
plotter: 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:  
Queen Projectra, Lightning Lass, Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, Phantom Girl, Ultra Boy, Shrinking Violet, Shadow Lass, Mon-El, Sun Boy, Brainiac Five; cameos by Blok, Timber Wolf, Colossal Boy, Dream Girl, White Witch, Star Boy, and Dawnstar.

The Legion of Super-Villains, consisting of: Chameleon Chief, Cosmic King, Spider Girl, Ol-Vir, Nemesis Kid, Sun Emperor, Lightning Lord, Neutrax, Esper Lass, Radiation Roy, Ron-Karr, Mist Master, Lazon, Micro Lad, Zymyr, Magno Lad, Titania, and Tyr.

On the planet Orando, Queen Projectra is mourning the death of her husband, Karate Kid, who sacrificed himself so that one of the power spheres moving the planet into another dimension would fail. Projectra confronts the LSV, but Neutrax is able to subdue her easily. Lightning Lass, in the cruiser returning to the planet, returns too late to save Karate Kid, but bravely steps out and confronts the entire LSV on her own, declaring, "One for all of you!" Lightning Lord steps forward,  intent on finally killing her.

In the space where Orando used to be, the remaining Legionnaires are called back to Earth by the Science Police. Dream Girl, taking charge as Deputy Leader in Element Lad's absence, agrees to return, but leaves Brainiac Five, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, and Sun Boy to watch out for the villains' return.

Back on Orando, Lightning Lord tries to over-power Lightning Lass , but she out-manuevers him and knocks him out. The rest of the LSV moves in, but while the Ranzz siblings were fighting the other Legionnaires have regained consciousness. Element Lad turns the air around the LSV into helium, knocking them out. However, he missed a few, as Nemesis Kid turns to face Projectra and Ol-Vir lays one on Ultra Boy. Radiation Roy leads a separate group against the Legion, but when faced with a fearsome Chameleon Boy, his group changes their minds and runs to the cruiser to escape instead.

As the Legion succeeds at slowly but surely knocking out the villains, Projectra lulls Nemesis Kid into a false sense of security. She becomes up-front and personal with him, and as the body of her dead husband lies out in the field where it fell, Projectra ruthlessly snaps Nemesis Kid's neck.

In the space where Orando used to be, Radiation Roy and his gang arrives back in our universe to face Mon-El and company. They try to explain how Zymyr's teleportational cruiser works, but because it was damaged in their crash landing, a visibly frustrated Brainiac Five can't figure out how to fix it. Their friends are still on their own.

Sometime later, back on Orando, Queen Projectra has managed to free her people and restore some semblance of order. At the ceremonial funeral pyre for her dead husband, she announces that she is leading Orando forward into another dimension after all. She has decided to leave her past life behind her. She bids her former team-mates good-bye, and Orando begins to vanish. 
The two Legions remain safe in transporter bubbles that the LSV had left behind. As the Legionnaires  contemplate their next step, the LSV, too, begin to disappear. Esper Lass tells them telepathically that she was able to read Zymyr's mind to understand how his mechanisms work, so the LSV is able to return to their universe. The five  Legionnaires, however, are left stranded in the zone between universes.

And here we get the pay-off for this saga: Queen Projectra stands up for herself, her dead husband, and her world. What a great characterization of an otherwise "weak" character. When I was reading Legion I always thought Princess Projectra was one of the weaker members. And in her initial attack here (and with her attack last issue) it was like, throw some obvious illusions at your foe and hope something scares him. Sure. Here, what exactly happens? Does she make Nemesis Kid see Death, as she uses fighting techniques her husband taught her to actually kill him? Or does she use no "power" at all, leaving him nothing to "adapt" against? Either way, this is one of the strongest sequences ever to appear in a Legion story. Hats off to Paul Levitz for writing this and to Steve Lightle for choreographing it.

Speaking of the art of Steve Lightle, there are quite a few great scenes here. Lighting Lass in her stance of defiance against the LSV....here's another character that was always considered weak, standing up and out of the crowd. I have huge hopes for Lightning Lass, and look forward to her "solo" spotlight next issue. The pages shown here of Projectra's eyes make her look incredibly beautiful. And although they are not shown, the battle sequences, especially with Chameleon Boy and Mon-El, are also very well done.

We're at that part of the review where I gush enthusiastically about the work of colorist Carl Gafford and letterer John Costanza. As a great example of both of their talents, take a quick look at the following page. Just try to tell me it's not one of the most beautifully designed/colored/lettered pages you've ever seen. Just try!

Science Police Notes:  
  • Nothing even remotely resembling the scene on the cover occurs in this story. 
Reprinted in the TPB Legion of Super-Heroes An Eye For An Eye

MILESTONE: Queen Projectra executes Nemesis Kid in this story, the first time any Legionnaire has willfully killed. She then returns her Legion Flight Ring to Element Lad as she voluntarily resigns from the Legion.

1 comment:

  1. I've always loved this story, but was always confused by it. If Projectra used no "power" then Nemesis should never have been able to kill Karate Kid either?!