Friday, January 2, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #16

Reviewer: Anj
Super-power: Super-sympathy for Mysa

Legion of Super-Heroes #16 was the second part of a three part story in which the Khunds wage war with the United Planets. They invade and conquer planets with ease by using their Red Terror fear gas and powerful weapons. The Legion had barely been reformed when they were pressed into active duty, and the stakes are high. How are the Khunds doing this? Who is their demon mother? Where will they strike next? And can this new Legion team, still recovering from Roxxas' attacks, help turn the tide?

This is all serious business with the creative team of Keith Giffen, Tom & Mary Bierbaum, Al Gordon, and guest penciller Brandon Peterson cranking up the action and making this seem all very real. We see the horrors of war close up and there is a strong sense that the good guys could lose this war.

I was a bit surly in reviewing the last issue, lamenting the loss of the 9 panel grid and Giffen's art, and as a result, the loss of uniqueness to the book. But in reading the letter column it looks like I was in the minority. There was a fair amount of negativity about all the things I love about this book. The things I call creative risks which succeeded seem to have fallen flat on the majority of the audience.

So I have decided to move on. Is this is a good comic book with a good story? Is this a good Legion issue? The answer is yes.

Do I wish I would have 9 panels and Giffen art on the entirety of the book for a longer time? The answer is definitely yes!

To recap, the Khunds are running roughshod over the United Planets, conquering planets and moving in. And they are doing it using interstellar weapons which are incredibly powerful for space battles. And when they invade, they use 'the Red Terror', a crippling fear gas which incapacitates the native armies.

Luckily, the UP was able to get some of this tech for Brainy to evaluate. Both the Red Terror and the anti-matter fusion weapons are from the 28th century, lost technology from prior wars. Hmmm ...

And then we are reminded that this invasion, this conquest, and these new weapons all coincide with the physical manifestation of the Khundian Great Demon Mother. Hmmm ....

Hopefully, a villain who is female and has time powers should jog some thoughts. But we won't have to wait too long for the reveal.

Last issue, we also saw that the Khund advance army was being led by an honorable Khund named General Kiritan.

There is no honor among most of the Khunds, though. Here, the more ruthless leaders, lounging in the comforts of the Khundian homeworld, begin to plot Kiritan's demise. They don't want an honorable leader gaining popularity. He needs to be eliminated to keep the status quo.

As if I needed another reason to dislike the Khunds.

The UP also knows that the Khund advancing army needs Pluridium to power their fleet. The nearby UP worlds with Pluridium are Talok VIII, home of Shadow Lass, and Xolnar, the site of the UP military academy.

Everyone seems to think that Talok VIII is the likely invasion site. Xolnar doesn't have the atmosphere for The Red Mist. And the Talokian Hill People are in cahoots with the Khunds.

Mysa is one of the Legionnaires sent to Xolnar. She feels she has been sent there because it is far from the front. We haven't seen Mysa much since her rescue from Mordru. The last time we saw her she was watching a Blok video over and over.

Power Boy, an ex-Legion academy member and drill sergeant at the Military Academy, berates her! He tells her that she needs to pull herself up by her bootstraps and get over her time with Mordru. As if three months of freedom could overcome the torture of that relationship. Not too sympathetic there, Jed.

I was glad to see Luorno chastise Power Boy. Mysa isn't a recruit that you can beat down to build up. She is a Legionnaire. She has left her 'soul' on the battlefield.

As for the main Legion team fighting the Khunds on the front, we see how they are planning to help out.
Last issue, Violet had her right leg blown clean off by a Khund ship. But this is soldier Violet. She has a robot leg (akin to Tharok mecha) attached and is back at it. She can't sit and recover while her friends die. I have to say I began to love the Vi character in the Baxter series and this characterization seems like the perfect extension of that.

Incredibly, Rokk isn't there to talk her out of returning. He is there to ask her to do a special mission.

And Laurel Gand?

Well we see her early on actually being hurt by these anti-matter weapons.

Later we see a Khundian pimp sell a super-tall, super-voluptuous Khundian slave girl to Orlak, Cham's Khundian double agent.

It turns out the pimp is Cham. He can't maintain even simple forms like this for too long because he is still recovering from the Roxxas injuries. At least we know why Cham isn't on the front line.

And the zaftig Khund concubine? It is Laurel Gand in disguise. Laurel is being sent into the mouth of the lion to try to get information. Surely, the Khundian leaders will gladly welcome this slave girl into their harem??

Sounds like an espionage mission.

I do wonder if it is wise to send your biggest weapon (Laurel) undercover. But I suppose she is best suited to survive such a mission and has the ... ahem ... assets to get noticed.

Well, not as if we should be surprised given the prior issue, but Xolnar is the focus of the Khund attack.
And Kiritan? He is set up to be a sacrificial lamb. Kiritan will lead a 'decoy' attack on Talok VIII. It is a suicide mission. And the smirk on the Khund bringing him the info speaks volumes.

But Kiritan is truly honorable. He accepts his mission rather than contest it.

Xolnar isn't set up to repel a major attack. The meager troops are decimated and the academy is destroyed. There is nothing left to defend other than the Pluridium mines themselves. The remaining UP troops lower the intertron doors, leaving just enough room to fire at the Khunds.

This doesn't look good. Mysa, Kent Shakespeare, and Bouncing Boy and Luorno are basically huddled in there as well. We, again, see Mysa trembling in the dark.

And then ... the big reveal.

Laurel Gand gets brought to the Khundia and sees a statue erected for the Demon Mother.

It is Glorith!

And suddenly it all comes together. The end of LoSH #13 had Glorith say it was time to conquer. She has the powers of the Time Trapper. And the Khunds have ancient powerful weapons! It was all out there for us!

My my though ... talk about decolletage! Between Laurel's slave girl outfit and this statue of Glorith, June is busting out all over!

Okay ... that was all well and good.

But the end of the issue is 9 panel grid and Giffen. And it has that sense of mystery and intrigue and innovation that I love.

While the UP is fighting the Khunds, the Dominators' rule over Earth is now open and they are squeezing the citizens of Earth. It is time for the underground on Earth to unite and help overthrow their Dominator rulers.

One group of rebels? An offshoot of the Legion. Invisible Kid leads a group which also has Tyroc and the Substitute Legion in the ranks. And these look like well trained Subs. Even Chlorophyll Kid looks tough.

And another group of rebels is led by Universo.

At this meeting is Universo trying to convince Jacques to join forces.

Yeesh! Would you ever ever ever join forces with Universo??

And it turns out that Jacques shouldn't. Universo and his creepy lieutenant Grinn are in cahoots with the Dark Circle. Talk about pick your poison! Who would you rather have running Earth - the Dominators, Universo, or the Dark Circle?

But there is no mistaking the shirt on that Circle officer in the last panel. It is the shirt Devlin O'Ryan has been wearing all title. Is there a traitor in the midst??

This was very good middle chapter. The pace of this arc is proceeding fast enough that I felt comfortable that the team could finish this with the next issue. We have a lot of progression and Giffen et al keep all the character balls in the air. We see all of the Legionnaires and how they are dealing with this war. And we get those last few pages, bringing us back to the essence of the 5YL run.

How will this all end??


  1. After losing Nightwind pointlessly last episode (heroes dying a pointless death being a theme from now on) the shine was starting to come off the book for me.
    Poor Mysa, I think from this point on got rather lost. Not to mention the Dark Circle.
    The bright point in the book for me was Jaques and the Subs. They were great.

  2. I haven't reread this run for a couple of years prior to taking on this review series.

    There is something wonderful about the first year of this book.

    Once you get past that meteoric first year of creativity and craziness, the book sort of settles into a standard Legion book. It is still very good. But it isn't the magic of the initial run.