Friday, January 9, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #17

Reviewer: Anj
Super-power: Superflashback to Roxxas' attack

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #17 was the third and final part of a short, action packed, and remarkably far-reaching storyline. The Khunds are invading the United Planets, taking over worlds via ancient weapons and remarkable ease. Glorith has manifested as the Khunds' Demon Mother and is using their territorial expansion in order to gather mystic artifacts to bolster her powers. And the Legion is spread thin, some defending Xolnar, some defending Talok VIII, some in space, and Laurel Gand on the Khund homeworld.

Mixed into all this action is the standard character moments that have made this Legion book so interesting. It is one thing to see Vi respond to her injury and sense of duty or Mysa dealing with her PTSD. But when you get character development from fourth stringers like Shadow Kid and Lady Memory, you know you are getting your money's worth.

What amazes me about this is that the creative team of Keith Giffen, Tom & Mary Bierbaum, Brandon Peterson, Carlos Garzon, and Al Gordon stuff all of this into just 3 issues. If this was done now, we would be talking about a 9 or 12 issue Khund War arc with trade dress, etc. I do wonder if this particular story-line might have benefited from an epilogue or maybe one more issue as the ending is rather abrupt. Still, as someone who doesn't like needless decompression, I applaud the swift pace.

Again, Brandon Peterson is on the book and the 9 panel grid is out. His art is a bit rough but this was very early in Peterson's career.

As I said, there are Legionnaires posted on Talok VIII, a Pluridium rich planet. The Khunds have allied themselves with the Hill People of the world. Those tribes have always had issues with the ruling city tribes and so I am sure wouldn't mind running things, even if under the magnifying glass of the Khunds.

There was a political marriage between Grev Mallor of the City tribes and Lady Memory of the Hill folk. This doesn't seem to be a loving relationship. But I do love this look of conflict on Memory's face when Grev asks her if figuratively lying in bed with the Khunds is worth it.

Nice characterization here of some fringe characters in the Legion universe.

And there are Legionnaires in space, trying to slow down the advance of the Khund fleet.

In a bit of deus ex machina, we see that Brainy has figured out all of the Khunds' powerful ancient weapons. Here he has made armor that block the antimatter fusion guns of the Khunds' starships. Later we see him figure out that cold will deactivate the Red Terror fear gas. Without those weapons, suddenly the battles are much more evenly contested. This is a turning point in the war.

Still, it is a bit too easy that Brainy can simply solve the problems. Also, how/where are these suits made? Are the UP ships still vulnerable?

On Xolnar, the remaining UP troops have holed themselves up in the Pluridium mines but it is clear they will eventually be overrun. To make sure the gravity of the situation is known, Giffen et al decide to kill off another minor character, perennial Legion academy student and now drill sergeant Jedidiah "Power Boy" Rikane. Alas, poor Power Boy, we barely knew ye!

Pretty grisly image there. It looks like his face is just pouring out blood.

I'll remind you that Power Boy had chastised Mysa for her lack of action last issue.

Earlier in this series we saw Glorith step in as the new Time Trapper in the reconfigured universe timeline. As a result, we don't know Glorith that well. I would assume she would be of the same power level as the Trapper ... nigh omnipotent. Here she even says her powers are 'limitless'. And rather than sully her own hands, she will use the superstitious Khunds as her army.

But I wonder if this is bluster. If her power is truly limitless, why would she be collecting mystic artifacts? I just don't know Glorith well enough to know.

What I do like is how her personality is so different from the Trapper's. She is absolutely hedonistic, narcissitic, and an exhibitionist. So different from the shrouded Trapper sitting on his dust-heap, she is shown in lingerie vamping on a bed.

As I said earlier, this arc stretches the team out. We have minor characters getting whole scenes. Juggling the Legion cast has always been problematic, especially when the Legion was 25 plus strong. Even with the 5YL cast being half that size, it was bound that some characters would be lost or forgotten in this plot.

At last, we finally see a little bit of Kono.

The one Khund with any sense of honor was their General Kiritan. But it was clear that the politicians on the Khund homeworld didn't want Kiritan to get any more popular or powerful. So they sent him on a suicide mission to pretend to invade Talok VIII. With Brainy's defensive upgrade and the sham nature of the attack, Kiritan's fleet is routed. But rather than be taken alive, he decides to die honorably. He lowers his shields and has his fleet enter the atmosphere without protection, and burning up on entry.

It is a powerful page and it made me sympathize for Kiritan. Me ... sympathizing for a Khund character? Incredible.

The Xolnarian contingent isn't faring much better ... until Mysa turns the tides. With a little nudge by Bouncing Boy, reminding her of her time as the White Witch, Mysa is able to make a shield spell surrounding the mines. The UP troops can fire out while the Khunds weapons cannot fire in.

I did like how Mysa and Chuck tweak the spell components necessary for the spell. Especially this last component, the blood of a beast. If there is something in abundance in this battle, it is blood. That last panel, the silent look by Mysa, recognizing the horror but knowing she needs to step up, is powerful.

I can remember reading this issue the first time and, as a Mysa fan, being thrilled that she snapped out of her fugue state.

Even if the ground attack is stalled, the Khunds have surrounded Xolnar from space. It looks like Xolnar will fall.

That is until ... again ... Brainiac 5 pulls a solution out of thin air. Using Khundian anti-matter fusion tech, he refits the whole UP starfleet so they can travel at such high speeds that they can race to Xolnar in time to defeat the Khund fleet there.

Maybe just a little too easy?

And Glorith, the true villain of this piece? She of the 'limitless' power? She has to stop Orlak from shooting her with a pistol. By stopping him, Laurel is freed just enough to have Rokk's secret weapon spring into action. Violet has been hiding in Laurel's earring this whole time! We heard Cosmic Boy ask Vi to do a special mission last issue. Now we know what it was. I have to admit, I was surprised!

Violet uses the 'chronal howitzer' sending Glorith to the end of time! We see her stuck there, fuming. But isn't she the mistress of time, with limitless power? Can't she just leave?

Nope. Just like that the whole thing is over. The Khunds are defeated. Glorith is gone. Maybe too easy?

And what about the wrap up? Aren't the Khunds still entrenched on the worlds they conquered? Do they just retreat? Is there more war to make them move out? We don't know?

We have seen the howitzer before when Roxxas used it to send Jo away.

I did like the symmetry of the scenes.

Deja vu!

Finally, we do get some Giffen 9 panel pages at the end. We learned that Devlin was part of the Dark Circle last issue. Now it looks like he is a double agent. He is going to give Jacques and Schvaughn, the head of the Earth rebellion, all the information he has. It is time for another war: an Earthwar. It is time for the Dominators to go.

So, just like that, the Glorith-led Khund war comes to an end. As I have said, there were nice 'small' moments in this 3-issue romp. But I feel that the brevity took a little away from the bigger plot points, like repelling the Khunds weapons and defeating Glorith. I am all for story-telling efficiency, but I wouldn't have minded one more issue here.

Will this newly formed Legion have a chance to take a deep breath? Time will tell.


  1. As much as I love this incarnation of the title, I don't really care that much abut these issues, something about the art was too rough and un-Giffen-like for my taste.
    That said, the Chuck Mysa exchange, and his ingenious way of coming up with the spell elements is a favourite of mine. Love Chuck, such a great character.

  2. RIP Jed. This one irked me, though not so much as Comet Queen getting killed off in a line of the gaming book.
    The Ultra Boy cliffhanger not one of my favourite digressions either.

  3. Thanks for comments!

    It was around here I started to fear for the lives of secondary characters!