Friday, April 24, 2015

5yl Legion of Super-Heroes #32

Recap: The Dominion is losing its control of Earth, ramping up its military presence to keep its tenuous grip on the planet. Rebel movements on Earth (including ex-Legionnaires and the SW6 Legion), the United Planets, and the Legion are all mobilizing hoping to reclaim Earth. The Dominator diversion of troops to Terra leaves their homeworld vulnerable. And the SW6 is learning just how dark this new universe is ...

Terra Mosaic, the major storyline about control of Earth, continues to churn along at what I call, the 5YL pace. We get spurts of progression and action that left me wanting more. There were a lot of moving parts here including two Legions! And this storyline (hell this whole title) is so immersed in Legion lore, that I was overjoyed as a longtime Legion fan. And just when I want to see more and more, the creators hit the pause button, giving us excellent character-driven issues, making this a very mature and thought-provoking book.

With the last issue's Jan/Sean story behind us, the creators decide to speed forward again. And Legion of Super-Heroes #32 does just that, pushing the Dominator storyline forward on all fronts and bringing things to now a rolling boil. Writers Keith Giffen and Tom & Mary Bierbaum continue to move the chess pieces on the board, pushing the Dominators  deeper and deeper into a corner. But even with all this maneuvering, they add a great moment shocking the SW6 Legion and pulling them into the current dark universe.

As for the art, Jason Pearson brings a tremendous energy to the book. Things are warped, surreal in places, and stylized but also completely kinetic. I am drawn into the book by the art and that means it is a complete success.

One of the things that I have loved about this arc is the interaction of the SW6 Legionnaires with the current universe they have been reborn into. They start out as completely naive, giggling about their prior battles, and touting victories over minor villains.

But even in their short time on Earth, they are fast learners. This isn't their world of black and white. This is all gray. I love how we see that sort of intelligence and leadership in Invisible Kid. He already knows that his Legion simply can't blindly trust anyone. For all Lyle knows, Jacques is a villain. Why should the SW6 team trust Devlin?

But before any rash decision can be made, Brainy notifies them that not only has he fixed the flight rings but also now has communications up between Foccart and the Sub team trapped in the Dominator labs.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Anton and King John are trying to figure out what the United Planets' next step will be. The UP fleet is poised just outside of Earth.

If there is a call for an all-out assault, the destruction to Earth will be unfathomable. But sitting there with the finger on the trigger is too much.

What is the right decision? I am shocked at Anton's dragging of his feet. I understand the need to make the right decision. But the truth is no decision is a decision ... and maybe the worst decision. I don't think Anton is acting like a leader right now.

And let's not forget the Dark Circle being out there. They think the Circle will be there to scoop up the scraps once the Dominion gets eventually eliminated. It is clear that the Dominators have over-extended themselves.

But the power of this moment is Universo's response. He has been scheming behind the scenes all along. This uncertainty is too unpredictable for him and his plans. He'd rather have 'the satan' he knows.

Universo wants this whole thing for himself. No surprise there.

And what about the ... ahem ... stars of this book, the other Legion of Super-Heroes?

They, like Anton, are trying to figure out when and where to enter the fray. But things aren't settled there either. We learn that Cham has been searching for his father RJ Brande. A new lead on Brande's location has come to Cham's attention and that means that, despite this insanity on Earth, Cham is leaving.

I love those last two panels. No one understands the need for family like Rokk (he has lost so many members). So he immediately tells Cham to go. That is a little characters moment that might have been lost in the bigger events of this issue.

There has been a long subplot of the Subs being locked in a Dominator cloning chamber and their attempts to escape. And finally we get to see this come to a conclusion.

Brainy's has looped into the rebels communiques and has come up with a plan. They might be young ... but they are still the Legion.

Phantom Girl arrives in the lab to tell them what is going to happen. But these moments when the grizzled people of the 5YL universe meet these kids are just comic gold. Tinya saying things like 'don't burn your britches' while smiling just encapsulates where these Legionnaires are coming. And that last panel, showing just how tiny she is great. She is really just a kid!

One thing I do wonder is whether of not, like the Dominion, the creators have overstretched themselves as well. Amidst all the political meandering and action, Bounty and Circe have been skulking about the sewers. And we had multiple sneak peeks at Spider Girl, also skulking about.

Unfortunately, I think a page must have been lost somewhere along the way when these three meet up. In this issue, we have them all together. But we never saw them actually run into each other.

And talk about an odd mix. These three are all volatile. Circe wants revenge. Bounty wants freedom for the oppressed. Spider Girl is a thief. Only Bounty's sternest nature seems to be able to keep them from attacking each other.

And then ... finally ... we get to see the SW6 Legionnaires put things all together.

First off, Element Lad, Light Lass, and Cosmic Boy all work together to bring down the Dominator headquarters in the Terran capitol. That symbol ... a building that looks like two hands holding up Earth ... is taken down in a coordinated attack. Jan fills the Earth with helium, turning the struts to hydrogen. Ayla makes the globe weightless to lift it. Then Rokk drops it down with his magnetism.

They might be young. But they aren't helpless.

Because they also put together an extremely well coordinated plan to get the Subs out of the lab. They'll make it seem like the Subs are giving up and getting arrested.

First, Foccart sends a tiny troop ship to the lab as an extraction vehicle. But to get there, and to make it have the mass of a Dominion starship, Colossal Boy gets huge and he and the ship are cloaked in a Projectra illusion of the Dominion boat.

And Cham arrives as a Dominator superior, there to collect his prisoners as they walk to their 'cells'.

It is all an illusion. As soon as they are off, Cham becomes a bug and flies off. The Colossal Boy 'ship' disappears off the map as he shrinks and Jeckie drops her glamor. And the tiny ship flits off in the other direction.

The subs, Universo's gang, and Sade are all free.

I will admit, I had to read those pages a couple of times to understand all the parts of this rescue mission. But once I got it, I was impressed. This is all SW6.

But things go from 'perfect' to horrific.

All along, we have seen how Universo's crew are more mercenary, more willing to cross ethical lines, than the Subs. As the escape happens, Grinn tells the Subs that he activated the self-destruct device in the lab. That means all those trapped in the Dominator pods (including Dirk) will be killed.

This is what happens when you lie down with dogs. Is it worth associating yourself with these people to help free Earth from the Dominators?

As we learned in earlier issues, all the Dominator clone labs were hard-wired together as one. To set off the self-destruct in one lab would trigger all the labs self-destruct mechanisms. And look at the map! There are labs all over the Earth. We saw a list of all those imprisoned in the pods, being cloned or mind-wiped. Such a loss!

But also there is something more personal ...

Chameleon Boy, Princess Projectra, and Karate Kid of the SW6 Legion were all in Metropolis when the lab went up. They are caught in the blast ... killed.

"Everywhere, the ceremony of innocence is drowned."

Suddenly, these Legionnaires aren't as pure as they were. Now teammates have died. Now there is dissent amongst them. Now there is darkness. That last panel, with Lyle grimacing, angry, and demanding vengenace, shows how much things have changed.

Things are building here. There is fury and energy and personal vendettas on top of the basic idea of freeing an oppressed people. This is war.

I am continually amazed at this book.
Just incredible.


  1. That is some great storytelling, how the books takes you from an almost celebratory tone to the sober last pannels.
    And I have to agree with what you mention regarding Tinya's size, and that is one of the best things Pearson did in these issues, showing both through size and linework the age differences between the characters.
    Of course he went on to do his own creator owned book where the size and age difference between the characters was a central plot point.

  2. And Keith Giffen gets to kill Karate Kid for the second time! He REALLY didn't like the character.

  3. Thanks for comments.

    One thing I like is that these SW6 kids have the bright optimism of the young Legion, they get thrust into a dark world and an intergalactic war, lose friends, and yet, maintain that optimism even after this story.