Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #16

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #16 (Nov, 1985)

title: "Baptism"
writer: Paul Levitz
artist: Steve Lightle
inker: Bob Smith
letterer: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger
cover: Steve Lightle (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Polar Boy, Magnetic Kid, Sensor Girl, Tellus, Quislet; cameos of others at Graym Ranzz' baptism ceremony

Circadia Senius, Rond Vidar, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Shvaughn Erin

unnamed terrorists and hypnotized SP officers
At the Time Institute,  Brainiac 5 is mourning the 1,000th anniversary of the death of Supergirl by re-watching her murder by the Anti-Monitor. His friends Rond and Circadia are there to try to offer support, but Brainy is inconsolable.

On Titan, most of the Legionnaires are attending the baptism ceremony of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad's son, Graym. Legion Leader Element Lad checks in with "the rookies" on duty at Legion HQ, fretting over their safety.

On Earth, there is an explosion at the Techno Park, which Sensor Girl knows about before the monitor board lights up with a requests for aid. Four of the five newest members race out to respond. Magnetic Kid is determined to help, as his mother was killed in a similar fire-bombing incident. Working with Tellus, they are able to rescue a trapped worker. When the Legion is finished saving the injured, the SP officers on duty note that the damage would have been much worse if the Legionnaires hadn't shown up. Sensor Girl suggests waiting around to see if those responsible either try again or show up to loot through the damage.

Elsewhere, Rond and Circadia are successful in getting Brainiac 5 to go out. They meet up with the sympathetic Dr. Chaseer, but Brainy is not interested in talking to her.

Back at the Techno Park the bombers do return, and the new Legionnaires take care of them quickly. However, additional Science Police officers appear as well, and they knock the Legionnaires out with gas. When they finally awaken, they chase after the SP ship, which was damaged when Quislet took possession of it. They catch the bombers and the renegade SP officers, but when Tellus tries to read their minds to find out why they committed their criminal acts, he finds that their minds are totally blank.
The new Legionnaires have to work on their PR....
Brainiac 5, overcome with sadness, considers quitting. He also considers suicide, or going back in time and trying to save Supergirl. Eventually he decides he is a coward, and will go on living.

This is a story that needed to be told, as Supergirl had just been killed in CRISIS #7. However, this is a good example of an idea being better than its execution (no pun intended). If the premise of this story is that Brainaic 5 and the Legionnaires had always known that Supergirl was going to die, why wasn't that a bit more clearly established before this issue? And were Superboy and Supergirl *really* coming to the future exactly 1,000 years ahead of their own past? They couldn't have been, because they were both from different eras! Anyway, I'm not saying that the idea of marking Supergirl's death wasn't a good one, but....how about if she had appeared one last time, and the Legion said something about "this is the last time she will ever visit us..." or something? Time travel stories are weird, and this one just wasn't very interesting. Plus, two or three scenes of Brainiac 5 wallowing in self-pity doesn't make for entertaining drama. The best part of the story is the one page where he walks home, looking up into the sky (see below). This was really all we needed to see.

As for the rookie Legionnaires....well, the idea of them having their own first "baptism by fire" was also a good one, but with the conclusion landing like a big *thud* it didn't end up being very entertaining, either. And it didn't help that Bob Smith's inks on Steve Lightle's pencils just didn't seem to mesh. Larry Mahlstedt's inks really made Lightle's work look smooth and modern. The art this issue looks hurried in places and just plain dull. For example, when the tech-worker is rescued by Magnetic Kid and Tellus, there are no backgrounds and no drama to the scene at all.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Circadia stutters "K-K-K-Changes," which is nigh impossible to do. 
  • Sensor Girl "lights up" the escaping bombers as if she had a neon strobe light. 
  • Sun Boy and Shrinking Violet arrive at the ceremony together. 
  • Shrinking Violet gives Yera (Colossal Boy's wife) the cold shoulder, still angry at her impersonation of her when Violet was held hostage on Imsk. 
  • Blok and White Witch arrive at the ceremony together. 
  • Graym is baptized in this issue, implying that Christianity of some sort still exists in the 30th Century and is followed on Titan and well as on Winath and Earth.  
This issue has not yet been reprinted.

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