Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #21

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #21 (April, 1986)
title: "Obsession!"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Greg LaRocque
inkers: Larry Mahlstedt and Mike DeCarlo
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger 
cover: Greg LaRocque & Larry Mahlstedt (signed)
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Quislet, Lighting Lass, Shrinking Violet, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Timber Wolf, Star Boy, Sensor Girl, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl

Science Police officer Shvaughn Erin

Emerald Empress, The Persuader, various members of the Legion of Super-Villains and League of Super-Assassins

Hundreds of miles below the surface of Earth, Brainiac 5 meets with Element Lad to discuss his obsession with Sensor Girl. Element Lad refuses to believe that Saturn Girl would do anything to endanger the Legion, so he chooses to believe Sensor Girl is not a threat. He insists on trusting Saturn Girl and, therefore, Sensor Girl. Quislet had stowed away on their cruiser and overheard their conversation.

Out in space, on the ark carrying the Takron-Galtos survivors to the new prison planet, some inmates have broken free. Titania causes a stand-off with the Legion when she grabs SP officer Erin as a hostage.

At Legion HQ, Brainiac 5 breaks into Sensor Girl's private apartment. He finds a hologlobe of a world in space, and a Legion flight ring. Sensor Girl finds him and angrily kicks him out, then heads off world.

On leave on Cizea, Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy are double-dating with Shadow Lass and Mon-El. Shadow Lass tells her friend that Mon-El's lead poisoning serum is wearing off, and she is very afraid for what will happen to her man.

On the ark full of convicts, the Emerald Empress shows herself to the prisoners and to the Legion. She admits that she is the person who freed the prisoners because she is looking to re-form The Fatal Five. As she postures, Timber Wolf and Chameleon Boy strike, rescuing the hostages. The battle begins again, and suddenly Sensor Girl arrives. The Emerald Empress asks Sensor Girl to join her, but is strongly rebuffed. Sensor Girl drains the Emerald Eye of power, so the Empress decides to retreat, taking the Persuader with her. With Sensor Girl adding a much needed boost of power, the Legion quickly re-captures the rest of the escaped prisoners.

At Legion HQ, Brainiac 5 thinks that the world in Sensor Girl's hologlobe is Krypton. He believes that Sensor Girl is somehow Supergirl.

If there was ever evidence that Brainiac 5 does not deserve to be Legion Leader again, it is this story arc. Ever since the anniversary of Supergirl's death (LSH (v3) #16) he has been disturbed and, well, obsessed. This issue he breaks into a fellow Legionnaire's private living quarters! He has really lost it. Element Lad tries his best to be logical ("I trust Saturn Girl, therefore I trust Sensor Girl." Brilliant!) but Brainiac 5, suffering from know-it-all paranoia, refuses to admit that he could be wrong. In a very real sense DC's CRISIS destroyed Brainiac 5 as a character, taking away his self-confidence. It will get worse for Brainy before it gets better, and, gosh, it's painful to watch.

However, while Brainiac 5 is not doing well, Sensor Girl is on fire. The mystery of who or what she is really kicks in this issue. As she flies into the ark to help defuse the hostage situation, she is asked how she knew to appear. She says simply, "You needed me." Wow! She defeats the Emerald Eye and then literally beats down Orion the Hunter. COULD she be Supergirl?

Greg LaRocque is a solid, capable penciller who has found his comfort zone on Legion of Super-Heroes. His layouts make the stories easy to follow and most of the time the action is well choreographed. In the middle of this story the inkers change, from Larry Mahlstedt in the beginning to Mike DeCarlo at the end. And with that change there is a marked difference in the overall art. Mahlstedt's lines are smoother, with a more polished look. DeCarlo is heavier, with a more distinct "standardized" look to the illustrations. Compare Brainiac 5 at the beginning of the story, inked by Mahlstedt, to Sensor Girl near the end, inked by DeCarlo, and see for yourself what I mean.

title: "Training Session"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Paris Cullins
inker: Gary Martin
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger

Mission Monitor Board:  
Quislet, Wildfire

At Legion HQ, Wildfire tries to establish a training regimen for new member Quislet. First Wildfire tries to track Quislet's flying speed and dexterity. Then Wildfire brings in blocks of concrete for Quislet to possess to test how long the material will last before it crumbles. The larger block takes a little bit longer to disintegrate than the smaller. Quislet, bored, then decides to possess Wildfire's suit, scooting away as it explodes.

I think this story is when I started to not really care for Quislet. He is just another extremely self-confident, self-centered character. He bugs Wildfire with his "doesn't need to practice" attitude, and he bugged me, too.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The Legionnaires on the ark in this issue are not the same Legionnaires that originally escorted the convicts off Takron-Galtos in LSH (v3) #18
  • Although it could be a problem with the point of view we are given, it appears that there is only one tent at the Legionnaires' camp-site.  
  • One of the blocks of matter that Quislet possesses turns into Astro Boy (aka Tetsuwan Atomu), arguably the most famous Japanese manga character of all time. "Metal-arm Atom" aka "Mighty Atom" was created by Osamu Tezuka in 1952.  
This issue has not yet been reprinted. 


  1. Quislet is the Legion's own version of Spuds McKenzie. I enjoyed that his* attitude is diametrically opposed to the 'I will never understand you humans' view of Tellus and Blok and that the constant soap opera just seemed to bore him.
    It's just a pity that writers have never really had a handle on him and the way he was written out of the last series was just disappointing. I was hoping they'd say he wasn't awol or stuck back in in his own dimension, just that he'd gone somewhere more fun.

  2. I think Brainy's been broken almost since the beginning. Remember him sleep-building Supergirl robots? Murdering hookers and framing Ultra Boy? Using the Miracle Machine to try to end the universe? The worst was that issue that put all the blame on other kids making little Brainy all sad and that was enough to clear him of murder charges, multi-trillion instances of attempted murder, and he was inexplicably treated as if he weren't one sad moment away from universal genocide...