Friday, July 17, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #43

Recap: In the aftermath of the destruction of Earth, the older Legion is reorganizing and recruiting. Jacques Foccart has rejoined the team and is trying to bring some sense of structure to a team that had barely formed when Terra Mosaic occurred. 

Meanwhile, Mysa Nal has been on a vision quest since seeing Amethyst, Princess of the Gemworld in her dreams. Mysa was still recovering from the emotional and physical torture she suffered as a wife of Mordru when she left the Legion to follow this phenomenon.

Legion of Super-Heroes #43 was a spotlight issue for the White Witch, a Legionnaire who had been pushed a bit into the background since the beginning of the mega-arc of Terra Mosaic. She certainly wasn't alone as the focus of this book seemed to drift away from the main Legion characters to the Subs, rebels, and SW6 Legionnaires during the Dominator war.

Writers Tom & Mary Bierbaum seemed to realize that there were plenty of plot seeds that had been sown during the early parts of the title that needed to come to some sort of resolution. Without looking back, I can rattle off several plots which were lingering. Whether it is Mysa's story, the Legionnaires being kidnapped (last issue), Ivy as a potential Legionnaire, Spider Girl and her mysterious object, or Celeste Rockfish's powers, the time was right to concentrate on the characters that are the foundation of the book.

This isn't a knock on Terra Mosaic which was a wonderful long-form story looking at the entire Legion landscape. But with that in the rear view mirror, I was glad that the Bierbaums rewarded the long time readers by going back to these stories which had been teased before.

Stuart Immonen continues on art and just really brings a beauty to the book. There is something so organic and clean about his art, a sort of departure from the angular, stylized look that Jason Pearson brought to the book. This series really was blessed with wonderful art.

The issue starts with Mysa on the burned-out husk of the Sorceror's World. She has been trying to find the simulacrum of Amethyst she saw in her visions without success. There is something almost Sisyphus-ian about the place. A boulder appears before her and every time she uses her powers to clear it away, another boulder appears in its place. She cannot clear the path.

Mysa has always been a bit fragile and especially so in this title. We see her losing hope, tearful, as she tries to reclaim the Magic in this universe.

Just when she considers giving up, the agent Dream Girl sent to watch over Mysa reveals himself.

It is J'Onn J'Onzz, the Martian Manhunter! And he is there to help.

Meanwhile, on Talus, Spider Girl breaks into the Legion Headquarters. She has been on the run from Starfinger's mob ever since stealing a cylinder from him. She doesn't even know what is inside. But, fearing for her life, she heads to the Legion for protection and shelter.

We had seen Spider Girl in the book since she joined Bounty and Circe on Earth. But with Bounty/Dawnstar catatonic and Circe dead, it would have been easy to let Spider Girl's plot simply fade away. So I was glad that the Bierbaums didn't let it die on the vine but instead dealt with it.

Spider Girl is sassy and flirty and a little gray in her morals. That dynamic is a great addition to the somewhat staid current Legion. So to hear her talk about Starfinger goosing her (or not goosing her) was a nice introduction to what she would bring to the table.

Meanwhile, we start to see some possible cracks in the psyche of leader Rokk Krinn. Powerless, Rokk has always been more of the leader and soul of the Legion. But he hasn't had much to do in the past year or so in this book. He wasn't even allowed to head to Earth during the war.

So we hear him lament his role on the team. He sits alone, in the monitor room, looking at screens, and doesn't seem to be happy. And he has a newborn at home too. This isn't the Rokk who shed a tear when the team reformed. Luckily maybe some of his worries and work will be allayed a bit by the arrival of Jacques Foccart and Infectious Lass.

One thing that I liked about this scene was that top panel. I wanted to catch up on some of the Legion characters. And we got it on those screens. Jan is on Trom. Kent and Celeste are visiting Ivy. And Tenzil is trying to find Mysa.

Back on Sorcerer's World, Mysa is telling J'Onn what her mission is. She has heard Amethyst calling out to her, pleading with her, and she means to find her.

But this sort of passion seems a little off for Mysa. Even J'Onn can tell. He wonders what is it Mysa wants out of this... power? Fulfillment?

Instead it is vengeance she wants for all the affronts done to her.

This is something of a turn for Mysa. She started out as The Hag, a villain. But otherwise most of her career has been as a shy, demure, contemplative Legionnaire. She has never been blood thirsty.

And, of course, the target of Mysa's vengeance, is Mordru. He tortured her. But also, he was a bane of Amethyst as well. He existed in the past, on Sorcerer's World, and was banished by Amethyst. It was she who utilized his fear of being trampled by horses and being entered as a way to defeat him.

But really, what I loved here was this scene with a faceless blue drone telling Mordru all that was happening on Sorcerer's world. And he seems almost bemused about Mysa's quest. He knows she will return to him. And maybe he seems happy?

This scene just felt like the early issues, a feeling I definitely wanted to hold on to.

As for that cylinder that Spider Girl pilfered. Well know one can figure out what is inside no matter how it is scanned. And even using Ultra-strength, it cannot be opened.

As I said, Spider Girl is something of a vamp, especially with Jo. She compliments his physique, she gives him a kiss, and then she tells him that she is staying in Dorm 13... his room!

Even Brainy has to smirk about how fast she moves.

We have seen Jo mourning Tinya this entire series. Maybe it is time for him to have a little romp??

The rest of the issue is all Mysa. There seems to be something darker, more uncontrollable about Mysa's need to bond with this Amethyst spirit. Even J'Onn can tell that she is lusting for this too much.

They finally stumble on the Amethyst spirit. It is a nice rendition of how she appeared at the end of the Amethyst mini-series by Giffen/Newell and Maroto. (On a side-note, if you want to see absolutely gorgeous artwork, find that mini-series from 1987.)

But Amethyst was always a force of good. So seeing her in this dark cavern, surrounded by skulls, seems off.

The Amethyst statue breaks into shards and seems to fuse to Mysa's body. The spirit tells her that there will be pain, but then power. The words are a seductive cooing about how Mysa should led the pain and power caress her. Suddenly Mysa transforms into some sort of crystal warrior. And there is something of a physical change besides the armor. Her hair goes black. Her skin goes white. Her eyes go red. This is different than the more human appearance we have seen in this book.

And then she announces she will get vengeance on Mordru. She blast J'Onn when he tries to stop her and heads to Tharn.

One thing noted in this armor is that a red jewel fuses to Mysa and seems to have a reflection of Mordru (or someone) in it. It made me wonder if somehow this was Dark Opal tricking Mysa into freeing him by taking the form of Amethyst. He had taken over someone in the past by taking the form of a brooch. Why not a jewel.
Mysa flies to Tharn, attacks Mordru's defenses, and makes her way into his palace.

Despite her formidable appearance, Mordru remains unfazed. He verbally and physically assaults Mysa, calling her a filthy, traitorous, deceiving trollop. And as he does, she reverts a little, gaining her usual skin color and hair color. The tears flow.

The years she spent being abused by him haven't been faded away. He still has some power over her. It shows that the effects of abuse, the psychological wounds run deep.

I thought this was a powerful scene, especially given the color changes on Mysa.

And it was only made more powerful when Mysa shakes off his abusive behavior and attacks. She will make him pay for his sins.

Now that is a cliffhanger!

We still have some of the vestiges of the early parts of the series.

This issue, we see an entry into Jacques' journal. He wants to bring back code names and costumes. It is clear that the older Legionnaires are sort of beyond that given the suggestions they give him. "Ol' Blue Leg"? "Flying Buttress"?

This was another good issue catching up on the characters of the book and starting to tie up an older plot line. I enjoyed it very much, especially as a Mysa fan. I was glad the spotlight shone on her here.

But I have to say it again, there wasn't that energy or anticipation that I felt in this book earlier. This felt like a regular Legion book and not the creative force we saw in the first year.

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