Friday, August 14, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #47

Recap: Mordru has absorbed the White Witch and her power and has achieved near omnipotence. In a swift stroke to obtain universal dominance, he activated a resurrection spell, raising the dead as a zombie army in his thrall. This includes the dead Legionnaires. Working together with Khunds, the Legion has stopped the resurrection spell. Now an Amethyst-possessed Kono streaks to Tharn with the Martian Manhunter, Dream Girl, and Matter-Eater Lad to face off against Mordru.

Legion of Super-Heroes #47 is something of a filler issue in the larger Mordru story that has been running in this title for the last couple of months. We have been speeding through this story pretty fast. In fact, one of my complaints about last issue was that it seemed to go too fast. We didn't have the time to pause and really get the emotions of what it would be like for the Legion to fight their dead colleagues. Here, unfortunately, the plot seems to pause a bit. In fact, one of the bigger moments of the last issue is pretty much ignored here, rehashing a plot that I thought was finished.

As usual, writers Tom & Mary Bierbaum infuse a lot of Legion history and moments into the story. In particular, there is a great Ayla moment that made me happy as a longtime Legion fan. But overall, this felt like a little bit of a retread of the last couple of issues, with some plot movement happening only in the last couple of pages.

The art remains to be superior. Stuart Immonen and Ron Boyd really have shined on this book and this story in particular. I also really love this haunting cover. I assume that is Blok's skeleton. But seeing the withered, decomposiong Legion dead is pretty grabbing.
Now last issue, we saw the resurrection spell stopped by the Legion. Laurel Gand dropped an avalanche onto the "distant fire" being stoked by Mordru's coven. Without that mystical inferno, the zombies fall to the ground, ending this ground war.

I like this scene as we see the varied reactions of the Legion, the emotional toll of this fight.

There is a touch of anger in Rokk's voice as we hear him say that Mordru has gone too far making the team destroy their honored dead.

But the expressions on Jeckie and Brainy aren't showing rage. Jeckie is horrified or flabbergasted. Brainy just looks despondent. These are very different characters so seeing different expressions makes perfect sense.

But then the zombies come back to life to re-engage the Legion! With no way to clearly win this trench warfare the Legion decides to head to Tharn to fight Mordru face to face. And Mordru welcomes the challenge.

First off, having the zombies come back to life was sort of a letdown. It made the ending of last issue, the reveal of the "distant fire", the heroism of Laurel, meaningless. We were back to square one. And that makes me rethink last issue and its relevance.

And I know I keep saying I shouldn't think back to the early issues. But this whole war is such a different confrontation than the one with Mordru in LSH #7, a tense battle of wills set over a dinner. I think I enjoyed that "battle" with Mordru more.
On Tharn, we see that Mordru has kept some of the strongest zombies around as a sort of personal guard.

There is Vykros, the vampire thug who worked for Mordru in those early issues, a being vaporized by Mysa. But we also see Nemesis Kid. And Dr. Regulus.

We see more personal battles between the Legion and some specific revenant villains which resonate a bit with Legion history. Whereas last issue, we saw the Legion fight their fallen comrades. Here we see them settling personal vendettas with undead villains.

So seeing Ayla completely fry Zaryan, the Khundian general who killed Lightning Lad (until Garth was brought back by Proty's sacrifice) means something to an old-timer like me.

I would think that Vi, given her relationship with Vi, would know who he was.

In another personal battle, Jeckie takes on Nemesis Kid, the traitorous ex-Legionnaire who killed her husband.

We saw her kill him in the Baxter series.
So why not kill him again! His power, gaining whatever power he needs to defeat someone's special ability, doesn't mean much when Jeckie uses old fashioned combat skills to burn him.

Including these sort of vendetta matches in this just amps up the drama of Mordru's war.
Finally all the players are in place. The Legion is on Tharn. And so is Kono/Amethyst.

We have been waiting for this for some time. It is time for the Princess of the Gemworld to defeat her old foe.

She casts a spell which seems to purge Mysa from Mordru's body. One thing I like in this initial portion of the spell is that as Mysa is escaping, Mordru complains of suffocating and being unable to breathe. Of course, his weakness has always been his fear of being buried alive. It is these tiny flourishes that bring a sense of history to this book.

Unfortunately, before Mysa can fully escape Mordru's form, he goads her back into hate and violence. And once she turns dark again he absorbs her again.

I have to say I was pretty down about this moment as well. First off, we already saw Mordru absorb Mysa. So this was a repeat of one of the story beats, much like the continued zombie army despite the "distant fire" being extinguished last issue.

Second, I think this is a pretty poor characterization of Mysa. To have her succumb twice to hate is a pretty lousy way to represent her. Also, didn't she seem to learn that this was wrong when the "power of love" was sent her way when first absorbed, denying Mordru ultimate power.

I like Mysa. She deserved a bit better than this.

Unfortunately, she is absorbed. And immensely powerful once more, Mordru unleashes an earthquake spell, burying the Legion and their allies.

It looks as though this war is lost.

I don't know what I was expecting and therefore maybe I don't know why I am feeling disappointed with this issue. I may be bringing a 21st century ennui about zombies to the proceedings. But there is no denying that keeping them around here lessened Laurel's act from last issue. And the Mysa turn just left a bad taste in my mouth.

As for the book as a whole, the letters were just starting to come in for the post-Giffen, less dense approach to the book.

I found this response to one of the letters interesting. There are people who have praised the new "streamlined, clearer" style. But there are others who regret the "move away from mood and complexity".

I suppose this book is such a complex study of not only Legionnaires but comics as a whole. I continue to hope that I am doing the book justice in these reviews.

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