Friday, August 28, 2015

5YL Legion of Super-Heroes #49

Recap: Mordru's attempt to rule the universe has been ended. The Legion of Super-Heroes are recovering from a hard war in which they had to fight their beloved fallen friends. Earlier in the year, Tenzil Kem helped upend the rule of Prince Evillo on the planet Tartarus by reviving the dead souls Evillo sent to a purgatory-like land.

Legion of Super-Heroes #49 was something of a call back to the earlier creative tone of this title. Looking back at the title, then writers Keith Giffen and Tom & Mary Bierbaum would insert humor issues as a way to let plots simmer a little longer or to give readers a chance to take a breath after a major arc closed. In particular, Matter-Eater Lad was used as comic relief to let the readers have a chuckle while reading an otherwise dystopic future.

So with the Mordru war behind us, the new team of writers Tom & Mary Bierbaum and artists Stuart Immonen and Daryl Banks look back to the headier times of this title and bring us another Tenzil rest issue. We even get, for the most part, the 9 panel page layout.

I should be lauding this. After all, I have been grousing a bit that this title seems to have lost its way a bit, going from a complex, dense read to a J.A.C., "just another comic". But to be honest, this one fell a bit short. And part of that might be that I felt like I needed a rest issue after trying to absorb the deep structure of those early issue. I might have been more willing to read something nonsensical after trying to wrap my head around what had happened before. It is like reading Shel Silverstein after reading Arthur Rimbaud.

But the arc that preceded this was pretty standard comic fare. So I might not embrace this issue, silly as it is, as much as I did the prior ones.
We start out with a page of Matter Eater Lad collecting cards, reviewing some of Tenzil's bigger comic moments and some other sillier episodes in his life. So from 'The Dating Game' where he ends up with Eyeful Ethel to the real comic time he ate the Miracle Machine.

Even that first panel, a call back to The Terminator movie poster, is funny.

I do like Tenzil in this book, a crazy guy who always seems to fall into dung but come up smelling like roses.

From that opening montage, we get a dream sequence where Tenzil is hosting a telethon to 're-assemble Earth'. What I love about this is that we see the deadliest of Legion's villains dancing on stage in tuxedos. We don't learn it is a dream sequence until the end of the page for a while I was trying to actually figure out how the Oan Servant of Darkness was even around.

But the vision, and others, plague Tenzil. All include Saturn Queen, one of Evillo's wives, calling for help. Since Tenzil and Saturn Queen flirted back in 5YL Legion #14 he can't help but charge in to the rescue.
Unfortunately, Evillo has retaken Tartarus and is completely in control. He has found Universo's hypno-gem and is using it to rule once more with an iron fist. It is humorous that even while hypnotized, his undead ex-wives still razz him and defy his orders.

When Tenzil arrives, he is immediately mesmerized by Evillo and thrown in the dungeon.
But Tartarus has a resistance. And this ragtag "Legion" is led by Polar Boy.

This group reads like a Substitute Legion for the Substitute Legion. Policy Pam who can strongarm you into buying insurance. Spaceopoly Lad who can complete monopoly games (who has ever played it to the end?). Echo-Chamber Chet can echo what is said. And, of course, Styx and Stilletto, the devilish daughter of Evillo are in the group too.

But how can these guys win?
It isn't going to be easy.

Evillo has built a statue of a demon woman which is amplifying his new hypno-powers.
And he is also building a massive robot, a weapon to destroy all who stand in his path.

I figured out the secret of the statue almost immediately.

This Legion tries to break in to steal back the Universo gem but, not surprisingly, they get caught.

Finally, Evillo gets a chance to monologue a bit. He lured Tenzil back to Tartarus to drain him of the residual Miracle Machine power still in him. That power will be used to animate the robot.

Now this is a brilliant plot twist. Is this why Tenzil has led a charmed life? Because somehow the Miracle Machine energy is able to make his dreams come true ... at least a little?
In a scene that apes the Sta-Puf Marshamallow Man scene from Ghostbusters, Tenzil indeed does animate the robot.

But he thinks of Eyeful Ethel as he does so. Suddenly a Kaiju-level Ethel begins to stomp through the cities.

Okay, I chuckled at this.

While Evillo stomps his feet at the corruption of his weapon, his daughters sneak up on him and steal the Universo gem. The team is free.

One sheet of ice under the feet of the giant Ethel topples her, right on top of Evillo's palace. And without the Miracle Machine power (since Tenzil is free) it degrades down to its robot form.

And, as expected, the statue contained Saturn Queen whose telepathic powers were being used by Evillo.

Tenzil is reunited with the fiery redhead again.
Nothing left to do but wrap things up.

Tenzil and Saturn Queen leave as heroes.
The Polar Boy 'Legion' is set up as a defense force.
And Evillo is thrown in jail.

So overall a very silly issue which built off of a past silly issue.

As always, the Bierbaums inject some Legion lore into the proceedings which make this feel like it was built on the foundation of mythos.

Still, this series is feeling like it is in a decaying orbit.


  1. "this series is feeling like it is in a decaying orbit"

    At this point everyone involved in this series probably senses what will be occurring to this title within the next twelve months.

    Strange, my knee has started to hurt. It only happens whenever there is a temporal distortion. This can't be good.

  2. Tom and Mary knew they were off the title with #50, which is why the Mordru story seemed drawn out, and this issue and the next are mostly wrap-ups of plot threads.