Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #34

The Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #34 (May, 1987)
title: "The Universo Project Chapter 3: Forgotten Foe!"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Greg LaRocque
inker: Mike DeCarlo
ink assist: Arne Starr
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Carl Gafford
editor: Karen Berger 
cover: Steve Lightle
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Saturn Girl, Dream Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Tellus, White Witch, Wildfire, Quislet, Element Lad, Blok, Mon-El, Ultra Boy

Universo, Zymyr

On Naltor, Dream Girl sand the other free Legionnaires ask the High Seer to explain the situation on Earth for them. He tells them that Earth has shut down in the weeks that they were missing. Legion HQ was shut down by orders of the EarthGov. This upsets the four the most. The High Seer offers to lead a charge against Earth, bu the four Legionnaires are in agreement that they should try to sneak back and find out what is going on on their own.

On some planet other than Hykraius, Tellus and White Witch find that Zymyr has teleported them off there to death traps on a desert planet. Tellus decides he would rather die free than live imprisoned, so breaks free from his death trap. White Witch likewise puts up a magic spell to protect herself from the environment. As they do so, Universo steps forward and takes control of them.

Still on Hykraius, Wildfire's power suit has been destroyed, so he takes possession of one of Zymyr's robots. Quislet does, too, as Zymyr starts to teleport away. They follow through the space warp, and Universo takes control of them, too.

On a space-ship heading towards Earth, the four Legionnaires are trying to travel incognito when Brainiac 5 starts to take apart a servo-robot. Dream Girl causes a commotion so that Brainy can sneak away. A Naltorian guard "sees" Chameleon Boy changing shape in a prediction, so Cham has to change into an insect to escape.

On Earth, Element Lad is content not doing anything. "It's nice not to worry." Universo knows that the four Legionnaires are on their way to him. Zymyr thinks they should have been killed, but Universo is looking forward to the showdown.

In Dominator space, Mon-El, Blok, and Ultra Boy are holding off a Dominator attack when they are attacked by Ambassador Relnic's ship. They are then sent through a space warp.

On the space-ship heading towards Earth, Dream Girl and Saturn Girl bond as strong, misunderstood women. As they enter Earth's travel zone, Chameleon Boy suggests that the four of them were targeted because they are the smartest Legionnaires.

Their ship is boarded by Customs officials and Science Police officers, looking for a renegade Durlan (shape-shifter). The four decide the time has come to go on the offensive, so they steal a cruiser to get off of Space Port. The SPs shoot them down, and they crash land on Earth. Chameleon Boy reminds them that their current situation resembles the last time Universo took over Earth, and they all realize who it is they are facing.

In this four-part Universo Project story-arc I think that most people will agree that this issue is the weakest link. Now that we have seen Saturn Girl's team escape from Universo's prison planet, we want to see them meet up with Universo as soon as possible. Instead, we get a story that basically puts the brakes on the entire drama. Sure, it makes sense for the Legionnaires to have to get back to Earth slowly, but do we actually have to *see* how slow it takes them? Go back and re-read this series if you haven't lately and then when you get to part three skip it: go directly from part two to part four. I'm guessing you will not miss anything. THAT is the mark of a bad story.

The comment from the High Seer that Saturn Girl's group has been missing "for weeks" threw me for a curve. A quick perusal of earlier Legion stories shows that Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl were both in attendance in LSH (v3) #30. Universo's sleep inducement occurs in issue #31, and then Saturn Girl re-awakens in #32. "Weeks" occurred in-between those two issues? Then how does that explain the mission to Hykraius and the Dominators' world, which is still going on? Are those vignettes actually occurring in the past? This is where Paul Levitz' time-line has broken down. Speaking of breaking down, we see the exact same scene between Mon-El's group, the Dominators, and Ambassador Relnic this issue that we saw last issue. This is just poor editing. Didn't ANYBODY notice that this is a repeat of last issue?

A few more things really bothered me about this issue. For a group of people trying to travel as inconspicuously as possible, Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl sure do stand out like a couple of sore thumbs. Brainy is supposed to be one of the smartest men in the universe, so he starts taking apart a service robot in front of a crowd of witnesses?!? Dream Girl is one of the most famous women in the galaxy, and she doesn't even put her hair up or try to disguise her appearance in any way?!? Speaking of Dream Girl, she is an incredible tactician and leader, but...cries because she misses her man!?! NO. And what is that whole scene between Saturn Girl and Dream Girl? I like the idea of it, but could we have a little bit more substance there, please? What exactly are they talking about? Saturn Girl has shown us her "guts," but Dream Girl doesn't warrant this level of respect with her recent actions. And lastly, Universo is a master hypnotist, right? So how in the world do you hypnotize pure energy? Of course, I'm talking about Wildfire and Quislet. They, atleast, should have been captured or left to die somewhere. They being susceptible to Universo's mind-control just doesn't make any sense to me.

There were a few things I liked about the story. The determination of the four Legionnaires to get back to Earth was well handled. The determination of Tellus to live free or die was also well presented. With scenes like these, Tellus was quickly becoming one of my favorite Legionnaires. I also liked how Zymyr reprimands Universo for keeping the Legionnaires alive. Obviously, he should have killed most of them.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Tellus brought his team to Hykraius only a day or so ago in "real" time. Likewise, Mon-El and his team traveling to the Dominators' world would not take weeks. Therefore, the time-line for this story is out of sync. 
  • Although Tellus is shown using his telekinesis to push the "marbles" into one central point in the wall of his prison, the globe ends up breaking into three separate areas.
  • The cover scene does not actually occur in this story. 
This story-line has not yet been reprinted.  


  1. I thought at the time that the selected Legionnaires being the smartest shouldn't have made much difference to Universo (and if it was important, he should have included Mon-el in that group). As a hypnotist, Universo would be more concerned about with the Legionnaires with the strongest wills-- which, arguably, these four are.

    1. As we will see, there never was a clear motivation given as to why Universo kept these four Legionnaires (and the other missing heroes and police officers) on his prison planet.
      And I agree with the idea that just because Cham says they are the smartest doesn't make it so.