Friday, October 9, 2015

5YL: Legion of Super-Heroes #55

Recap: The Legion is on the run, branded as allies with the Khunds and traitors to the UP. The team, now in a state of flux after a tumultuous battle with Glorith, decides that the easiest and best place to hole up would be Rimbor where they can take advantage of Jo's Silverale smuggling ring resources. In new costumes and sporting new code names, the team is suddenly faced with a new mystery. Spider Girl, missing for days, returns to the headquarters and says that Jo is in trouble.

When the 5YL book first came out, it had its nay-sayers. It was complex. It was in a 9 panel grid. The art was different. It was dark. This was about as different a Legion book as there could be.

After three years of layered, subtle story-telling, a year with creative risks and odd pacing, the book 'normalized'. We had about a year of straightforward Legion stories, fighting Mordru and becoming a recognized force of good.

Maybe that wasn't enough to keep the Legion train going ...

Five issues ago, Tom McCraw took over the book and decide he was going to shake things up even more. Within the last couple of issues members have joined. Members have left. Legionnaires have been de-aged or aged. They are on the run. This run, heading into Zero Hour, is about as different a Legion book as there could be, albeit different than the original issues. There is an energy to this period of the book, almost a frenzied pace with new ideas being rapidly fired at the reader. I don't know if I hold this run as highly as the early Giffen/Bierbaum stuff but it is entertaining.

It certainly helps that McCraw is assisted on the book by the art team of Stuart Immonen and Ron Boyd. Immonen brings a completely organic and lush feel to the book. I just can't get enough of Immonen's art. I have loved it here, on Superman, and even recently in the All-New X-Men.

The issue starts with Spider-Girl being nursed back to health in the Legion's medical bay on Rimbor. When awake, we get a decent flashback of how the team got to the planet and semi-established. And it comes with rounded panel corners and black gutters. It is clearly flashback.

Approaching the planet, Jo, clad in a 'stealth suit', is able to reconfigure the planet's defense satellites such that the team's ship can land unnoticed. Heading to a safehouse from Jo's smuggling days, the team hopes to recuperate and assess the situation.

Unfortunately, Jo is uninterested. He is adamant that he is leaving the team to look for Tinya in the timestream. And he isn't happy about anyone trying to detain him. He even yells at Spider Girl, who has been carrying a torch for him.

I have to say this 'relationship' is a bit odd. Initially, it seemed like Sussa looked at Jo as a conquest, cooing suggestive dialogue when she can. But here, suddenly, it seems like she actually cares for Jo.

Jo storms off, deciding to check in on his Rimbor gang and get some supplies for the Legion. Spider Girl follows along. At Jo's gang's headquarters, he is attacked by a gang called 'The Dragins'. Jo and Sussa is knocked out. And only after a couple of days, Sussa is able to escape and head back to the LSH base.

Funny, I thought that Jo's gang was the Dragins. Maybe they didn't recognize him. But it is clear, Rimbor is a sleazy planet, rife with gangs, and run by a corrupt government.

Vi has suddenly emerged as the new leader of the team much to the ire of Rokk. Now clad in a dark costume and goateed, Rokk is grumbling and angry.

But it is clear that a rescue mission has to happen. So Vi sends out Polestar (Rokk), Durball (Brin), NRG (Wildfire), Spark (Ayla), Wave (a now blue-haired Spider Girl), and Laurel to storm the Dragin's gangland and rescue Jo.

The conspiracy against the Legion runs deep. Here we see a Weber's World ambassador completely controlled by Universo and  aiding the Rimborian councilor Trombi in the gambit against the team. We have seen Universo lurking in the background for a while. I think this is the first time we have seen him actively mesmerizing someone.

It turns out that the Rimborian politician has been funding a gang called the Broncs to be his dirty little army, controlling the Silverale contraband and acting as his thugs.
The Legion knows where Jo is being held and so sneak into the Dragin's warehouse to discover it is a set-up. The gang is led by a green-costumed Dragon who turns out to be Jo himself. Somehow the gang is able to capture this team!

Don't ask me how that works. This is a pretty powerful squad.

McCraw had Dawnstar head back to her planet a couple of issues ago. I thought it was just McCraw's way of writing her out of the book. Happily, it turns out he has plans for her.

Dawnstar heads out on a vision quest. She had already endured this challenge once before but needs to reclaim her soul. Wingless, powerless, she heads into the forest where she is confronted by her ghostly demons. One is Wildfire, chastising her for not returning his love. But then she is assaulted by herself, the self possessed by Bounty. Bounty talks of grasping a life that Dawnstar refused to live, giving her life purpose.

Summoning her personal strength, Dawnstar is able to repel this vision and emerges stronger.

Now comes the forced plot twist of the month.

Jo has the captured Legion on display in an auditorium. He has invited all the gangs of Rimbor to the place to bid on the team. Do they want to kill the Legion? Turn them in for a reward? It doesn't matter. The Dragins need cash now and are willing to turn the team over to the highest bidder.

It turns out to be a ruse. Jo wanted to gather all the gangs together so he could dismantle them in one fell swoop. Jo releases the team and suddenly the team stands united. They thrash the gangs, especially the Broncs, freeing Rimbor a bit from these violent groups.

But why did Jo have to go through this ruse? Why not tell the team his plan? What if the Legion defeated his gang when they arrived a while ago? Why this much deception? Couldn't he trust the team to tell them this was his plan?

The last panel has Jo saying he has a plan. Could it be a riff on the movie 'The Warriors'? Could Jo be trying to unite the Rimborian gangs together to fight the Broncs?

While the heavy hitters are duking it out, Jewel (Mysa) and Vi decide to do some espionage work. While Mysa charms a Rimborian official, Vi sneaks into the office of Rimborian official Trombi. And on his computer, Vi discovers the name of someone ... someone she seems to fear.

Of all the wackiness of this new take on the team, from grumpy Rokk to costumed gang boss Jo to Wildfire's return, the change in Mysa is the wackiest.

So another wild ride of an issue. While the early issues were like a heavy meal that needed to be digested, this run is like junk food. Sweet and fun but not necessarily substantial. Maybe Giffen's stuff is like a film and McCraw's is like a movie. Giffen's is a museum. McCraw's is an amusement.

These are fast and fun and furious. But there is just a whiff of 'dare to be different in hopes of saving the book' to these.

What do you all think of this?

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