Saturday, April 2, 2016

5YL: Legionnaires #17

Legionnaires #17 (August 1994)
title: "History Lesson"
writer: Mark Waid
penciller: Chris Gardner
inker: Dennis Cramer
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Stuart Immonen
special thanks: Kurt Busiek, Tom McCraw
reviewer: Siskoid

Mission Monitor Board:  
Alchemist, Andromeda, Apparition, Brainiac 5 (both), Celeste, Chameleon, Chemical King, Cosmic Boy/Polestar, Dawnstar, Dragonmage, Dream Girl (SW6), Inferno, Invisible Kid (SW6), Kid Quantum, Leviathan, Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Matter-Eater Lad, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet (both), Spider-Girl/Wave, Star Boy (SW6), Timber Wolf, Triad, Ultra Boy (SW6), Valor, White Witch/Jewel, Wildfire/N.R.G.

Dev-Em, Lightning Lord (5YL), Rond Vidar

Beauty Blaze, Cosmic King (Silver Age), Glorith, Lightning Lord (Silver Age), Mordru, Satan Girl, Saturn Queen (Silver Age), Urthlo

Between Legion of Super-Heroes v4 59 and Valor #22. Previously, the founding SW6 Legionnaires have come to realize that time is out of joint. SW6 versions of Legionnaires who were never members of the team, like Bouncing Boy, Dream Girl and Star Boy, have appeared, and Ferro is now a statue in the Hall of fallen heroes. No one else seems to notice something is amiss so they leave for a time anomaly in the past in a Time Bubble. Invisible Kid and Rond Vidar, who know more about what's happening, narrowly miss them. Meanwhile, the adult Legion is mourning the recent death of Laurel Gand, who stopped the war against the Khunds with her noble sacrifice. From outer space, the hero formerly known as the adult Cosmic Boy - now going under the name Polestar - is attacking New Earth with meteors...

Polestar is attacking New Earth thinking he's fighting the Khunds, but once the Legionnaires destroy his gauntlets, he returns to normal and they realize he's Rokk Krinn of the adult Legion. They bring him to Shanghalla, where Laurel Gand's memorial is to take place. Invisible Kid and the two Brainies interrupt the funeral with an unspecified message for Valor, and he, Shadow Lass, Dev-Em and Andromeda take off in a hurry.
Invisible Kid, Brainiacs 5 and Rond Vidar then try to explain the temporal anomalies accumulating in the late 30th Century, using memorials than shouldn't be on Shanghalla and images projected from a time beacon as examples. More anomalies crop up as we read. And then a host of Silver Age villains materialize out of the time beacon and fight the assembled heroes of two Legions.
During the fight, Rokk Krinn feels compelled to leave and surrender to Mordru and Glorith, waiting nearby and the apparent architects of this threat. Once the summoned villains vanish, the Legionnaires try to get their hands on the sorcerers, but they vanish too. Dawnstar is sure she can track them and rescue Rokk, but she vanishes from the timeline completely...
And she's bringing that costume with her, thank God. (But Laurel's statue wears her awful "on the run" costume, gross!) I don't want to dwell on the amateurish art again, but in an issue where it's entire possible that time anomalies are responsible for "art mistakes", I'd rather there not be things that I can't decide if they're mistakes or not. And though some sequences are clear, some are not. Ghostly images in the background, for example, or the fact that people appear and disappear from the Shanghallan funeral party... were they there all along, or is their presence anomalous too? And then there are panels like this one, which just look terrible... or is Inferno giving Chameleon a soothing heat massage?
But though it kind of looks like a mess, I like Mark Waid's continuity implants, using temporal shenanigans to motivate references to lots of Silver Age stories and characters, some of them favorites we did round tables for here on the blog. I especially like Urthlo's destruction. They didn't forget his Hate programming.
Characters weave in and out, sometimes motivated by plot (the Daxamites), most often just randomly. There's an intriguing moment when Mekt Ranzz (appearing out of nowhere) confronts his Silver Age self, who gleefully remarks that he's always wanted a twin. But otherwise, everything seems rushed. Rokk's attack on New Earth is stopped within a few pages and off we go. Then the eulogy is abruptly interrupted when Valor and crew fly off for parts unknown. Then the Legionnaires discussing the chronal anomalies are also interrupted, this time by random villains. And that fight ends when the villains just disappear. Everybody's pulling a vanishing act in this. Is it kind of fun? Yes. Does it make me sad to see this version of the Legion go? Not really.
Science Police Notes:  
  • Misleadingly marked as "End of an Era Conclusion" on the cover, it is actually Part 1 of "End of an Era", a final crossover event between Legionnaires, Legion of Super-Heroes v4, and Valor.
  • While the book's splash page usually features the head shots of the featured Legionnaires, under "Roll Call", there are too many to count this time, and the page merely shows a book labeled "Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes", referencing DC's encyclopedia mini-series by that title.
  • Dev-Em appears in his 80s-era costume, which might mean he is part of anomalous time. In any case, here he is a Daxamite, not a Kryptonian as he was in pre-Crisis continuity.
  • This issue features the first (anomalous) appearance of Celeste as a Darkstar rather than a Green Lantern derivative. The Darkstars were a cosmic police force created by the Controllers, cousins to the Guardians of the Universe.
  • Rond Vidar uses the phrase "therein lies the crisis", obviously reference The Crisis on Infinite Earths, though perhaps in this case, the upcoming Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time.
  • The pre-Crisis Superboy appears as a statue on Shanghalla, the Legion's cemetery asteroid.
  • Fragmented memories/files of the clone Superboy (later known as Connor), the Glorithverse from Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #5, and the Silver Age versions of the founding members, including the story of the Brain-Globes of Rambat (Adventure Comics #293, 1962).
  • Chemical King appears briefly, switching places with Chameleon as a living member. His statue becomes that of Chameleon in the interim.
  • In one panel on page 13, N.R.G. appears twice, once as figured colored but not inked in, as if a temporal echo of himself. Alchemist also gets this treatment, but if he's meant to be fading away, he does appear a couple of pages later. Mistakes or part of the anomalies?
  • Of the villains appearing out of their time, the original Legion of Super-Villain first appeared in Superman #147 (1961), Urthlo in Adventure Comics #300 (1962), Beauty Blaze in Adventure Comics #355 (1967), and Satan Girl in Adventure Comics #313 (1963).

Last appearance of the original continuity's Dawnstar as she vanishes from the timeline for good (at least until the Retroboot). She is the first Legionnaire to do so.

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