Saturday, April 9, 2016

5YL: Valor #22

Valor #22 (August 1994)
title: "The Center Cannot Hold!"
writer: Kurt Busiek
penciller: Colleen Doran
inker: Dave Cooper
lettering: Bob Pinaha
colorist: Dave Grafe
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Stuart Immonen
spotters: Mark Waid and Tom McCraw
reviewer: Siskoid

Mission Monitor Board:  
Andromeda, Computo II, Invisible Kid II, Shadow Lass, Tyroc, Valor

Chlorophyll Kid, Color Kid, Dev-Em, Fire Lad, Infectious Lass, Marla Latham, R.J. Brande, Stone Boy


This issue of Valor fits between Legionnaires #17 and Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #60. Previously, the adult Laurel Gand has died in battle, but a summons from New Earth interrupts her funeral and calls Dev-Em, Andromeda, Valor and his wife Shadow Lass back for an urgent mission. Meanwhile, time is falling apart as the universe gears up for Zero Hour.

New Earth is losing all structural integrity and the Legion's powerhouses, with the help of Jacques Foccart and the Subs, desperately try to stabilize it. But Valor can't shake the feeling that his memories are losing their own integrity.

It was R.J. Brande who called them to New Earth with a plan to restore Earth and create a new home for humanity using the dead Earth from the Time Trapper's pocket dimension. Tyroc has been ensconced in a machine that will amplify his dimensional-rift cry to allow a whole planet to come through. It's up to the Daxamites to pull it through the rift and into our Earth's former orbit using an energy web.
They succeed despite Valor almost vanishing from the timeline as more temporal anomalies crop up. Only his love for Shady keeps him anchored to reality.
But the planet doesn't conform to our universe's laws and becomes unstable, threatens to explode. Any hope of "disarming" it vanished along with the Legionnaires disappearing from the timeline, including Tyroc, Computo, Andromeda, Invisible Kid and the Subs, but Valor brings Shadow Lass back before she vanishes too.

The 5YL timeline's death-throes are a bit of a mess, and it's not because of the Zero Hour-style temporal aberrations (which can act as fun continuity references). No, rather it's because it feels like everything the characters do is essentially futile. Case in point: Bringing the pocket universe Earth to our reality. Great idea! Epic! Nice use of Tyroc's powers! Had the series continued unabated, I might have mourned the possibilities associated with New Earth as a floating space station, but not for long. It would have heralded a new, lighter era perfectly in line with what the SW6 Legionnaires were all about, as the adults perhaps faded into the background. I even wonder if they were studying the possibility of declaring the adults "temporal clones" and going forward, on a new but recognizable Earth, with SW6 as the true Legion.

Alas, it's not to be, and so the big scale events happening in this lame duck comic don't leave as much of an impression. Similarly, the disappearance of several Legionnaires and Subs from the timeline feels anticlimactic. And I can't even begin to think what Valor fans who were not also following the Legion would have been thinking at this point, as their series was co-opted by the 30th Century for expediency's sake.
Colleen Doran isn't my first choice to draw superhero action or futuristic technology, and some parts are pretty rough, but Kurt Busiek, who seems to have inherited this work, does well to give her powerful romantic moments to draw. The Valor-Shady relationship is very much at the heart of this issue, and it seems that force of will (or if you prefer, the "Love conquers all" trope) can keep someone from ceasing to exist. I have no problem with that. But it can't last.

Science Police Notes:  
  • This is Part 2 of the End of an Era crossover event.
  • The issue does not follow directly from Valor #21, as the series' story has already ended. Instead, which catch up with the 30th Century Valor straight from his last appearance in Legionnaires.
  • In the wake of the temporal anomalies, Valor misattributes the Legion's inspiration to Impulse and to Robin the Girl Wonder.
  • He also misremembers his origin story in various ways, referencing the Isle of Avalon (Arthurian legend), being frozen in an iceberg (Captain America/Shining Knight) and being cursed to sleep until his 16th birthday (Sleeping Beauty).
  • The pocket dimension Earth created by the Time Trapper was first introduced by John Byrne to explain how Superboy could have inspired the Legion when there was never a Superboy (Superman v2 #8).
  • At one point Shadow Lass calls Valor "Mon", a name to which he no longer answers, before correcting herself to "Lar".

This issue technically signals the end for 5YL iterations of Andromeda, Computo II, Invisible Kid II, Tyroc, Chlorophyll Kid, Color Kid, Fire Lad, Infectious Lass, and Stone Boy.

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