Thursday, June 23, 2016

Legion of Super-Heroes #285

Legion of Super-Heroes #285
"Night Never Falls at Nullport"
Written by Paul Levitz
Pencilled by Pat Broderick
Inked & Lettered by Bruce D. Patterson
Colored by Gene D’Angelo
Edited by Mike W. Barr
Cover by Pat Broderick & Romeo Tanghal

Roll Call:
Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Karate Kid, Lightning Lass, Mon-El, Princess Projectra, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Timber Wolf

We’re back with the second installment of the Great Darkness Saga, as collected in the Great Darkness Saga HC & TPB. This time out it’s Legion of Super-Heroes #285, which features a 19 page lead story starring a small squadron of Legionnaires and an 8 page back-up story featuring Dream Girl.

Our story opens on Legion members Colossal Boy, Starboy, Shadow Lass, Mon-El, and Shrinking Violet in Nullport, a space port that serves as a rendezvous point and shipyard for space cruisers to aid the United Planets. They are there to pick up a new 494 Model Starcruiser as well as get their old ship serviced and repaired. Just then, their old starship topples, endangering the crew of three mechanics servicing it. Mon-El jumps into action rescuing the mechanics while Colossal Boy attempts to grab the ship. Unfortunately with Nullport's low gravity environment, Colossal Boy’s rescue attempt actually ends up causing more damage to the ship and its docking bay. In the excitement, Shrinking Violet shrunk down to microscopic size under the wreckage and discovered a puzzling and troubling piece of information, the cause of the ship tipping was none other than a command signal sent by the Nullport Command Tower.
Meanwhile, across the cosmos, we check in on Princess Projectra and her lover Karate Kid, on Projectra’s homeworld of Orando. Karate Kid has the undesirable task of proving himself to Projectra’s father, the King of Orando, in hopes of earning his approval of their relationship and her hand in marriage. It seems like the King is about to dismiss Karate Kid’s request, when he is mysteriously struck dead.

Back at Nullport, the Legion members question H’Hrnath, the General Manager of the entire port, about the intentional destruction of their ship; the Legionnaires seem to be getting nowhere in their questioning, when they’re interrupted by a planet quake. They break through the glass of the command tower (seriously what is up with that? No doors they could use?) and find another ship wrecked in a docking bay. The Legionnaires quickly jump into action and try to limit the collateral damage. Starboy contacts the Legion Headquarters and informs Brainiac 5 that they’ll be delayed at Nullport looking into the strange disturbances. Timber Wolf and Lightning Lass overhear the transmission and Brin retorts that the obvious culprits behind the mysterious attacks are none other than the reoccurring Legion nemeses the Khunds.

Back on Nullport, the Legion have finally convinced H’Hrnath to allow them to dig deeper into the main computer in the Nullport Command Center. Maneuvering through the computer, Shrinking Violet locates the source of the rogue signals causing all of the damage, a foreign circuit interrupter of Khundish design. Violet makes short work of the device, which in turn notifies the Khunds that their secret plot has been discovered, and so the Khund Fleet attacks Nullport in a full-on direct assault.

With the first true action piece of the issue finally coming on page 15, with just 4 pages left to wrap-up the story, we see the Legion, lead in battle by Mon-El, make short work of the Khund attack with quick and effective ease. With the day won, and Nullport’s safety enhanced thanks to Mon-El pushing it a few more light years into United Planet Territory, the Legionnaires depart in not one, but five new Mark 494 Starcruisers.

“The Forgotten Future”
Written by Paul Levitz
Pencilled by Keith Giffen
Inked by Larry Mahlstedt
Lettered by Adam Kubert
Colored by Gene D’Angelo
Edited by Mike W. Barr

Roll Call:
Dream Girl

The story opens on Naltor, the homeworld of Dream Girl, where she converses with her mentor, the High Seer Beren. Her mission is of the upmost importance, her entire world has lost their ability to see the future, the defining trait of their race. Their entire civilization was built on their prognostication and ability to foresee disaster and avoid it. With that security gone, disaster strikes and panic spreads. Of course, just like here on earth in the 21st century, when disaster strikes, so do those who would take advantage of it for their own selfish gain. And such is the case with a trio of would-be bank robbers, who Dream Girl discovers while surveying the planet. She uses her Legion Flight Ring and hand-to-hand combat skills to make short work of the thieves.
Later that day, as she sits in her room reflecting, she discovers the shocking truth behind Naltor’s missing powers. It seems that a decades long technology project, a gyrostabilizer, created to reduce the seismic activity on Naltor, is what is cancelling out the people of Naltor’s ability to see the future. Like her five Legionnaire teammates in the previous story, Dream Girl busts through a window , and then makes a few slight adjustments to the gyrostabilizer’s control, and with a slight frequency change, the citizens of Naltor have their powers restored.

Broderick’s art is a bit more stiff and less refined this time out in the first story, especially compared to Giffen’s sleek and dynamic style in the back-up story. There are a number of panels where the anatomy and faces just seem a bit wonky and off, but it’s difficult to decide who shoulders the majority of that blame, Broderick’s pencils or Patterson’s inks. The biggest thing is the consistency, or lack thereof, it’s really hard to believe that the same art team is drawing these characters from panel to panel. Mon-El can go from looking, great, and majestic in one panel, to looking like Tony Stark during the “Demon In a Bottle” story arc in the next, and there is no in-story reason for why he should look so disheveled and desolate.
From a story standpoint, this one definitely seems like a filler issue, and from a chronological standpoint, it could have easily fit in before last issue. This one doesn’t carry the same weight as Legion of Super-Heroes #284, where we really started to see the foundation of the Legion of Super-Heroes start to crack and be chipped away leading up to all hell breaking loose for the Legion a few issues down the line. No, instead in this issue, it seems that Levitz and crew pump the breaks a bit, and slow down the drive to the gauntlet that he’s about to put the Legion through. No one leaves the team, there’s no friction between characters, and the most intriguing part of the ongoing narrative, as told in the lead-story, is definitely the mysterious death of Projectra’s father on Orando. The lead feature is definitely less exciting than the previous issue, and I can’t help but wonder if that lack of action and excitement resulted in the artists being less enthusiastic with drawing the issue as well.
The second story is definitely more entertaining, and a reminder of what a lost art the 8 page story is in current comics. While this story doesn’t have any bearing on any of the ongoing subplots leading up to the Great Darkness Saga, other than returning Dream Girl’s power of course, it does serve as a great character study. On a team as large and diverse as the Legion of Super-Heroes, with many members with exciting physical powers, it’s easy for characters like Dream Girl, who have such a unique, mental-based power that is not easily showcased as say Mon-El’s strength, to get lost in the shuffle. So it was great having this nice 8 page character beat on her revisiting her roots & really showcasing who Dream Girl is as a Legionnaire. We get to witness her overcome the odds without her power, as well as give us a pretty in depth look at the nature of that power itself. Add Giffen & Mahlstedt’s fantastic art, and this 8-pager is a winner all-around.

Final thoughts on the issue, the main story leaves something to be desired on both the art and story front, but the back-up feature is a really nice character piece. That said, neither story in this issue really serve to further the ongoing Legion narrative leading up to the Great Darkness Saga. Hopefully that gets rectified next issue when Superboy stops by.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review! I never thought too much of this lead story, either. You summed up all the reasons why quite well.
    LOVE the Dream Girl back-up story, too.