Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reboot: Legionnaires #21

Legionnaires #21 (January 1994)
title: "Enter the Workforce!"
writer: Tom Peyer
penciller: Jeffrey Moy
inker: W.C. Carani
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Jeffrey Moy and W.C. Carani
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Apparition, Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Leviathan, Saturn Girl, Spark, Triad, XS

Evolvo, Inferno, Karate Kid, Live Wire, Spider Girl, Ultra Boy

Bur Rac, Leland McCauley, technology thieves (one of which is named Klorn)

Live Wire has just left the Legion, under duress, after his sister was assigned to the team by the United Planets and asked him to resign. Recruited by Ultra Boy to work for Leland McCauley, he hopes this new super-group will help him find his rogue brother Mekt.

Live Wire now leads Work Force, a team assembled and paid for by unscrupulous billionaire Leland McCauley. His first mission takes them to an asteroid used to store dangerous weapons the Science Police has confiscated to prevent the theft of technology there. Unfortunately, McCauley can't help but order the Work Force remotely and does an abominable job of it, preventing Live Wire, Ultra Boy, Evolvo, Spider Girl, Inferno and Karate Kid from using team work, precipitating their defeat by inferior opponents, and blaming them for the thieves' escape.
Meanwhile, the Legion is sent to Planet Hell, a prison built inside a sun, cut off from the rest of the galaxy by a labor dispute, where the staff and inmates both are presumed to have gone mad. The Legionnaires discover this is, in fact the case, when the warden prepares to release all 10,000 convicts and put them on a transport ship allowed to follow the Legion through to the facility.


McCauley’s team is called the Workforce. This name is so appropriate for a team of heroes that have no will of their own. They basically are a team of forced laborers under the command of a complete idiot. That obsession of his to always have control over everything is the worst when it comes to dealing with the problems his “team” is facing. Let’s actually talk about that problem. Blue Han Solo and his goons seem pretty harmless. Sure they have guns and other weapons but really, launch the whole Workforce against them in unison, they wouldn’t last a minute. Then again, with the sort of power these supers possess, the whole place would’ve blow up. I can give this to McCauley, he realizes that his team needs to be controlled. His intentions are the real problem here. He doesn’t care about the bad guys, he wants the weapons and other inventions for himself, obviously!

It’s clear to me that this team will self-destruct in no time. What’s going to happen to its members? That’s where it will become interesting! I know enough about the Legion to say that Garth, Ultra and probably Karate Kid will join them sooner or later. The others though. I’m pretty sure Spider Girl will eventually become a villain. Her ways are too intense and impulsive to stay on the good side. Evolvo has some good reflexes. He challenges the decisions he deems inappropriate and understands that his powers are limited. In the end, he still listened to McStupidFace but I guess I can’t really blame him. Now about Inferno... IS THIS *THE* INFERNO?? Please tell me it’s the female version of Sun Boy and that I won’t have to deal with him in the reboot!!! It would be like Christmas in June! I imagine that if she’s the equivalent to Sun Boy, she will eventually join the Legion. She’ll have to tone it down a lot before she can be considered a hero.
I don’t have a lot to say concerning our heroes' mission. At first, I thought that calling this prison “Hell” was a bit over-dramatic, but if you are to locate it inside the sun then sure, it works. I’m not really in the know when it comes to the original Brainiac’s stories. He was a Superman villain, right? I’m curious to know if Brainiac 5 will eventually answer the question concerning his choice of name. Then there’s Spark behavior in this story. She’s clearly affected by her brother’s leave. Since this is her first mission as a member of the Legion, you can feel that she is nervous. I mean, she doesn’t really know her teammates, she’s probably afraid of being compared to her brother and she’s already emotional enough as it his without the stress this mission puts on everyone’s shoulders. I hope she keeps her cool in the second part of the story. What? The second part of the story? Does this mean that I don’t believe the explosion killed her and the rest? Duh! Like Brainiac 5 didn’t predict such a turn of events before getting to Hell. They’re fine and the “dramatic” countdown will prove itself pointless once the doors don’t open at the end of it. Good luck Mr. Warden!

I don't know if you're right about Brainy's ("don't call me Brainy") foresight, we'll see, but yes, I won't let you suffer not knowing, that IS the Inferno that is Sun Boy. Well... sort of. Damn, I guess I'm going to make you suffer a LITTLE bit with that ambiguous comment. But I'd certainly forgotten that she started out as a murderer! She really fries that guy!

But that's what's wrong with a corporately-owned team like the Workforce. Like the business interests it represent, there's no moral compass guiding it. What could be good kids are robbed of what the Legion is currently enjoying: self-determination. The Workforce don't even make their own mistake. McCauley calls all the shots and is ultimately responsible for their poor performance, so they can't really learn anything. And certainly, no voice from inside the team is allowed to stop the more extreme measures of members like Inferno. McCauley thinks he knows best and doesn't really respect the youths' competence, like a 30th-Century Trump who is "the best" at everything, if only in his own mind.
Interesting art choice for Planet Hell, removing all shadows from the inking to represent the stark lighting that doesn't let up inside the sun. But do they need windows in every room? Seems like cruel and unusual punishment, and in fact, has made everyone go mad over time. I like how Brainy's really running this show, not just because of his Coluan connections, but because he's just so much smarter than everyone (puts McCauley using Evolvo for brute strength into context, doesn't it?), and how he's nevertheless the butt of everyone's jokes because he's too arrogant not to be taken down a notch. He needs to learn humility, but I think we're all hoping it doesn't come at the same cost as Kid Quantum's lesson.

Science Police Notes:  
  • The Legionnaires use rocket packs just like they did in their original, 1950s appearances.
  • The original Brainiac has an interstellar reputation spanning a millennium, as it seems, does Darkseid. When the Legionnaires question Brainiac 5's choice of code name, they suggest Darkseid 2 as another ridiculous alternative. Superman and Valor are both mentioned as galactic legends as well.

1 comment:

  1. I really do love the artistic decision to remove the shadows while they're on Hell. It makes this three-parter really stand out even among some of the other, upcoming storylines.

    On the flip side, the more that I think about it, it's kind of weird that they send in the Legion to assess the sanity of the inmates and guards. I mean, the Legion is still really new in this timeline, and I'm pretty sure they aren't trained psychologists. Brainiac 5 -- he makes sense. But you'd think they'd have sent a crew of mental health professionals along (even if they sent the Legion as a safety net). I guess that would have been too many extra characters though.