Friday, July 8, 2016

Threeboot: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #23

Recap: The Earth has had a robot rebellion on its hands, the result of a techno-bomb sent by the Dominators. Sun Boy has put together his own team of super-powered teens made up of Terror Firma and some recruits to investigate. But they have been captured. Brainiac Five's attempts to resurrect Dream Girl seemed to fail, although unknown to everyone else he sees her. But all of that has been pushed into the background as the team deals with the elephant in the headquarters ... a Supergirl who believes that she is dreaming the reality.

My recent reviews of the Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes have praised Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's approach to the second year of the book. We have had multiple plot lines all percolating along. We have had character moments. We have had mysteries. And we had Supergirl.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #23 is a perfect example of this approach. The bulk of the issue deals with Supergirl's current mental state of believing she is in a deep dream state. The Legion have all been tip-toeing around Kara, worried about her Pollyanna views and her lack of concerns thinking that 'all will be well' because nothing bad can happen in a dream. The time has come for an intevention.

But we have the rest of the plots as well. Legionnaires are investigating the robot uprising. The unknown super-team lurking continues to entwine our heroes. A possible Legion romance might be brewing. And on top of all that, Waid throws in another subplot/character moment when we see Shadow Lass on her home world.

For me, the best thing in the book is the inclusion of Rokyn, the enlarged city of Kandor first seen in Superman #338 reviewed here. It is a perfect callback to old school DC continuity. That is the magic of Waid.

It is great to see Barry Kitson on art again as he brings this perfect polished look to the future. Everyone looks gorgeous. And the page layouts are slick.

On to the book ...

 The book starts with Kara awakening on a red tinged world, with heavy gravity, and Kryptonian decor.

Kara thinks it is the end of her dream. She is home. Finally. Krypton hasn't exploded. There is no Legion. She feels pain under the red sun. She looks out at a Kryptonian city from her balcony.

As a reader, I had to wonder where we were. Could Kara really have been in a dream state.

But the uneven panel layout adds a sense of instability. Things aren't as solid as Kara must believe.

And this fantasy of Krypton having survived and her recent history being a dream is shattered.

She walks back into the room she was in and there are the Legionnaires, with her Supergirl cape.

As readers, we know Krypton blew up. We know Supergirl was rocketed away. So those opening pages are a great feint by Waid. At first, I wondered if this was a holo-deck of some sort. But the answer is even better.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Triplicate Girl and Element Lad are deep underground investigating the robot rebellion.

During their search for clues, one of Triplicate Girl's selves spies a youth with apparent plat growth powers. He is using his ability to raise the rubble and find tech for resale.

Hmm ... is this a new Chlorophyll Kid. 

Triplicate Girl knows a decent power when she sees it, so offers the kid a tryout in the Legion. Interestingly enough, he has lived much of his life underground. He hasn't seen sunlight in some time. He doesn't even know about the Legion. But he is willing to give it a go.

But then Waid pulls the rug out from under the reader. This isn't some scrappy innocent waif struggling to survive. He is working for someone, has a role to play in infiltrating the group, and isn't as innocent as he seems.

Who is this shadowy figure? What is this group he is amassing? And what are the goals of this group? Who knows right now?

One of the reasons I love the Legion is that, despite the big cast, the characters usually feel three-dimensional. The best Legion books show how all these distinct personalities interact.

So a little panel like this, the other two Triplicates running into the remaining third kissing Element Lad, add some depth. Do the Triplicates have distinct personalities? If she merges, will they share attraction to Jan? Is this a new romance?

And where the heck is Bouncing Boy in this book?

 But back to the main plot.

The Legionnaires reveal to Supergirl that they drugged her in a Legion Cruiser and brought her here to have this intervention. This is Rokyn, a Kryptonian city on a planet similar to Krypton but not Krypton itself. Brainy gives some quick exposition, reviewing Kandor and how Superman enlarged it.

But much like the Rokyn in the 20th century, this planet is a bit isolationist. They don't like visitors. But they will accept Kara as a citizen. They want to learn from her, a survivor from 1000 years earlier.

Rokyn! That is just perfect.

 Suddenly, the truth hits Kara. Her parents are dead. Her planet is gone. She isn't dreaming.

And then, faced with this truth, Kara actually wants to stay with the Legion. She runs to Cos. But he knows that until she acclimates to this new reality she is dangerous. What if she went wild? Or lashed out thinking things were just a dream?

I thought this was a truly realistic approach to the 'problem' of Supergirl. The team must have been walking on egg shells around Kara. They needed to have this intervention. It makes sense, even if it is causing emotional pain.

With that big gripping emotional scene, Waid gives us a bit of a palate cleanser.

On Talok VIII, Tasmia Mallor is fighting her brother Grev. Grev is challenging her. He wants to be the planet's champion. But, with little effort, Tasmia defeats him ... again.

Older readers now about the culture of Talok VIII. But this is the Threeboot. Waid let's us know the prior history is basically intact. And, as we have seen throughout this book, Shadow Lass is a very accomplished fighter. I like that new wrinkle to her character.

And having Vi hanging out is fun.

 Back on Rokyn, the evil super-powered teen team suddenly appears to loot. It feels a bit too coincidental. Why would they attack when the Legion is there? Unless this conflict is part of the deal?

Despite Brainy somehow anticipating the attacks (hmmm, Dreamy speaking to him?), the team is able to get the upper hand over the Legion rather quickly. The evil Titan telepath Jera, seen in  Legion #19, has swiftly incapacitated the team telepathically. A superstrong brute batters Cos. A super-fast flyer (Lazon?) takes out Brainy. Ayla is frozen in ice. And Imra can't concentrate because another voice is in the room, screaming into her mind!

Again, after the slow burn of these plotlines, having these villains appear on Rokyn on the same day as the Legion seemed a bit forced.

But then things get even more insane.

During a pause in the fight we learn who the disembodied voice is which is distracting Imra.

It's Mon-El.


That's a lot of story and subplots thrown into one issue.

I have said it before during these reviews. I think this reread of the series, as I go through a bit more critically, has made me appreciate this more. While I feel the first year got mired down a bit, Waid and Kitson are firing on all cylinders here. This is really starting to feel like an established Legion mythos, hearkening back to the old while giving us the new.

And a Rokyn reference? Gold.


  1. I really didn't care for Mark Waid's version of the Legion but actually warmed up to it and started enjoying Mekt Ranzz's version of a strike team in this re-imagined "Wanders" !

    Rokyn and Kandor which still hadn't spread out and remaining in a small area due to their confinement in a bottle was a nice touch!

    Grade B+

  2. Thanks for comment.
    The Rokyn idea of them staying 'small' or compact is a great one.

  3. The introduction of Mon-El was one element too many for me; the post-Terror Firma issues felt very diffuse with so many plotlines being juggled, and I felt Waid never really made you care about Mon-El as anything other than a continuity point.

  4. This is a big anti-climax to the Supergirl motif. Plus it explains nothing.