Friday, September 23, 2016

Threeboot: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #32

Review by Anj

Recap: The Dominator War is over. Cosmic Boy shunted the Dominion homeworld to the Phantom Zone but let everyone believe he destroyed the world, committing genocide. Afterwards, Cos, without telling anyone, slipped away into the future to be a hero there. With UP Prosecutor Tenzil Kem hunting Cos down for war crimes, the Legion (now led by newly elected leader Supergirl) sends three away teams to try to track down Cos. In the background, Brainiac 5 seems to be scheming and manipulating everyone and everything.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #32 marked the second issue written by Tony Bedard. And with this issue, we get a glimpse into Bedard's style and his take on the Legion. One of the things that is very apparent is that Bedard is going to take advantage of the new continuity by writing his own. Last issue we saw a much more serious take on Tenzil Kem. This issue we get a very new take on Winath and the idea of Validus. I wonder if this might have been too much of a jump away the old continuity. Would old timers accept such deviation?

Bedard also does an interesting story-telling swerve in this issue. Last issue, we saw three away teams seem to head into danger. This issue, we stay with only one of the teams. We barely hear about the others. And that gives us some time to really dive deep into the one team we stay with.

The art on the book is now by Dennis Calero and I have to be frank. It has never worked for me. After the smooth clean look of Barry Kitson, Calero's is much muddier and rougher. It just isn't clean enough for a Legion book.

On to the book.

This issue focuses on the away team on Winath comprised of Star Boy, Sun Boy, Mekt Ranzz, and Tenzil Kem. This is an uneasy team. It is almost adversarial in nature. Kem is taping the entirety of the conversations, hoping to use anything he can get as testimony against Cos.

Meanwhile, Sun Boy and Mekt feign apathy. The Legion isn't their team any more. And Star Boy is defensive.

Those three knew that Brainy put them together because of the obvious tension between them. And you can feel it.

 But even from these early pages you get a sense of Calero's sensibilities. Something isn't quite right with Mekt in that first panel.

 To add to all this tension is the fact that Mekt is returning home. He has been an outcast on this world, away from it for years. He is uneasy. But more importantly, he is unfamiliar with some of what he sees. I think this issue really gives Mekt the back story he needs to explain his leading the Wanderers and that allegation about his death wish.

At the very least, we find out why Brainy thought they should investigate this place. There are odd electromagnetic disturbances on Winath, similar to Cos and his powers.

Winath seems to be completely deserted. Meals are half eaten. No one is around. When Star Boy calls the Legion HQ to discuss the situation with Supergirl, Brainy picks up the transmission.

It is in this scene, we get a glimpse or sense of the other teams. We see Atom Girl on a monitor screaming for backup. We hear that Supergirl is 'engaged' and we see her in a fight in the background.

All of this makes the suspicion around Brainiac 5's motives that much stronger. It looks as though he has set these Legionnaires up, sending them into danger.

Throughout this incarnation, Brainy remains the most complex. It is hard to get a read on him.

The team decides to head into the underground bunker system on Winath.

It is here that we learn more about Winath. It is an agricultural society. But violent lightning storms on the surface make it dangerous. As a result, the whole planet has a massive bunkers for storing grain and letting people head to safety. That is a clear change from earlier takes on Winath where the citizens seemed to frolic around half naked in an idyllic paradise.

Once again though, we hear that Mekt has never felt at home on this planet. He was an outsider.

 As the group heads deeper into the system, they come across some graffiti.

Validus is on one of the grain holds.

And so Bedard starts to change what Validus means in the Legion. Is there a Fatal Five in this continuity? A real Validus? It is pretty apparent that Garth and Imra aren't married and haven't had kids. So this is uncharted waters.

But Mekt seems to know what this means. And he isn't happy.

In fact, Mekt thinks that Tenzil knew this was going to be there and becomes so irate that he attacks Tenzil, forcing Kem to run for his life.

 And, as expected, Mekt's outrage and tantrum leads him into a physical confrontation with Sun Boy. The two battle until Star Boy puts an end to it.

I like Star Boy's approach to this whole situation. He knows that Brainy is trying to play him. And he refuses to get played. He won't join in the fray. He'll end it.

 And then we get some back story about Mekt and Validus.

Validus was an angry storm god in Winathian mythology. He was the Lord of Lightning and he was responsible for the storms which made people flee for their lives. (Of course Lord of Lightning is a loaded term for Mekt who was Lightning Lord in past continuities.)

Mekt was born without a twin which was so abnormal on Winath that he was looked upon by everyone as an outsider. He was feared and pitied. He was thought to be the son of the Validus! The Winathians sure are a supersticious cowardly lot.

The blue panel does a nice job of showing just how isolated Mekt felt on the planet.

 But things get even crazier as Bedard rewrites the Ranzz family lightning origin. A cult existed on Winath which worshiped Validus. They want to fulfill a prophecy where they create a personification of Validus and they think that Mekt's unique stature as a singleton made him their best hope.

They sent him to Korbal to interact with the lightning beasts. Gone is the 'joyride' aspect of the origin.

But Garth and Ayla were there as well, unbeknownst to Mekt. And while he did get powers, the cult rejected him. The twins getting powers as well does not fit the prophecy.

Well, that certainly is a new wrinkle to the classic origin story.

And you have to feel for Mekt. He was rejected by his people, even the crazy storm god cult!

As the team goes deeper, things get scarier.
Tenzil gets locked in a silo and grain is emptied into it. Will he drown in something edible?
And Star Boy, Sun Boy, and Mekt finally come across the people of Winath, united in their worship of the Lord of Lightning, and sporting powers of their own. Nice cliffhanger.

This really felt like a Mekt spotlight issue, focusing on his origins and his world's culture. I think, for me reading it, I kept wondering if he deserved this space. Was he going to join the team? With so many other stories needing to be told to build up this team's back story, should we get Mekt's? Over Garth's? Or Ayla's?

Still, I credit Bedard for grabbing the reins and driving the book in his direction. 


  1. This is when I dropped the book.

    Calero's art was just that terrible.

    1. I agree it just was a total drop off similar to "Jimmy James" when he took over the LSH book back in the 1980's .

      Some of the worst crap in comics and this gave it a good run at equaling it.