Thursday, January 5, 2017

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #76

Legionnaires #76 (January 1996)
title: "Bouncing Back"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
penciller: Lee Moder

inker: Ron Boyd
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Gates, Invisible Kid, Kinetix, Leviathan, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Spark, Star Boy, Triad

Chuck Taine, Lori Morning, Marla Latham, Mysa, President Chu, Rond Vidar, Tenzil Kem, Utra Boy, Valor, Winema Wazzo, Science Police


Previously... U.P. interference has strained the relationships within the Legion, especially between the team and its leader, Cosmic Boy. Their personal dramas have not helped matters, from the death of Apparition to Spark leaving to help her brother to Kinetix losing her powers and currently being lost in space to Valor being forced to stay out of sight to Brainiac 5 being jailed for illegal time travel experiments. Those experiments came to the light of day when the 20th-Century villain Chronos came to the 30th, destroyed part of their HQ, and left an artificially-aged Lori Morning behind...

Marla Latham is giving enthusiastic architecture student Chuck Taine a tour of the HQ so he can help repair it when they come across a fight between Leviathan and Cosmic Boy about how the latter has become a puppet of the United Planets. Specifically, none of Leviathan's recruits have been allowed to join the team, but Gates and Star Boy, U.P. choices, have, grating because Gates is obviously against this whole Legion business.
Elsewhere, a mysterious female figure gives orders to a masked agent called Starfinger to go out and kill the Legion. He demonstrates his powers by destroying dummies of the Legionnaires. Spark returns to Earth and is yelled at by Cosmic Boy for leaving without permission, but is enchanted to find her secret admirer is still sending her gifts. The Espionage Squad gets together to talk about what to do about the Cos/UP problem. Ultra Boy meets Apparition's mother, who still holds the Legion responsible for the death of her daughter. Valor goes stir crazy and leaves Legion HQ. Shrinking Violet cries herself to sleep and realizes she must change if she wants to fit in. Kinetic wakes up on an alien planet being cared for by an old crone with magical powers called Mysa who promises her power. And Chuck asks the glum Legionnaires if he's the only one excited to be there.
President Chu orders the Time Institute's research stopped and seized, which doesn't bode well for Rond Vidar's work. As the Science Police barge in, Starfinger attacks...
Back in time... in Flash (v2) #109: XS meets her cousin Wally West, the Flash, as Savitar's speed ninjas attack the Flash Family. Wally learns of Barry's family in the far future, and after Max Mercury escapes from Savitar's torture, he asks XS to lend Jessie Quick her Legion flight ring so the more experienced members of the group can go on the offensive.
New recruits, elevated tension between the kids, new villains, Valor’s leaving, more power trips from the president, truth bombs dropped all over the place, Kinetix’s new location, Violet’s struggles… There’s too much to talk about in here!!! I had to make some tough decisions, so here goes:

Is that… Bouncing Boy? It has to be. Especially with that title “Bouncing Back”. He’s studying architecture and was sent as an intern to repair the headquarters. First question: Why would they put an intern on such a task? I’m definitely glad he’s there. He’s going to be more than needed to raise the spirit of our heroes, but who would’ve made such a weird call? Or… maybe that all the good architects are busy rebuilding the city after the White Triangle’s attack. That must be it… I like how he’s so enthusiastic to be there. I already know that I’ll love his presence within the group. It will give the team an outsider’s perspective, one that, I hope, will quickly help them get more unified as a team.
Speaking of being unified, the complete opposite is happening right now... Or is it? More Legionnaires are opposing Cosmic Boy. I just can’t help it, I’m actually gad. I no longer care about him as a leader. I really thought he was going to do something about the president’s micro-management. I realize it’s not like Cos has a lot of say or any way to change the situation, but he could at least let the others know that he is also very displeased with the situation. For them, it looks like he’s become a pawn of his own free will. But then again, what if it’s all part of his plan… Could it be that, by acting as the government’s pawn, he aims for the rest of the team to work even closely together against this dictatorship? Meh… I’m being too optimistic again.

Now where in the world has Kinetix landed? What in the world is she going to do in order to get her power back? I don’t like her expression. Careful girl. Don’t get too greedy, you might regret it!
Flash #109... Alright, I’m glad there’s not much to report about XS. I’m sad she doesn’t get to help the Flash out more, but it speaks a lot about her character that she is willing to give up her ring without any real hesitation. She knows that he’s right, he will have a better chance working with someone he knows. Hopefully she won’t regret it.
Like Tenzil (you think he's Spark's admirer, or is it just a coincidence she rebuffs his flirting?), Chuck has been relegated to supporting character. I guess the 90s couldn't stomach (pun intended) "silly" Legionnaires like Matter-Eater Lad and Bouncing Boy. Shame. Still, if the Legion needs anything right now, it's a morale boost and these two upbeat characters are just what the doctor ordered, I think. Chuck isn't just going to rebuild the walls, he's going to rebuild the team. At least, that's my hope. I like that panel that shows just how divided the team is in the cafeteria. Only the Espionage Squad has any cohesion.
Gates and Star Boy are sitting together mostly just because they're the new kids and no one wants to talk to them, same as what they're doing to Chuck. They're not exactly a viable pairing otherwise. Star Boy is enthusiastic and from a world that's got a strong superhero tradition like ours, and Gates is a draftee who thinks the Legion is essentially a terrorist squad for the United Planets. Enjoy the honeymoon period, guys. I do wish we'd gotten a little more with them, because it's really like they join out of the blue. The Legion books wasted so much time with the Superboy team-up and Underworld Unleashed, that all the subplots come home to roost at the same time and I think shortcuts are taken. So we start in the middle of things with Cos and Gim fighting and these guys already on the roster. And then an avalanche of personal moments.

Don't get me wrong, that's where the Legion really lives, but it's a constant challenge keeping all those balls up in their air. There are a LOT of characters to cater to, and we just got two more. Three if you count Lori. Four with Mysa. And then there's the new Starfinger, but that's going to have to wait until he makes more of a mark. Kind of looks like a robot, right now...
Flash #109... As a big, big fan of Mark Waid's seminal run on the Flash, I'm quite happy to read Terminal Velocity again, but we're just here for XS, and hopefully, her being sidelined doesn't mean she won't play a bigger role down the line. Why bring her to the past for this AT ALL if she won't, right?

Science Police Notes:  
  • This issue begins a common numbering system between the two Legion books; this is 1996/1.
  • This is Chuck Taine's first Reboot appearance. In the original continuity, he would become Bouncing Boy.
  • This is Mysa's first Reboot appearance. In the original continuity, she was the sister of Dream Girl and would become the White Witch, but was first seen as the Hag in Adventure Comics #350, but this turned out to be a transformation imposed by the wizard Mordru.
  • Gates was tapped by the U.P. to join the team in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #66; his look has been modified since then. Star Boy was seen in Legionnaires #0, but was not Xanthu's first choice for Legion membership, that went to the now deceased Kid Quantum. He is obviously his replacement.
  • This is Starfinger's first Reboot appearance. In the original continuity, this was a name adopted by several criminals throughout Legion history. The costume and powers seen here are not unlike those of the original.
  • The Legion's trophy room has souvenirs from past adventures, including pictures of the Composite Man and Mano, a statue of Superboy, Tangleweb's exoskeleton and husk, Dr. Regulus' glove, and what looks like the lenses worn on Planet Hell.
  • Flash (v2) #109, "Dead Heat", was crafted by Mark Waid (writer), Oscar Jimenez (penciller), José Marzan Jr. (inker), Gaspar (letterer), Tom McCraw (colorist), Alisande Morales (assistant editor), Ruben Diaz (associate editor) and Brian Augustyn (editor). XS' role is minimal.

First appearance of Chuck Taine in Reboot continuity, though he is not fated to become Bouncing Boy. First appearance of Mysa as well, who in the original continuity would become the White Witch. Gates and Star Boy finally join the Legion.

1 comment:

  1. I always felt this issue was the beginning of a shift in the series -- I always attributed it primarily to the psychological effect of the new joint numbering system (one issue after the Legionnaires letter column where they said they weren't going to do that!), but I think your point is well considered in regards to them trying to get back on track after a crossover and a mandated tie-in.

    This starts in media res with the sudden arrival of Star Boy and Gates, and really pushes to get all the various storylines up and running again, and hoo boy. Storylines. We have government interference, Cos is a jerk, espionage squad, Kinetix, Starfinger, Spark's admirer, Ultra Boy's grief, new characters, Lori and the time institute, and some incredibly subtle foreshadowing with Shrinking Violet. Yeesh. Some of this issue works really well (the bits with Chuck Taine), but a lot of it feels like a filler issue when you look at how much they're trying to juggle at once.

    That said, it works mostly effectively as a soft-reboot to re-establish everything that's happening. For its weaknesses, it does start the ball rolling on a path that goes a lot farther than I had expected at the time!

    This issue is a good example also of one thing that tends to bother me with Moder's art in this run: recycled art. Two panels on page 2, three panels on page 4, all five panels on page 9, and an extreme closeup on page 19. Most of them are obvious and are less dynamic than re-drawing the panels would have been. And that last one just baffles me. How hard is it to draw a closeup of an eye? I'd think it would be easier to just draw a new eye than it would be to copy, enlarge, and paste it in.