Thursday, March 23, 2017

Reboot: Legionnaires #38

Legionnaires #38 (July 1996)
title: "Trouble on Titan"
writers: Roger Stern and Tom McCraw
penciller: Jeffrey Moy
inker: W.C. Carani
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
special thanks: Mark Waid & Karl Kesel
cover: Jeffrey Moy & W.C. Carani
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Kinetix, Live Wire, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Triad, Ultra Boy, XS

Arn Kwin, Aven, Bertor Ardeen, Dr. Gym'll, Jancel Ardeen, Sydne Ardeen, Xamuel Ivar, Titanians

All in flashback: Banderkat, Composite Man, Mano, President Chu

Previously... well, let's just let Triad do the honors:
As the founding Legionnaires arrive on Titan, Live Wire dreams of being in Imra's arms, and she dreams of a darkness within herself she must one day face. They are awakened by an argument between Cosmic Boy and the customs officers who want to give him a hard time because he's Braalian. Saturn Girl's mentor Aven rescues them with his credentials and they soon meet Imra's family, including a mother who shares her childhood memories without her daughter's consent, and a jealous sister whose attentions are all for Garth.
As a gesture of good will, Cos takes part in an exhibition game of magno-ball, and shows he hasn't lost his champion's touch. Then an explosion occurs in the VIP booth and the Braalian ambassador is badly hurt. To bring him out of his coma, Saturn Girl suggests she enter his mind. The Titanian representative is skittish about her doing so, which raises some red flags, but he opens his mind to Imra and she finds the two were secretly a couple. She then goes into the Braalian's mind and discovers he set the explosive, designed to be mostly harmless, to make the Titanians realize their planetary feud had gone too far, and was hurt trying to disarm it when he saw how the locals cheered Cos' prowess despite his being Braalian. Saturn Girl shows him the error of his ways and he wakes up, explains everything, and surrenders to the authorities.
Back home, the results of the Legion election are finally in, and the Legionnaires have chosen... Shrinking Violet!
If there’s something I really enjoy about this universe, it’s the way telepathic powers are treated. The mind is such a complicated thing and they've already shown it in so many ways. Be it by the beautiful work done by the pencillers and inkers in each issue or the way it’s described in the text, it’s clear to the reader that this kind of power is incredibly hard to control and dangerous to attempt. One thing that I really liked in this particular issue is the way Jancel sees her sister. Being a telepath doesn’t mean you’ll be honest. Who was telling the truth: Imra’s mother? Her sister? None of them or both? Our different perspective may affect the way we see things and while two persons can witness the same event, their memories of it can, in fact actually will, be completely different from the other’s. It must also be easy for people of this planet to change their memories to suit their needs. I might be repeating myself from one of the very first comics we covered. It’s just that every time they put more emphasis on Imra’s powers, it makes me think of all the implications that come with being able to “read minds”. I sure as hell am happy that I can’t!
Poor Cos has no idea what mess he left behind when he took off with Garth and Imra on this diplomatic mission. Triad’s saying that she’s having a hard time but really, it looks like she has most of it under control. I’m glad to learn that she convinced Brainiac to stay - though I would’ve LOVED to read this discussion - and hopefully Leviathan, Cham and Invisible Kid will come back quickly from their own mission. I’m surprised with the decision to put Violet in a leading position. She did step up big time since her arrival, and made some good calls while on the front, but does she really have what it takes to lead this team? I’m not so sure. Hopefully this will help boost her self-confidence and she’ll be able to not only make those calls, but also be firm if need be. She seems too gentle to me to really boss them around. But we’ll see.

Something I thought for sure you were going to mention was the two male representatives being a couple, but the fact you haven't says something about a contemporary audience versus that of 1996, I think. Shotgun didn't even think it was worth mentioning because it's such a natural part of society. Even in 1996, this was hardly unusual for the Legion, as the previous iteration (the 5YL Legion) included a fair amount of LGBTQ+ content. The surprise, from the characters' point of view, isn't that they're gay, but that they come from warring planets.
I'm not convinced the Braalian's plot was very smart, but did enjoy the focus on Imra and the attempt to give her more character. The original version of Saturn Girl was, by the 80s, a pretty bland character, mostly defined by her marriage to Lightning Lad and her being a founder/leader. The Reboot has given her more agency in the romance department - SHE'LL choose who she ends up with - but also for the first time a family (which helps us understand her temperament) and a dark secret, which I hope to see develop sooner than later.
As for Vi as Legion leader, I'm not disappointed in the choice, steep though her leadership curve has been, but I am disappointed that we never saw the election. Who else was in the running? Who did each Legionnaire vote for? What were their thoughts? My favorite election stories have given us more information that this, so we're indeed left with a certain mystified reaction.

Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1996/12.
  • This is the first time Imra Ardeen has been given a family.
  • Dr. Gym'll appears for the first time in the Reboot. His first true appearance is in Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #284.
  • On page 13, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Live Wire are acclaimed as the "Legionnaires Three", invoking the title of a 1986 mini-series starring those three characters. 
  • Shrinking Violet is voted the Reboot Legion's new leader. This is the second time any version of Vi has held that post; the first was at the very end of the 5YL era.

Shrinking Violet becomes the Reboot Legion's third leader; the second to be voted to the position by her peers and the first to be voted in under the new Legion Constitution.


  1. Imra's aunt appeared in Legionnaire's 3 didn't she?

    1. Yeah, and they had the same name apparently. And then for some reason during the Johnsboot Paul Levitz retconned Imra into being an orphan.

  2. Not much to say on this one. It's a well-shaped issue and you touched on the major points such as Kwin and Ivaar's relationship. I vaguely recall Violet's election coming out of left field back in the day, although of course it makes sense in retrospect. Aven's interactions with Imra are always interesting in light of later revelations. And is that Tellus on Page 18?