Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reboot: Showcase '96 #8

Showcase '96 #8 (September 1996)
title: "Assassination Agenda"
writer: Tom McCraw
penciller: Humberto Flores
inker: John Lowe
lettering: Chris Eliopoulos
colorist: Tom McCraw
editor: Mike McAvennie
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Gates, Leviathan, XS

D'Ned, High Chancellor Pen'Ta, Officer D'Rnn, Vice Chancellor T'Jark

Holdur, N'Cia, Quicksand

This story occurs between XS' return to the 30th Century and Leviathan's death.

Leviathan, Gates and XS have been sent to Dagosk, twin planet of Dabron, a world on the cusp of joining the United Planets. They've had trouble negotiating their entry, however, as all their vice-chancellors in charge have, to date, been assassinated. The Legionnaires arrive too late to save the latest in the line.
Princess N'Cia is named the new negotiator and she, too, is attacked by two super-powered assassins, the shapeshifting Quicksand and the grappler Holdur. While Leviathan and XS fight them, Gates takes N'Cia to safety, but he's shocked to see her kill the guards there. N'Cia is revealed as the true culprit, adamant that Dagosk should not enter the U.P. until Dabron also did, lest inequity tear at their long-held peace. She blames Dagosk's leadership for not listening to her concerns and forcing her hand, and tells Gates he could learn a lesson from this, since he doesn't listen to his teammates very well either.
The other Legionnaires show up and stop N'Cia, but the leadership takes her concerns to heart and wait on their sister world before joining the U.P. Gates, for his part, is sad to think his team mates see him as a stubborn outsider, but though they try to assuage his fears, they are disheartened that he still doesn't consider the Legion home.
Fun little break from the main storyline and glad to be able to see Leviathan once more. I wish I would’ve read this before his passing though. It made it all too bittersweet. I enjoyed the drawings of this issue even though it was a lot more cartoonish than usual. The facial expressions are cranked all the way to eleven but it helps clearly communicate the feelings, so all in all, I liked it. Not a fan of the villains though. What are Holdur’s powers anyway? Quicksand is a lot more interesting, especially since she can turn others to sand as well. They were simple pawns and not very good ones.
My favorite part of this comic definitely is Gates’ course of action. I like how he complained all along, but nevertheless still followed Leviathan’s orders. I’m glad I noticed right away that he was teleporting the statue instead of himself when cornered by N’cia. I can imagine a lot of readers seeing the green thing falling on her and wondering what it is and where it came from. It was a clever move and it shows that his powers can serve a lot of different purposes. He questions his attitude by the end, comparing himself to her and it hurt him to think they are alike. It looks like we’re slowly moving towards a better use of him within the Legion and, hopefully, a bit of a change of attitude on his part.

It's a good thing this issue of Showcase had great-looking stories with Superboy and Supergirl, because we Legion fans got the short end of the stick. I did not like this story. At all. A large part of it is the art. Flores seems to be channeling Humberto Ramos, and yes, the characters are expressive (though the aliens' expressions are murky under the coloring), but his superhero action choreography is muddled, cramped and confusing. I'm often left wondering what just happened, or what power was used, and I'm off rereading sections instead of punching the air.
The writing doesn't save it, because although the story tries to explore Gates a bit more, it doesn't seem to have had much of an impact on the main books, and this Star Trek diplomacy tale is eminently forgettable. Even the characters within the story comment on how stupid the villain's plan was. Thankfully, the Legion's about to get much more notable Showcase appearances...

Science Police Notes:  
  • The issue contains two other stories, both featuring characters who were Legionnaires in another continuity: Superboy and Supergirl.
  • Quicksand and Holdur both originally appeared in  Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #223.

1 comment:

  1. Dang it, you got me two weeks running. Hope we get to the fireworks factory soon...