Thursday, June 29, 2017

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #87

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #87 (December 1996)
title: "She's Not There"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
pencillers: Mike Collins, Lee Moder and Paul Pelletier
inker: Ron Boyd
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Ruben Diaz
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Alan Davis
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Apparition, Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Gates, Saturn Girl, Spark, Ultra Boy

Deadman, Inferno, Phase, Rama Kushna, Shvaughn Erin, Strata, Tiffany Cross, construction workers, policemen, Tiffany's client, people Deadman jumps into (a skater, a nun)

Tommy the Swami/Gurubhanda/Poltergeist

Part of the Legion of Super-Heroes is stranded in the 20th Century, including Apparition, who had apparently died and is now a ghost only Ultra Boy can see...

At the "Institute for Advanced Ectoplasmics", Tommy the Swami is running his usual scam on a college student named Tiffany Cross, but she's the wrong mark. Her grandmother died during the Final Night because she put all her money into his fortune-telling, and had had her heating cut off. Tiffany pulls a gun on Tommy, who touches the stone on his turban, hoping it has the magical powers his talisman dealer said it did; mystical energies pour out and he is transformed...
Simultaneously, Ultra Boy is shocked to see Apparition evaporate before his very eyes, preventing him from following the team on a mission to assist Brainiac 5. He is soon accosted by Deadman who can see Tinya and takes her to a dimension inside the stone she wears as a broach. We then realize it's identical to the one Tommy still has on his forehead, now that he is a big demonic skeleton who calls himself Poltergeist on account of his power to possess objects with stolen "essence". Deadman and Tinya are summoned to his location via the stone, but powerless to stop his rampage, try to find Ultra Boy.
Deadman teaches Tinya to possess a willing host, and it's as Tiffany Cross that she shows up on Jo's doorstep, where she and Deadman explain their essences are being consumed by Poltergeist. The situation explained to him, Jo tries to stop Poltergeist, but it's Apparition, realizing her essence is being used to possess machines, takes back control of that essence, turning the villain's devices against him. But this hasn't restored the ghosts' essences. Deadman calls on Rama Kushna, the All-Spirit, for help, and she restores Deadman, but claims she can do nothing for Tinya as there's "no place for her". When it is revealed she is from the future, Rama concedes her death 1000 years before her birth would disrupt the balance, and does restore her. Suddenly, Tinya is visible to all, and at least a little more solid, as she embraces Jo lovingly.
On Cairn, the L.E.G.I.O.N. homeworld, a heroine who looks a lot like Tinya named Phase looks for her own touchstone but can't find it. Back on Earth, the police get a call that the Legion has sprung Brainiac (1? 5?) from custody. As for Tiffany Cross, after all she's seen, and her apparent psychic ability to see ghosts where others can't, she becomes a fortune teller.

Nice to see some Apparition action! Since she came back as a ghost-like thing, she didn’t receive as much attention. It makes sense considering that only certain people could see her, but still. Now we learn that she is actually dead, but she’s still clinging to life and consciousness thanks to the power of her touchstone and Ultra Boy’s invulnerability. I hope the power she manifested, controlling inanimate objects like that excavators, will remain with her. Good thinking by Jo to have her join the fight. Now that everyone can see her, she can be part of the team again until they find a way to bring her back to the living. I realize that she might only be able to move on by leaving this world, but I refuse to accept it. She’s one of my favorites and I want her to stay!
Brainiac’s in custody…? AGAIN? What is it with this guy, ugh… Does it have something to do with the pagers he needed for the force field? Gutsy move from the team to bust him out. I guess I’ll learn more about all this when we get to Showcase '96.

I think maybe Apparition is quite a bit more alive than you give her credit for given she physically hugs Ultra Boy at the end of the story. I figure Rama saw a danger in Tinya's soul entering the afterlife before its time and restored her to full life, though she's still a little pale. Using the amulet she uses to clasp her cloak with as a reason for her survival is a nice idea. I guess what we're supposed to get is that Tommy's stone is the same as Apparition's, just 1000 years earlier? Or is it Phase's and that's why she can't find it? And did Phase ever wear such a stone, or is this a retcon? Continuity is muddy here.
Because that's one thing that's gonna register with the old guard and not with new Reboot readers like Shotgun: Phase's appearance promises to fix the continuity snafu that occurred when the Legion was rebooted... while one of their members was trapped in the past and NOT rebooted! Phase is an amnesiac Tinya from the original/5YL continuity, so she can't possibly exist anymore, right? The tease here reminds us the DC Universe is never not broken, and of course, it's a story that will come home to roost.

As for the threat of the week, Poltergeist is an entirely stupid concept. Tommy is not very smart, which I guess is meant to be played for laughs, and there's no explaining his transformation into a non-human skeleton who is most definitely NOT a poltergeist (as these don't have a physical form). Nor am I particularly fond of Tiffany who, after all, brought a gun to a card reading, and is not entirely sympathetic. Too little is made of her psychic powers when they manifest, and her turn at the end is irony-lite. Hey, I'm glad to see Deadman anywhere I see him, but this really isn't his best ever team-up.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1996/23
  • The Legion is racing to help Brainiac 5 who got into some mischief in Showcase '96 #11 (which we will cover next week); the situation is then resolved in Showcase '96 #12.
  • Tiffany Cross, introduced here, appears again in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #97-100.
  • The epilogue features Phase, a character who, in the previous continuity is an amnesiac Tinya Wazzo, lost in time during the 5YL era, where she joined L.E.G.I.O.N.


  1. Personally I really didn't care for this storyline.

    There's so much great storytelling and artwork over the Legions long history but the book, like many has some deep valleys and this was one !

  2. Was it ever definitively established that Phase was a time-displaced and amnesiac Phantom Girl? I remember that was the common assumption when the character first appeared, but I can't remember if it was ever made official.

  3. I believe this is a plot point in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) Annual #1, one of Glorith's many time crimes.

  4. I always wished the artists would be more careful with Tinya during this period. The big reveal at the end is supposed to be that she's visible to everyone, even without a psychic connection ... but they make it look like she's actually solid, which she isn't! She's still a ghost for now.

  5. @John the story was that Phase ws actually ENYA Wazzo. Tinya's cousin who had been travelling with her on the shuttle Glorith destroyed/ time warped. She stayed with L-dot while Tinya was found back in the 30thC and reunited with Jo.
    Then Zero Hour happened & it became this.