Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #305

How do you critique a book that floored you when you read it as a kid?

Legion of Super-Heroes #305 shocked me back when I first read it off the rack and it still sort of shocks me to this day. This was the culmination of a storyline which had begun back in Legion of Super-Heroes #287, the abduction and replacement of Shrinking Violet. Once again, it showed just how far ahead Paul Levitz was thinking back then. In this day and age of rebooting, renumbering, and quick axes on creative teams, I cannot imagine this approach in comics today.

Moreover, at this point, the reveal wasn't an 'out of the blue' shock by this issue. Levitz was inserting clues and dropping hints, bringing the readers up to speed. I, of course, didn't pick up the clues back then. But now, rereading these issues, it is as all there. Still, stunning twist.

With the Projectra/Armorr wedding plot done, the Weber's World plot done, and now the Violet plot done, Levitz starts laying down track for the next set of stories. And once again, we see just how far ahead Levitz was plotting. We see the beginning of the LSH/LSV arc which opened the Baxter run here. And we see the continuation of the Dawnstar arc which will eventually be covered in the later issues of Tales of the Legion. Both of those arcs see completion in over a year.

As always, Keith Giffen brings great art to the proceedings. There are some places where it looks like it may have been inked by someone other than Larry Mahlstedt, but he is the only inker listed.

'Violet's Story' opens up with a Legion cruiser in orbit above Imsk. Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, and Brainiac 5 have lured Colossal Boy and 'Shrinking Violet' there by saying the Council of Imsk have asked for help.

But those three have sussed out that Violet isn't Violet. And they needed to bring this mystery to its conclusion.

As a side note, Levitz gives some exposition in the text box. Imsk has threatened to leave the UP. There is unrest. And then there is that pesky 'the planet may shrink also' line. How can it not be proven by now??

In orbit, the three Legionnaires bring the simmering plot to a boil. Element Lad handcuffs Colossal Boy in inertron. They spray Violet in cancellite (a gas created by Supergirl which cancels out a Durlan's powers). This shouldn't matter to an Imskian.

But it does effect this Violet. She cannot grow.

She is a Durlan.


Think back to the clues. Element Lad looking at Durlans traveling. The trip to Imsk. Vi suddenly loving Colossal Boy. Vi using Durlan martial arts. It was all there.

Meanwhile, Levitz ratchets up the next plotline. Dawnstar has left the Legion to go on a soul searching trip in space to find her soulmate. Wildfire is not taking it well.

We see Wildfire, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, and Timber Wolf all training while Shady and Phantom Girl watch nearby.

One thing I found odd in this interaction is how cold Tinya is. 'Dawny wants a man, not a sack of energy!' is pretty cold for someone who I usually think of as a warm individual.

Meanwhile, on the cruiser, Brainy subjects 'Violet' to a psychic probe, hopeful to uncover what happened.

We see it all.

A group of rebels, led by Micro Lad, wants to break Imsk away from the United Planets. They lie to Yera, the Durlan actress, telling her that Violet is one of them. But Violet is sick. She cannot help. And so they will embed Yera in the Legion as Violet. Here they come across as peaceful. They need Yera to protect Violet's reputation.

It is all lies.

But Yera doesn't know that. So she goes along. She replaced Vi in LSH #287 and has been Vi since.

Incredible. 18 issues earlier!

But where is the real Violet?

That is the next mystery to be solved.

I thought this response from Colossal Boy made perfect sense. The others didn't let Gim know because they didn't want him to tip their hand. But he isn't happy. They let him live this lie. And he is angry. Appropriately angry!

Meanwhile, on an unnamed world, the Sun Emperor walks through a primitive looking town.

Without pause, he incinerates most of the place, killing most of the people. He and his friends are taking over. He tells a survivor to spread the word.

This is the first peek at the Legion of Super-Villains taking over Orando. Again, the Baxter run is just about a year away.

Back on Imsk, Violet is walking around Kanga Center, a hub city. As a Legionnaire, she is getting a lot of attention. A woman shrinks and whispers in Vi's ear that she shouldn't be on the planet. This is upsetting the committee's plans.

Underground, this 'Violet' is imprisoned in a Durlan proof field.

Finally, we see what has happened to Violet. She was captured by Micro Lad and his rebels. She has been placed in a sensory deprivation tank. Her mind has been picked clean of UP secrets. Imsk will secede from the UP thanks to this information.

So much for not hurting anyone. This panel of Violet is haunting. She looks gaunt and scared.

Cutting away, Dawnstar is on Starhaven. Having turned 18, she receives a gem for her headpiece. She will now head out to the sea of stars to find her destined soul-mate.

But even here, we see her crying. She is unsure if she can stop thinking of Wildfire, the man she loves.

I do like these single character arcs that Levitz and Giffen injected into the title.

But on Imsk, it turns out that this 'Violet' is actually Chameleon Boy. And the 'plasti-seal' that was supposed to suppress a Durlan's escape is torn to shreds by him. He notifies his teammates where they are and the fight is on.

I suppose I never really thought about how scary it would be to face Colossal Boy in combat. Usually we see him just growing so he can move big objects. Here we see him angrily ripping through buildings! Terrifying. I really love this panel and this fight.

Brainy then floods the place with a new cancellite, this one designed to stop Imskians from changing size. With the rebels all shrunk trying to escape, Brainy threatens to stomp them if they don't surrender.

The rebellion is over. Their army arrested.

As for Vi, she is carefully removed from the tank.

It will take months for her to recover. And we know that when she does, she is a changed woman.

But what about Colossal Boy? He lived a lie this last year, loving someone who wasn't who he thought she was.

Well, if there is a bright spot in this harrowing plot, it is this.

The two realize that they have truly fallen in love with each other. We find out that the two secretly married. So they will continue to love each other. They will continue to be man and wife. Wow ... I guess love does conquer all.

So overall this was a fantastic ending to this arc. It had major impact to the team moving forward, changing Violet and Gim forever.

And, incredibly, the issue has a letter from then fan, future Legion artist Colleen Doran!

I love this issue.

So what did all of you think?


  1. Is it me or does the Legion have more than its fair share of fans turned creators?

  2. "There are some places where it looks like it may have been inked by someone other than Larry Mahlstedt, but he is the only inker listed."

    You MIGHT want to re-read the credits box on the above splash page, as it CLEARLY lists Kurt Schaffenberger as the inker. Not Larry Mahlstedt.

  3. The final storyline and then the collapse !

  4. The only title that today manages that kind of foreshadowing is Priest's Deathstroke.

    Nice review and yes, it was a amazing issue. When I take in to account the LOSV storyarc (Baxter) does it not feel like the story got pushed back.

  5. Being married to a Durlan?? And we all thought bouncing Boy was the luckiest guy around.