Friday, August 11, 2017

Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #312

Legion of Super-Heroes #312 is the penultimate issue of this particular run of the book; the Baxter Book is right around the corner. With the main title shifting and all major plotlines moving there, the creative team needed a neat little story to fill the last two issues here. And, in what I think is a brilliant move, this story is a more in-depth look at the Science Police.

One of the things that most Legion fans pride themselves on is their encyclopedic knowledge of the team's members and history. So, something like the Science Police, a presence in almost every issue but not really explored, is almost a frontier. It would be easy to just say the SciPo are just future cops. But this is the 30th Century. There has to be more.

And for fastidious readers, this issue is stuffed with Interlac. You could spend an hour translating all the screens and signage in this book. Perhaps that is why they gave us the alphabet last issue.

As usual, storytellers Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen infuse a crime procedural story with the usual subplots and character moments that this run is famous for. Giffen is on pencils but instead of usual inker Larry Mahlstedt, Giffen's art is finished by inker extraordinaire Karl Kesel.

It has been a while since I have revisited these issues and I know I only have one left. But I have been pleased as punch with reviewing these. Just wonderful.

"Good cop, Bad Cop" opens with Sun Boy courting Science Police officer Gigi Cusimano. In her apartment he is amazed at her collection of old detective novels, on paper no less. She states that those stories, a love she shared with her father, is what led her to join the SciPo.

But let's face it, if you're bringing Sun Boy into your apartment, it isn't to peruse your pre-Interlac book collection. You bring him there for love.

As usual, Dirk skirts being a jerk but for some reason that seems to bring about the fieriest of passions of the women who he is with. But before things can get too heavy, a priority Science Police alarm rings. The date will have to end. The two fly off to the crime scene.

For me, as a collector of things, I loved that this little personality quirk was shared about a supporting character.

The Metropolis Stadium, filled with patrons, has been bombed.

This is a big enough job to bring the Legion and the Science Police together. Not only does the building need to be stabilized but the crowd is panicking, trying to escape. They need to be controlled. In the end, drones fly in with tranquilizing gas. (It is amazing that this was so unreal in the 80s that it was pictured as a 30th century tech. Now people are using drones to deliver packages!)

To make matters worse, the Science Police had been warned by the bomber that this was going to happen and yet chose to ignore it.

And it is here that we begin to see some of the Science Police methods. Shvaughn tells Jan that the SciPo get hundreds of crank phone calls a day and couldn't respond to each. They have a different method of sorting things out, one that should have warned them about this calamity.

We then head into the Science Police Metropolis headquarters where we see each person scanned and identified.

Inside, the Legion learns that the Science Police know which threat to investigate because a giant computer can predict which are the real threats. So how did the computer miss the bombing. It answers the question itself .. it was tampered with.

The idea that the future police squad is basically run by a computer prediction model is both interesting and a little scary!

Wrapping up a subplot from 7 months earlier, we then cut to Medicus One where Shrinking Violet has recovered enough from her kidnapping to finally check out herself out of the hospital. She is quite sure she can handle it, despite Dr. Gym'll's protests.

This is a major turning point in Violet's life. Even here she flies off in a shuttle saying she has a score or two to settle. I'm a big fan of Violet.

The Science Police continue to try to track down who was responsible for the stadium bombing. But other than that one mishap, the main computer continues to correctly predict crimes. I love the Batman poser. That panel was too funny not to post.

It becomes clear that the only way the computer could have been tampered with is from the inside. So to keep a close eye on things, Element Lad and Colossal Boy get fitted with distorters and go undercover as SP officers.

In a little wrinkle, we see that Gigi can instantly recognize Gim despite the costume. He even blushes! This hints that these two might have more a history than we have been let on about. Their history is eventually told in a flashback story somewhere in the Baxter series.

Unfortunately, the bomber remains active. He sets off a number of charges in Metropolis' Restaurant Row. Fortunately, Element Lad knew that enough to call Superboy in from the past to help out.

It is always nice to see Superboy in the book. But what I liked here is Jan embracing the leader role. Realizing he didn't have enough raw power available, he called in a ringer.

The investigation continues to come up empty and so another Legionnaire is brought in to try and help.

The White Witch tries to use magic to discover who is behind the bombings ... but to no avail. I think Levitz includes the Witch here because we hadn't seen her do too much recently. Why not give her a little spotlight.

It is this sort of thing that makes me realize that the creative duo of Levitz and Giffen knew how to handle such a huge cast of characters.

And in another little subplot wrap up (or maybe pause would be a better word) Brainy finally releases Danielle Foccart from the HQ. She is officially discharged.

Hmmm ... the force field door seems to short out near her. Hmmm ...

Of course, Danielle eventually ends up with powers of her own and actually uses the codename Computo. Nice turn for that character.

The book ends on a great little cliffhanger. Chief Zendak hasn't publicly released the threats and the bomber isn't happy. Without the fear of bombings, he can't extort people. To put the final nail into his plan, he blows up the Science Police armory itself.

There is a nice action sequence with some of Giffen's bolder looks here.

But who is the bomber exactly? Nice ending.

I had to include this ad for the upcoming 'deluxe offset format' book ... the Baxter series. Check out that logo! We never saw that. There is a lot of discussion both in the ad and in the letter column about the upcoming shift to two books. What an interesting little slice of history.

So one more issue in this run! I have really been digging it!


  1. This two parter is, for me, the actual pinnacle of Levit-Giffen: everything I love about the book and about this era in condensed in here. As iconic as the Baxter book is and the high-impact opening arc there, THIS is the top drawer. Kessel inks don't hurt one bit, either...

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  3. Yeah, Vi does start becoming pretty cool around here.

    Yes, I think Levitz is great at handling a large cast.

    I thought it amusing that GiGi calls Dirk Sun Boy while they’re out on a date, in civvies, though I guess that was done for the benefit of the reader. It was sort of irresponsible of Sun Boy to smash through the window.

    Also, I have to say, I don’t like Blok’s new look.

    Good story overall.

  4. I love the sneaky Hulk appearance here (in the panel next to Batman). Also fun to see Violet’s new costume for the first time. Giffen seemed to want to make his mark on the team’s look after it remained stagnant for so long. And the art looked particularly good here. Some panels reminded me of the work that the great Darwin Cooke would do years later.