Thursday, August 17, 2017

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #88

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #88 (January 1997)
title: "Fast Times"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
pencillers: Lee Moder
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, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Gates, Kinetix, Live Wire, Saturn Girl, Spark, Triad, Ultra Boy, XS

Impulse, Inferno, Kitty Faulkner, Koko, Max Mercury, Rep. Carl Mellor, Rond Vidar, Sen. Dottie Money, Shvaughn Erin, S.T.A.R. Labs staff; in flashback: Flash II, Iris West

Lab accidents

Recently... Part of the Legion has been stranded in the 20th Century and are trying to get home. On a recent attempt, the Legionnaires sought fellow hero from the future Impulse, but the Legion came away from it empty-handed, except for a white monkey liberated from a lab, called Koko.

After Rond Vidar contacts the time-lost Legion from the future (as previously seen from the future's perspective), their S.T.A.R. Labs home is visited by a Congress Oversight Committee evaluating S.T.A.R.'s safety and funding. The politicians are also interested in the Legion and witness Legionnaires pop in from the past (thanks to the recent Cosmic Treadmill mishaps). But everything is fine until Spark mentions Brainiac 5's tendency to blow laboratories up. They take measures to restrict the Coluan's experiments.
Almost on cue, in comes Impulse, asking to become a member of the Legion. Since Brainy is locked out of S.T.A.R.'s computers, he gets Impulse to steal Shvaughn's telepathic earplugs to coordinate a firewall failure with the young speedster. But Impulse takes a shortcut and removes the wrong chip, pushing the first domino towards a meltdown of the Labs' power core, as well as other lab accidents.
The Legionnaires spring into action preventing S.T.A.R. Labs' destruction, but get expelled from the Labs. They quite rightly deny Impulse's application for membership, but Max Mercury promises to call his contacts and find them a new headquarters.
I like how both storylines are connecting at the beginning of this comic. Although, I can’t get over the fact that I didn’t notice the monkey when we saw the 30th Century perspective of the discussion. I’m ashamed of past-Shotgun… How could such an important detail pass before her eyes without her noting it! I guess we now know where the monkey - it’s Koko, isn’t it? – came from.
This issue did two things for me that I wasn’t expecting. First, it made me feel bad for Bart. I guess all the kid really wants is to help the Legion. He’s basically idolizing them after all he’s been through with Jenni so he would love for them to treat him as an equal. His flaws are too big a gamble for them to let him join – he’s way too unpredictable. But, for a little while there, I thought it would work out. If only he could follow simple directives without looking for a shortcut. Brainiac and he made quite the team. Actually, that’s my second observation… Is Brainy slowly becoming a team player? I liked how he handled being questioned and observed. He just went with it without too much of a fuss and grabbed the first opportunity he saw. Of course, that opportunity meant working behind everyone’s back and putting too much trust in Impulse, but it’s a start. Still, he gives credit to the kid and invites him to stay in touch which is more than I would’ve expected from him. Oh, and let’s not forget his interaction with Rond at the beginning. I think he’s starting to realize that not everyone around him is “incompetent” and “useless”.
Nice save from the whole gang… Except Inferno! She’s seen preparing and taking off with the group to fix Bart’s mistake, but isn’t seen in action afterward. What was her task, I wonder? I know it’s only a detail, but it bothers me for some reason.

Yeah Inferno just sort of disappears, doesn't she? And readers will note that I still haven't included her in the "Mission Monitor Board"; I'm waiting for someone to say she's a member. Will it ever happen, or is she just a Work Force member tagging along, just like Shvaughn is Science Police, not Legion.

Anywho... There's one big thing that bugs me about this story and it's the use of telepathic earplugs as having true, long-distance, telepathic powers. In the past, they've been a necessary "universal translator", but I never got the impression Legionnaires were just thinking at each other. Even if they could be used as a two-way radio, it still shouldn't be "thoughts" anymore than a TARDIS' telepathic circuits allow the companions to have mental conversations with the Doctor. I'm sure Brainy can modify tech to get any effect, but then what is Saturn Girl for?! It stomps all over her yard! And kids, don't stick something that was in someone else's ear into your own, it's not hygienic!
Otherwise, a fun little story (with a great homage cover) in which, you're right, Brainy is more of a team player (a selfish one, but still) than usual, and where there are consequences to his own rashness (he and Impulse are more alike than either would care to admit). I really like how Brainy is on the outside looking in when Impulse's fate is discussed; it's not just S.T.A.R. that's pissed. S.T.A.R. was always going to be a temporary haven, and the fact they'll be getting new digs means you should settle into the 20th Century, because they'll be here a while.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1997/2.
  • The issue follows directly from Impulse #21, sharing a scene with it and another with Legionnaires #44.
  • The cover is a homage to Adventure Comics #247, the Legion's first appearance, with Impulse taking (and subverting) the role of Superboy (and Spark in the role of Lightning Lad).
  • The splash page features Brainiac 5 throwing out qualifiers all taken from Marvel Comics titles: Amazing (Spider-Man), Fantastic (Four), Incredible (Hulk), Uncanny (X-Men), and Astonishing (Tales to Astonish).
  • Cosmic Boy believes Impulse is the first superhero to ever be denied membership in the Legion, but he's wrong; he just doesn't know about the 30th-Century team holding try-outs in Legionnaires #43. On the other hand, Impulse is still chronologically first, since these events occur 1000 years before.
  • Impulse is gifted with telepathic earplugs, an echo of the original continuity's tradition of giving rejects flight belts or flight rings as a consolation prize.


  1. Inferno does just fade out from the series, but let's face it she has a history of burning criminals alive. Slightly more murdery tha I like my Legionnaires. Always wondered if that was a consideration in dropping her almost entirely at this point.

  2. Yeah, I could buy the earplugs as some weird, super-scientific thing that somehow semi-telepathically identified the intent behind foreign words and thereby translated them ... but the long distance thing really doesn't make sense the more I think about it.

    The other thing that bugs me here is how did the forcefield belt get activated again? Like, Impulse can't remember a string of numbers (not surprising), so he goes and gets Brainy to do it instead, but there's only a second left on the timer, and Brainy doesn't have time, so Impulse moves his finger for him? I don't get it.

  3. As an aside, there were hints dropped by Mark Waid (if I remember correctly) in "Impulse" that Bart and Brainy's connection ran deeper than Bart knew or Brainy ever let on -- when Bart was trapped in the Virtual reality rig in the 30th century, he had a friend in the program... named "Dox." Notice how despite his (honestly deserved) wariness of Bart's tendency to create chaos, Querl, in the frostiest period of his frostiest iteration, warms up to Bart awfully quick, and it's pretty obvious at the end that the one "yes" vote for admitting Bart to the Legion comes from Brainy.

    Threads like this get created in comics and left lie all the time, but I consider the fact that this one was forgotten about to be a special shame.