Thursday, August 2, 2018

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #107

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #107 (August 1998)
title: "Brainspotting"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
penciller: Jason Armstrong

inker: Ron Boyd
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5.1, Chameleon, Gates, Invisible Kid, Kid Quantum II, Spark, Triad, Violet

Coluans, Koko

Brainiac 4, Composite Man, Dark Circle, Dominators, Evolvo, Gil'Dan (Brain Globes of Rambat), Khunds, Leland McCauley, Sklarian Raiders, Time Trapper (flashback)

The Dark Circle has destabilized the United Planets and manipulated several planets into leaving the U.P. for the new Affiliated Planets. Much of the plan hinges on scapegoating Durla and inflaming xenophobia. The Durlan criminal known as the Composite Man has just killed one of Winath's presidents as part of that plot, putting the visiting Spark and Triad on the run. Meanwhile, Brainiac 5.1, Kid Quantum and Violet are headed to Colu to make sure Brainy's homeworld doesn't flip sides...

The Legionnaires arrive on Colu while the planet is sleeping, and after taking care of it security systems, Brainy jumps into SleepNet to talk to his people. He easily convinces them not to side with the Affiliated Planets and in exchange for his warning, give him back a memory of his mother's face, though this might have awakened... something.
On Winath, Triad and Spark hide in the latter's old tree house where the former reveals she managed to get evidence of why the planet switched sides from the president's stolen limo. Before they can celebrate, the Composite Man attacks. He's about to get trounced when the Dark Circle has McCauley teleport the Durlan to Winath to stop Brainiac 5.1 from securing Colu's loyalty.
But the Composite Man becomes distracted when he tries to copy Brainy's powers and feels his mind expanding. Before the Legion can defeat him, the Coluans make Brainy connect the Durlan to SleepNet, where he gets a glimpse of the Dark Circle's plans... and the Time Trapper's involvement? Colu's share intelligence also shuts down the Composite Man's mind.
In the meantime, the Dark Circle also sends its entire fleet to Durla for an attack.

Brainiac 5.1 isn’t only nicer and more reliable, he’s also daring. To go to Colu and face his kind – while smiling on top of it all – isn’t something I would’ve seen Brainiac 5 do in a million years. I like the imagery of the SleepNet and there’s something sweet about the others showing Brainy his mother as a way of rewarding him for sharing his knowledge. Now when Composite Man is sent into the SleepNet, what is it Brainy’s talking about? I don’t remember seeing the Time Trapper’s face so could it really be him at the bottom of that page? Because that’s the same face we see a little earlier that merge into the Dark Circle’s leader, isn’t it?
Poor Triad. Having your childhood stolen away from you must be such a difficult thing to accept. As an “almost” grown-up (remember Shotgun… They’re teenagers!), I can imagine that all she can really feel about it now is regret. Nice of Spark to try and take her mind off it by analyzing what they just went through. I love how Triad defeats the Composite Man simply by relying on her training, something he will never be able to steal from anyone. You think she’s weak, well I hope it hurts to be beaten by a frail little girl, you creep! Let the Coluans do whatever they want with his mind, I couldn’t care less. All I care about is what exactly is on that 30th Century version of a floppy disk!
Favorite part BY FAR: “Never underestimate the insanity of racists.” – Gates, 2998. AMEN!

The Time Trapper bit is garbled for sure. We've never seen its face, and the hooded figure in the background, raising the Composite Durlans from their volcanic prison is colored like it could be a Durlan. The exact connection will wait for another day. Heck, it's not the only garbled image: I don't really know what the last page is showing us, but it looks like Durla exploded. I know that's not it.
Anyway, the issue benefits from its smaller cast, letting these story strands breathe a little. The stuff on Colu goes a long way showing the new Brainy is more complex than previously shown. He's not just positive and caring, but shows self-loathing about his previous self and his work, and a deadly seriousness about the power of the enemy. Things to watch out for: Whatever was awakened in the SleepNet that speaks in red captions rather than green.
As for the Winath story, Triad continues to climb my Top of the Pops list of favorite Legionnaires with her spy skills and martial arts. She's sassy and funny, and takes Spark's misplaced anger in her stride. The Composite Man has all the powers of the Legion and yet, she puts him on the ropes. I love love love stories where the "weakest" team member wins against all odds. The Legion's early creators nerfed a lot of characters with the "one power" rule, especially the ladies. So it's great when more contemporary writers find a way to make them relevant and useful like this. Even with Brainy, I like the suggestion that "12th-level intelligence" means he's thinking on 12 different tracks at once (one of which is not in SleepNet, while the others are).
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1998/16.
  • The issue includes a Dark Circle Rising banner and a circle in the background, as does every issue in this story arc.
  • Brainiac 5.1 mentions the last time he was on Colu, from his perspective, was 1000 years ago, in Showcase '96 #11-12.
  • Spark quotes Tom Robbins' Still Life with Woodpecker, which she presumably read while in the 20th Century. This postmodern fairy tale involved aliens and redheads, among other things. See a connection to Ayla if you will.

1 comment:

  1. I never really understood the Time Trapper reference. I can only imagine Brainy is talking about the hooded figure -- but that just looks like a Durlan to me. And we really have no reason to think the Coluan is the Time Trapper, do we?

    Feels like a character voicing something only a reader would think...