Thursday, August 30, 2018

Reboot: Science Police #1-4

In August of 2016, before we started reviewing the Reboot era, our fearless leader Little Russell Burbage reviewed the Legion: Science Police mini-series. So for the issue's recap and an alternative opinion, please follow THIS LINK back to the original review. No redundancies, Siskoid & Shotgun will only give their own impression of the story, in context with the rest of their Reboot reviews.

For a side story that isn’t really connected to the Legion except through Imra and Legion siblings, I actually liked it a lot. Ever since I was little, I always loved cop stories and investigations. I was confused at first, because I sort of expected the Legion to come and help the S.P. during that first mission. The Ringers came out of nowhere and, of course, I thought it was weird. Between that and the officer waiting for orders, it definitely hooked me as I had so many questions. What’s great is they were all answered as the story – and back stories – unfolded. I think my favorite part is the tech used during this story. It was fun to see how the Science Police is able to operate when they have to face super-beings on a regular basis. Sure, some of them have powers – Leviathan was one of them – but the technologies used are a serious help to those less fortunate among their ranks. As our protagonist said a couple of time, these gadgets really put the “Science” in Science Police.
This really is a classic tale of corruption trying to hide behind heroism. It’s nice to see that all members seemed to have a pretty good moral ground as they questioned the sabotage missions they were sent on. It’s too bad for Klen that he had to lose his life because of the powers he borrowed and the greed of an evil man. That McCauley is involved financially in this mess is no surprise to me and I’m curious to see if anything brought back by this copy chip could be linked to him. I doubt we’ll hear about it and that’s a shame. This crook will have to answer for all the crimes he committed, was affiliated with and/or financed sooner or later. I hope it’s soon because I’m tired of sighing whenever his name gets mentioned.
Now I want to talk about Shadder. I know a lot of police officers – family friends, colleagues, and clients when I worked at Tim Horton’s, of course – and I can say that it’s never been and never will be an easy job. They’re always under pressure, have a bad reputation and are scrutinized by everyone all the time. I know for a fact that being able to make a call on a moment’s notice in a crisis situation is part of the job and I can only imagine what having to live with the consequences can feel like. It must be truly horrible. To have Shadder, a man who clearly suffers due to his past decision, at the center of this story wasn’t only a great way to create more conflict, it also raised awareness on the trauma any first responder might face. The arc that follows his rehabilitation might be a bit simplistic, but it still resonated with me. It was a pretty nice and touching feel-good story!
While I agree with everything you said, I am far less enthusiastic about the mini-series. Part of that is its weak connective tissue with the other two Legion series, which were in the middle of a big Dark Circle arc. We see Imra research Durla in one panel, and it's the reason she, and a few others, temporarily joined the S.P. - to gain access to Durla. I not only wish that were addressed, I wish she had a bigger role! Why have her there at all, if she's not going to have more to do, won't interact meaningfully with Magno's brother (who doesn't get enough to do either, mind) or Leviathan's sister?! I mean, I get it. Michelinie wasn't in the Legion think tank, so events were written independently of them, but it still needed to feel more relevant. And then the Legion books promptly ignored everything that was introduced in the mini, so... yeah.
Even within its own story, the Ringers come out of nowhere and act as the real protagonists of the series until Shadder starts to fight his PTSD. They were never referenced before, we never knew Gim had a sister, and the powers their rings have stolen from villains? Well those villains have never appeared before either. It all feels so disconnected. And it takes pages away from the nominal stars of this book: the Science Police! If the series had trusted its core concept and not had to introduce superhero action, it would have had more time developing not just Shadder, but Magz, their boss, and other characters. In other words, I wish this had been 30th-Century take on Gotham Central, with John Paul Leon doing the gritty art on the interiors as well as the covers, instead of the brighter, more superheroic designs of Paul Ryan.
You sold me on an idea, 1998 DC, and you didn't deliver!

Science Police Notes:  
  • This mini-series occurs sometime soon after the events in Legionnaires #63, wherein Saturn Girl resigned from the Legion; she is still in the Science Police in Legionnaires #65.
  • A character named "Commander Hagbard" appears in Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #267. He asks the fledgling Legion to help in a routine investigation. This version, apparently prejudiced against Titanians, was briefly seen all the way back in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #0.
  • The leader of the Ringers, Driana Allon, is the sister of Gim Allon, the Legionnaire known as Leviathan who was killed in action. Gim was an only child in the original continuity, and had an unnamed brother in the Threeboot.
  • Officer Omar Magz transferred from Braal is former Legionnaire Magno's brother, first seen in Legionnaires #53.
  • Leland McCauley is implied to be the one hiring the Ringers to sabotage rival businesses.

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