Friday, August 24, 2018

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #5

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #5 is another solid issue in the beginning of this new era of the team. At his peak, Paul Levitz was able to juggle a number of subplots in the LSH title, promoting ones to the A slot while keeping several B-plots percolating.

Last issue, we saw the mystery of the Ranzz Twins kidnapping essentially finished. So the Earth Man redemption arc takes the foreground here. In fact, I think Earth Man is basically the axle that this title has spun around so far. Even in scenes where he is absent, other members are talking about him or  the government is wooing him. Xenophobia is a powerful plot device. And now, maybe more than in 2010, it is good to read stories about it to inform opinion.

Unfortunately, we also get one of the weirder elements of the Earth Man story begun with a doozy of a closing panel.

But outside that, Levitz continues to enrich the mystery of Harmonia Li, the search for a new Green Lantern, and the Durlan conspiracy. All of these are slowly reaching a boil. This issue really nudged things along!

The art is still by the solid duo of Yildiray Cinar and Francis Portela. They split pages here but each covering a different locale so it doesn't seem to off-putting. Cinar does a good job with the battle sequences with a few panels worth looking at closely.

On to the book.

The plight of the displaced Titan refugees has been the foundation for much of the xenophobia plot threads on Earth. Remember, Earth Man ran an isolationist Earth just a few months ago in Action Comics. Not everyone would be willing to welcome these displaced folks with open arms.

Now it seems like those against the Titans being on Earth are getting a bit more pro-active. The ship that might be shipping them to a new home malfunctions and crashes into the refugee camp. And there is the Legion.

A bit to unpack here. I suppose a 'new home' could be somewhere on Earth. But if the transport was bringing them to a new planet, you think the Earth-First crew would be thrilled.

Second, if you were like me and were confused about Sensor Girl's powers in the past, get ready for more. I don't know if she has telepathy? Super-strength? Or just those sense powers.

Luckily, the people are brought to nearby safety and Sun Boy unleashes an attack to melt the ship to slag, keeping the destruction contained.

Did you think Sun Boy was an awful human before? Well, he doubles down. He says he can't woo any of the 'pretty Titan girls' because telepaths can see through fake sincerity. Yeesh!

Thankfully, his lecherousness is interrupted by the arrival of the Earth Crew, a self-organized anti-alien army. And they seem uniquely armed to combat the Legionnaires there.

 Meanwhile, Dyogene arrives on Naltor to talk to Dream Girl. Its quest to find a new Lantern has brought it there.

Interestingly, it picks Professor Harmonia Li. And even more interesting, she swats the ring away saying it has the taint of the Oans on it. Hmmm ... her mystery is building. Who can slap away a Power Ring?

Later in the issue, we see the aged Circadia Senius brought out of retirement to help Brainy fix the Time Bubble. There he talks about when he was a young student he had the most provocative teacher, a woman named Harmonia Li.

Hmmmm ....

Oh, in case I haven't said it in lots of places all over this blog, Francis Portela draws a gorgeous Dream Girl. Seriously, we need a Dream Girl one-shot drawn by him.

The Earth Crew somehow is able to get the upper hand on the Titan rescue Legion team. That includes Sensor Girl, Colossal Boy, Timber Wolf, and Sun Boy. As I said, they seem to have just the right weapons to fight this team. A distress call is sent to the rest of the team.

They focus on eliminating Sensor Girl first with a hyper-sense grenade.

And here, just with numbers, they overwhelm Timber Wolf. Now I think Timber Wolf should be able to handle 8 normal grunts. We have seen him wade through the ranks of assassins on Lythyl. But he is taken out.

That said, I like this panel construction showing just how outnumbered he is, how the plan of attack is a dogpile. Love it.

With the rest of the team taken out, the Crew focuses an Energy Dampener cannon, a sort of cold ray, on Sun Boy.

But who should arrive first to help? Earth Man.

Even he recognizes that Sun Boy might be wondering whose side he is on.

Could we be seeing more cracks in the staunch anti-alien foundation of Earth Man. Is he coming around? Or is he the old fascist?

Of all the subplots, the Durlan conspiracy is the one that has me the most engaged. An infiltration of shape-shifters with some religious fervor is terrifying. It's like Body Snatchers!

Here, we see a Durlan kill crew assassinate old friend SciPo Chief Zendak and replace him. These are the Durlans who worship R.J. Brande. And nothing says 'zealot' like a crazed face which we see in the last panel.

But let's pause a moment. Zendak has been a running secondary character in the book for at least 30 years at this point. Just like that, he's snuffed.

Chief Zendak ... we hardly knew ye!

Back at the refugee base, Earth Man  is powered up with Sun Boy's powers and fires back, melting the dampening cannon and ready to lay the smack down on the soldiers.

He even says that he is starting to think he was wrong in his thinking.

We haven't really seen why he is rethinking things. He didn't seem to keen in helping as a GL just 2 issues ago. I think this might be going a bit too fast.

That said, it would be hard to read and enjoy the book if a lout was front and center. So maybe the turn was done to keep readers happy?

And then the cavalry arrives. In a fantastic two page spread, we see a number of old friends wade in and beat down the Earth Crew army.

Yes! Finally a Vi sighting!

And Cinar really shines in this construction! Just brilliant.

As if to cement his change of heart, we see Earth Man confront the xenophobes still in power in the government. They most likely funded and armed the Earth Crew.

Earth Man rebukes them saying the ring has taught him the error in his ways. He isn't like them.

Could it be that the very presence within the Legion has been inspiring? Could it be that easy?

I do think this has happened a bit too fast. You don't go from hard core totalitarian to loving liberal in the span of days. A slow redemption would have been far better. If we saw him witnessing the good of the Legion for a year or so before coming to this decision, I think it would have been even more powerful.

Of course, maybe there are other reasons why he is so accepting of aliens now.

Phantom Girl walks in on Shady and Earth Man in a rather delicate position.

We saw earlier how feminine wiles and the temptation of the flesh might be a motivator for Earth Man. Perhaps a burgeoning tryst with Shady is enough of a spur to move his political leanings?

Like Tinya, I have to wonder what Tasmia sees in him.

So a very good issue, moving so many plots forward. The Earth Man one is a bit too quick. The Durlan one is going perfectly. And how wild that Zendak's death is probably a footnote in this issue. Maybe that should have been the closing panel instead of this randy shot.

Still, I am enjoying this way more than I thought I would!

Overall grade: B+


  1. As much as I disliked the coupling of Shady & Earth Man, her reasons later given make sense if you consider her relationship history up to and including Mon-El. It took me a bit to get there, but I took a moment and realized it kind of made sense (see you next Friday).

  2. I'm not sure what the confusion is over Sensor Girl's powers. Her powers act like X-Ray and telescopic vision and super-hearing. I'm kinda disappointed that Levitz once again has taken out a female member of the team, this time leaving the boys to do the work. Again, Levitz has Gim explain what happens instead of showing it. I hate that. And how does Gim know exactly what happened to her anyway? For someone who loved when Levitz wrote Sensor Girl in the Baxter series, she goes down like a jabroni.

    I do agree about the Earth Man subplot moving too fast. How did Kirt get there before Jo? Do those xenophobes ever leave that room? And there is only one medikit for the entire Legion? Honestly, I feel like Levitz is phoning it it with his writing. 1000 years into the future and Tinya uses surgical tape on Jo. Maybe Star Trek has ruined how I look at the future. Nothing about the Legion seems futuristic.