Friday, September 14, 2018

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #8

Legion of Super-Heroes #8 continues the 'faster than usual' pace for the title. And that is something that I think is giving me pause.

For those reading these reviews, you know that my memory of the Retroboot has been less than stellar. And yet, on these review rereads, I have been enjoying the title more than I anticipated. I have been wondering when it would turn the corner. My recollection couldn't be that off, could it?

Well, in the last few issues, writer Paul Levitz has been rushing through plots and as a result I haven't been getting that full experience. The 'cult of Darkseid' plot where the Ranzz twins were kidnapped was wrapped up in one issue. Earth Man becoming more sympathetic of other races happened very quickly. Shadow Lass falling for Earth Man happened in a panel. For those who read Levitz in the '80s, his style was much more to keep things simmering. Here we go from still waters to boil.

In this issue, we see that a Durlan conspiracy to infiltrate the UP and honor RJ Brande which could have been played out over years is suddenly revealed and out in the open. Compare that to something like 'The Universo Project' where we got our first hint of it in the Baxter series #10, had mysteries sprinkled through, to ultimately reveal it in #32. That's nearly 2 years!

Art is by Yildiray Cinar and once again he does a great job. Much of this issue is Legionnaires fighting Durlans and Cinar shines in those sequences.

Maybe this is the beginning of the downturn?

We start out with Colossal Boy and Dream Girl visiting R.J. Brande's private secretary Pheebs.

It is revealed that Brande was killed while trying to convince the UP to open its doors to Durla. After his assassination, Pheebs took over Brande's business. It was Pheebs who helped establish the new Durlan leadership. And now the aide is in danger. The Durlans are out to avenge Brande's death.

I don't know if we ever saw Brande's death. Did that happen off screen?

And if Pheebs was the one who set up the renegade Durlans, why would they be going after Brande's worker?

Meanwhile, Tellus arrives with an injured Dawnstar and a de-suited Wildfire at a Science Police medical center.

I think that Wildfire's glow being visible is something new. I always thought he was an invisible entity when out of the suit.

Gigi Cusimano reminds us that the Legion has captured a Durlan. Perhaps Tellus and his telepathy can help sort things out.

Back at headquarters, Cos is weighed down with responsibility. The team is stretched thin protecting the UP Council members, off on other missions, and off world. And Phantom Girl says what we have all been thinking: Durlans can replace people! How deep does this conspiracy go?

I love the simple decision to split this panel into two. There are two different feels to this. By giving Cos the panel on his own, we as readers take the time to see how worried and fatigued he is.

Then we get the next panel, a concerned Tinya worried about how in the dark they are, as she literally stands in the dark.

Both moments deserve their space to breathe. Had this been one big panel, you might have been glossed over a bit as you tried to take it in all in one look.

Back at Brande's estate, a couple of birds turn out to be ... gasp ... Durlan assassins.

One thing I appreciated is seeing Dream Girl hold her own in personal combat. It was established in the Threeboot that she could precog her opponent's moves. So I like that she is able to stay on top of this Durlan who clearly should wipe her out.

Also, she looks very dreamy during the sequence. Only she could look so sexy while in hand-to-hand.

Who arrives to help out? Earth Man and Shadow Lass.

I am not sure if the Durlans are souped up in some way. This Durlan seems to be able to increase its mass, growing to the size of Colossal Boy. It then gets a double-fisted sandwich.

I don't think I'll ever like Earth Man. But I do like seeing him sort of embrace his role as a Legionnaire, wading into the brawl immediately.

At the headquarters, Cos talks to Brainy (who is still on Naltor).

With the Durlan plot revealed, Brainy reminds Cos of a potential weapon in his lab. It turns out to be Cancelite, a gas created by Supergirl and perfected by Brainy which can negate a Durlan's ability to change.

But the big line here is Brainy congratulating Cos for surviving his term as leader. First off, I like how small Cos is in this panel. It reminds us that he is pretty frail. He could have died many times. It also makes me think about how big the problems are that Cos is trying to deal with.

The art really complements the words and sentiment here.

And then, as Cos goes to get the Cancelite, Chief Zendak reveals himself as a Durlan, blaming Rokk for letting Brande die.

I definitely shook my head here.

The Zendak replacement happened 2 issues ago. This should have remained hidden for so much longer. But instead it comes out.

Too soon.

Back at Brande's, Earth Man continues to state his prejudice. He really still worries most about humans.

And having absorbed the shape-changing abilities, he becomes living metal and crushes the guy.

Can Durlans become living metal?

And Cos gets a hand from Phantom Girl. But even they have a hard time with the Zendak-Durlan.

Luckily, Element Lad shows up and captures it in an intertron globe.

Durlans are pretty tough.

But the most interesting part of the issue for me is seeing the Legion election.

Mon-El turns out to be the winner. But he has quit the team!

More interesting is the breakdown of the votes.

Sensor Girl is in red because hers was the last to appear. Counting things out, Mon-El wins 7-6 over Brainiac 5. I will point out that Dawnstar didn't vote because of injury. Perhaps if she voted it would be a tie? Why not wait?

But let's look closer. Shadow Lass voting for her boyfriend makes a little sense. But Gates, a rather alien looking being, voting for the xenophobe? Weird.

Earth Man voting for an alien from Tharr? Especially when there are humans on the team? Weird.

Lightning Lass voting for Dream Girl makes some sense. Ayla really started to discover who she was in the immediate post-Great Darkness time. And Dreamy got the team through that.

But perhaps most interesting is Cos and Element Lad, both long time leaders, both voting for Sun Boy. Perhaps they see something in Dirk I don't.

Still, I think too much is happening too fast.

What did you think?


  1. I don't know where the 5YL stories fall now, but during that time it was established people from Tharr, Braal and other worlds home to various legion folk were from Earth. They were prisoners from the Dominator experiments of the Invasion storyline that gave them powers. A group of prisoners who could generate cold chose Tharr because their powers would let them survive there. That would mean Polar Boy is human.

  2. My whole feeling with this series is one of "phantom limb": it's no longer there, whatever the great Levitz Legion had, but we still kind of feel it.
    Redeeming quality here is the art: Cos has never looked better. he's mature, but still very hot. He and Vi on the cover are just awesome.

  3. Dream Girl also voted for Sun Boy. I wonder if she knew something that never came to fruition? Perhaps if he'd been leader, Phantom Girl might not have gotten her term (and had her character assassinated), and he'd still be alive. Levitz probably thought that far ahead, but 'The Powers That Be' (editorial) didn't I am sure.

    1. Looking back, Levitz always favored Sun Boy for stories. He always showed Dirk as a capable fighter. He defeated Regulus by using his flight right (ok Paul, you've worn that trick out already). Then later in Vol 7, he has Dirk handle a volcanic eruption by himself. Paul loved Dirk but readers never seemed quite as fond of him for some reason.

  4. Didn't Brande die (and get outed as Durlan) in Legion of 3 Worlds? They're never been really consistent with Durlans, but general size-changing/mass-shedding-or-gaining has kind of always been there. Becoming metal-skinned, though - definitely not.

  5. Quislet voted for Gates. I'm not sure why, but this amuses me greatly.

  6. Brande was killed in Legion of 3 Worlds (still missing on this site)...

  7. Some of the votes struck me as strange as well. While I don't think Polar Boy's term as leader went particularly well back in the day, I chalk it up to circumstances. Considering that I think he did a decent job. That said, I don't get why Earthman voted for him. But what surprised me even more was that Brek got a vote from Violet considering her reaction the first time he got elected.

    And Gates voting for Earthman? I assume it was a protest vote. And Quislet? Is s/he even present in this version? I don't remember seeing him/her/it in this run. I think the writer tries to break down the votes of the legionnaires so they reflect who was in the voting, but some of these don't make much sense.

  8. I'm not sure when Durlan powers changed but I recall in Superman and the Legion of Superheroes, Yera assumed the form an powers of a Korbal lightning beast. Maybe Levitz figured he could stick with this some how? In volume 7 he had Cham shrink to microscopic size with Vi "in imitation." Funny how Durlans get a power upgrade and poor Dawnstar gets nothing.

    First things first. Nice to see Nura and Gim as a team together though it would have been nice to see Nura give the order. I feel like Paul was pulling for either Gim or Dirk to be leader because of the exposure they got.

    Tellus carrying Dawnstar is a big no-no. He's a telekinetic; Jean Grey would never carry in a teammate by hand. And yes, you are correct, Drake had to be dyed in order to see his energy form.

    I saw in another forum where someone commented how Levitz loves to write how shorthanded the Legion is, even at 25 members. Didn't he just see an Academy full of potential members 2 issues ago? But I guess he couldn't show them as being capable since they would be discharged from the Academy in a few months and not given membership.

    Side note, there was a scene once in the vol 2 Legion title which show Cham and Mysa testing out the new cells on Takron-Galtos and Cham grew to a giant size with 3 arms! A shame that Shady's powers are absolutely no use and she has to rely on fighting hand to hand. She could have used some extra powers too! Furthermore, how did Shady and Nura beat the one Durlan with hand to hand while Kirt and Gim gave the other a double knuckle sandwich that didn't know him out?

    I wish they would not have done the reader vote and Paul could have picked who he wanted. It's two wasted pages. We didn't get that for Tinya.

    Aside from my nit-picks, this issue wasn't terrible. I do wonder why Cham is not running Brande Corp. It still exists, right?

  9. Thanks for comments! Amazing!

    I forgot about Brande in Legion of three worlds. Looks like I know what I'll be rereading next!

    The Durlan size thing does seems variable. I think we have seen Cham mimic the massive Validus at one point so maybe I am more put off by Colossal Boy saying it seems so new.

    And yes, the origin of many species are that they are from Earth, genetically changed by the Dominators, and brought to new worlds by Valor. Still, I don't think Earth Man is such an elegant thinker. I doubt he looks on them as colonizers and more as 'different'.

  10. Who is the bald guy in red (next to Violet) on the cover?

  11. Anj, You should add Elections to the key words. Thx!

  12. Thanks 4 the review of this issue (have work by Cynar an mine too).