Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #110

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #110 (December 1998)
title: "The Power of Thunder!"
writers: Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw
penciller: Scott Kolins 
inker: Ron Boyd 
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: Mike McAvennie
thanks to: Jerry Ordway
cover: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5.1, Invisible Kid, Live Wire, M'Onel, Spark, Thunder (joins), Violet

Captain Marvel (flashback), Cece's foster parents (flashback), Inspector Javert (flashback), Koko, S.H.A.Z.A.M. Computer; human and tiger citizens of Fawcett-World

Dash Noir (flashback), Dr. Savant, Objective Order

In the 90th Century, Earth is dead and gone. It is remembered on Binderann, however, where the Marvel Family lives on in Cece Beck, who when she says the wizard's name "CAPTAIN MARVEL!", turns into the superheroine Thunder. But she has recently fallen though the Mists of Time...

M'Onel detects a massive explosion in space and finds a young girl just barely alive in the rubble. He gives her a transsuit and telepathic plugs, but she panics and knocks him back, then flies home to her world of Binderann. Except, Binderann is uninhabited, and talking to M'Onel, she realizes she's 6000 years too early. She is Cece Beck AKA Thunder, the 90th Century's version of Captain Marvel, and she needs to find the Rock of Eternity to get home.
Meanwhile, the Legion has tracked a similar explosion to Fawcett-World, a planet run exclusively by magic. The Objective Order, led by Dr. Savant, are science fanatics bent on destroying the Rock of Eternity and wiping out all magic besides. Though the explosion happens in space, Fawcett-World is where they actually blow it up (it's magic, it doesn't make sense). While the Legion investigates, magic fails, and they spring into action to save the population from the disaster.
Thunder and M'Onel arrive, and Thunder immediately heads for the Rock to face Dr. Savant. Her powers start failing for unknown reasons and he almost gets the better of her. She is shocked to see his men destroy themselves in an explosion, and then Savant himself rather than be captured, but on a hunch (courtesy of the Wisdom of Solomon), she jumps into the explosion. The Legion is relieved to see her alive a few moments later with a captive Savant. It seems they were using short-range teleports, which she deduced because there's no reason for science fanatics to kill themselves for the cause as they wouldn't believe in an afterlife. The heroes also figure out that Thunder's temporary weakness is due to the remains of the Rock of Eternity, which have an adverse effect on her.
While her long-term goal is to get every piece of the Rock and put it back together to ensure her future (where the Rock of Eternity exists), the Legion asks her to join the team in the meantime. She gladly accepts.

I am the kind of person who puts more trust in science than I ever would in gods. That being said, I never was able to understand the great divide between the two types of people. I don't mean like, when people are using their religions to justify terrible acts, that's unforgivable. I mean on an everyday basis. If someone is more connected with their spirituality, it does not make that person of lesser value than someone who is strictly analytical and vice-versa. These humanoids, living – and fake-dying – for science are as much an extremist group as we've seen with religion throughout history... Is this saying that people will never learn not to impose their points of view on others? Sigh... What a sad observation.
Now, I knew next to nothing about Shazam and/or Captain Marvel coming in. Seriously though, I know there's a movie coming in 2019 and that a kid turns into a superhero when he says SHAZAM. That was the extent of my knowledge. I'm glad they gave a little bit of background to help people like me who aren't diehard DC fans. Now, is that really what SHAZAM stands for on page 7? That's a mouthful! No wonder they shrunk it down – although I have a feeling the original Shazam writers worked the other way around, named the character THEN found an acronym for it. I'm not a particular fan of how fast they added Cece to the team as she has her own mission to accomplish. It feels like being a Legionnaire will only get in the way of her goal to get back home. I guess we'll see how right I am in the coming issues. Meanwhile, I will gladly welcome a very cosplayable character to the team. *wink*
One thing that Legion books rarely indulge in is linking back to the heroic traditions of our own era. Aside from its original links to the Superman Family, DC never felt the need to make the Legion all descendants of the Justice League or whatever. They even went out of their way to sideline the Green Lantern Corps. The Reboot did introduce XS, who is related to the Flash family, but she was the exception and not the rule. So it's odd to see Thunder show up, especially since she wasn't created for the Legion (or else her origin story would take place in the 30th, not 90th Century - it's just a complication too many). Then I realized that, absent Andromeda, she could be the Supergirl of the Reboot Legion. Not that we need a Superboy and a Supergirl, but since they can't really be shared with the Legion right now, this is a nice way to pay tribute to Kara's place in Legion lore. They even invent a magical kryptonite for her. Will Brainy (himself anti-magic) be smitten?
And I just love all the Marvel Family tribute stuff on Fawcett-World (see Science Police Notes). Dr. Savant is a good, warped terrorist type who follows in Dr. Sivana's footsteps, and who doesn't love a talking tiger? It's just fun. And if that's what Thunder brings to the team, then by all means. The Power of Shazam was one of the more positive-feeling DC books of the late 90s and while the Legion isn't exactly gloomy, there's something about the joy that's on the last page. Even Live Wire, stinging from his girlfriend sending him to live on the satellite base without her (what's happening there?), has a big smile on his face. And I kind of do too.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1998/22.
  • Thunder was created by Jerry Ordway (who is thanked in the credits) for The Power of Shazam Annual #1, a Legends of the Dead Earth Annual published two years prior, and set 6000 years after the Legion's time.
  • Her joining the team was foreshadowed in a group shot all the way back in Legion of Super-Heroes Secret Files and Origins #1 and more recently in a flashback/forward in Legionnaires #1,000,000.
  • The explosion of the Rock of Eternity that sent Thunder back in time occurs in The Power of Shazam #44.
  • Much of Thunder's back story pays tribute to old Captain Marvel stories. Her name, Cece Beck, is based on Cap's original artist, C.C. Beck. Her world, Binderann, references Otto Binder, Cap's principal writer. Her hometown, Schaffenburgh, Cap's later artist, Kurt Schaffenburger. Her patois is "Moley", a shortened version of Cap's "Holy Moley".
  • Fawcett-World, the 30th-Century version of Fawcett City adds to the homage. It is named after the comics company that originated the Marvel Family. Its population includes both humans and humanoid tigers (a tribute to Mr. Talky-Tawny) and is run by a computer version of the wizard Shazam. Its main city has giant statues of the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man normally seen in Shazam's cave, and that cave (access to the Rock of Eternity) is physically present on the planet. The city's mayor looks exactly like Sterling Morris, Billy Batson's employer.<
  • Dr. Savant is a riff on Dr. Sivana, both in name and look.
  • Thunder here becomes an analog of Supergirl in the Legion, with a similar power set, blond hair, origins from another time, link to a well-known male hero, and even a kryptonite analog - pieces of the Rock of Eternity make her weak.
  • There is explicit reference made to the fact that the Legion has been split in two - one team at Earth HQ, the other in the orbital Outpost. Indeed, from this point on, each Legion book more or less tells its own stories, with minimal crossover.
Thunder joins the Legion as the first character to do so since Superboy, Supergirl and Mon-El not specifically created for the Legion timeline (not counting honorary members).


  1. I've always felt that Mysa and Mordru were enough magic for the 31st century. And although CC was a cute idea (minus the 90th century part), I did NOT like this addition to this iteration of the Legion.

  2. Don't forget the Emerald Eye which played a big role in the Reboot. I get your point, Legion feels like it should be strictly sci-fi. At least Thunder doesn't cast spells.

  3. While there are some moments here that are nice, overall this issue just doesn't work for me. I don't really have any issue with the character, but ... is she really necessary? The books have been struggling to deal with the sheer number of characters as it is, and the solution is to add another one?

    Anyway. I do kind of like the whole "pretend to be suicide bombers" idea but there's a little too much lampshading on the whole "why do we have to blow this up here too" end of things.

    The characterization is just ... off. M'Onel's "Beck, you rat" on page 20 is just a weird thing to say, and I find the whole team asking her to join the Legion at the same time just plain cheesy. No way should Brainy be that eager, and really, only M'Onel has seen her in action and only jumping at Dr. Savant. I'm not sure I buy that many Legionnaires being so impressed by her that they want her to join on the spot.

    Feels like a "we need to shoehorn in a Shazam character" issue.