Monday, November 26, 2018

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #9

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #9 (February 2008)
title: Bad Ideas
writer: Scott Beatty
art: Ethan Beavers
letterer: John J. Hill
colorist: Heroic Age
editor: Jeanine Schaefer
cover art: Alexander Serra

Mission Monitor Board: Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Sun Boy, Superman, and Triplicate Girl.

Villains: Brainiac

Synopsis: The story opens with our team fighting monsters on an alien planet but quickly flashes back to earlier that day. Brainiac 5 is viewing what appears to be either a comic book or newspaper image of his ancient ancestor, Brainiac, fighting a fully grown Superman. The picture was discovered bundled among other paper-based periodicals in an ancient landfill. Bouncing Boy asks why Brainiac 5 seems so troubled by the artifact...

Brainiac 5 only had suspicions of their relationship until this artifact confirmed it. He searches out Superman and surprises his friend by asking him to strike him as hard as his super-strength allows. He hopes this will jar lose a data core locked deep inside him. He convinces his friend when he mentions that the data relates to where Superman comes from. Superman's punch knocks Brainy through their headquarters and the results at first seem a bit more ominous than expected.

Despite appearances, Brainiac 5 is not hostile and it seems the super-punch successfully unlocked the data he wanted. He offers to take Superman to his point of origin orbiting the red sun of Rao and the team sets out in a time bubble instead of their Legion cruiser.
Superman starts to weaken as they near the red sun Rao. A sunspot suddenly envelopes the time bubble, causing it to crash into the Krypton of the distant past, and Brainiac 5 realizes he must have miscalculated their pathway. The team is confused and Brainy confesses that he was attempting to atone for his great-great grandfather, who will become one of Superman's worst enemies.
At first, Brainy fears that the damage to the time bubble will leave them trapped in the past forever. But once Superman snaps his friend out of his depression, Brainy realizes that he can use their flight rings and the remains of their time bubble to build an entirely new one. So long as the team can hold off the Kryptonian beasts that begin attacking.
The Legion is not faring well but Brainy figures out that they are facing Kryptonian Thought-Beasts that can use telepathy to anticipate their every move. He urges the team to empty their minds, which surprisingly turns out to be a bit harder for Chuck than it is for the rest of the team.
After Sun Boy drives off the last of the Thought-Beasts, Brainy uses Bouncing Boy to began creating the structure for their new time bubble.
The time bubble is soon completed and the team gathers to return home. Before departure, Superman takes a moment to reassure his friend that he is not responsible for the actions of his ancestor.
The notion of Brainiac 5 feeling compelled to atone for his ancestor is certainly intriguing but his plan here is too vague and ill-defined to make for a compelling story. It seems that his goal is to reveal Superman's Kryptonian origins to his friend, but he also explicitly mentions in-story that he is prevented by a third law of time travel from verbally telling Superman and can only show him. He even catches himself from actually saying the name Krypton. Eventually, he relents and explains where they are but it remains unclear what his original expectations were.

Further, if this is the moment where Superman first learns of Krypton, it is rather lackluster. The reveal passes quickly and gets lost amid everything else going on, rather than being treated as the major revelation it should be for Superman. All in all, not one of the better issues of a series that is usually quite good. This is a shame given that the underlying premise of Brainiac 5's guilt is a good one. Hopefully, things will get back on track next issue!


  1. Anyone notice Bouncing Boy's face carved on the rebuilt time bubble? Adorable.