Thursday, November 1, 2018

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #111

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #111 (January 1999)
title: "Possession"
writers: Tom McCraw and Tom Peyer
penciller: Scott Kolins
inker: Ron Boyd
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: Alan Davis and Mark Farmer
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5.1, Ferro (cameo), Invisible Kid I, Karate Kid, Kinetix, Live Wire, M'Onel, Spark, Thunder, Violet

Koko, Magno, the people of Sataar

Sarei and Redin Klerrgh

Thunder has just joined the team, which has agreed to help find the shards of the Rock of Eternity so it could be restored and the future she comes from, ensured...

At Outpost Allon, Live Wire is still angry that Saturn Girl assigned him well away from her, and doubly upset when he's not allowed to go help M'Onel, Thunder, Brainiac 5.1 and Kinetix on Sataar, where the group is collecting Eternium (shards of the Rock of Eternity) and where the sun has just red-shifted, imperiling the Daxamite's powers and requiring back-up. Another team was already in space and will handle it, Garth.
There's a strange earthquake on Sataar, and M'Onel takes a detour to help the diverse community that lives on the planet. He finds and destroys the machine responsible, but is hit by a strange beam. His team is shocked when it is then attacked BY M'Onel, speaking in an alien voice. Thunder next succumbs, and soon the back-up team, made up of Spark, Invisible Kid and Karate Kid, is attacked. Invisible Kid manages to turn off the breathing apparatus in Thunder's transsuit and the evil spirit within her is ejected.
The possessed M'Onel reveals he and she are the life forces of Sarei and Redin Klerrgh, xenophobic, wealthy citizens of Sataar who lost control of their society as other cultures joined it and who sought a means to extend their lives as wraith-like parasites. Only now, centuries after their deaths, have they found hosts worthy of possessing. Karate Kid faces off against Redin-as-M'Onel and uses martial arts to deflect the Daxamite into space, where his powers are sapped by the red sun. Not understanding what's happening, Redin flees M'Onel's body, and the Legionnaire uses his last erg of power to return to the planet.
While the city and Legion cruiser are repaired, and the Eternium collected, Karate Kid meditates on his attempt to kill M'Onel. The Daxamite lets him off the hook, by thanking him. They shake hands. The end.
I have such a hard time with the baddies taking an eternity to explain who they are, where they come from, how they hatch their evil plans and the disgusting reason why they feel all of this stuff is necessary. I mean, I get that we need to learn a bit more about the motive behind these terrible acts, but it’s the blurting it all out before attacking the Legion that I just can’t get behind anymore. There must be a reason why this speciesist rhetoric keeps coming back again and again. Either the writers wanted to make a point by shining a spotlight on the terrible things people do when ignorant and fearful, or it has a greater purpose within the storyline. To be honest, I don’t know which theory I prefer. I know I’m repeating myself, but it keeps bringing me back to the reality we live in right now and it’s getting somewhat depressing.
The redeeming aspect of this story is seeing Karate Kid in action. The redirection technique was pretty impressive. I wish *I* could keep my cool the way Karate Kid does. Kudos to the artists because seeing him using different skills, from different martial arts, isn’t easy to express with drawings, but I love how they did it here. The chaotic fight between Karate Kid and M’Onel... I mean Redin... is jumping off the page as if the Kid were actually moving. Actually, I love the art all over this issue, not just in the action scenes. The colors, the expressions, the movement, everything makes this issue stand out.
I'm with you on the xenophobia storylines. Not so much because it feels like the late 90s are explicitly talking to the late 2010s, but because the Reboot Legion has done a LOT of these. The U.P. started in a state of mistrust between planets. Then the White Triangle stuff. And it keeps adding to the pile. Now, as our fearless leader Russell said earlier this week, one of the Legion's big themes is that of diversity, so I get that writers return to it from time to time. But in this case, the villains are one-off spirits (hey, Halloween's over!) that basically serve to pit M'Onel against Karate Kid, much as once happened in an earlier continuity to prove the Kid had a "power" going up against Superboy. So they could have had ANY motivation; the one chosen is played out.
As for the fights, yeah, they're pretty cool. Invisible Kid (another low-powered hero) defeats Thunder with his brains, while Karate Kid uses his opponent's strength against him. There's the contrived plot point that the sun has just red-shifted, which apparently only affects M'Onel off-planet (is the atmosphere real thick or something?), so I'm not entirely convinced. (And it's yellow at the end there... maybe it's a binary star system.) One would imagine that M'Onel in charge of his own body could defeat Karate Kid; it's really a case of inexperience turning his power set into brute force. Anyway, pretty good action, but not a great story.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/2.
  • The Karate Kid/M'Onel fight is an homage to the way Karate Kid proved himself in the original continuity by triumphing over Superboy in Adventure Comics #346.


  1. I agree that the actual fight scene was excellent. Seeing Karate Kid face down M'Onel was totally enjoyable--always fun to see characters winning through smarts instead of brute force!

    But yes, the trappings are problematic and in some cases nonsensical. This review series is in a run of single, self-contained issues, and they're showing the flaw there. When you have to set up the plot, create conflict, introduce one or more villains, justify their motivation, have a fight scene, and wrap everything up all in a single issue, you start to run out of pages pretty quickly.

    That said, some of the multipart storylines that ARE coming up never really impressed me, so perhaps I shouldn't be too quick to complain!

  2. This part of the Reboot era is on the wane, creatively, as evidenced by the complete changing of the guard in about a year.