Thursday, December 20, 2018

Reboot: Legionnaires #71

Legionnaires #71 (May 1999)
title: "The Elements of Disaster"
writers: Roger Stern and Tom McCraw
penciller: Jeffrey Moy
inker: W.C. Carani
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: Mike McAvennie
adult legionnaire: Carmela Merlo
cover: Chris Sprouse and Al Gordon
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Kid Quantum II, Monstress, Leviathan (flashback), Saturn Girl, Star Boy, Umbra, Violet (flashback)

Athramites, Brika, Chuck Taine, Del, Dragonmage, Ewa Krinn, Dirk Morgna, Flutter, Hu Krinn, Kuniko, Mysa, Pol Krinn, Shvaughn Erin, R.J. Brande; Alien terraformers, Brazilian kitchen staff, Gil'dan (AKA Brain Globes of Rambat), Magno-ball players, reptilian ambassador, scrap metal plant workers, Science Police

A'rie, Alux Cuspin, Domain (flashback), Ebb, Phy'r, Rrox

Dragonmage is trying to heal his magic powers by opening an ancient temple. Meanwhile, Cosmic Boy survives an assassination attempt by Domain, ordered by his old magno-ball manager, Alux Cuspin, during a magno-ball match in Tokyo - the Braalian team for which his brother plays versus the Earth team managed by Dirk Morgna...

Cos worries Imra and Garth might also be in danger from Alux Cuspin. Domain, thought defeated, shows up at Cuspin's menial job and shows him a flight ring, claiming the hit has been carried out. But this is actually Chameleon, to whom Cuspin more or less confesses. Cham puts him under arrest and seems about to hurt him when the Science Police rush in to make the arrest. A smiling Cham calls Cos to tell him everything is fine.
Meanwhile, Dragonmage frees elemental forces from the ancient temple, which was really a prison. As the energies fly off in different directions, technology starts to break down all over the universe. The energies then hit, possess and transform four individuals, on different planets. A botanist with butterfly wings called Flutter is transformed into the avatar of Air on Swizzar. A Dryadan called Brika is turned into the avatar of Earth. A downtrodden jellyfish-like servant called Ebb becomes the avatar of Water. And Dirk Morgna, on Earth, is turned into that of Fire.
After magno-ball practice, the Krinns visit a scrap metal plant in Tokyo, a factory much like the one they work at at home, and the strange malfunctions spill molten liquid into the facility. The Braalians contain it magnetically, as a family. Back at Legion HQ, Lady Mysa brings a wounded Dragonmage through a portal and explains what's been happening. The Outpost is unreachable for some bizarre reason, so R.J. Brande puts the Earthbound heroes in charge of dealing with the four cataclysms to come. And so, Cosmic Boy, Kid Quantum and Umbra are joined by Monstress and Element Lad, who were investigating the theft of the Hope Diamond, to fight the giant flame monster at the heart of Tokyo.
We have a bunch of Legionnaire out of action because they're turned into Bizarros and now four vessels have found their way across the universe to bring destruction. I didn't think it could happen, but it looks like the Legion will be stretched too thin to be able to cover all four crises. With parts of the Legion incapacitated, it could be a good opportunity for the Work Force, and Lori, to shine a little – and hopefully leave the influence of McCauley at the same time. There are a lot of plots that didn't get a “proper” end in my humble opinion, and Lori's addition to the Work Force counts as one of them. It hasn't been explored at all yet. Maybe I'm thinking too far ahead, but as much as I don't like her personality all that much, I really enjoy the H-Dial. The next issues will surely be action-packed with all four vessels that need to be stopped and the Bizarros to be brought back to normal.
Now the one thing I don't understand is where – or should I say when – exactly this story takes place. Brande is speaking with Saturn girl in HQ. How is that even possible? Last time we saw him, he was having a bath of some sort and got attacked by the Bizarros. Did we just go back in time to catch up with the rest of the gang? I don't think that would be possible since 1) no one is able to reach the outpost and 2) R.J. seemed far too relaxed in the last issue to have just gone through such a mess as this one. No mention of the vessels were made at the end of LSH 114, they were only worried that no reports of the outpost has been received. So is it possible the Bizarros have... replaced... Brande? But he sounds too logical and calm to have been affected by them. This doesn't make sense to me and it bothers me more than it should.
One last note: Cham is definitely becoming one of my favorite characters. I just love how he acted with Cuspin, all intimidating. He was clearly mad, and those weren't empty threats. But at the same time, he would've never hurt Cuspin. I guess he just wanted to leave an impression so we won't hear from him again anytime soon.
You're right that Brande's place in the story needs a little extra editing to make it work. Truth is, we've got two different creative teams, doing their own stories, and mistakes can happen where the two stories touch. I do wonder if the other series will claim the insane Bizarro stuff was possible BECAUSE of that magic entering the universe. It would explain a few things. You mention the dangling plot threads, and on that score, I'm surprised. Legionnaires are ACTUALLY investigating the theft of those crystals by Shadowy Figure(TM)? I thought that would be abandoned.
Legionnaires is really the place where a LOT goes on, and it doesn't even have to be a proper subplot to get some panel time. Monstress spending all her down-time getting the Athramites to make her new uniforms, for example, is a perfect little bit of business. The issue gives some thought to Cos having been the family's breadwinner (through sports) and how the United Planets have given Braal enough economic stability that his parents now have jobs. And how his brother's grown up while he was away. Umbra and Kid Quantum training doesn't really bring much to the story, but gets them into the action eventually.
As for the A-plot, it's the Magic Wars all over again, and I know some readers don't think magic should play such a big part in the utopian future of the Legion. I get it. It seems like a strange thing to bring up again and again in what at least looks like science fiction. But you might also say that magic is thus the perfect opposite/antagonist for the SF order of the 30th Century. It's just started, we'll see how it shakes out.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/9.
  • The "Elements of Disaster" are not actually named in this issue.
  • For some reason, the dishwashing machine in Sao Paulo has a sign that pays tribute to Watchmen, "Who Washes the Dishwashers?"
  • The living room where Monstress and Element Lad are hanging out features a picture of the USS Enterprise orbiting a planet, yet another Star Trek reference dropped in by the art team.
  • The Reboot version of the planet Dryad is seen for the first time. In the original continuity, this is where the Legionnaire Blok was from, though the alien colonists on the planet were human.
  • Freeing magic into the universe causes science to break down; this happened in the original continuity during the "Magic Wars" storyline.
  • The ancient spaceship in the middle of Toyko is the SDF-1 from Robotech.
  • Pol Krinn wants to go to Playtendo, an amalgam of two gaming consoles, Playstation and Nintendo.
  • This story occurs at the same time as Legion of Super-Heroes' Bizarro Legion storyline, but just before the end of issue 114's cliffhanger when R.J. Brande is attacked.


  1. After the White Triangle, Fatal Five, and Emerald Eye storylines showed how the two books could complement each other in ongoing, interconnected storylines, this shift in the series' waning days is just disappointing. There are weird little nods to some of the characters being on the Outpost, but two separate series that don't really relate just doesn't work for me when one of the teams isn't forcibly isolated like the time-lost crew were.

    Feels like the Legionnaires creative team took on the ongoing storylines and world building responsibilities. The issues are almost bursting at the seams! Moy's art is as usual lovely, but they're trying to do too much.

    Meanwhile the LSH creative team is doing a ridiculous Bizarro storyline that almost feels like something out of a knock-off Mad Magazine. Feels like someone should have found a way to get the two to meet in the middle.

    Or at least get XS on a date with one of her crushes. I feel like we haven't seen Jenni in ages.

  2. I believe XS was appearing in a Flash storyline at the time, which may explain her absence.