Thursday, January 17, 2019

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #116

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #115 (June 1999)
title: "Cold Irons Bound"
writers: Tom McCraw and Tom Peyer
penciller: Keron Grant

inker: Ray Kryssing
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, Invisible Kid, Live Wire, M'Onel, Sensor, Spark, Thunder

Koko, Magno, Thunder's father and mother (Superintendent Javert and his wife)

Dr. Aywebn, Dr. Deacon, Lefty, Lord Pernisius, Scurrches, Zeek; Black Star nurse, Rimborian gang (named: gang admin Sara)

Not too long ago, the Rock of Eternity was destroyed, stranding the time-traveling Thunder, member of the Shazam legacy, in the 30th Century. To return to her own time in the far future, she needs to reconstruct the Rock, but first she must find all the Eternium that was scattered across space. Unfortunately, Rimborian boss Lord Pernisius has discovered he can use Eternium to temporarily give himself powers, so they're both collecting the same magical substance...

While on the search for Eternium, Thunder and Sensor are attacked by Scurrches, monstrous humanoids immune to blunt trauma and illusions, sent by Lord Pernisius and Dr. Deacon. To make sure the heroes succumb, Pernisius uses a Coluan energy sheath gun that cuts them off from their power sources. They are soon prisoners on Rimbor, and pumped full of drugs so as to make them reveal everything they know about Eternium. They leave to continue their quest.
In a daze, Thunder says her magic words, "Captain Marvel", and reverts to her Cece Beck persona, only, in the 90th Century, where she is reunited with her adoptive parents. They beg her not to become Thunder again lest she return to the 30th, but having left a friend behind, she can't help but leave. Meanwhile, Sensor thinks Thunder has been killed and goes on a rampage, making short work of Pernisius' henchmen and exiting on the street where she is hassled by a street gang. Its leader knocks her out and plans to sell her.
When Thunder returns to the 30th Century, she finds her friend gone and heads into space where she meets up with the images of Invisible Kid and Brainiac 5.1 who used the Anywhere Machine to locate them. Their scans reveal Sensor is leaving aboard a ship and they follow. Meanwhile, Spark, Live Wire and M'Onel track Pernisius to a facility that was obviously holding Eternium, because crackling with power, he shows and stuns all three. When Thunder and her friends reach Sensor's destination, it is the Blackstar Juvenile Correctional Facility where Dr. Aywebn plans to vivisect her. And the projected Legionnaires can do nothing to stop it!
Oh... My... God... The proportions are SO off!!! They have no forehead whatsoever and the necks are ridiculously long and twisted!! This is so awful I don’t even want to talk about it any more than that...
There is something I don’t understand. Clearly the team is back from the Bizarro mess and Invisible Kid is complaining about not hearing from Thunder and Sensor, yet it seems they never made contact with HQ themselves. It feels like both storylines aren’t connected at all and it’s confusing me. I’m okay with having two separate missions and villains with different Legionnaires dealing with them, but why does it have to be so disconnected. If it’s the appearance of the Elementals that fried the communication system between the outpost and HQ then fine, but why isn’t it acknowledged by the outpost team that they’re unable to contact the base? These loose ends are frustrating.
Interesting that Thunder and Cece can exist in different time. I can imagine that this detail will soon become important. It must’ve been such a relief for her to come back to her own time even knowing she couldn’t stay for long. She’s not entirely lost in space and time. She can contact her family regularly if needed while still working on gathering pieces of Eternium. Hopefully her parents will understand why she couldn’t stay, and find solace in knowing she’s alive and working on a permanent solution to parts of herself being stuck in the 30th Century.
Total misfire as far as the art goes, I agree. I tend to think Lee Moder's figures were too elongated; Keron Grant's are just gooey. The issue starts with Thunder complaining the invaders are rubbery, but the whole comic is. This is Plastic Man stuff. Legionnaires have rather more solid bone structures. Saturated colors don't help. Many panels are a mess and I'm not always sure what I'm looking at. (And all this behind a characteristically good Alan Davis cover). I will say it's interesting to see Sensor operate without arms for the length of the story. Good news: Another artist picks up the story from the next issue.
Beyond the art problems, the issue advances Thunder's story reasonably well. That she should switch centuries when changing personas is an interesting wrinkle, and had she continued for a long time with the book, would have been another thematic link to Superboy and Supergirl who lived in the 20th Century, but were also heroes in the 30th. A lot of angst about returning to save Sensor, but if she can do this, there's really no reason for it. For the parents, sure. But the gutsy heroine should feel pretty confident she can always go home, Rock of Eternity or not.
I don't care a whole lot about Lord Pernisius who is just a walking deus ex machina at times. He has all these weapons that nullify the Legionnaires' powers, massive wealth, and on occasion, lots of magical power. I'll take everything but the weapons. At some point, it's just a story cheat. And with all his mad supervillain speeches, he's as cliché as they come. Especially considering that Dr. Deacon isn't much different (though it's interesting that he's an alcoholic, sweating bullets between drinks - yet is that really different from Pernisius' power addiction?), and neither is the vivisectionist at the end. A lot of mustache-twirling going on, but that's a harrowing final splash. Sensor may look like a big snake, but I'm awfully fond of her.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/12.
  • When Thunder says the magic word and turns into Cece Beck, she returns to the 90th Century, but turning into Thunder again sends her back to the 30th. Some time has passed since The Power of Shazam Annual #1, as Cece calls her new adoptive parents "mom" and "dad" and appears older than she did in her first appearance.


  1. Yuck. Did not enjoy the addition of the Shazam mythos to the Legion. We already had more than enough characters to develop, with many of them getting the short end.

  2. Yeesh, that art. Trying a little too hard to stylize for the sake of cool and ending up in a steaming hot pile of nass. Some panels work pretty well, but most of them the sylization detracts from the action rather than adding to it. Maybe this was a last minute replacement and the art team had to churn out pages? I dunno.

    There's this weird paradox of adding detail that actually makes panels more confusing. I feel like the art style just doesn't support the story, or honestly allow you to really appreciate the cool stuff on the page. Like that henchman with the extra arms--it took me several pages to really get that some of his arms have been cut off previously. It's a cool design and you can barely tell what's happening to him in that panel where Sensor crushes him.

    I mean, my hobby is drawing superhero comics, and I get kind of annoyed at art where I feel like my cartoony style could actually communicate the action just as clearly.

    Gratuitous vivisection threat. Okay, fine, but seriously, why do we need more bad guys in this story? The plot is not tight.

    And I'm still not sold on the necessity of adding a Shazam character when they already had too many characters to actually handle in the two books. Basically feels like a hail mary attempt to pull in more readers. Because the motivations are all Thunder's, it's basically a Thunder story with Legion guest stars. Which, again, is okay, but this is a Legion book and they were already struggling with the two books making sense in continuity with each other.

    They wanted a Supergirl analog. They could have brought Andromeda back into the fold somehow and built off of their existing history. Told basically the same story of mystical rocks needing to be collected and the sinister crimelord who wants them for themselves. Had some interesting character moments with Brainy and Andromeda.

    Missed opportunities is kind of the theme of this part of the Reboot era.