Thursday, January 24, 2019

Reboot: Legionnaires #73

Legionnaires #73 (July 1999)
title: "The Final Gathering"
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: Jeffrey Moy and W.C. Carani
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Apparition, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Gates, Kid Quantum II, Monstress, Saturn Girl, Star Boy, Ultra Boy, Umbra

Dragonmage, Mysa; Science Police

Elements of Disaster (A'rie, Ebb, Phy'r, Rrox), Mordru

When Dragonmage tried to heal his powers, he accidentally released four elemental forces into the universe and threw up a magical surge that disrupted technology all over the galaxy. Each of these elementals took residence in a different host body - the air in an insectoid girl, the earth in a Dryadan, the water in a servant to Gil'Dan masters, and the fire in friend to the Legion, Dirk Morgna on Earth. After destroying whole worlds and defeating the Legion, the various elements fly off towards Mordru's tomb...

As the lights come back on at Legion HQ, Dragonmage awakens from his coma and Star Boy finds that even though his new powers are still on the blink, his mass-increasing powers work fine. More than fine. Meanwhile, the Elements have started arriving at JS-1967 where Mordru is entombed, and they kill all the guards. Their plan is to steal all of Mordru's power and make themselves rulers of the universe. The Legion is flying as fast as it can to JS-1967, and as the magical static lifts, Apparition and Ultra Boy get the call and abort their honeymoon to help; Chameleon heads their too.
Using team work, the Legionnaires attack the Elements while Mysa casts holding spells on them every time they're down. Saturn Girl continues to work on Dirk's mind to make his break off from Phy'r. They're winning until Rrox stargates into the atmosphere, but Chameleon turns the tide again by crashing his cruiser into her. As the battle rages, deep below, Mordru stirs.
But the Elements start breaking through Mysa's spells and adapting to the Legion's powers. That's when Dragonmage and Star Boy show up, using their abilities to confound the magical beings. Dirk breaks Phy'r's hold on him and turns on the other Elements, as does Rrox/Brika, realizing she destroyed her planet. The other two are unrepentant and two against two, they might cancel each other out, but not before Mordru is awakened. So Dragonmage, Mysa, Quantum Kid and Star Boy use their powers to contain them. Saturn Girl sheds a tear as Dirk tells her he means to sacrifice himself in the process. Dragonmage is sucked into the implosion and like that, the Elements are destroyed and Mordru goes back to sleep. They pull Dragonmage's comatose body out of the rubble, but then, Saturn Girl senses some of the host bodies are still alive!
The conclusion to this storyline was very satisfying to me. I was afraid it would turn out to be too easy when Mysa had no problem imprisoning two of the Elementals right away. The adapting touch was cool and ensured a longer and more complex fight. I think I have a soft spot for groups turning against one another...
...okay that sounded weird. What I mean is having a team of bad guys turning on each other always feels like a good way to conclude a fight to me. I guess it has something to do with my love for redemption arcs. I felt it even more through Mysa’s plea against tyranny and slavery. Considering how she used Kinetix in the past, seeing her having such a powerful moment was very pleasant. Plus, she really seems to care about Dragonmage’s fate.
We have a few returns in this issue. The more obvious ones are Cham, Jo and Tinya which was great. I loved how she handled Rrox (the little skull detail on page 12 made me giggle). The other returns are Dragonmage and Star Boy's powers. I’m glad for both kids, as they were both extremely lost without them, but of course it proved too much for at least one of them. I sure hope Dragonmage is okay. He was an idiot to seek out that power, but he worked hard to fix his mistake. After seeing characters making a return, I fear that means others will have to leave for a while. Maybe that’s why we saw the Legionnaires being so vulnerable – the broken arm and ribs – I must say that put me on edge. I assumed it would end badly for at least some of our heroes, and I wasn’t wrong. I assume Dirk will survive – what’s the point in having him as a guest if they’re going to kill him anyway – but I wonder which one of the hosts didn’t.
Well, I think one reason to bring back Dirk IS to kill him. One last story where he gets to be the hero he was in the previous continuity, an end to the Sun Boy that never was. But if a redemption arc is really at play, then the one who redeemed themselves should survive, and the ones who didn't should die. Dragonmage redeems himself, sure, but he's punished along with the Elements for starting this, so "karma" may well be at play (hey, it's a magic story). I'm not sure he can walk away from this. Think about it. His selfish quest for power caused a LOT of people to die. Two whole planets were destroyed. Normally, you'd give this story to a villain, some mad magician/scientist reckless about how he achieves his ends. Giving this to a hero without any consequence would be a mistake.
This is overall a good action issue. Moy and Carani as great as usual on the art, and there are lots of twists and turns as the villains adapt to the heroes' tactics, and the Legionnaires surprise them with more. Also good to see Ultra Boy, Apparition and Chameleon with the team again (we never even found out why Cham left in issue #71...). You need everyone that can be spared for a big brawl like this. And there's a lot of tension to be had just by showing Mordru stirring in his sleep. We know that if he wakes up, that's the whole ballgame.
Battle's MVPs: Gates and Element Lad. I know they make a big show of Star Boy's return to form and Mysa's necessary abilities, but in the grit of the fight, those two are best used, supporting their team mates in a variety of cool strategies.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/13.
  • In the flashback, younger Mordru has streaks of red hair. This fits his appearances in the 20th-Century Amethyst mini-series, where youngest Mordru had red hair.

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