Thursday, February 14, 2019

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #118

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #118 (August, 1999)
title: "Shadow of the Sun"
writers: Tom McCraw and Tom Peyer
penciller: Scott Kolins

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, Ferro, Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, Kinetix, Live Wire, M'Onel, Spark, Thunder, Triad, Violet

Koko, Superintendent Javert and his wife

Doctor Deacon, Doctor Savant, Lord Pernisius

Doctor Deacon has counseled Doctor Pernisius well and given him the magic word "Shazam" which is drawing all the Eternium - magical fragments of the Rock of Eternity which gives the Marvel Family its powers, though in this form is Thunder's weakness - to Rimbor, super-charging him. The Legion have found him to be unbeatable. But in the fray, Deacon's head has been blown off his shoulders. It seems he was a robot all along...

As more Eternium rains down on Rimbor, the Legionnaires take refuge in their ship. Karate Kid brings Deacon's head. They try to use the ship's power amplifier to boost Brainiac 5.1's force field, but it won't hold for long. Interrogating Deacon's head, they find out the truth. He is a construct of Doctor Savant's, the anti-magic terrorist who blew up the Rock of Eternity back in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #113, and regretting it had scattered magic across the galaxy, contacted Deacon from prison to find a pawn that would be power-hungry enough to draw all the Eternium to one location where it could be destroyed some other way. Pernisius proved to be that pawn.
Meanwhile, Pernisius has amassed much of the Eternium into a floating island he plans to drop on Delta City and make the first continent of his new empire. As the Legionnaires hatch a plan to put Brainy's force field around Delta City using several relays (while other Legionnaires do their best to help evacuate the city), M'Onel returns from having been blasted into space, but is instantly taken down by the mad tyrant.
While the Legionnaires struggle to put up the force field, Thunder has asked a few more questions of Deacon and gotten the secret of the liquid formula that allowed Pernisius to transform the Eternium into a personal energy source. She drops a capsule of it on the Rock, making it explode and super-charge the Legionnaires. They mentally summon the rest of the Eternium and reconstruct the Rock of Eternity whole, sapping Pernisius of his power in the process.
Thunder visits Doctor Savant in jail to gloat and to warn him never to endanger anyone ever again. She then says her magic words and is thunderbolted back to the 90th Century where she is reunited with her parents.

I’m not sure what to say today. It’s a good thing Thunder’s plan worked, but wasn’t it too big a risk to take? Couldn’t she at the very least try to follow orders from the Legion’s leader before moving on with her own plan? She’s far from being the best team player. Of course, one can argue that she knew theirs would fail and hers would probably save Brainy’s life, but it still doesn’t convince me. I also think it’s making Brainiac and Invisible Kid look bad considering they’re supposed to have such an advanced intellect. Couldn’t they have thought of that plan?
Now that Pernisius is out of the way, that Savant’s plan has failed, and that the Rock is back in one piece, what does it mean for Thunder? Will she be able to return to her own time with her powers? What’s missing for her to be able to get back there? I guess my memory is failing me here because I thought once the Eternium would be back in one piece, she would return home. It’s great that she can visit, but, as she said herself, she wants to go back with her powers to protect the ones she loves. While I question her ability to work as a team player, I will say that I still liked her very much and will be sad to see her leave. I hope the next issues will bring more information on the path she’ll take or, at the very least, that Siskoid will remind me of the process to follow in order for her to get back home.
I can at least address your first point, SG, because that one I can figure out, at least. The boys are scientific thinkers and this required magical thinking, but it's really more a case of asking the right questions to Deacon. Part of Thunder's power set is the Wisdom of Solomon (she invokes it when she glances at his head), and it intuitively allowed her to know the rascally robot was holding something back. Of course, I can't claim I understand that finale. Even after making a speech about returning home with her powers intact, that's not what happens. And Thunder reappears in later Legion stories more as a background character than anything else, so I'm mystified. The reassembled Rock should have set things right and allowed her to time travel back to her time, and it might all have worked if they didn't have her Shazam out of there the way she does. I do like how her mom's tears are in the shape of a lightning bolt, but given how messy some of the artwork is, it's quite possibly a coincidence.
At this point, I've really lost faith in McCraw and Peyer's ability to conceive of storylines that make sense. If Deacon was a robot, what was that whole thing with his alcoholism? If he was activated by Doctor Savant that recently, how did he get into Pernisius' inner circle so quickly? Did the Legion get that power amplifier just in time for this story? Look, I don't really mind when a story goes full gonzo (I was more positive than most about the Bizarro Legion story), but this one doesn't really go far enough. We had an opportunity to see all the Legionnaires with Marvel Family suits (and indeed, Pernisius should have had some Black Adam togs on in this story), but instead, it's just a pale yellow wash over everything and people's eyes burning. Boring.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/16.
  • This issue technically marks Thunder's departure from the Legion, but she does return in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #123-124, and the Titans/Legion of Super-Heroes: Universe Ablaze mini-series, which may indicate that returning to the 30th Century is only one lightning strike away and that she cannot become Thunder in the 90th. She also appears in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1 and #5.
  • Presumably, the Rock of Eternity is shunted into the Limbo from whence it came and is not permanently located on Rimbor.
  • At the end, Thunder's adoptive parents call her "Beck", though her full name is "Cece Beck", which is odd. Either this is a mistake, or as it is sometimes spelled "Cecebeck", it is all one name and "Beck" a nickname.

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