Thursday, February 7, 2019

Reboot: Legionnaires #74

Legionnaires #74 (August 1999)
title: "Aftershocks"
writers: Roger Stern and Tom McCraw
penciller: Jeffrey Moy
inker: W.C. Carani
lettering: Jack Morelli
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, Live Wire, Monstress, Saturn Girl, Star Boy, Ultra Boy, Umbra

Brika, Chuck Taine, Derek Morgna, Dirk Morgna, Dragonmage, Dreamer, Dr. Gym'll, ERG-1, Flutter, General Hol, Mysa, Shvaughn Erin, Tenzil Kem, Warden Sur, Winema Wazzo, Zyzan guardian (flashback); Science Police

Alux Cuspin, Ebb, Mordru (sleeping and unseen), Phy'r (flashback)

The Elementals have just been defeated on JS-1967 before they could awaken Mordru. They are thought dead under a pile of rubble, until Saturn Girl senses that some of their hosts are alive...

Mysa takes care of a wounded Dragonmage, while the Legionnaires dig through the rubble. They find Brika, host to the earth elemental, protecting Dirk Morgna, host to the fire elemental, with her body. He will recover, but she is dying, cut off as she is from her destroyed homeworld's life force. The other two hosts are dead. Before she goes, she asks Mysa and Element Lad to make a memorial out of her remains; they agree, telling her not to feel guilty for the elemental's crimes.
Saturn Girl has some words with Star Boy for leaving his post at Legion HQ, though she's glad to see his powers are once more under control. She isn't so glad, however, that he left monitor duty to his girlfriend rather than Shvaughn or a Legion support staff member. He accepts responsibility for his mistake and gets suspended a week. She then gets a call from Live Wire who wants to come to JS-1967 to check up on her. She refuses, but he comes anyway and gets put in his place by Imra, Cham and Umbra.
Dirk wakes up changed. He can now see light across a wider spectrum, and Mysa casts a spell to correct his vision. He is nevertheless plagued by occasional visions, including an odd blob of energy on the surface of JS-1967 during Brika's funeral. Feeling guilty over the damage done to Tokyo, he and Cosmic Boy hatch a plan to put on benefit magno-ball games (with the still reigning champion, natch) to raise money for reconstruction. Dirk's father agrees, having been primed by Dreamer's prediction earlier.
When Dragonmage wakes, he finds he has lost his magic. Angry and defiant at first (even after Dirk tries to strangle him for what he's done), everything he witnesses schools him on what should be his proper reaction. He remembers that he was warned off and didn't listen. He finds out what kind of damage and loss of life he caused by releasing the elementals. He hears Cosmic Boy tell his would-be assassin (safely returned to prison) that he could have turned his life around but made the choice to screw it up again. He sees Star Boy take his punishment like an adult. So in the end, he surrenders to the Science Police, taking responsibility for everything that happened.
Aftermaths. They are often put aside. We put more emphasis on the big action pieces: the fights, the destruction, the eternal struggle between bad and good. How many superhero movies have we seen where a fight happens in a well known city, destroying all kinds of infrastructure, but once the fight is won... nothing. No follow-up! No reconstruction effort. The MCU touched on it a bit in Civil War and Homecoming, so that's a start in Hollywood. All that to say that, in my opinion, if there's something this comic series is good at, it's exploiting aftermaths to their full potential. In this particular issue, we see plans to rebuild, internal struggle, grief, acceptance, attempt at atonement. It feels a lot more realistic to see the team live through the bad fights and the even worse results. It makes me all the more invested in the storylines and the character development.
There's only one thing that bothered me in this week's story and it's how insufferable the male lovers were. Come on, Ultra Boy! I think it would've been impossible for you to be more self-centered even if you tried. It can't always be about you! Sure, having to cut short your honeymoon is inconvenient. You know what else is? Releasing Mordru back into the world! Step back and look at the bigger picture for a minute and keep your stupid selfish thoughts to yourself. And then there's Live Wire who disobeyed direct orders and acted like a spoiled brat. I'm glad that the rest of team is mocking him and I sure hope Imra's not going to tolerate this ever again. You got this girl, put on the big boss pants and make sure that this insubordination doesn't go unpunished.
While I agree that those two boys are acting like meat heads, I do still wonder why Imra sent Garth to the Outpost. He wouldn't be running to the unneeded rescue if he hadn't been separated from her for so long with no explanation. If she wants to break up, she should say so. They're not the only ones acting less than admirably. Gates is a jerk. Umbra sort of flies off the handle with little provocation. But that's in character for both of them. Even Dirk gets more violent than he should. Tensions run hot in the wake of this last adventure, I suppose.
But there's plenty to admire too. Apparition making herself available to Mysa. Element Lad and Mysa consoling Brika in her last hours. Star Boy accepting responsibility for his mistakes (Dreamer's pretty cool too). Cosmic Boy pledging his time to charity. And at the core of this story, Dragonmage understanding what he did and facing up the consequences. So I think that even in the bad behavior, there's a message that decisions have consequences and that you should think things through before speaking and acting. That's Dragonmage's last appearance (except for Legion of 3 Worlds), which is a bit of a downer for DM/Mysa 'shippers, but it was about time one of these power seekers (Kinetix and Star Boy have also been on this arc) gets an ending with a moral.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/15.
  • Dirk Morgna is left with some kind of powers, possibly limited to seeing in a wider spectrum of light, but he does not become Sun Boy.
  • At one point, Dirk sees a strange energy shape on JS-1967. This will eventually be revealed as ERG-1/Wildfire, whose Reboot origins are on JS-1967. All will be explained in due time.
  • This is the last appearance of the Reboot's Dragonmage, barring a cameo in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5.

First appearance of the Reboot's version of Wildfire, but it's easy to miss (p.22, panel 2).

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