Thursday, February 21, 2019

Reboot: Legionnaires #75

Legionnaires #75 (September 1999)
title: "Tyrants Three"
writer: Tom Peyer
penciller: Jeffrey Moy
inker: W.C. Carani
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: Chris Sprouse and Al Gordon
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid, Live Wire, Saturn Girl, Spark

Sener Cul; Wellurians

King Kradok; advisor and guards

As Legion leader, Saturn Girl has assigned her boyfriend Live Wire to a different HQ. He's been bristling ever since...

On the planet Wellur, the citizens are being terrorized by what appears to be the Legion founders, flying around in a spherical ship, and brutally enforcing corrupted concepts of merit and diversity. The Wellurians have thus built a movement around restoring their Kink Kradok to the throne.
One man, Sener Cul, escapes the planet to get help, and he finds it in the form of a Legion cruiser. Spark makes contact, but he is despondent and blows himself up rather than get captured by the fearsome Legion. Spark manages to recover Cul's log and shows it to Live Wire who is outraged that someone would pose as the Legion and stain their reputation thus. He also thinks, what a great excuse to team up with my estranged girlfriend! Everyone sees right through the ploy, but Cosmic Boy agrees with him that the founders should deal with this together.
They arrive on Wallur during a twisted, lethal version of the Legion try-outs and destroy the sphere and its mannequin Legionnaires. But it doesn't help with the population who run from them. They then track the ship's origin and follow the clues to King Kradok himself, not as deposed as it would seem, chatting about his plans with his advisor on his magnetically floating island. Seems his people were moving towards freedom, diversity and democracy, and he used the birth of the Legion to turn those values on their heads. The Legionnaires capture him and bring his island down, and Saturn Girl broadcasts his words to the people. But though the King is exposed, the Wallurians have been lied to too much, and don't trust the Legionnaires any better. Unwilling to hand him over to an angry mob, the founders leave the King in an alley, where he can perhaps divest himself of his robes and join the "grubs".
Back on the cruiser, Garth admits he'd acted childishly, but the mission brought things into focus for him. Imra herself admits she acted badly, failing to communicate that she feared they would put relationship before duty, which is why she separated them. They decide to go on vacation together, their relationship saved. Back on Wallur, effigies of the King and his Legionnaires are burned, but one little girl looks at a Legion poster and sees something more than propaganda...
Let me get this straight. The king was going to be overthrown by his people because they wanted freedom and justice, so he used the likeness of the Legion to change his subjects’ view on these stances? He faked his banishment at the end of his version of the Legion so the people would want him back as a ruler... And what a banishment, being forced to hover in his castle above ground! How could people see that as persecution? He really has no clue, does he? Oh, and let’s not forget he needs his guards to carry him around. This is just too good! How will he ever survive as a regular citizen? What a loser!
I wonder what’s going to happen to this place now. The king and the fake Legion are both gone, who’s going to lead? The people are rioting but how is it going to end up for them? Will they elect someone? Have another tyrant take over? I don’t feel like this story should be over this quickly. Of course, the Legion isn’t welcome to help them out. It’s crazy to think how easy it is to forge an opinion of someone you’ve never really met just by listening to what others have to say (I’m so guilty of this!). Of course, here, it has been pushed beyond hearsay with the fake Legion terrorizing everyone. The whole concept of personification in itself is quite disturbing, though. Even though what I’ve just read was the absolute extreme, I still feel it is realistic. It’s so easy to destroy someone’s reputation and it seems like the king would’ve succeeded weren’t it for this brave soul who escaped.
I for one am happy to get a done-in-one story, and it kind of reminds of something out of Star Trek and could well imagine Starfleet slandered the way the Legion is. Sure, the villain is way over-the-top, but we've all learned the power of propaganda the hard way at this point. I especially like the twisted try-out/talent contest. And it's pretty realistic that the Legionnaires can't really fix the situation. No easy happy ending here, but at least, a "Last Jedi" moment. Hope is not lost. There is hope beyond the Resistance.
I do question the resolution of the Garth/Imra relationship. Sure, Garth was, true to himself (his teenage self, remember), childish about the being sent to the Outpost, but Imra's reasons are ridiculous. She's just as bad as he is, if not worse. Instead of discussing it, she makes him feel like he's being punished, never giving him a reason, never addressing the underlying problem or any other solutions (like, y'know, agreeing to be adults about serving together). With all the other Legionnaires taking her side, he's essentially being gaslit. If she had let him serve with her, she would probably have found out what she discovers here - that he's totally able to focus on the task at hand. I guess the irony is that she has a communication power and totally fails at communicating. It's almost like this was a tribute to the famous Silver Age story where Saturn Girl is totally unreasonable as leader. Or like Legion subplots run sooooo long, their function/planned resolutions have been forgotten and a quick resolution improvised on the spot.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/17.
  • The cover shows humans instead of Wellurians (and one of them might as well be Jonathan Frakes).

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