Monday, March 25, 2019

Action Comics #862

Action Comics #862
Title: Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes Part 5 of 6 - Revenge of the Rejects
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editors: Nachie Castro and Matt Idelson
Executive Editor: Gary Frank
Reviewer: Jude Deluca a.k.a. Sarcasm Kid

PREVIOUSLY: The Legionnaires discovered that Brainiac 5 assumed the role of Colu's leader to stall the United Planets from launching a full scale war on Earth. We get a look into each of the individual members of the Justice League of Earth and also discover Colossal Boy's wife, Yera Allon, has become an official Legionnaire as Chameleon Girl. Unfortunately, Superman and the other Legionnaires fled Colu when Brainy gets outed as a traitor. The universe is inching ever closer to war! 

We've finally come to my favorite part of this story arc (aside from #864's epilogue story), where for once I have more to applaud on Johns instead of deriding him.

As you can see from the cover, this issue features the official reappearance of the Legion of Substitute-Heroes, who've been largely missing since a couple of cameos in the Reboot Legion's era. But most surprising of all is Johns expands the roster by including a Legion Reject who has never before been associated with the Subs, and she happens to be one of my absolute favorites of the old school Legion applicants.

We open with a brief juxtaposition between Superman's boyhood years and when Polar Boy first tried out for the Legion. Clark is reminding the other Legionnaires that he knows what it's like to be rejected, but that it doesn't justify lashing out at the world in response.

Superman decides, with the state the Legion, Earth, the United Planets, and pretty much the entire universe is in, now is a good time to call the Subs in for back-up.

Wildfire is skeptical, asking how much of a difference there is between the Subs and the League. Although Polar Boy and Night Girl proved themselves, the rest of the Subs, like Chlorophyll Kid and Fire Lad.....are they any different from Earth-Man and Spider Girl? Gee, Drake, were you always such a tool?

Brek proclaims that any one of the Subs has more integrity than the entire JLE combined. Brainiac 5 decides to educate Drake by telling him how the old Legion application process really happened. Seems Saturn Girl performed telepathic profiles on all the applicants. While some like Brek were rejected because they lacked experience, people like Storm Boy, Earth-Man, and a number of others did not get in because they had a variety of psychotic tendencies hidden within their minds. Apparently, whatever's going on in Radiation Roy's head left Imra unable to sleep for a few nights.

Colossal Boy asks if this is really the time to give the Subs their chance to shine, to which Clark gives a rundown of what a shit show the 31st Century has become. With no other Legionnaires available there's probably never going to be a better time for the Subs to lend a hand. Dawnstar agrees with Clark and asks if Brek can get in contact with his old friends, but Brainy's a few steps ahead of her. He claims he's been in contact with the Subs since they went underground, as a contingency plan mind you, but he's not fond of how reckless and impetuous the Subs tend to be. Brek figures when you never have anything to lose you can get a bit reckless.

Meanwhile, Earth-Man has just unmasked Chameleon Girl aboard the JLE's satellite and is giving her a savage beating. In-between bolts of electricity (borrowed from the Ranzz twins), Kirt mocks Yera and Gim by calling them an "Alien tramp" and "Race traitor" respectively. Pissed off, Yera returns fire by morphing into a Korballian lightning beast. As a Durlan, Yera says she already knows a lot about being feared since she can change her appearance at will, but says people like Kirt are worse because they hide their true forms behind lies.

Unfortunately, Kirt loses any self restraint he had when Yera mentions how he's twisted Superman's legend.

While all that's going on, Eyeful Ethel is reviewing the lesson plan for the next "Human Cultural Studies" class with her lover, Tusker. Showing off a hologram of Martian Manhunter (made to look like he's a monster) Ethel gloats about her role as a teacher before realizing that her students should have arrived by now.

Ethel is probably the WORST of the entire League because she seems to get a very sadistic type of pleasure in warping the minds of impressionable children just because she can.

Okay so this is legitimately funny. Kudos, Johns.

Horace throws himself at Ethel as the bus barrels through the window and proceeds to plow through several sections of the HQ, much to the shock and confusion of the other Leaguers. As the bus crashes into a support beam, Stone Boy is flung through the windshield like a missile and nails Radiation Roy square in the chest.

The new line-up for the Subs is revealed to consist of mainstays Fire Lad, Stone Boy, Chlorophyll Kid, and newcomer Rainbow Girl.

Excuse me a minute.



Ethel reminds the Subs that they were given a choice to leave Earth since they were rejects,  too. Fire Lad responses that the League gave them this "choice" after Earth-Man blinded Color Kid, tossed Infectious Lass into the time stream, and murdered Double-Header in cold blood.

Golden Boy is amused by Chlorophyll Kid's seeming mental instability, but Fire Lad says that everyone has their problems while unleashing his fire breath on the gold Leaguer.

Roy and Sussa focus on Stone Boy, but he is still in rock form. Dori switches to a blue aura and, while throwing the remains of the bus at Horace, proclaims he can still change his life for the better.

Chlorophyll Kid has got Storm Boy tied up in vines, exclaiming that today is the day the ferns get justice, and Fire Lad has melted Klint's face. Without Earth-Man around they might actually beat these losers, when Klint socks Fire Lad with a gold fist.

WHY he didn't just turn Fire Lad into a statue I have no idea, though I guess that goes into Kirt believing Klint is a moron.

With the Subs distracting the League, Clark and the other Legionnaires sneak onto the satellite. Brainy directs Brek, Dawny,  and Drake to help the Subs while he, Clark,  and Gim locate the other Legionnaires.

As the trio inspects Earth-Man's quarters, Brainy discovers that the crystal tablet responsible for this mess is an actual, thousand year old artifact. But whoever or whatever created it and left it for Earth-Man to find is unknown for now.

Gim finds the chamber with Sun Boy hooked up to the League's solar generator, proving Brainy's theory correct that the League was behind Earth's sun turning red in case Clark returned to their time. Clark doesn't care about his powers and is more concerned with helping Dirk. Brainy explains that they have to shut the generator down before removing Dirk, or his powers might trigger a supernova. They are amazed that Dirk is still alive after what has been done to him.

Suddenly, Gim's attention is diverted when he hears Yera weakly calling after him. Or is she?

Having now absorbed Gim's power, Kirt drops his Yera disguise and punches Gim out before turning his attention to Clark.

Meanwhile, the League's getting the upper hand against the Subs, sadly. Chlorophyll Kid has  incensed Storm Boy by calling him a liar when Myke is the one who used a hidden machine to try to get into the Legion. Myke promises to use his machines to uproot Chlorophyll Kid's entrails when Brek freezes the exposed wires sticking out of Myke's chest and stops him... cold. *Snerk*

Turning his attention to Klint and Fire Lad, Brek asks his former teammates NOT to embarrass him in front of the Legion again. Dawny and Drake show up to get Stone Boy away from Roy and Sussa, while Dori switches to a green aura and proclaims that the Subs have enough will power to end this fight.

Kirt toys with Clark but then turns on Ultra Boy's invulnerability as Clark tries to punch him. Kirt's absolutely loving this, getting a chance to give Clark "a taste of his own medicine" while gloating about all the damage that he's done to Superman's legend. He asks how Clark is enjoying being rejected for once in his life.

While the armies of the United Planets arrive within striking distance of Earth and the Subs try to put the rest of the League down, Clark decides to take his fight with Kirt outside.



Rainbow Girl has always been my absolute favorite of the Silver Age Legion rejects in spite of how she's only had two single panel appearances. I remember her from years ago on a website dedicated to the Silver Age Legion.

I remember reading how they said she had the power to split into four differently colored and powered individuals, but the Legion rejected her because her green self was made of Kryptonite radiation and was thus a danger to Superboy and Supergirl.

At the time, I didn't know the website was listing her description from "Bits of Legionnaire Business" when a reader sent in her name and powers. I remember trying to put in a few nods towards her in some of the unfinished Kingdom Come fan-fiction I worked on but never showed to anyone.

It was in Who's Who In The Legion where Dori was given an actual name and backstory as a beauty queen with a power that had something to do with pheromones.

Rainbow Girl by Ian Glaubinger

Johns has further fleshed Dori out by altering her abilities and giving her offensive capabilities. She can channel the power of the Emotional Spectrum but she can't control it and thus suffers from mood swings. She's now a blatant reference to Johns' Green Lantern work that was going on at the same time as his Action Comics run. She's red for anger, blue for hope, and green for willpower (which is still not an emotion).

Rainbow Girl by Hephaise

If there's at least one thing Johns has done right, it's Rainbow Girl.

This take on the Substitute Heroes is a sort of amalgam of the previous versions of the group. Johns combines the wackiness of the Levitz/Giffen subs with the capabilities and strength of the Silver/Bronze Age group as well as the brazenness of the FYL team.

I'm not sure if Chlorophyll Kid thinking he can talk to plants has ever been a thing before, but it appears Fire Lad now really can turn his hair to fire instead of simply styling it to look like a flame.

Johns reminds us how the JLE killed Double-Header, which was mentioned in Action #860. We also learn the fates of Color Kid and Infectious Lass. Poor Ulu is now apparently blind, which is especially cruel for someone whose power is all about visuals.

Although is this also a joke about how it's hard to tell if Ulu has actual eyes?

Infectious Lass being "lost in the time stream" is referring to her appearance in the "Doctor Thirteen: Architecture and Morality" back-up that ran in the Tales of the Unexpected miniseries. Written by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, it featured Drura lost in time and teaming up with other obscure characters like Genius Jones and Anthro. She'd later fall in love with ghost pirate Captain Fear before he was killed off for good. No one's seen Drura since.

Kirt is fully cemented here as a deluded liar since he NEVER met Clark or had anything to do with him when he first arrived into the future.

I don't know if the retcon about Imra performing telepathic profiles on applicants works. I mean, we've seen it done in regards to how Sensor Girl joined, but how often was she actually present during the Silver Age tryouts? Had she been responsible for profiling the applicants you'd think her being at every tryout would've been a necessity, yet how did people like Dynamo Boy and Nemesis Kid get in?

I stand by my belief that Ethel is the foulest of the League given her delight in turning young kids into xenophobic stooges. It says something that Johns took the Leaguer with the weakest power and made her the most depraved.

All in all, this issue is a delight and more than makes up for some of the complaints I had about the previous issues.


  1. I didn't like the portrayals of the Subs. They have been around nearly as long as the main team, and their continued ineptitude (looking way to brag during fisticuffs?) depicted here drove me nuts. The Giffen-esque characterizations should have stopped the minute Polar Boy made the Big Team. Or at the extreme latest when Night Girl graduated. At the very least, the original five Subs should all be as adept as Legionnaires, and certainly better than any recent recruits, Academy or otherwise.

    Plus Drake was out of character as well, unless it was merely continued and misdirected frustration for his favorites (Nightwind, Lamprey & Power Boy) never making the team. I'm surprised no writer ever put those three on the Subs.

    Now I want a Subs book done right!

  2. My favorite part was Stone Boy flying out the bus window and nailing Roy. What really made it special was his hand gesture. In the US, it looks like he's doing an awkward peace sign, but in the UK, it essentially means, "UP YOURS!"

  3. I have to agree with Ken on this one. While I like expanding the Subs, portraying them as incompetents after all these years is a huge step backwards.

    I have nothing against Rainbow Girl - really. But Johns' blindsiding (pun intended) and then sidelining of an existing character to make room for one that fits his emotional spectrum stuff is just a cheap shot. And then he had to use Sun Boy to mimic Color Kid's ONLY schtick to have Supes depowered and repowered in the upcoming chapters? That's just shabby. Color Kid could have been a key player in this story with or instead of Sun Boy.

    I was glad to have a Legion story out. I just wasn't wild about how this one was handled.

    The art was nice though.

  4. almost crying re-reading this I loved it so much. Just seeing the subs disrupt things was fantastic for me. Loved the story arc.