Thursday, March 14, 2019

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #120

Legion of Super-Heroes #120 (October 1999)
title: "The Fatal Four... Plus One!"
writers: Tom McCraw and Tom Peyer
penciller: Scott Kolins

inker: Scott Kolins
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: Phil Jimenez
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5.1, Gates; in flashback: Apparition, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Element Lad, Ferro, Invisible Kid, Katate Kid, Kid Quantum II, Kinetix, Live Wire, Monstress, Saturn Girl, Sensor, Spark, Triad, Ultra Boy, Umbra, Violet, XS (others hinted in shadow)

Ba Bwain (voice-over), Koko, R.J. Brande; Takron-Galtos guards/staff

Emerald Eye of Ekron, Fatal Five (Empress, Persuader, Tharok, Validus); Takron-Galtos inmates

Some time ago, a group of criminals was brought together to deal with a Sun-Eater as the Fatal Five, but Mano turned against them, and the Legion was able to bring them back to prison...

On Takron-Galtos, the Empress is freed from her securophagus and she finds herself all dressed in green, indebted to... some mysterious entity. As she kills the guards, other prisoners shout for joy, but they're next. Still, she refuses to leave without her colleagues from the Fatal Five. By turns, she directs her liberator to free (and in some cases re-equip) Tharok, the Persuader, and Validus. Their benefactor is revealed to be the Emerald Eye who has a new leaf. Instead of possessing hosts, it will let itself be controlled by a like-minded person, in this case, the Empress, and thereby achieve its goals. It's not above suggestion courses of action, however, and the group is soon heading for the Legion Outpost to exact revenge.
Outpost Allon is nearly empty, as all but Gates and Brainiac 5.1 have gone on vacation. Gates is making an extreme left-leaning documentary about the Legion; Brainy is working on potential new bionic arms for Live Wire. Brainy of course doesn't want the former to interfere with his work, and they're in the middle of an argument when the Five attack. Gates teleports them out of danger just before it's too late and the two Legionnaires take a moment to take stock of their friendship before hatching a plan to fight the villains.
The Fatal Five are lured into a trap and get zapped by an assembly of Live Wire's arms. The villains not knocked out soon find that Brainy and Gates aren't even in the room, but rather projections from the Anywhere Machine. Before the Five can get to them, the heroes board a cruiser and escape the Outpost, but the villains declare they've beat the Legion.
The Fatal Five… them again?! And the Emerald Eye!!! I mean, it was more than obvious the minute we saw The Empress’ new look that we were back at this, but dear god why? I think I wouldn’t care all that much if it weren't for the Eye. We’ve already seen WAY too much of it since we started reviewing the Reboot. The Fatal Five were dealt with pretty quickly so seeing them again isn’t such a bother, BUT WHY WITH THE EYE?! And why the Outpost? Of course, it’s a direct attack on the Legion and taking control of it is an insult that will most likely bring the Legion in full force to try and retake it, but it feels like the Eye has bigger motives than that. I suspect Empress will get tired of Tharok stopping her and controlling the Eye instead of her and that’s what will destroy them once again. The best thing the Legion could do would be to stay away and let Empress’ urge to kill destroy them from the inside. Stay tuned to see if I’m right!
Interesting bit between Gates and Brainiac. I particularly liked Brainy’s explanation why he remained rude and isolated himself even after being transformed by the space-time anomaly. It gives us a glimpse of hope for him to open up a bit more in the future. I mean, even if it would only be with Gates, and he’d still stay cold with the rest, it would still be such an improvement to see him feeling things and making friends. The last thing I’d like to say is how much I love the art in this issue. Being able to make the Eye look gooey and wet, have an insectoid’s feelings jump off the page, add frenetic movement to a monkey’s tail and make Brainy so sexy - have you seen his arms… HELLOOOO!! – I loved it. Kudos!
The short answer to your question is that the Eye was originally a Fatal Five thing (the basis for the Emerald Empress' power), and the writers have decided to fix the Reboot's divergences to recreate a more iconic Five. I thought it was weird that Empress was wearing a green outfit rather than her previous black one, but since we don't really see her until the Eye frees her, I'm guessing it gave her a make-over. Of course, they're missing Mano now, so it's not like it's a perfect return to the past. The Eye is now member #5. Anyway, I really like the sequence where these badasses escape their various punishments on Takron-Galtos. Fun, wicked stuff.
I do agree the stakes aren't all that great. I'm sure the Fatal Five will use the Outpost as a launching pad for their other crimes, but revenge is a pretty standard motivation in superhero comics. The Five shouldn't count their chickens before they hatch anyway, since all they really did was beat two (TWO!) Legionnaires, and Legionnaires with passive power sets at that. And they weren't beaten so much as routed. Still, I love underdog stories - using Live Wire's many arms to fight back was good fun, though the Anywhere Machine is getting a bit overused - and do like that Brainy's recent shift in personality was him trying to repress the changes undergone in the Fires of Creation. Neither he or nor Gates are particularly liked in the larger group, but Brainy had a real shot. And that scares him. Gates, on the other hand, needs to find ways to change the system from within rather than play the raging communist. While it makes sense in relation to some worlds they visit, the U.P. and Legion are pretty progressive and utopian overall.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/20.
  • A new Atomic Axe is required because Element Lad turned the original into cheese spread in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #80.
  • Gates and Brainiac 5.1 are the only ones on hand, since the other Legionnaires are on vacation as per Legionnaires #77.
  • Though Brainiac 5.1 says Live Wire's mechanical arm conducts his electrical powers well enough, but that actually hasn't been the case, quite the reverse. Live Wire has NOT been able to do so without frying its circuits and/or blowing it right off its socket.
  • Page 14's Interlac hides the phrase "holy shit".

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