Thursday, March 7, 2019

Reboot: Legionnaires #76

Legionnaires #76 (October 1999)
title: "The Fire This Time"
writers: Roger Stern and Tom McCraw
penciller: Jeffrey Moy
inker: W.C. Carani
lettering: Pat Brosseau
colorist: Tom McCraw
assistant editor: Frank Berrios
editor: Mike McAvennie
adult legionnaire: Carmela Merlo
cover: Chris Sprouse and Al Gordon
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Element Lad, Gates, Saturn Girl, Umbra, XS

Atom'X, Blast-Off, Brika (memorial), Dirk Morgna, Dr. Mollie D'Ennum, ERG-1, Merk, Mysa, Prefect Lamar (flashback), R.J. Brande, Ryder, unnamed doctor; Medstation One staff

Emerald Eye of Ekron, Leland McCauley, Mordru, Phy'r (all in flashback)

Dirk Morgna's time possessed by an elemental has, under Lady Mysa's care, given him the ability to see in a wider light spectrum. It allows him to detect an energy being on JS-1967, but surely, he's just hallucinating...

The Legion is racing through Medstation One's corridors with a large crystal filled with energy. Only Umbra's darkforce contains it within the crystal, but as the doctors scan it, the dark-field fails and the lab is destroyed.
Cut to President Brande's office where Saturn Girl is telling him the story. She tracks back to JS-1967 where Dirk Morgna detected the presence of an energy being Lady Mysa was able to reveal with her magic. It appeared to be a piece of Atom'X, a hero killed by Mordru on that planetoid. The energy creature was dangerous, absorbing all manner of energy until it exploded, but Umbra was able to catch in her field, after which Element Lad grew a crystal around it. The Legionnaires sprang into action to save the soul of Atom'X and brought him to Medstation One.
Once contained in another lab, Saturn Girl telepathically probes the presence and realizes it's not just Atom'X, but Blast-Off, a member of Work Force also killed by Mordru, as well. The two have survived somehow, but their energies have been intermingled and there is no separating them now. A plan is hatched to contain the composite being in a suit, and the Legionnaires race off to get all the parts necessary, and materials scientist Mollie D'Ennum. Though it requires the more and more unstable Umbra to control the transfer of the energy from the lab with her powers, the procedure is successful, and the creature, calling itself "Drake Burroughs", is contained in the suit and given mobility and voice.
That was a blast from the past! The only think I could think of all along was “Hey look! Another comic book death turns out to NOT be terminal.” Seriously though, I thought the Legion of Super-Heroes run was different because of Quantum Kid and Leviathan, but I guess we were bound to also have some fake deaths. While I’m not as intense as she is on the subject, I must admit that I related a lot to Umbra’s thoughts. I have plenty enough to deal with in my own head, so please don’t ever fuse me with an entirely different being.
Their situation is definitely better now with a suit to live in and control over the energy absorption, but we’re still seeing two individuals having to live together within the same consciousness. Funny how the suit gives them a united voice though. Of course, seeing the suit now, I know they will become Wildfire, or whatever they will name this Legionnaire in the Reboot. I had no memories whatsoever of rating a kid that was a fusion of two identities, so I went back to the Hot or Not? post. There is no mention of this version of the character. Imagine our reaction over this weird story. And what if you would fall in love with one personality, but not the other...? I guess the name’s the same though, so I was right *self high-five*!
Wildfire has been a long time coming and seeing as he will be one of the core members in the next writers' run, I guess the current creative teams are doing Abnett and Lanning a solid by introducing him now. It's a weird one for sure. Rather than have Drake simply get into an accident and a suit, they repurpose dead energy blasters no one really cared about and turn them into a potentially different version of the character. My guess is that their personalities will integrate into one and we won't have him talking to himself, but you never know.
Speaking of people talking to themselves, what is the deal with Umbra. I've had some trouble getting a hold of several Legionnaires' personalities in the last year of issues or so, Umbra the most. She's always saying things that lack context and is mercurial to a fault. In this issue, she considers anyone who would help the energy being a saint, but then acts like it's a repulsive monster. She's incredibly xenophobic (as opposed to intolerant of non-warriors), and it really is a fear, because she balances it against her fear of failure. She is all over the place, and I think it's a problem with the writing, as opposed to good writing MAKING her all over the place. Indeed, the structure of the issue leaves a lot to be desired. In medias res is fine, but then we cut to Brande's debriefing, go back to a flashback that really ought to have happened earlier in the conversation... A real mess. At least the issue features a lot of team work, especially given the fact the action isn't a battle.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/19.
  • Atom'X and Blast-Off, both thought killed by Mordru, are resurrected as a composite being, ERG-1. Their look is that of Wildfire, who indeed first appeared under that name in the previous continuity. In that continuity, Wildfire was Drake Burroughs, a name adopted by Atom'X (Randall Burroughs) and Blast-Off (Jahr-Drake Ningle) here. Note that Blast-Off was caleled Jahr Ningle in his first appearance, and Leroy Drake in Legion of Super-Heroes: Secret Files #2.
  • XS here returns active duty after spending some time in the 20th Century, specifically Flash (v2) #148-149.
  • Ferro consulted metallurgist Dr. Mollie D'Ennum in Legionnaires #58 about changing his appearance.
  • Wildfire has appeared before in the Reboot era, but in farther futures. He was still a Legionnaire during the Dead Earth era, and during the DC 1,000,000 event. So he is fated to eventually join the Reboot Legion.

Chronological introduction of the Reboot's Wildfire, AKA ERG-1.


  1. Blech! I saw this coming a mile away back then, and I didn't like it before it happened, nor after. Perhaps I'd have enjoyed it if I wasn't a lifelong fan of the original team, versus someone discovering the Legion for the first time through the Reboot. But to a guy whose first issue ever was ERG-1's initial appearance, this whole deal rankled. Drake Burroughs is my favorite Legionnaire of all time. "Drakeom'X Blast-Oughs" is not.

    ...though I bet a colorful sugary breakfast cereal called Blast-Oh's would taste pretty good!

  2. Hmmm...a hero with energy powers, "fire" in his name, and is a fusion of two people? Where have I heard this before?