Monday, April 8, 2019

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #11

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #11 (April 2008)
title: Mars
writer: J. Torres
penciller: Alexander Serra
inker: Rick Ketchum
letterer: Sol Cirpiano
colorist: Heroic Age
editor: Jeanine Shaefer
cover art: Alexandra Serra

Villians: The Hyperclan 

Mission Monitor Board: Blok, Brainiac 5, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Superman, Timber Wolf, and Triplicate Girl. 

Synopsis: Phantom Girl is watching Brainiac 5 create virtual reenactments of various missions with Superman but does not recall there ever having been one to Mars. He explains that it was not any official mission but happened when Superman inadvertently walked through the wrong trans-matter gate and ended up on the planet.

The story moves to flashback as we see Superman exit the gate onto Mars. He tries to return immediately but the line for the return trip is too long. He thinks about flying home but is still getting the hang of spaceflight and is not sure how long that would take. His bad luck continues as he tries to call Brainiac 5 using his flight ring but pushes the buttons too hard and destroys it.

Fortunately, the destruction of his ring activates an emergency signal at Legion headquarters and the team is able to track Superman to Mars. He continues trying to find a way to communicate with his team but his search is interrupted by a large explosion. The Hyperclan, a group of Martian separatists, have set off a bomb in the middle of the city and Superman rushes to help save people trapped in the rubble.

After Superman is forced to rush off following another explosion, Brainiac 5, Triplicate Girl, and Timber Wolf arrive at the site of the original blast. Brainiac 5 explains that the Hyperclan want to reclaim Mars for their race and are willing to resort to violence and destruction to drive off everyone else, including the United Planets. Like most Martians, they revere J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, but the Hyperclan has perverted his message and are taking apart what he worked so hard to build.

Elsewhere, Superman is confronting 3 members of Hyperclan but is unaware of the power of Martians. His battle is not going well but the Legion arrives to help. The separatists have each taken the form of Superman but the Legion is quickly able to figure out which one is truly their friend. Their leader grabs Brainiac 5 and drives him through a giant statue of J'onn J'onzz. Seeing the statue of their hero destroyed shocks the separatists and in the aftermath they are easy to apprehend.

Back in the present, Brainiac 5 explains to Phantom Girl that there was no record of the battle because Superman asked him to keep his getting lost on Mars a secret. However, because it kind of got out anyways, Brainiac 5 figured he should create a simulated recording. Lightning Lad arrives wanting Blok to see the simulation of Superman getting lost on Mars, but Brainiac 5 insists these simulations are not being created for his amusement!

Commentary: This issue continues the recurring trend of introducing greater DC lore into the world of the 31st Century, this time to mixed results. The story is certainly not bad but it just lacks the fun of when the Green Lantern Corps appeared. One of the biggest drawbacks is that the story feels very small in scale and lacks any sense of there being real stakes to the battle despite the implication that the Hyperclan are presumably a powerful force on Mars. The terrorist attack at the beginning is startling but seeing only three separatists who essentially give up at the sight of a broken statue at the end leaves it feeling pretty lackluster.

Still, it was fun to see the Martian Manhunter, and the underlying concept of there being separatists on Mars is intriguing. There are also a few nice touches here and there, such as an inexperienced Superman being caught off guard by the Martians' powers. So I would not write the issue off as a total loss, just one that is not especially remarkable or memorable.

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