Thursday, April 18, 2019

Reboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #122

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #122 (December 1999)
title: "Legion of the Damned, Part One"
writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
penciller: Olivier Coipel
inker: Andy Lanning
lettering: Comicraft
colorist: Tom McCraw
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: Olivier Coipel & Andy Lanning
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Apparition, Brainiac 5.1, Chameleon, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid (mentioned), Live Wire, Monstress, Sensor (mentioned), XS

R.J. Brande (voice only), Shvaughn Erin; refugees

The Blight, Blighted Legionnaires (Karate Kid, Kinetix, Star Boy, Ultra Boy, Umbra)

A handful of Legionnaires went out to help an old freighter, but when they tried to come back, they found the stargate inoperative. All across the galaxy, a strange force has been hopping through the stargates. Its destination, Earth...

A month later, Earth has been invaded by the Blight. The sky is a strange pinkish hue. Metropolis has been devastated. Legionnaires are working with President R.J. Brande to smuggle people off-world for their safety. As Live Wire, Chameleon, XS, and Shvaughn tip-toe around the rubble with their latest charges, they are confronted by two members of the Blight, accompanied by possessed (or "blighted" Legionnaires - Karate Kid, Umbra and Ultra Boy.
Fighting ensues. Shvaughn, XS and the refugees are soon captured, but Live Wire is shot with a weed blaster that seems to turn him into a bush of brambles (as also happened to Invisible Kid, apparently). Only Chameleon escapes as the Blight teleport everyone else to the Stem, a giant organic tower in the middle of the city.
Still hunted, Cham makes his way to Legion HQ, hoping to lead the Blight patrols away from R.J. Brande's current hide-out. There, he's jumped by a blighted Star Boy, but prevails. He hears a noise, and despite the Legion code against killing, sets his weapon for a lethal discharge. Desperate times... But when he turns the corner, he finds the four Legionnaires who were lost behind Stargate 4897, and they're wondering just what the grife is happening!
What the hell happened? No, but seriously, did we miss and issue? I knew we would have a switch in style and tone but this... this is so drastic. If it weren’t for the characters’ names and looks, I would think this wasn’t even the same universe. I expect we’ll have some sort of flashback when Cham explains to the four Legionnaires what happened over the last month.

Now for the fun part. I’m totally guilty of going back and forth from one image to the other to figure where Cham was hiding. Proud to say I spotted the chair pretty quickly. I love that kind of stuff in comics. It keeps the readers more actively engaged. I’m glad Cham isn’t turned, but I’m sad he must endure the vile comments coming from his friends. Even when everything will get back to normal, because it will go back to normal... right?... yeah, it will! So, when it gets back to normal, the Legion’s therapist will have plenty of work building back the Legionnaires’ trust in one another.
The last time the Legion jumped in time and it was all dystopian, it took five years and a Reboot to make things right again... Am I making promises, or just toying with you, Shotgun? THIS particular dystopia, shades of a super-powered zombie apocalypse with gross xenomorphic aliens throw in, features the art of Olivier Coipel, which is dark and gritty, especially compared to the more cartoony styles we've been used to, pretty much since the Reboot began. It's not always as clear on action as I want it to be, but I do like it. It's distinctive and it suits the darker story. Just how dark will be up to the new writers, but with much of Legion "blighted", it's friend against friend, and even Cham is at the point where he puts his blaster on "kill". Too much? How about the apparent death of Live Wire by weed blaster? Looks pretty lethal, right?
The Blighted leave an ugly gray bush and a Legion flight right behind, but I don't think he's actually dead. Not sure how this bio-tech works, but maybe he's been transported to the Stem. It's done without much fanfare, and Invisible Kid shared the same fate. Lyle wouldn't have been killed off-panel, would he? But it's called "choke-weed", not "transport-weed". RJ Brande is leading the resistance, but it remains to be seen which Legionnaires are still free of blight, or if THIS IS IT. Great showcase for Cham who manages to escape the vigilant eyes of the blighted, but he won't be alone for Part 2. If this is the first real issue of the new creative team, it really starts its tenure with a bang, and throws us in the deep end, but not too much. We get just enough information that we can follow the story, and for the first time in a while, I sort of want to read the next issue right away.
Science Police Notes:  
  • All-inclusive Legion numbering: 1999/24.
  • First full issue drawn by Olivier Coipel (with inks by co-writer Andy Lanning).
  • The action takes place a month after the previous issue. Not a five-year gap, but bad things happen in this time jump too.
  • Blighted Kinetix's costume does not match later appearances, but it's possible given her powers. The color scheme might indicate it is actually Insect Queen, since the Amazers were headed for Earth in the previous story. Editor Mike McAvennie claims it is Kinetix.
  • A very weird mistake occurs on page 21 where a caption from the previous story's page 21 recurs ("Stargate 4897, serving the Beta Crucius Out-Throw.").


  1. This is the Legion era I simply refuse to read. I don't know if Olivier Coipel is popular among fandom or not but I just can't stand his stuff. Also, I hate Zombie Apocalypse and "broken" future stories. I've read every other iteration of the Legion but I tried one issue of this run and stopped immediately. So I'll be especially excited to read these reviews because I didn't read the stories. :-)

    1. I didn't like this run or Copiel's art either, but like a dummy I slogged through it all. And I was not a fan of the first iteration of "Legion Lost". MY Legion lives in a shiny & clean future, with just a few dirty corners.

  2. The fact that I can't even tell that it is Ultra Boy (my favorite Legionnaire) on the cover, I am glad to have missed this Legion era.

  3. I grew up with the original bright, shiny Legion and, while this was jarring at the time, really rather liked it. And it just got better, with the Legion spirit shining ever more brightly the darker things became. I’ve just reread the whole thing in trade, including the post-Blight set-up for Legion Lost, and it’s just an amazing run.