Tuesday, August 20, 2019

L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 #3

L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 #3 (April 1989)
title: "How to Win Friends and Influence People!"
plot/breakdowns: Keith Giffen
script: Alan Grant
penciller: Barry Kitson
inker: Mike DeCarlo
letterer: Gaspar
colorist: Lovern Kindzierski
assistant editor: Art Young
editor: Karen Berger
cover art: Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon

Future L.E.G.I.O.N.airres: The Durlan, Garryn Bek, Lyrissa Mallor, Stealth, Strata, Vril Dox.

Their Opponent: The Computer Tyrants of Colu

Recap: After escaping from the Starlag prison during the Invasion! series, Vril Dox manipulated his fellow escapees into helping him free his people from the Computer Tyrants of Colu. While successful, Vril fears how the almost childlike Coluans will react to having free will for the first time in their lives.

After reaching the surface, Lyrissa and the others are shocked to see what has happened to Colu as a result of their actions. The society is in chaos and there is nothing but destruction as far as they can see.
Dox insists that they did the right thing but Bek and Lyrissa are furious and go to find a way off planet. Strata and Stealth stay, Strata because she feels responsible and wants to help Colu, and Stealth because she simply has nowhere else to go. The Durlan remains quiet but it is clear by this point that he has some unexplained relationship or bond with Dox.

Meanwhile, a probe in orbit opens and a strong, brutish looking being emerges. Just before Dox shut down the central core, the Computer Tyrants sent their collective electronic intelligence to a bioadapter preprogrammed to create a powerful new physical form.

While the collective being returns to Colu to crush Dox, Lyrissa and Bek locate a ship and depart the planet. We learn that Bek is from Cairn, also known as the "Drug World," and that he had the impossible job of being a narcotics agent there. Their discussions distract him from piloting and their ship strikes and kills a space dolphin. Bek does not seem to bothered for once, but the usually confident Lyrissa goes into a panic.
On Colu, Vril is moving to destroy the main terminal of the Computer Tyrants to ensure they do not regain control. When they hear a loud noise and go to check the source, Stealth runs directly into the collective form of the Computer Tyrants.
Back in space, the floating body of the space dolphin is discovered by the bounty hunter Lobo, confirming that it was one of his dolphin pets and explaining why Lyrissa was in such a panic. Unsurprisingly, Lobo intends to kill the being responsible for killing one of his babies. Back on Colu, the team is getting their butts kicked when Lyrissa and Bek arrive.
They turn out to not be of much help and the Computer Tyrant is about to fry Dox's head off when he overhears a loud explosion. Dox warns that it was the sound of the main control being destroyed, which means the Tyrant is now trapped in this new body and unable to reconnect with Cold.
Dox understands that their extreme hatred for beings of flesh means that being stuck in this form has driven the Computer Tyrants mad. He fears, however, that they will eventually calm down and return to finish what they started. Before the team can relax, Bek and Lyrissa began to explain their reason for returning, starting with the question of whether Vril has ever heard of Lobo.
Commentary: This was an interesting issue in that up until now the L.E.G.I.O.N. series has been very different in approach than a typical DC comic of this time. But by transforming the Computer Tyrants into this hulking, powerful being that they have to fight, this issue takes on a much stronger resemblance to a standard superhero vs. supervillian story. I almost wonder if the creators felt they needed to "throw a bone" to the average superhero comic reader after two issues of having them face off against a faceless computer system.

Fortunately, while we do get several panels of a good old-fashioned knock down, drag out fight, the resolution comes down to Vril outwitting his opponent, as will often be the case in this series. We also get the startling moment of Vril being grossly disfigured during the battle, which had to leave the readers wondering if this was how he would look from now on. Given how heavily promotions for the series were leaning on its potential connection to the Legion of Super-Heroes, deemphasizing the similarities between Vril Dox and Brainiac 5 would be a bold choice. Would it last? Well, we will have to see.

I enjoyed this issue, but not as much as the previous two, probably because of their decision to create a humanoid form for the tyrants. I did not dislike it certainly, I still think this storyline overall is a great beginning for the L.E.G.I.O.N. It just felt a bit too...I am not sure...perhaps too standard-fare given what we have seen so far?

In any event, there is also a new subplot introduced with the promise of Lobo coming to take revenge for the death of his dolphin. Given that Lobo was in his early days of becoming one of DC's hottest properties for a time, his appearance is understandable. But will it be a shameless cameo? Or will it have long term consequences for our team? Without giving away spoilers, I can say that Grant and Giffen are going to move in a direction involving Lobo that almost no one would have guessed at the time.

But we will talk about that more next time!


  1. I think the putting a humanoid form to the tyrants of Colu was to give Legion of Superhero readers a gift--the origin of Pulsar Stargrave. It certainly looks like him.

  2. Oh yeah, thats an excellent point! You are right, they look very much alike.

  3. Yes, the Computer Tyrant was Pulsar Stargrave. A Legion villain who never received a clear back-story/motive in the regular Legion book. I loved that the writers of this series were really trying to connect it to the classic Legion.

    The only nitpick I have of this review (and previous) is that it eventually comes as a surprise to the reader that Strata is a female. Talking about "her" as "she" kind of ruins that surprise, for those who never read the series at the time.