Tuesday, October 29, 2019

L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 #13

L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 #13 (March 1990)
title: "Deceptions"
script: Alan Grant/Barry Kitson (Co-plot)
penciller: Barry Kitson
inker: Mark McKenna
letterer: Gasper Saladino
colorist: Lovern Kindzierski
editor: Art Young
cover art: Kevin Maguire and Al Gordon
review by: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: After being raped and murdered by Stealth, Vril Dox was successfully cloned with his original memories intact. Upon seeing how well Lyrissa had been doing in organizing and strengthening L.E.G.I.O.N., he told her he planned to let her maintain control. He was also confronted by Stealth, who had returned to normal and been accepted back on the team by everyone. When she told him that she was pregnant, he insisted that the only logical option was for her to have an abortion, which she angrily rejected. Meanwhile, Garryn Beck was leading a mission into deep space and encountered a strange emerald eye. It somehow imprinted itself onto Bek's mind and reacted instinctively to his thoughts, even when he was sleeping. The situation spiraled out of control until every crewman that had accompanied him was dead.

Things take a surprising turn as the story does not open with any of our regular cast but instead with Lady Quark. Yes, Lady Quark from the Crisis on Infinite Earths series, the last survivor of her universe and her Earth. She came from a unique Earth where she ruled the planet as royalty with her husband, but it was destroyed in the Crisis. She is fighting a Daxamite on a low gravity world similar to Earth, which gives him powers similar to what a Kryptonian like Superman would have on Earth.
The Daxamite tries to reason with her and end the battle but she refuses. She fights on until her thermal abilities erupt and decimate the city they are in and its population. Fortunately, these scenes turn out to be a simulation run by Dox and Lyrissa to test potential candidates. The computer recommends selecting a Daxamite for the team but finds Lady Quark too unstable and dangerous, and Lyrissa agrees. Dox on the other hand, notes under his breath that she may be just what the team needs.
Meanwhile, Strata and Lobo have gone to welcome Bek's ship, but their investigation finds only the dead bodies of the crew. Lobo loses his patience and calls for Bek, only to find himself hurled out through the hull of the ship. Strata soon follows.
A clearly unstable Bek emerges, alternating between taking glee from pushing out Lobo to apologizing out of guilt to Strata. He has obviously been pushed over the edge by the actions of the emerald eye.
While Strata tries to appeal to Bek's better side, Lobo attempts to tackle the eye. It does not go well. 
Lyrissa begins to panic and goes to help her teammates while Dox just calmly observes the situation. She runs into Stealth who is going to retrieve their mysterious visitor in hopes that she might stand a chance against the eye. Lyrissa reaches Bek only to see the eye mowing down L.E.G.I.O.N. troops. She does not fair much better.
Bek and the eye reach Dox, apparently intent on revenge for all that he has put them through since they escaped from prison. But Stealth arrives with Phase and she makes a kinder attempt to get through to him. The eye lashes out and Bek thinks he has killed Phase. The moment of guilt he feels gives her the distraction she needs to take him down.

Or so she thinks. The eye blasts Phase again, this time knocking her out. Lobo steps up and is able to hold his own against the eye for a while, but eventually even he succumbs. Surprisingly, when he finally gets to Dox, Bek does not attack. Instead, he collapses in tears and begs him for help in freeing himself from the eye. The team recovers and walks in on the scene, shocked to see a victorious Dox standing over Bek.
Okay, first I have to start out by saying...this issue was awesome! The issue acknowledges some of the ongoing storylines we have been dealing with, such as Stealth's attack on Dox and the tension between him and Lyrissa, but only barely. Instead of a more introspective issue, this one turns into a mix of an action-horror film. Bek (of all people!) has become an unstoppable killing machine thanks to the emerald eye. And to complicate things, its for the most part against his wishes, as the eye taps into his thoughts and reacts instinctively. His crew is dead by the time he returns to L.E.G.I.O.N. headquarters, and as a result his mind is imbalanced, which only makes things worse.

The ease at which the eye takes down Strata and Lobo raises the stakes even further, but we also get to see Lyrissa's natural inclination to assume a leadership role and help her teammates. And for the first time since Stealth's attack on Dox, I felt myself relaxing to her character as she went to retrieve Phase. I still feel uncomfortable with how quickly the team accepted her but her dialogue with Phase went a long way to confirming that she was not in her right mind when she attacked Dox and is back to her old self now.

The ending was a jarring moment as far as seeing Bek intent on confronting Dox but then immediately collapsing into a heap once he reaches him. This was a typical moment for this series in several respects. First, the tension is all the result of conflict between the team without the need of a traditional villain (admittedly the eye is there of course). Also, we really get a sense of our team struggling and its hard to shake the feeling that anyone can actually die here. This is not the Justice League of America after all, and we appear to have already lost the Durlan. Finally, Dox overcomes seemingly impossible odds in the end to emerge victorious. This is probably the most consistent aspect of the serious and it makes his character both fascinating and infuriating.

There was a short interlude I did not mention during my summary involving the Computer Tyrants of Colu taking advantage of a ceremony on Lyrissa's homeworld to get possession of her baby daughter. I did not want to interrupt the flow of the story, and this happens in a few short pages, but it will obviously have big implications down the road. In the meantime, I cannot wait to check in next issue and see what Dox is doing about Bek and his eye!


  1. Another great review Mike, for another great issue.
    I smiled knowingly at your mention of Lady Quark and a Daxamite.
    I LOVE that last page. It was such a great and surprising shock on first read, but is still a fantastic moment to this old man.
    Keep up the quality reviews Mike, I'm already looking forward to next week!

  2. Thanks so much, I'm happy that you are enjoying them! And yeah, a big part of the appeal of this series was how often it managed to surprise readers.