Thursday, October 3, 2019

Reboot: Legion Worlds #5

Legion Worlds #5 (October 2001)
title: "You Are Here: Steeple"
writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
penciller: Steve Dillon
inkers: Klaus Janson & John Stanisei
title: "Executive Action"
writers: Dan Abnett
artist: Jamie Tolagson
lettering: Comicraft
colorist: Tom McCraw
seps: Digital Chameleon
editor: Mike McAvennie
cover: John Cassaday
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Ferro, Karate Kid, M'Onel

Abyss, Brainstorm, Pashassi-Master Sorcsis, Repulse, Twine; Halpashar, space-port crew

Bronto, Cortex, Emerita, Gangster, Mr. Venge, Nadir, Pollen, Razorsoul

Half the Legion's been missing, thought dead, but they've just now returned after a year. While they were gone, Leland McCauley became president of the United Planets, disbanded the Legion and only kept M'Onel on staff to protect the solar system...

On Steeple, on the eve of the planet being cut off from the rest of the galaxy by cosmic storms, Karate Kid is riding a flying jellyfish with his new sensei, a non-violent Halpashar priest who teaches him to go with the flow and let the universe guide him. Val is still learning and suffers pangs of self-determination that go against Halpashar philosophy. Unbeknownst to then, a Takron-Galtos escapee named Nadir has made his way to Steeple and started killing everyone since no one defends themselves. Except Ferro, who had accompanied Karate Kid on his quest. But he is beaten so badly that he is comatose and cannot lose his metal form lest he die from his wounds.
Val arrives in time to get Ferro some medical help, but is himself soundly defeated by Nadir, who grabs him by the pony tail and throws him against a wall. When he awakens days later, Nadir has flown and Ferro is in a stasis field for no one knows how long. Karate Kid embarks on a mission that betrays his new training, to follow Nadir to the planet's one space-port before he kills more people and makes his escape. He cuts his hair off, a symbol of how lax he's become.
Surprisingly, his master follows though he can't agree with this course of events. When they arrive, Nadir has already started the killing. Karate Kid hammers at him, but makes no dent. He's then thrown into a ravine. His master puts himself between Nadir and the port, insisting he will not make a move against the villain, but will nonetheless stand in his way, since that is where the winds put him. Surprise! Karate Kid took Ferro's Legion ring, which he'd held onto, and he's back from the abyss. Unable to do any damage to Nadir, he instead jams his gun so that the murderer zaps himself. Nadir is then remanded to the Science Police and taken off-world before the cosmic storms make travel on and off the planet impossible for the next 10 years. Karate Kid had decided to leave before it was too late, but finds he cannot leave Ferro behind, and so stays with him for however long it will take.
In "Executive Action", M'Onel and the Work Force/Oversight Team track a team of super-powered criminals led by Cortex to Pluto, or rather to the artificial construct that replaced Pluto centuries ago. Cortex knows this to be Mongul's Warworld and wants to reactivate and commandeer it. While the heroes battle above, President McCauley's mysterious chief of staff Mr. Venge appears to Cortex and kills him. When M'Onel shows up, Venge says Cortex committed suicide. A likely story.
I thought we didn’t get to see enough of Karate Kid. He’s a very interesting character with a very unique drive. This story just felt right to me as we got to learn more about him, his aspiration and his needs at the same time as he was discovering them for his own self. Finding what you really want from life is a tough process. He got his answers offered to him right in time, but got the choice stolen from him when his friend got hurt. Staying put for ten years after realizing how he would miss his old life, only to stay with a friend he might lose at any moment due to his injuries. That decision doesn’t even seem to have been hard for him to make. That shows just how noble and selfless that kid really is.
Some interesting powers displayed by the Oversight Team. They do seem way more violent and to enjoy the task a lot more than any Legionnaire ever has. I can only guess that we’ll be seeing more of them and their powers opposing our heroes. Let’s be real, McCauley is an idiot, the real brain of the operation seems to be Venge who’s absolutely freaking me out on the last page. For the Legion to come back and get reinstated, something major needs to happen to the government in place and I can’t see them taking the loss of their positions of power lightly.
It is very weird for me to see the late, great Steve Dillon on a Legion book, but it looks like they went out of their way in Legion Worlds to get "off-world" talent, giving each story its own distinctive look. His art is a lot more spare than others', but that fits the zen planet. I also haven't seen him on martial arts material, and he makes Karate Kid's moves look a little slow sometimes. In any case, this is a story about characters even if there's a lot of action in it. While his sacrifice at the end is quite touching, his characterization here makes it a crying shame that it essentially means he (and Ferro) have been written out of the series. Unless there's a reprieve before the 10-year mark..?
As for back-up, Abnett shows how good he is at designing powers, as he efficiently crafts this team of "heroes" (if they're working for McCauley, I'm gonna keep that word in quotation marks) and villains. The use of Warworld also marks a difference in how the Legion's future is handled. Traditionally, the 20th/21st-Century stuff is kept at arm's length unless the Legionnaires are actually lost in time. Legacy characters are kept to a minimum (Thunder being a notable exception, and she never really sat right, I don't think), and so on. DnA are going another route and including contemporary DCU elements into the narrative, and we'll see more of that in the future (but shhh, spoilers). It's a tight rope act, but one I'm willing to allow.
Science Police Notes:  
  • The main story is told from Karate Kid's point of view and takes place on Steeple, a planet invented for this story.
  • In the last 1000 years, Pluto has been replaced by the husk of Mongul's Warworld, now long abandoned and covered in dust.
  • Repulse is the only member of McCauley's Work Force/Oversight Team to have appeared before, last seen in Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #125.


  1. RE: KK & FeL - I thought that was an unusual but creative (and easily undone) way to take two characters off the board that the writer(s) seemed to have no interest in.

    1. Between these two and the Legionnaires killed off in Legion Lost, I almost have the feeling Abnett and Lanning started with that attitude, and by the end were kind of bummed they'd put said character off the board. Because every damn time, they gave the character a send-off that turns them into one of your favorite characters!