Tuesday, November 5, 2019

L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 #14

L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 #14 (April 1990)
title: "The Sound of Silence"
co-plot: Alan Grant and Barry Kitson
script: Alan Grant
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

Garryn Beck was leading a mission into deep space when his crew encountered a strange emerald eye. The eye formed some sort of telepathic link to Bek and began reacting instinctively to his tiniest thought, even when Bek was sleeping. The situation quickly grew serious after the eye killed several of the crew. Bek was unable to gain control over the eye or his own thoughts and things continued to spiral out of control until everyone on board except him was dead. By the time he arrived back at L.E.G.I.O.N. headquaters, his mind had become unbalanced. He demanded to see Dox, apparently intending to kill him. The team was unable to stop Bek or the eye, but when he finally found Dox, Bek merely collapsed to his knees in tears and began begging him for help.

Strata and Steatlh have been sent on a mission to help a small community that has come under attack by outlaws. The community resembles a town out of the old West, down to their sheriff that was killed and the bit of sexism that is thrown their way by a local.

Just as they appear to have found the invaders' base, the story moves back to L.E.G.I.O.N. headquaters where Lyrissa is clashing with Dox because she believes he is expanding the organization too quickly. It appears Dox has not quite lived up to his promise to let Lyrissa continue managing the L.E.G.I.O.N. on her own.

Their argument is interrupted by a call from two representatives of the planet Rann, Alanna and her father Sardath. The planet has come under attack by pirates who have also captured their planetary hero, and Alanna's husband, Adam Strange. One they have agreed to Dox's financial terms, he agrees to help.
Dox investigates and discovers that the pirates are led by Dagon-Ra and have become a major problem for the entire Alpha Centauri sector, which includes almost thirty populated worlds. He sees the mission as a tremendous opportunity to build the team's reputation while Lyrissa is concerned they do not have the capabilities of defeating a thousand or more heavily armed pirates.

Lyrissa goes to check on Bek, who has been quietly pouting in a cell. Phase says his mental state is unchanged but his body appears to be going through some sort of change, particularly his hair that has begun growing unusually fast. After she explains that tests have not revealed anything helpful, Lyrissa takes the opportunity to warn Phase. Apparently, since her appearance coincided with the Durlan's disappearance, Dox blames her for the absence of his friend.
Meanwhile, Strata and Stealth have busted their way inside the outlaws' base. Strata is worried about her friend becoming too bloodthirsty and the distraction leaves her vulnerable. She is shot in the back by one of their sonic canons and Stealth observes several crystals growing out of her wound.
While she cares for her friend, the issue takes us to Lyrissa's homeworld, where the Computer Tyrants of Colu have taken custody of her daughter, Lydea. The child is being brainwashed to believe that she is being tortured by her own mother. The tyrants want her to associate her mother with pain and fear, and eventually hatred.
Back at headquaters, Dox has gone to check on Bek and becomes angry when Phase tells them that her tests have revealed nothing. Dox goes into Bek's cell to explain that he has learned nothing about the eye and that he is going to have to learn to help himself for once. When Bek becomes furious, the eye lashes out at Dox. Phase is able to calm Bek before he does any permanent damage, and Dox decides to leave the two of them together.
Elsewhere, Strata's body has continued to sprout crystals everywhere and Stealth deduces that it must be a reaction to the sonic vibrations of the weapon she was struck with. They still have to deal with the outlaws, who soon discover that Stealth is able to deflect sound, which renders their weapons useless. One of them tries to overload his weapon to take them all out but she is able to deflect the blast so only he is harmed. Well, him and the structure they are inside, which comes crashing down on their heads. Fortunately, Strata is still strong enough to shield Stealth from the debris.
In the final two pages, we see Dox's plan to defeat the pirates of Dagon-Ra start to take shape. Lobo has started a good old fashioned bar fight, demanding to know how he can find and join up with the pirates.
After a very focused story last issue, this one is sort of all over the place. The biggest new development is their agreement to help against the pirates that are harassing Rann and the other planets of Alpha Centauri. But there are quite a few other subplots going on, including Bek's connection with the emerald eye and the Computer Tyrant's plan for revenge. There are also some new ones, such as Strata's crystal growth and the tension between Dox and Phase. The issue is well done and not confusing at all, there is just a great deal to keep track of.

The high point for me was seeing Alanna and Sardath of Rann because I am a big Adam Strange fan. It is worth remembering that Adam has actually met several of our cast before, particularly Dox and Bek, when they were imprisoned by the alien Alliance during the Invasion! series. In fact, he was originally intended to be a regular castmember of L.E.G.I.O.N. before editorial changed those plans. Does this mean his potential appearance could lead to a permanent slot on the team? Well, no, not exactly. But I am just happy at the idea of seeing him again.

One development that will have major repercussions for the team is the Computer Tyrants' plans to use Lydia against her mother and the team. The reveal of this issue was a welcome development because I have found that storyline to be dragging a bit. The brief one or two pages appearances over the last several issues have done little other than remind us that the Tyrants are still out there planning revenge. We knew their plan involved Lyrissa's planet, but we got to see very little of what they were up to there and any hints offered were vague. Now, at last, we have an idea of what is coming.

This issue was also refreshing in that we finally got to see some of the team battling traditional bad guys rather than just themselves. The tension and drama among our main case is what made this book special, but it is good to be reminded occasionally why the L.E.G.I.O.N. can be a positive force in the universe.

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