Wednesday, January 22, 2020

L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 #21

L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 #21 (November 1990)
title: "Light and Shade"
writer: Alan Grant
penciller: Jim Fern
inker: Jeff Albrecht
letterer: Gasper Saladino
colorist: Lovern Kindzierski
editor: Art Young
cover art: Gary Leach and Lovern Kindzierski
review by: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: Lyrissa Mallor's daughter arrived on Cairn intent on killing her mother because she had been brainwashed by the Computer Tyrants of Colu. A psychic flash alerted the team to their battle but by the time they arrived they were too late. They attacked Lydea but Phase inadvertently caused some sort of energy burst that knocked everyone unconscious. While everyone was in mourning over Lyrissa's death, Stealth stole a ship to get away from Dox because she was sick of how he has treated her during her pregnancy. Although the team believed Lyrissa to be dead, we learned that she had lived but was barely clinging to life. In a rare display of emotion, we also saw Dox watching over her in the medical bay, barely holding back tears.

The team has learned that Lyrissa survived and Strata is visiting her in the medical bay. She explains that the doctors have encouraged them to speak to her in hopes that it might help her come out of her coma. Strata begs her friend to recover, both because they need her to watch over Dox and because they have all grown to love her.
Unaware that Lyrissa lives, Bek and Marij'n have gone to find the Computer Tyrants of Colu to seek revenge. It appears that the Emerald Eye has bonded with Marij'n just as it did her husband and that she is growing increasingly arrogant as well.
Dox has imprisoned Lydea and tries to learn more about her brainwashing but is unsuccessful. He fears the effects are irreversible and that he may have to kill her. Meanwhile, Phase is visiting Lyrissa when she noticed a blip on one of the monitors. She rushes to tell Dox but when he sees no evidence of any changes in her condition he gets furious at Phase for getting his hopes up.
On Talok VIII, the Computer Tyrants are battling a group of creatures called Sand-Scrops as part of their plan to become the planet's new champion in Lyrissa's absence. Most of the population is impressed by the victory of their new hero, who has taken the name Mr. Starr, but a small few are turned off by his arrogance. A warning sensor detects what are believed to be approaching ships but the Computer Tyrants/Mr. Starr investigate and realize it is Garryn Bek and a companion. They also notice the Emerald Eye but are unsure what kind of being it is.
Dox is so desperate to save Lyrissa that he orders even Lobo to go speak with her since the doctor said recognizing anyone she knows could be the spark to bring her back. What could go wrong?
Dox immediately regrets his decision and orders Lobo to leave, but then makes his own attempt to get through to Lyrissa.
Bek and Marij'n arrive on Talok VIII and declare that they are there seeking the Computer Tyrants of Colu. When they explain that the Tyrants are in a giant, green body, someone says that their new champion, Mr. Starr, fits that description. It does not take them long to find him.
Sadly, back on Cairn, tragedy strikes.
This is a relatively calm issue that mostly serves to build suspense on Lyrissa's condition but it also reinforces how far we have come over the last twenty issues. This series started out with a very slow build following their escape from the Alliance gulag during the Invasion! series. The first several issues focused largely on Dox trying to free his homeworld from the Computer Tyrants and it took some time before we got to know the rest of the cast. Over the last ten issues or so, however, the characters of Lyrissa, Strata, Stealth, and Phase have clearly bonded and become important to each other. It is with them that the readers feels a sense of comradery so it makes sense that the creators would use them to show the impact of Lyrissa's potential loss.

The surprise comes from Dox's reaction. Last issue gave us the first moment where we saw him experience real fear at the prospect of losing Lyrissa and this issue provides us with his first display of tenderness. At first I assumed Dox was solely worried about the impact of Lyrissa's loss on the team, but here I am almost tempted to say that Dox actually cares about her personally, at least as much as he is able to care about someone. And of course, given Dox's need for control, that makes her potential loss not just tragic but also dangerous. Who knows how someone like Dox will react if Lyrissa dies? Especially if the party responsible is one for which he already has an obsessive hatred, the Computer Tyrants of Colu.

The final page of this comic was very powerful and appeared to be the end for Lyrissa. We will find out for sure next week, but if so, it will really show how different L.E.G.I.O.N. was from typical mainstream books put out by DC at the time. Her loss would have been shocking to readers in that significant members of a regular cast were almost never killed off then.  As for the story impact, she has been the true backbone of the team and the main check on Dox's darker tendencies. Without her, several of our heroes will be devastated and Dox is likely to grow more extreme.

Of the ongoing subplots, the one I am most interested in his Bek and Marij'n's bond with the Emerald Eye. Well, perhaps I should say Marij'n's bond. Bek is a character that has been pretty unlikeable from the beginning so I do not find myself that invested in his fate beyond how it will impact the team. Marij'n, however, grew far more likable after her first few appearances, and the attitude she displayed early on can be chalked up to how awful it must be to be married to Bek. Hopefully, she can be free of the Eye's influence soon even if she does not want to be. If she survives her visit to Talk VIII, that is.

That's all for now, but check back next week to see the result of Bek and Marij'n's attack on the Computer Tyrants, and to find out if that final page featuring Lyrissa was as ominous as it appeared.

1 comment:

  1. This issue made me very sad. I had grown to love this group so much and was really shocked by these turn of events. Lyrissa was the heart, soul and backbone of this team. Loved and respected by all. She was a true leader and a wonderfully developed character. I hope against hope for her survival.