Friday, June 12, 2020

Reboot: The Legion #34

The Legion #34 (August 2004)
title: "Childhood's End"
writer: Keith Champagne
artist: Steve Lightle
lettering: Bill Oakley
colorist: Sno-Cone
editor: Stephen Wacker
cover: Steve Lightle

reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, Shikari, Wildfire

Lord Thalon, Thunderers of Qward, Weaponers of Qward, Vox

31st-Century Qward at the heart of the Anti-Matter Universe. A young man called Vox is in awe of his father, Lord Thalon, from whom he was cloned. This Savior of Qward is fated to bring the warring Weaponers and Thunderers together in a new age of glory, his designs set on the Multiverse itself. He has the power to do it and has recently brought the dying world back to life. They herald him a god. But old hatreds die hard and the two peoples of Qward are far from getting along. Thalon is generally disappointed with his son and thinks of getting rid of him and growing a new one, but when a Thunderer is ordered to do so and fails, he's the one at the wrong end of Thalon's energies. Except they misfire. He visits the battery that powers the planet to recharge, and we see a familiar helmet - Wildfire's - on a stand, suggesting his "god-like" powers are not really his own.

Vox skulks around, "playing" at being Lord Thalon in the bowels of his father's fortress. He hears voices, those of a Legion team sent through a threshhold to find Wildfire, who has apparently been kidnapped by the Qwardians. He slips away before they can stop him from raising the alarm and Chameleon runs off after him. But no one believes the boy about his "monsters" and a Thunderer starts to beam him, necessitating a rescue from Chameleon, and thus rumbled, the Legion has to fight the forces of Qward, once again letting the boy slip by.
His DNA matching his father's, he enters the inner sanctum of the battery and Thalon shows him where his power comes from (or really, rants as he's about to throw him into the energy field. Lord Thalon believes him and walks out to deal with the Legionnaires (and does, fairly easily). Meanwhile, the energy speaks to Vox. It is Wildfire, trapped within the battery, being drained of his anti-matter energies to power a whole world.
Outside, Thalon is about to kill the prone Legionnaires when Karate Kid wakes up and attacks, distracting him long enough for Vox to realize his father is evil, isn't a god, and has betrayed Qward for his own edification. He frees Wildfire who overcomes Thalon. The Legionnaires return home, hoping they've taught Vox a better way. But no, the kid hates them for having taken the energy being that entranced him, and left Qward in darkness.
Back in our reality, Brainiac 5 examines Wildfire and explains his had a physical (and apparently handsome) form in the Anti-Matter Universe because he is made of anti-matter. Further, he determines that so much of his energy was leached away that every time he uses it, it will take away from the whole, until he is eventually dry and dies.
I realize we have a new writer and artist, but aside from the general appearance of the Legionnaires, this feels like it doesn’t belong in the same continuity. We leave the Legion’s headquarters when everything is fine and dandy and out of nowhere, we learn that Wildfire is being used against his will so far from the U.P. It was a bold way to start the transition for sure. It’s just so abrupt! Once I got past that, I at least could see the flow of the story was fine, although the action shots were a bit harder to follow than usual due to the quantity of fire/lightning/energy/explosions used.
Unfortunately, now, I’m left with questions… Was this just a quick rescue mission with no impact on the couple of issues we have left? Is this kid going to be relevant? The problem is both options are pretty meh to me. I really don’t care about this dying planet filled with hatred. We have enough in our own world, thank you very much. And if he does come back before the end, I feel we won’t have enough time to truly develop an arc around him. Do you know what’s not meh though? The humanoid Wildfire! Give him a trim, nothing too dramatic and I’d be completely seduced!
Since the hair length is just a bit of turn-off, I guess I’ll just swoon over Cham turned into Tellus!!!
Good job recognizing the Tellus reference! Artist Steve Lightle did co-create him, after all. But while I rate Lightle's work on the 80s Legion very highly, this issue IS hard to follow at times, I agree. And no, you won't have to wait for Vox to show up, because this is totally a fill-in issue, and these creators are not involved in the last four issues of The Legion. So even the reveal that Wildfire will have to watch out or he could drain his entire self in battle feels pointless, since he won't have time to do that in four issues before the team "Threeboots", and regardless, it is belied by Reboot continuity including a very old Wildfire in the Legends of the Dead Earth and DC: One Million time frames.
And it's probably even more pointless to someone unaware of Qward's place in DC continuity. A major part of Green Lantern's story, and indeed, of the DCU entire through the Anti-Monitor. I don't think it's ever been seen in the future like this, and its function is to explore what it would mean if Wildfire, who is MADE of anti-matter, would go there. An intriguing idea, even if the plot around it is a pretty typical sci-fi/superhero deal, with a (pretty tepid) ironic twist at the end. Like Shotgun, this one for me was mostly about the thrill of seeing Tellus (but sadly not Tellus).

Science Police Notes:  
  • Childhood's End is the title of a famous science-fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke.
  • Qward is part of Green Lantern lore and was first seen in Green Lantern v2 #2 as the Anti-Matter Universe's version of Oa. Vox's narration mentions rings and thunderbolts, the latter a reference to Qwardian Thunderers. The narrator's people are the Weaponers of Qward also from those GL stories. 31st-Century Qward is powered by a giant Oan battery.
  • The Thunderers sport the Monitor's haircut, referencing the link between the Monitor and the Anti-Matter universe (i.e. the Anti-Monitor).
  • At one point, Chameleon chooses the form of a Hykraian to fight a Thunderer. This is the same species the never-Rebooted Legionnaire Tellus belonged to.
  • At the end of this story, Wildfire is placed in a containment suit that looks like his original from the previous continuity. It will prove temporary as he's back to normal in his next appearance.

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