Wednesday, October 7, 2020

L.E.G.I.O.N. #56

L.E.G.I.O.N. '93 #55 (July 1993)
title: "Passages"
writer: Mark Waid
penciler: Val Semieks
inker: Robin Smith
colors: Gene D'Angelo
letters: Gasper Saladino
editor: Dan Raspler
cover: Barry Kitson
reviewer: Mike "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

Recap: On Cairn, t
he team was forced to deal with an intruder that came to find Lydea. They presumed him to be a threat but once he was caught, he turned out to be Lydea's father, and the husband of their deceased teammate, Lyrissa Mallor. Her father told the tale of the Shadow cave on their homeworld from which her mother's family drew their power. A priest had recently arisen and demanded sacrifices, and Lydea's father fled to seek their help.

The L.E.G.I.O.N. split into two teams. Phase's team, including Lydia, headed to Talk VIII, while the recruits tracked down the planet Acheron in hopes of helping the cyborg Darrius, who had been gravely injured in their battle against Ig'nea. Lydea ultimately defeated the Shadow Beast that inhabited the cave and earned the mantle of Champion of Talok VIII.  At the same time, the new recruits find Acheron and a cybernetic population built by Mardock, a mad cybergeneticist. In the past, Darrius had tried to lead his people in rebellion but was cast out by Mardock. On this occasion, he successfully overthrew Mardock and although he did not wish it, became the new ruler of Acheron.

Meanwhile, on Cairn, a series of murders had occurred throughout the capital while at the same time a mysterious caped figure appeared.

L.E.G.I.O.N. street police are investigating another mysterious murder on Cairn. From the chalk outline and surrounding crater, it appears that the victim was crushed by a heavy weight. This was the same way that seven other L.E.G.I.O.N. troops had been killed and Captain Horgath is furious that they have failed to find the perpetrator. They are observed by a caped figure in the shadows, who conducts his own investigation of the crime scene after they leave. (Yeah, like I said last time, its former L.E.G.I.O.N.aire Garv. Despite him being in shadow, the figure is very distinct and it is obviously Garv.)

Elsewhere, Strata is thinking about Garv, still upset over his departure from the team.

In an effort to began moving on, she returns to work and learns of the recent series of cop killings. She finds the names of the victims familiar and takes the file with her to the precinct where the killings occurred.

Strata finds Captain Horgarth and his men at a local bar and begins to question him. Hogarth is uncomfortable with the higher-ups in the organization muscling in on his case but admits that he and his men might be in over their head this time. He takes her back to the precinct while one of his men, Pukka waits outside. Pukka has always been ambitious and sees Strata's arrival as an opportunity for possible career advancement.

Strata and Hogarth hear the sound of a loud impact and rush outside to discover that Pukka has been squished like the others. As they investigate, a man sits in a nearby alley, smiling to himself.

Later, Strata tells Hogarth that thanks to a remark by Pukka, she finally remembers why she recognized the names of the victims. She explains that she had instructed all of them while they were at the L.E.G.I.O.N. academy. Hogarth wonders if a rejected student or psychotic rookie may have a vendetta against her. When she mentions that she only ever rejected one applicant out of hand, she has a revelation and tells Hogarth to immediately find an address that matches the name she is writing down.

The man from the alley is standing above police headquarters as if he is waiting for something when he is confronted by Garv. We are finally given a good look at Garv, who is dressed like a costumed hero. Garv tells the man he is under arrest for the murders of eight men, but the man insists that he is innocent. Garv tries to approach but trips over his own cape.

Strata, Hogarth, and a group of police rush out of precinct headquarters to the building across the street. The man they are looking for had taken a room there specifically so he could be near them. Strata insists on entering alone and once inside she hears a noise from above.

Garv swoops in and kicks the attacker aside before he can land on Strata. Before she can get a good look at her rescuer, Garv swoops away. The killer is soon on the roof and the police have the building surrounded. Garv approaches from behind but the killer senses him. The man rants about how he won a tournament on his world to his represent his people in the L.E.G.I.O.N. and how deflated he felt when he was so quickly rejected by Strata.


Hogarth prepares to fire a large cannon but Strata stops him out of fear that he will kill the masked avenger. The killer turns from Garv and leaps away to attack the police. Garv is able to rescue a large group of them before they can be crushed but the attacks continue. However, the killer fails to notice where he is headed in time.

In the aftermath, Strata tries to find the Masked Avenger but he has disappeared. She accompanies Hogarth back to the bar where they first met and finds that his attitude towards her has softened. Later, as they are about to go their separate ways, he asks her why she is so taken with the Masked Avenger.

Strata and Garv have long been my favorite characters in this title so this issue was a treat. The idea of Garv becoming a masked hero is a bit silly, but not too silly, and he has always been so noble and innocent that it works. It broke my heart to see him leave and it breaks my hear to see how much Strata is struggling with it. I am not quite clear on whether Strata actually suspects Garv to be the Masked Avenger by the end or if she was simply reminded of him as she claimed to Hogarth. Either way, its probably not a shock to learn that this is not the last we see of Garv.

The L.E.G.I.O.N. has always straddled the line between being a police force and a military organization, at least to me, so it was interesting to see a story that leans so heavily into the policing aspect. Certainly, the team was originally sold by Dox as being an interplanetary police force, and we have seen them acting as such on a local level before. But there have been other occasions where they seem to be acting more like a military. 

In either event, I am a sucker for a good detective story and enjoyed the twists and turns of this one. Early on, there was an obvious implication that Garv could be the murderer, and as unlikely as that may seem, Garv had grown increasingly bitter towards Dox when we last saw him. So it was not completely unthinkable that something inside of him may have snapped and he could be seeking revenge against the L.E.G.I.O.N.  Fortunately, that was not the case, and the reveal of the true villain gave us a few nods to the Legion of Superheroes. Not only did he share the powers and appearance of Bouncing Boy, but his motivation was the result of having been a rejected applicant. 

An unusual issue, but also one of my favorite of this series. Next week, we are going start Trinity, a crossover event that involves the Darkstars and the Green Lantern Corp. We will begin with Trinity #1, which is followed by Green Lantern #44, where Hal Jordan will once again encounter the L.E.G.I.O.N. Then we will return to this title, and although Barry Kitson sat this issue out, he will resume his co-plotting and pencilling duties. So I will see you back here in seven days to start this new adventure!

1 comment:

  1. Oh this is one of the few L.E.G.I.O.N. issues I actually own. I was curious about the reject who was basically an evil Bouncing Boy and the whole "Masked Avenger" subplot with Strata and Garv