Wednesday, December 16, 2020

L.E.G.I.O.N. '93 #60

L.E.G.I.O.N. '93 #60 (November 1993)
title: "Ghost of a Chance"
coplotters: Barry Kitson & Mark Waid
writer: Mark Waid
penciler: Stephen Jones
inker: John Stokes & Dennis Cramer
colors: Gene D'Angelo
letters: Kevin Cunningham
editor: Dan Raspier
cover: Barry Kitson

Recap: A L.E.G.I.O.N. squad arrived on Dexll to investigate concerns over a group of phantom-like beings that had settled on the planet. They had set up a circus pavilion and welcomed the youngest inhabitants of Dexll to visit. Although they had shown no hostile intent so far, the Dexllian parents were becoming concerned over the strong bond that had developed between the outsiders and their children.

Phase noticed that the phantom-like beings had powers very similar to hers and one of them claimed to know her. He said she was one of them and had disappeared some time ago. She joined him at their encampment and found herself welcomed by everyone. Soon, children all over Dexll began disappearing. The L.E.G.I.O.N. rushed to the pavilion and saw a long line of children entering the main tent. The children appeared to be in a trance of some sort and started to transform into phantoms just like the visitors. Once all of the children entered the tent it disappeared, leaving behind the L.E.G.I.O.N., who were uncertain how to even began to follow without Phase.

The Dexllians are furious at the L.E.G.I.O.N. for failing to protect their children. Our heroes also feel like they have failed but their local Dexllian operative steps up on their behalf.
He warns them to get their act together before he loses patience and asks what happened to their agent in charge, Phase.

Elsewhere, Phase remains among the phantoms and feels very much at home at first. But she follows one of the Dexllian children as he wanders out of the tent. She is horrified to find herself in a nightmare world that resembles Hell. This snaps her out of the trance she has been in and she soon finds the boy.
The creature appears to be absorbing energy from the child, which has the effect of aging him quickly. He relishes the power and declares that he has stolen the best years of his life away. The phantoms arrive and urge Phase to look away and hide.  She is disgusted that they willingly brought children into this but soon discovers that the phantoms were once victims themselves, children who were unnaturally aged by the creature. She urges them to stand up and fight with her, but when its clear they are too scared, she decides to battle the beast, Bhargast, herself.
Meanwhile, Comet and Marij'n continue their romantic getaway but Comet mentions that he is a little uncomfortable. He steps to the back of his ship and opens a compartment, which Garryn Bek rolls out of.
Marij'n thought Bek had let go of their relationship and was surprised and disappointed by his presence. She asks how he expected her to react to a stunt like this and he shamefully acknowledges that he does not know.

On Dexll, anger grows among the populace as Telepath fails to find any sign of Phase. 

Bhargastis about to deliver his final blow against Phase when a stone strikes him in the back of the head. He turns to discover that his servants, the children he turned into grown phantoms, had finally found the courage to stand up to him.
Phase uses the distraction to her advantage and phases a stalactite directly into Bhargast's chest. She gives him fair warning and a chance to surrender, but he declines. She rematerializes the stalactite and his dead body collapses onto the ground.

The adults of Drexll have backed the L.E.G.I.O.N. into a corner and are about to riot when they hear Phase's voice calling on them to stop. The crowd turns to see her standing with all of their children on a cliff above. Reunited with their children, their attitude about the L.E.G.I.O.N. changes and they beg them to remain.

Phase returns to the phantoms and finds them ready to depart to Bhargast's dimension.
Phase returns to the team as they say goodbye to their local L.E.G.I.O.N. operative. As their ship departs, the operative confides to a friend that he is relieved to see every last vestige of the Phantom Affair is behind them. But as they walk away, we see two of the Dexllian children playing, one of whom has their hand phasing through a large stone.

This story was a nice change of pace in that it was neither a political nor science fiction tale, but instead more of fantasy story. I would even say it was reminiscent of an old fashioned fairy tale, most of which used to be far scarier than most people recall. The children being seduced by a friendly circus troupe, only to find themselves aged prematurely by a demon and trapped forever in his service? That very much feels like an old frightening fairy tale to me.

This was a refreshing direction for a L.E.G.I.O.N. story but it still felt very much in keeping with the continuity of the series. Having it play into Phase's questions about her origin was a nice touch, and it was also a treat to get at least one story that contained no appearance by Vril Dox. Obviously, he is the cornerstone of this series, but he can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, so I appreciated his absence for once.

My only complaint, and its relatively minor, is that I am not a huge fan of the art during this arc. Its not bad, and it certainly did not take away from the storyline, but I do miss Kitson on pencils. This is going to be a minor issue with me for much of the remainder of this series, but not significant enough that I plan to spend a lot of time discussing it. This series was very much one where the characterization and intra-team drama were the driving forces and some fluctuation in art quality was generally not a big factor. Fortunately, we have plenty of drama to come over the final ten issues, so please check back with me next week as we began a new storyline!

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