Monday, June 14, 2021

Valor #15

Valor #15 (Jan 1994)

title: "DOA Part Four: Absolute Power"
writer: Mark Waid
penciller: Colleen Doran
inkers: Mark Farmer (pp 1-11) and Mischa McDowell (pp 12~23)
letterer: Bob Pinaha
colorist: Dave Grafe
associate editor: Mike McAvennie
editor: KC Carlson
cover: Stuart Immonen & Bob Wiacek (signed)

reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage and Jason "Anachronistic Kid" Knol

Cosmic Boy, Triad, Dragonmage, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy, and Element Lad from the Legion of Super-Heroes

Opponent(s): Baaldurian war-lords, ego, ignorance

With less than a week to live, Valor has decided to make a difference on one world. Lori brings him to her world, Baaldur, where he immediately decides to end a 1,000 year civil war. He begins by creating a river between two attacking forces to separate them, and then disarming a troop about to kill unarmed civilians. 
Meanwhile (?) in the Time Stream, a group of Legionnaires are heading back in time. Their mission is  to find out why the hero they know as a legend purportedly died of lead poisoning in 1994, instead of spending 1,000 years in a phantom zone, banished there by the sorceress Glorith. Dragonmage admits to the others that he doesn't even remember who Valor is, which means that the hero's life is already being forgotten. Suddenly, the time travel gets rough and their time bubble appears to smash into a wall! 
On Baaldur, Valor destroys all conventional weapons, then moves on to wrecking all munition factories, tanks, and war vehicles. He then redistributes the armies' food supplies to the Baaldurian people. He reprograms the social media networks to prevent monopolization by the military complex. 
Valor then kidnaps each city-state's warlord and lets them know where he will be at a particular day and time. As he knew they would, the warlords send their nuclear arsenals out to blast him. However, he is able to toss all of them into Baaldur's sun...except one! He is hit, but manages to falls back to Baaldur and into Lori's arms, where he is declared the King.  
Russell's comments: 
For a series called "Dead On Arrival" Valor sure is taking his sweet time to drop dead. Part four, and he's still alive? The title is a misnomer, if nothing else. 

First of all, the art is the best it's been in a LONG time. Colleen Doran clearly loves these characters. Still, the crowd scenes could have been better populated, and the backgrounds are non-existent in too many situations. And I honestly have NO idea what is going on during pages two and three. Raising some sort of plumbing to release an underground....ocean? It's not clear, and the words don't help make it any more clear. 
What can I say about the overall story? Let's start with this: the idea of a hero wanting to spend his last hours (?) doing good is a great one. Unfortunately, the execution (pun intended) is nowhere near as interesting as the initial idea. I guess I can accept that it would take a whole issue to disarm a whole planet (after all, Superman IV took a whole movie to do the same....) but the story just doesn't do the plot justice. Is it because I'm reading this thirty years after the fact? Maybe. But I also think that in this series' continuity, we never get any doubts that Valor is going to be successful in his endeavor. So it just seems like it's taking him too long to be successful. If you have a character who can basically do anything, to take 20 plus pages to do it makes the story seem S-L-O-W. Is this just me? 

And that last page hug between Lori and Valor reprinted above, and the cover? Yes, all of us *know* there is a next issue, but really, is putting the lead character in dire predicament ever as suspenseful as the writer thinks it will be? 

In the book's defense, now that Valor has been declared King of Baldur I have no idea where the story is going to go. It helps that I don't know this era's Legion history. 

On the other hand, DC editorial seems to be hinting at certain things happening sooner rather than later. Check out the in-house ad in this issue, placed two pages before the end of the story....! Haha! Glorith sure does look a lot like Lori. You don't think.....?! ;-)   

Jason's comments: 
Everything about Valor's relationship with Lori has felt so strange and rushed, but now that I've seen the above ad (which was missing from the digital edition I read) it all makes sense... This issue must have been very rushed as Colleen Doran left so many blank backgrounds and they had two inkers finish the book. I suppose editorial is to blame for this, then.

The pacing of the issue didn't bother me, but the lame, formulaic, fairy tale ending left a bad taste in my mouth. Compared to the rest of this blasé series this was really a standout issue for all the philosophical questions it raised. Trying to end a civil war is great, but what Valor-- an alien to this planet who just arrived-- did to stop it only literally ended the war. This has been going on for a thousand years, so the planet's citizens clearly have some deep-rooted issues with one another. The immediate murdering was resolved, but what of the people?

Their weapons are gone now. What if they face attacks from alien forces? The entire planet is without defenses against outsiders, such as Valor himself. Did Baaldurans use weapons to hunt for food? Are there natural predators on Baaldur that are only kept at bay by use of weapons?

And I'm wholeheartedly in favor of all citizens of a planet having access to basic necessities, but by what authority does Valor claim the right to redistribute a planet's food stocks? He "fed the hungry and clothed the poor," but from whom did he take these goods? Is there justice in the way that one man chooses to redistribute wealth? And this isn't in a small, Robin Hood (or Green Arrow) way where riches are stolen from a greedy despot and given to his suffering subjects. Valor did this on a planet-wide scale to people in living in city-states headed by rulers he knew nothing about. And then, on the last page, Lori refers to him as "the King of the world" as a crowd of people chant his name, seemingly calling out their decision for him to be their new leader. Certainly he can't accept that... right?

This is the only issue of Valor (thus far) to provoke philosophical thought and reflection as I read it. This issue, on its own, would make a fantastic class assignment to open up discussion among a group.

Daxamite Space Ranger Report:  
  • Valor left the Legion for a trip back in time in Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #37.  
This series has never been reprinted.

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