Retro-Reviews: L.E.G.I.O.N.’93 #61 – L.E.G.I.O.N.’94 #70 By Tom Peyer, Arnie Jorgensen & Others For DC Comics

L.E.G.I.O.N.‘93 #61, L.E.G.I.O.N.’94 #62-70 (Dec. 93 to Sept. 94)

Written by Tom Peyer (#61-70)

Pencilled by Arnie Jorgensen (#61, 63-67, 69-70), Stephen Jones (#62), Tom Tenney (#62), Derec Aucoin (#68, 70)

Inked by James Pascoe (#61, 63-67, 69-70), Dennis Cramer (#62), and Wayne Faucher (#68)

Spoilers (from twenty-one to twenty-two years ago)

From its inception, L.E.G.I.O.N. belonged to Barry Kitson.  Sure, it was a while before he began writing the book, but he’d drawn almost all of its first sixty issues, and wrote or co-wrote more than half of them.  His leaving was a big deal, especially since the book was given over to some relatively unknown people.  Tom Peyer was beginning to make a name for himself when he got the book, but his artist, Arnie Jorgensen was brand new.  I’m not sure where to look for sales data on the titles that I’m retro-reviewing, but it’s interesting to think about where this book must have sat in the DC stable.  I imagine it was a lower mid-list book; worth continuing, but not worth attracting big-name talent.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the ten issues Peyer wrote before cancelling and relaunching the book under a different title.

With a book as full as this one, it’s helpful to keep track of the cast:

  • Vril Dox (Coluan ancestor to Brainiac 5; manipulative leader of the organization)
  • Garryn Bek (Cairnian)
  • Strata (Dryadian, possible ancestor of Blok?; quits in #68)
  • Stealth (race unnamed)
  • Lobo (Czarnian; psychotic)
  • Lydea Mallor (Talokian; artificially aged daughter of L.E.G.I.O.N. founder)
  • Phase (time-lost amnesiac cousin to Phantom Girl of the Legion of Super-Heroes; second-in-command)
  • Telepath (Zsiglonian)
  • Marij’n Bek (Cairnian)
  • Lady Tashana Quark (race unknown, killed in #62)
  • Captain Comet (Adam Blake, Human)
  • Amon Hakk (Khundian)
  • Zena Moonstruk (race unknown)
  • Borb Borbb (race unknown)
  • Davroth Catto (Ozimanian)
  • Vril Dox (Dox and Stealth’s son; finally named in #66)
  • Gigantus (Motusian champion known for his size; relatively small compared to all other L.E.G.I.O.N.naires)
  • Garv (former L.E.G.I.O.N.naire, now a vigilante on Cairn called the Masked Avenger)
  • Pax (Bloodlines character, seen in one issue, officiating Comet’s funeral)
  • Layla (Bloodlines character, seen only in montage shots)
  • Imposter Lady Quark (alien parasite with Quark’s DNA; takes her place in #62, killed in #70)

Let’s look at the events of this series in more detail, with some commentary as I go along:

  • Phase has organized a diplomatic and sales event on the planet Rigon, where L.E.G.I.O.N. has supposedly ended an insurgency; as it turns out, that is not the case.
  • Comet, Marij’n, and Bek vacation together after Bek stowed away on the lovers’ vessel.  Marij’n is unhappy with this situation, and makes her displeasure known to Comet.
  • The leader of the Rigonian insurgency crashes Dox’s party and attempts to kill the planet’s ruler, but is eventually stopped by Lobo, who also has come to crash the party.
  • The ruler of Motus gives L.E.G.I.O.N. Gigantus, who is made into a Recruit.  It is not long before he finds himself in conflict with Davroth.
  • Dox begins to spend more time with his baby, despite Stealth’s suspicions.  Only Dox knows that the infant is capable of speech, and so he uses him to spy on the Recruits, and then tries to determine why he is so intelligent.  Stealth catches him experimenting on the child, and gets angry, until the baby asks her to stop, which sets off more problems.
  • Lobo learns that Superman is alive again, and heads off to fight him.
  • Lady Quark is sent to retrieve Garryn Bek from his vacation, but on the way is attacked and defeated by her evil duplicate.
  • Lobo apparently fought Superman in two issues of his titles before they made peace with each other, and now wants him to go drinking with him in some dive bar.  The locals fight them, and Superman has to rescue Lobo, which makes Lobo angry.
  • Strata starts to try to track down Garv, who has left the L.E.G.I.O.N.
  • The imposter Lady Quark attacks Bek, Marij’n, and Comet; eventually Comet realizes that this is the creature that once lived in his head, but he is left for dead when she brings a mountain down on him.
  • Most of the core team is sent undercover to a planet where people have been disappearing.  They are sucked into a spaceship, where we a guy named the Brain Bandit removes endorphins from people to be used as drugs.
  • He discovers that Stealth produces a number of different drugs, although the process does some strange things to her face.  He decides to jettison the rest of his cargo into space, including the rest of the core team.
  • Dox questions Lady Quark (really a doppelganger) about Comet’s death, and pretends to trust her.
  • Strata continues to try to track down Garv, who watches her do this in his guise as the Masked Avenger.
  • Dox replaces Bek as chief administrator with his unnamed baby, citing the child’s maturity.
  • Borbb rescues the core team and the other captives, and they fight the Brain Bandits’s people.  Stealth turns into a monster, but is eventually cured after Phase gets in touch with the baby.
  • Garv continues to patrol Cairn City in his guise of the Masked Avenger; Strata, dressed as a superhero herself, tries to get the Avenger to help her find Garv; it takes the whole issue for them to realize who each other are.  This is the equivalent of Ben Grimm putting on a domino mask and not recognizing the Hulk in a matching mask.  It’s too ridiculous.
  • Stealth’s baby names himself Lyrl, in tribute to Lyrissa Mallor, and continues to show his bizarre mixture of baby emotions and superior intelligence.
  • Dox has Telepath mindscan Lady Quark (who is not Lady Quark), but the entity scares him and has him report that all is fine.
  • Garv proposes to Strata.
  • ‘Dark’ Quark responds to a hostage taking at a cryogenics facility, and decides to not engage.  Telepath convinces her that she has to, but she overdoes it and kills everyone.
  • We discover that Captain Comet is still alive, however stranded on the planet where he was ‘killed’.
  • The core team attend Comet’s funeral, where Garv punches Dox.
  • Lyrl uses a version of his father’s ‘charisma program’ to take control of Lydea Mallor.
  • Marij’n has a bit of a mental breakdown.
  • The book returns to the story element that had the survivors of Arga-Prime come to live on Cairn.  Their settlement has not been smooth, with Cairnians feeling resentful of the Argites’ perceived laziness.  Violence breaks out, and while Dox tries to restore order, his son undermines him, and causes a massacre during a peaceful protest.
  • While helping victims of the massacre, Strata decides to quit L.E.G.I.O.N.
  • Jo Nah, Ultra Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes (wearing the terrible costume that he wore for a brief period prior to Zero Hour) shows up on Cairn.
  • Strata announces to Phase and Dox that she is quitting, and invites them to her wedding.
  • Jo Nah shows up, believing Phase to be his lost girlfriend, Tinya, but in truth, she is actually Tinya’s cousin Enya Wazzo.  Seeing Jo restores some of her memories.
  • Bek gets Strata to help him break into Marij’n’s lab, because he’s worried that she is suicidal, but in truth, she is trying to devise a way to stop the Lady Quark imposter.
  • Lyrl broadcasts his charisma program, effectively taking over most L.E.G.I.O.N.naires, but some miss the broadcast.
  • The Lady Quark imposter attacks Dox for attempting to control her mind, which in turn reveals to Dox what Lyrl has done.  Dox puts out a call for his son’s arrest, but it’s too late.
  • The body of Canis Biz, the Cairnian drug lord that Dox killed years ago appears in his office while he tries to figure out what to do about Lyrl.
  • Stealth and Imposter Quark try to get to Lyrl, but are stopped by the Recruits and Telepath, who are under his control.  Telepath calls on Marij’n to come and stop Imposter Quark, and she is able to, avenging her lover’s death.
  • Phase agrees to return to the 30th Century with Ultra Boy.
  • Dox figures out that something is wrong with time (this series is tying in with Zero Hour at this point) and fires a probe to figure it all out; the probe crashes, along with something else, into the shipyard, and no one will respond to Dox’s calls for assistance.
  • Stealth tries to mediate between Lyrl and Dox, but it doesn’t work.  Dox is captured, but the uncontrolled L.E.G.I.O.N.naires escape, oined by Phase, who didn’t go back to the future.
  • Garv and Strata are married, but when the others come to recruit their help in stopping Lyrl, Garv refuses to go with them, even suggesting he might not be around when Strata returns.
  • The free L.E.G.I.O.N.naires rescue Dox, capture Telepath, and make their way to the shipyard to get off planet, where they only find the alien vessel that came through the time portal intact.  They board it and escape, although Strata is very upset.
  • Lyrl demands that L.E.G.I.O.N. find his parents, kill his father, and bring his mother back safely, setting the stage for R.E.B.E.L.S’94.

At the beginning of his run, it was clear that Peyer wasn’t sure what kind of tone he wanted to take with the series.  The first couple of issues are light and humorous in tone, introducing Gigantus as a foil for the other characters, and employing a feel similar to that of Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League at times.  That was quickly abandoned, as the series got darker and darker.  Quark is killed and replaced.  Comet is buried under a mountain and left for dead.  Lyrl orchestrates a massacre of a racial minority as an opening step in launching a coup to take over L.E.G.I.O.N.  We are quickly dropped into 90s style grim’n’gritty territory in a hurry.

It also seems like Peyer was mining leftover story elements from Giffen, Grant, Kitson and Waid, as he brought back the Imposter Quark, the Argite problem, and Phase’s forgotten past.  I’m very sure that Keith Giffen had always intended Phase to be Tinya (Phantom Girl) Wazzo and not her cousin, but by the time these issues came out, Giffen had left Legion of Super-Heroes and that title was a bit of a mess (just look at what Ultra Boy was wearing).

Another thing I’m not sure about is how much of the L.E.G.I.O.N. to R.E.B.E.L.S. relaunch was Peyer’s idea, and how much of it came from DC Editorial.  Lyrl’s motives are not all that clear.  Is he just a super-genius immature child who wants to take the most direct route to peace and efficiency, or is he evil?  I don’t remember if the follow-up series addresses this or not.

Artwise, Barry Kitson is missed.  Arnie Jorgensen’s art is interesting, and he becomes increasingly tight and fluid over the course of his eight issues (Derec Aucoin dropped a very good guest issue), but I much preferred Kitson’s take on the characters.

If you’re interested in reading my first articles about the L.E.G.I.O.N., you can find them here:

#1-12 (Giffen, Grant, Kitson)

#13-39 (Grant, Kitson)

#40-60 (Kitson and some Waid)

Next time I’m going to be looking at R.E.B.E.L.S, the follow-up to this title, which I don’t think lasted very long (before being relaunched a few years before the New 52, oddly).

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