The Legion of Super-Heroes (Vol. 4) #1-25, Annual #1-2 (November 1989 – January 1992)
Plot/Story by Keith Giffen (#1-4, 6-7, 10-13, 16-17, 19-20, 22-24), Tom Bierbaum (#5, 8-9, 11, 14-18, 21, 25, Annual #1-2), Mary Bierbaum (#5, 8-9, 11, 14-18, 21, 25, Annual #1-2), Al Gordon (#21-24)
Story Assist by Tom Bierbaum (#2-4, 6-7, 10-13, 19-20, 22-23), Mary Bierbaum (#2-4, 6-7, 10-13, 19-20, 22-23), Al Gordon (#2-8, 10-13, 17, 20), Keith Giffen (#5, 8-9, 14-15, 21), Tom McCraw (#20, 22)
Dialogue by Tom Bierbaum (#1-25, Annual #1-2), Mary Bierbaum (#1-25, Annual #1-2), Al Gordon (#21-24)
Co-plotted by Tom Bierbaum (#1), Mary Bierbaum (#1), Al Gordon (#1), Keith Giffen (#18)
Pencilled by Keith Giffen (#1-24), Chris Sprouse (#8), Paris Cullins (#9), Craig Brasfield (#11), Brandon Peterson (#15-18, Annual #2), Jason Pearson (#22-24), Dusty Abell (#24-25), Dougie Braithwaite (Annual #1)
Inked by Al Gordon (#1-8, 10-), Bob Lewis (#9), Carlos Garzon (#14-18), Michael Christian (#22-24), Brad Vancata (#24-25), Doug Hazlewood (Annual #1), Larry Mahlstedt (Annual #1), Scott Hanna (Annual #2)
Colour by Tom McCraw (#1-25, Annual #1-2)
Spoilers (from twenty-eight to thirty-one years ago)
I’d been reading the Legion of Super-Heroes monthly for about a year when the series was abruptly canceled and then relaunched a few months later under the almost sole control of Keith Giffen. Sure, he had collaborators in scripters Tom and Mary Bierbaum, and co-plotter and inker Al Gordon, but it was clear that this was Giffen’s show. At first, I was annoyed because I was in the process of discovering how great Levitz’s historic run was, and like any good comics fan, I was resistant to too much change back then.
And then I started to read this series, and I credit it for the fact that pretty much after that, I always embraced writers and artists in comics that broke with tradition and tried out bold new moves, even when they sometimes fell short.
To be clear, Giffen’s run, which came to be generally referred to as the 5YG (Five Year Gap), did not fall short of much. What followed was a truly glorious and confusing run, wherein he presented us with a galaxy that has fallen on hard times, and heroes who have given up on the idea and ideals of the Legion, at least temporarily. At the same time, Giffen attempted large-scale continuity fixes to bring the Legion’s history into line with the rest of the post-Crisis DCU, even though that meant retconning in a number of new characters (like Laurel Gand and Kent Shakespeare).
Giffen also experimented with a standard nine-panel grid, making the comic very dense, and text pages to help fill in some of the gaps (although I guess he lifted that idea from Watchmen). The result was a deeply confusing and intricate series that I can’t wait to revisit.
Let’s track who turned up in the title:
The Legion of Super-Heroes
- Dirk Morgna, formerly Sun Boy (#1-2, 6, 9, 11, 15, 17, 20, Annual #1-2)
- Reep “Cham” Daggle, formerly Chameleon Boy (#1, 3, 6-10, 12, 14-18, 20, 22, Annual #1)
- Rokk Krinn, formerly Cosmic Boy (#1, 3, 6-10, 12-17, 20, 22, Annual #1)
- Salu “Vi” Digby, formerly Shrinking Violet (#1, 3, 9-10, 12-13, 15-18, 20, Annual #1)
- Kono (Brita An’Nan; #2-3, 6-7, 10, 12-13, 15, 17, 20, 22)
- Jo Nah, formerly Ultra Boy (#2-3, 6-7, 10-15, 18-24, Annual #1-2)
- Garth Ranzz, formerly Lightning Lad (#3, 8, 10, 12-14, Annual #2)
- Imra Ardeen-Ranzz, formerly Saturn Girl (#3, 8-11, Annual #1-2)
- Ayla Ranzz, formerly Lightning Lass (#3, 10, 12, 15-17, 20, Annual #1)
- Furball, formerly Brin Londo, aka Timber Wolf (#3, 6-7, 12-13, 15-16, 21-24)
- Blok (#3)
- Mon-El (Lar Gand; #3-4)
- Tasmia Mallor, formerly Shadow Lass (#4, 15-18, 23, Annual #1)
- Brainiac 5 (Querl Dox; #4, 9-13, 15-17, 20-24, Annual #1-2)
- Andrew Nolan (aka Ferro Lad; #5)
- Mysa Nal, formerly The White Witch (#5-7, 10, 15-18, 20)
- Celeste Rockfish, formerly Celeste McCauley (#6-7, 10, 12-13, 20-24)
- Bounty (#6-7, 10, 18, 20, 23)
- Devlin O’Ryan (#6-7, 10, 12, 17, 20-21, 23-25)
- Laurel Gand (#6-9, 13, 15-18, 20, 23-24, Annual #1)
- Jan Arrah, formerly Element Lad (#6-7, 10, 12)
- Phantom Girl (Tinya Wazzo; #8-9, Annual #1-2)
- Luornu Taine, formerly Triplicate Girl and Duplicate Girl (#8-9, 15-18, Annual #1)
- Chuck Taine, formerly Bouncing Boy (#9, 15-18)
- Tenzil Kem, formerly Matter-Eater Lad (#10-11, 13-14, 20, Annual #1-2)
- Brekk Bannin, formerly Polar Boy (#11, 13-14)
- Kent Shakespeare, formerly Impulse (#12-13, 15-17, 20-24)
- Gim Allon, formerly Colossal Boy (#12-13)
- Projectra, formerly Sensor Girl (#15, 17-18)
- Valor (Lar Gand; #15-18, 22-24, Annual #1-2)
- Troy Stewart, formerly Tyroc (#16)
- Jacques Foccart, formerly Invisible Kid (#16, 18, 20, 23)
- Invisible Kid I (Lyle Norg; Annual #1)
- Wildfire (Drake Burroughs; Annual #1)
The Legion of Super-Heroes (Batch SW6)
- Shrinking Violet (Salu Digby; #23-25)
- Karate Kid (Val Armorr; #24-25)
- Princess Projectra (#24-25)
- Colossal Boy (Gim Allon; #24-25)
- Invisible Kid I (Lyle Norg; #24-25)
- Light Lass (Ayla Ranzz; #24-25)
- Ferro Lad (Andrew Nolan; #24-25)
- Laurel Gand (#24-25)
- Valor (Lar Gand; #24-25)
- Ultra Boy (Jo Nah; #24-25)
- Brainiac 5 (Querl Dox; #24-25)
- Chameleon Boy (Reep Daggle; #24-25)
- Matter-Eater Lad (Tenzil Kem; #24-25)
- Phantom Girl (Tinya Wazzo; #24-25)
- Element Lad (Jan Arrah; #24-25)
- Lightning Lad (Garth Ranzz; #24-25)
- Sun Boy (Dirk Morgna; #24-25)
- Saturn Girl (Imra Ardeen; #24-25)
- Triplicate Girl (Luornu Durgo; #24-25)
- Cosmic Boy (Rokk Krinn; #24-25)
- Roxxas (#2-3, 6, 9-12)
- Mordru (#3, 5-7, Annual #1)
- Dominators (#3, 6, 10-15, 19-22, 24-25, Annual #2)
- Vrykos (Mordru’s assistant; #3, 6-7)
- The Time Trapper (#4, 13)
- Glorith (#5, 13, 17, Annual #1-2)
- Mano (#5, 13)
- Doyle Brande/Theg (#8-9)
- Khunds (#8-9, 15-17)
- Zaryan (Khund emperor; #9)
- Persuader (#12-13)
- Starfinger III (#13)
- Evillo (#14)
- Saturn Queen (#14)
- Stiletta (#14)
- Styx (#14)
- Sugyn (#14, Annual #1)
- General Kiritan (Khund; #15-17)
- Field Commander Galt (Khund; #15-17)
- Warlord Galmark (Khund; #16)
- Universo (#16, 18, 21, 25)
- Grinn (#16, 18, 21, 25)
- The Dark Circle (#16, 18, 21-22, Annual #2)
- Ashera/Hytuurnus (Lord of Chaos; #19)
- Darkseid (#21-24)
- B.I.O.N (Project Champion; #21, 24)
- Rond Vidar (formerly the Green Lantern; #3, 5, 7-8, Annual #1)
- Strata (LEGION ‘89; #3)
- Eltro Gand (Mon-El’s descendant; #4, 9)
- Calorie Queen (#10-11, 14)
- Dawn Jae Allen (Tornado Twin; #17)
- Don Wallace Allen (Tornado Twin; #17)
- Nabu (Lord or Order; #19)
- Lobo (#21-24)
- Atmos (#21)
- Reflecto (Annual #1)
- Marella Tao (reporter; #1, 10)
- Marla Latham (#1, 8, Annual #1)
- Loomis (#1-2, 13, 15, 20)
- Lydda Jath, formerly Night Girl (#1-2, 13, 20)
- Shvaughn Erin (Science Police; #2-3, 11, 18, 20)
- Circe (head of Science Police Earth; #2-3, 6, 11, 13, 15, 18-20, 23)
- Mekt Ranzz, formerly Lightning Lord; (#3, 10)
- Graym Ranzz (#3, 10)
- Grev Mallor, formerly Shadow Kid (#4, 15-17)
- RJ Brande (#8, Annual #1)
- Englenna (Lauren’s nanny; #8)
- Lauren Vidar (Rond and Laurel’s daughter; #8)
- Warden Tsaquin (Warden of Labyrinth; #11)
- Garridan Ranzz (#13)
- Ivy (#13, 20)
- Gigi Cusimano (Science Police Chief; #13)
- Marte Allon (#15)
- King John (Leader of UP Militia; #15-17, 20)
- Orlak (Cham’s Khundian spy; #15-17)
- Jed Rikane, formerly Power Boy (#15-17)
- Berta Skye Haris, formerly Nightwind (#15)
- Kahnya Mallor, formerly Lady Memory (#15, 17)
- Staq Malvern, formerly Fire Lad (“Subs” Resistance; #16)
- Chlorophyll Kid (“Subs” Resistance; #16)
- Drura Sehpt, formerly Infectious Lass (“Subs” Resistance; #16, 20)
- Doctor Gym’ll (Medicus-One; #18-19)
- Circadia Senius (Chronarch, Time Institute; #19)
- Anton Relnic (UP Council Chairman; #20)
- Dag Wentin, formerly Stone Boy (“Subs” Resistance; #20)
- Ulu Vakk, formerly Colour Kid (“Subs” Resistance; #20)
- Aria Campbell/Gemini (#21-24)
- Lori (#21-24)
- Francis Campbell (#21-24)
- Coda Campbell (#21-22, 24)
Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:
- Volume four begins five years after volume three ended, meaning that we’re in 2994. To introduce things, the book begins with some channel surfing – we see that Dirk Morgna (fka Sun Boy) is narrating a show on the Legion. We also see on the news that anti-government terrorists were being rounded up by the Science Police, but their leader, Universo, who is in league with the Khunds, escaped. We also see an interview with Dirk, who is an Earthgov liaison. They talk about his Legion days, and discuss how Polar Boy became an example of how the Legion had outlived its uses. We see that the person watching these broadcasts is Reep Daggle (fka Chameleon Boy). He talks to a sentient synthetic assistant, and reveals that it’s time to look after his father’s other dream. Marla, Reep’s number two at Brande Industries, receives a message that Reep is leaving the company in his hands. We see a battlefield, as Rokk Krin (fka Cosmic Boy) dreams about his experiences in the war between his planet, Braal, and Imsk. It’s clear that he’s been suffering a lot of bad dreams since the war. He wakes up, and sees his partner, Lydda Jath (fka Night Girl), who is pregnant, is up ahead of him. They discuss, we figure for the thousandth time, Rokk’s desire for her to leave Braal so their child will be safe. Rokk heads out, remembering better times on the planet. As he lines up at a checkpoint, he has a flashback to what happened at Venado Bay. His papers are checked, and he’s allowed to proceed into a wasteland. In orbit around Braal, a shuttle brings prisoner Salu Digby (fka Shrinking Violet) to the Imskian installation. We learn that Vi has lost an eye (since replaced) and refuses to remove the scar around her eye. She speaks to a General who offers her honorary discharge, if she agrees to stay quiet about Venado Bay. She refuses. Later, she’s in a shuttle, e-mailing Ayla Ranzz (fka Lightning Lass) about the fact that she’s been cut loose from the army, and is on her way to Winath to join Ayla and her family. Rokk is visiting his friend Loomis in the wasteland, and they discuss the issue with Lydda. Loomis walks off, and Rokk learns that Reep is there, having arranged for him to meet him in private. Reep has a proposal, which surprises Rokk. Loomis chats with Reep’s android (I’m not sure what these are called), and reveals that Rokk has lost his power over magnetism. Rokk and Reep continue to talk, and Reep reveals that he knows that Rokk is powerless, but still wants him, as he was the soul of the Legion. Rokk remembers the beginning of the Legion, and is tempted, but doesn’t think he’d be allowed to leave Braal. Reep reminds him of how rich he is, and reveals that Lydda has already agreed and plans to resettle on her planet, Kathoon. On a page of completely black panels, we see that someone has come to support someone else, a recent escapee from Labyrinth, the prison planet, in continuing with his mission. The issue ends with three screen shots from Omnicoms (30th century ipads). One details a summit in 2992 that discusses the economic disaster that followed the Great Collapse of 2989, and puts to rest theories that the Khunds were responsible. Another, from 2990, shows how Tayla Wellington, Earth’s president, decided to sideline the Legion of Super-Heroes. It’s followed by another, showing a letter from Polar Boy to President Wellington in 2992, explaining that he is disbanding the Legion after increased Earthgov interference. A final page shows that the former Legion HQ has been turned into Flight Ring Village, a condominium complex.
- Issue two opens with an Omnicom page showing three articles from 2991 discussing the then-upcoming wedding between Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl. On Rimbor in the present (2994), some Science Police are chasing a young woman named Kono. She used some kind of power to slip through a wall into a club. The chairman (of Silverale Ltd.) is discussing Jo Nah (fka Ultra Boy), and how his smuggling and piracy is taking a bite out of the silverale industry with a Khund. The Khund wants to see Kono, Jo’s associate, killed (she has somehow shamed the Khundian empire), and the chairman says he will allow it so long as they kill Jo at the same time. Kono almost makes it out of the club unseen, but a female SP spots her (since she’s not paying attention to the dancers) and opens fire. On a Khund vessel, the order is given to send two of the military versions of the blue androids we keep seeing, after Kono. The SP open fire in the club, killing most of the patrons. The Sp are pulled out, while Kono slips into the tunnels beneath the club. The two androids, Algronsk and Kaston find her trail, and follow her, waiting for her to meet up with Jo. Jo and his girlfriend (?) Ginny are getting ready for their day. Ginny leaves as Kono arrives. The androids grab Ginny and ask her where Jo is. She starts to lie, but they torture her. They approach Jo’s building, but go beneath it, planning on messing with the power grid instead of a frontal attack. On a luxury starliner, Loomis and Lydda make their way to Kathoon. We see a huge explosion on Rimbor, as the androids blow up Jo’s entire block. They comb through the wreckage looking for proof of their kills, but instead Jo attacks them (he usually keeps his power set to invulnerability). He smashes one, and gets ready to fight the other. Kono, meanwhile, managed to slip under Jo’s building, into the ruins above which Liberty City is built. She wonders how she’ll get out when Jo and the android fall in front of her. She uses her powers over mass to push the android into the ground, but then the other one (with a smashed-in head) attacks her. Jo fries it with his flash vision. Shvaughn Erin comes home after a hard day at work, and sees a bouquet of flowers sent from Dirk Morgna, who is trying to get with her. She soaks in the tub, but then her future phone starts to ring. An SP commander named Circe is looking at Shvaughn’s record, and seems annoyed that her file is clean. It appears that she is with Dirk, who she calls lover; he was the one trying to call Shvaughn. Jo returns to the ruins of his home, and digs up what looks like a rock, enraged “LLL Rokk”. The last story page takes us back to the all-black space, where we see a number of voices talking about the fact that the subject of their discussion is returning to his mission. When the light comes on, we see that the person being discussed is Roxxas, and that all of the voices are coming from him. A last Omnicom page, dated 2991, contains a Daily Planet article that explains how the search for Phantom Girl has been called off, after she was presumed dead after she went missing while phasing back from her planet of Bgtzl. It mentions that she was to be wed to Jo, and also mentions, amidst a list of dead Legionnaires, that Lar Gand, aka Mon-El, has also died (the last we saw him, he was badly injured).
- Issue three really brings this series into focus in a number of ways. It opens with nine panels that show us what various Legionnaires we haven’t seen yet are looking at – Nura Nal is on Naltor, addressed as the High Seer; Dirk is on Earth, perhaps conspiring with the Dominators and Circe; Jan Arrah is on Trom; Dawnstar is being harrassed; Brek Bannin appears to be incarcerated; Thom Kallor is coaching something like hockey on Xanthu; Querl Dox is on Colu; Reep and Rokk are on Rimbor; and most surprising, Lar Gand is in darkness, but can hear voices (the last issue told us he was dead!). We learn that all of these Legionnaires are being spied on by androids working for Mordru the mystic, who is on Tharn. One of the androids goes to tell Mordru, who is busy watching a creature eat the Green Lantern Rond Vidar, whose mouth has been sealed by flesh, that it looks like the Legion is beginning to regroup. On Winath, Garth Ranzz (fka Lightning Lad) and his brother Mekt (fka Lightning Lord) are at work on their massive plantation, the Lightning Ring Plantation. Garth learns that an asteroid he was delivering produce to has disappeared (a reference to the first issue, where Marla was dealing with the same problem). Mekt, who used to be a villain, counsels calm, but Garth, who walks with a cane now, goes to talk to his wife Imra (fka Saturn Girl). Imra, who is pregnant, already knows, and is worried. She spends time with their son Graym (their other son, Validus, is not seen or mentioned). Elsewhere on the plantation, the practically nude Ayla (fka Lightning Lass) and Vi walk through the woods, to the place where Garth has set up the statues from their former headquarter’s Hall of Heroes. There is another memorial to the other Legionnaires who have died recently, Magnetic Kid, Mon-El, and Phantom Girl. On Rimbor, Cham and Rokk wait to meet with Jo. They are summoned by a large furry creature, not knowing that Mordru is listening in on their conversation. Jo talks to some of his fellow smugglers about the fact that his Legion buddies have come to visit, before joining them. On Earth, a pair of Dominators talk about their decision to hire Roxxas, fearing that if the Legion reforms, they will ruin their plans to take over the Earth, but also worrying that Roxxas, being insane, will expose them. They watch a tape he has sent them. The tape shows him on something called The Puppet Planetoid, where the former Legionnaire Blok appears to be meditating. Roxxas rouses him by blowing off his arm, and then killing him. We see Blok have a vision wherein he meets with Strata, the last female of his kind (who is also a member of LEGION ‘89 in the 20th century), and descend the Steps of Eternity. As Blok dies, he receives the knowledge he has long sought after. The Dominators feel they’ve made a good choice in hiring Roxxas. Shvaughn Erin receives the same tape, and mourns her peaceful friend. On Tharn, Mordru speaks with Vrykos, his assistant, and they hear that Rokk and Cham intend to “go after Mysa,” referring to the White Witch. Vrykos feels that they should prepare for the Legion to come to them. Cham and Jo hang out in a pool, and Jo makes his case for bringing Kono with them when they leave. On Winath, Garth is summoned to see a shipment addressed to Graym – Roxxas has sent Blok’s remains to them, with a sick letter. The Dominators learn that two groups of former Legionnaires are converging, with four on Winath and three on Rimbor, and worry that because Roxxas has been so public, they will be punished. They hope to manipulate the situation. Rokk walks around Liberty City, and thinks about how important it is to bring the Legion back. Two Omnicom pages share an article from Interfaces Magazine from 2994, that profile the Rannz operation on Winath. From it, we learn that Mekt is reformed, that Imra doesn’t go around naked as most Winathians do, and that Garth has disfigurements on his arm and leg caused by the Validus Plague. We further learn that their son, Garridan (fka Validus) was patient zero for the plague, and now lives on Quarantine. Another pair of Omnicom pages from 2993 share a report on the Validus Plague. This disease came from Garridan’s body, and only affects people from Winath or Titan. It was Querl Dox who figured out he was responsible, and got him safely quarantined. It’s supposed that this was part of Darkseid’s curse. A final comics page shows some voices in the darkness which is taken over by light. The last three panels show an explosion, and then a figure standing, and then flying off; a headstone for Mon-El lies amidst the rubble.
- I’ve read these comics a few times in my life, but I think that it was only this time that I finally understood all that happened in issue #4, within the context of having read ten years’ worth of Legion tales, and it’s one of the biggest issues in the history of this series. On Talok VIII, Grev Mallor goes to the Abbey of the Ancestors, where Tasmia Mallor, still going by Shadow Lass it seems, has retreated to continue to mourn the loss of Mon-El. Grev lets her know that the planet has replaced her as planetary champion. Mon-El, who was revived last issue, flies towards the planet, but we see that there are three voices in his head, his own, the Time Trapper’s, and a third. Shady is thinking about her loss when Mon-El arrives. Their conversation is not shown to us, but is heard amidst the conversation between the other two voices in his head. Mon-El tells Shady that the Time Trapper has managed to survive inside of him, and they agree to go see Brainiac 5 to fix the problem. Brainy is on Colu, studying the Validus Plague when he learns that Mon-El and Shady are there to see him. Mon-El explains to Shady that he might have to die again if it means defeating the Time Trapper. We see in Mon-El’s memories an older moment when his descendant, Eltro Gand took Mon-El’s place to keep one of Dream Girl’s prophecies from coming true, but then it did anyway, as Mon-El succumbed to lead poisoning. Eltro transferred his life energy into his ancestor, and a piece of his consciousness with it, although it lay dormant until the fight with the Time Trapper in Legion #50, when the Trapper also entered Mon-El. The Trapper purges Eltro’s remaining consciousness. Brainy has Mon-El attached to a machine that can read the two sets of brainwaves in his head, and prepares to remove the Trapper’s, putting it into a safe receptacle. The Trapper feels this start to happen, and teleports Mon-El to his realm at the end of time. Brainy’s probe (this is what the blue androids are called – I am pretty sure this is the first that’s been mentioned) has been reprogrammed by the Trapper and attacks Brainy and Shady. Mon-El confronts the Trapper, who admits that he used Mon-El as a backup plan, and that he is going to kill Mon-El to inhabit his body. The Trapper forms a body out of the dust around them, and they begin to fight. Mon-El is able to burn him, but the Trapper just keeps regenerating as they fight. Shady kills the probe, but Brainy points out that this keeps them from having access to her knowledge. They have no idea where Mon-El might be. Mon-El continues to fight the Trapper, and gains the upper hand. The Trapper begs for a moment to explain what all is at stake. He tells him that if the Trapper were to die, reality would be altered. He explains that learned that Mordru would conquer the universe for a millennium, so he created his pocket universe and planted Superboy there, and then funnelled his legend into the future. He also moved RJ Brande there, and considers himself the reason the Legion was formed. He used the Legion like puppets, but after they defeated Darkseid, he realized they could also defeat his plans. He admits that he’s weak enough that Mon-El could kill him now, but if he did, he would be erased from the past and the future. With that, Superboy would have never existed, nor would the Legion, and Mordru would have the upper hand. Mon-El concedes that this might all be true, but he also has faith that had the Trapper’s Legion never existed, there would still have been something like it. Mon-El raises his fist, and everything goes white. This issue ends with two Omnicom pages from the Unauthorized Biography of Mon-El, that paint the hero in a very negative light, focusing on the two times he went nuts during Levitz’s long run.
- Issue five is set on the world that came about because of Mon-El’s erasure of the Time Trapper. It begins with a proclamation that the 29th of November, 2994, is a Free Day, so declared by Mordru to celebrate the 17th anniversary of his having taken over the Earth. A masked figure, Andrew Nolan (Ferro Lad, in the original Legion world), goes to a cathedral to meet an informant, one of Mordru’s consorts, Mysa Nal. She tells him that Mordru has been telling her of the other world, which only he remembers, and how a “puppet master” brought a “Durlan knight” through time to fund “The Knights of the 30” to defeat him. Later, Nolan relays that information to the leader of the resistance, Rond Vidar, who is piecing together a way to defeat Mordru. Elsewhere, Glorith, Mordru’s first wife and a sorceress herself speaks with Mano, who has just returned from battle on Lallor with the lightning-wielders of Winath. She wants Mano to surveil someone. Vidar starts to figure out that there were two timelines, but when one was erased, it changed the main one, and hopes to restore the “puppet master’s” manipulations. Nolan meets with Mysa again, to put their plan in place. They intend to tap into Mordru’s mind while he sleeps, to learn how to restore the Time Trapper’s timeline. As Rond and Nolan plan, they don’t know that Glorith is watching them, and has her own agenda. Mano learns that Glorith is acting against Mordru. Vidar is able to tap into Mordru’s mind, and we see flashes of his history, the Time Trapper, and the swap between the Durlan that was part of LEGION ‘89 and Phantom Girl (who became Phase in that book, we were led to think). As Vidar figures everything out, lightning strikes his location. Nolan sees that, and worries. Mano works with an associate, who has a device that pulls memories from RNA. Glorith has captured Vidar, and intends to use him to her means (although they have to act fast, because once Mordru wakes up, he’ll know what happened). Mano wants to find Mysa, and takes a cruiser to look for her at the cathedral. Nolan sees him headed there, and decides to help. Mano approaches Mysa while she prays (remember, he has a death touch). Glorith insists on performing the ritual Vidar was going to, and starts to cut herself and lay out magical symbols in the snow. As Mano takes Mysa into custody, Nolan attacks, and Glorith continues her ritual. As the ritual starts to work, Glorith feels her own life energy being drawn away (something that Vidar never told her would happen), and Mano and Nolan fight. We see the Durlan and Phantom Girl swap places again, and as Mordru wakes up, yelling, everything goes white again.
- Issue six is the first that takes place in the now retconned timeline created over the last two issues. At first, there don’t seem to be any changes to things, but that doesn’t remain the case for long. The issue opens with Dirk Morgna hiring a private investigator, Celeste Rockfish, to track down Roxxas, and to use his wiles to confuse her thinking some. Circe and the Dominators are watching this, and figure that this might help remove suspicion from them. On Tharn, Mordru knows that Cham and the other Legionnaires have arrived to take Mysa Nal from him. Kono explores Tharn a little, while the others discuss whether or not it was wise to bring her on the mission. Kono returns and irritates Cham, before they talk about how to deal with Mordru, not knowing that he is mystically listening in on them. Kono chats with Furball, the big Wookie-like creature we saw before, who is unable to talk back. Suddenly, there is a burst of green energy, and all of our heroes are reliving altered versions of their worst memories. Kono remembers when the ship she lived on as a child was attacked, and her mother assaulted. Cham has to relive fighting against his brother in a Durlan challenge. Jo remembers being trapped in the space dragon that gave him his powers, but finds Tinya’s body there. Rokk, of course, relives Venado Bay, but sees his dead brother there. Furball, it turns out, is really Brin Londo, Timber Wolf, having deteriorated to an animal-like state after something called Black Dawn. In Mordru’s pleasure gardens, his other consorts are angry that Mysa gets all of Mordru’s attention, as she lives through what is happening to her friends. On the planet Korr, Roxxas kills a bunch of tailors and salespeople, spurred on by the voices he hears. Celeste, and her associate Bounty, struggle to figure out how they can get to Trom to interview Jan Arrah for information about Roxxas. A young man comes to their agency. News of Roxxas’s latest atrocity spreads, and the lead Dominator, referring to Celeste as Celeste McCauley, not Rockfish, continues to hope that she can help erase any trail to them. Vrykos, Mordru’s man, helps apprehend the Legionnaires, who still are stuck in Mordru’s mindgame. On a moon of Tharn, a tall blonde woman watches over the planet, and seeing what has happened to her former teammates, decides to act against Mordru, even though he is the only person who can threaten her. We are not told who this woman is. The young man who went to Celeste’s is Devlin O’Ryan, a cub reporter, and he arranged (barely) to get them to Trom. We are reminded that the entire population of the planet, except for Jan, was killed by Roxxas. Celeste, Bounty, and Devlin begin to explore the planet, and are found by Jan, the caretaker of the monuments that make up the planet. An Omnicom page details how Mordru took over after the teachers of Sorcerers’ World moved to Tharn. A second Omnicom page, on the “Last Days of Daxam” made a couple of things clear – that Glorith has taken the place of the Time Trapper in this new timeline, and that Lar Gand is still alive, last seen leaving known space with Shadow Lass to explore. It refers to his injuries after fighting Glorith (analogous to Legion Vol. 3 #50), and how he recovered after the Eltro Gand persona was expelled from his mind. It also mentions, in passing, that Dev-Em is still around, but hasn’t been seen in ages.
- Vrykos is annoyed that Mordru has ordered the ex-Legionnaires confined to his dungeons, and that they are not to be engaged with. We learn that Vrykos is a vampire. Laurel Gand arrives on Tharn, knowing that she’s walking into a trap, but having decided that it’s time to free Rond Vidar. She finds him still being tortured by the creature that eats his flesh, and unable to scream as Mordru has taken away his mouth. Vrykos shows up, figuring Mordru’s orders don’t apply to her, and starts to fight her. This fight takes them throughout the dungeons and catacombs beneath Mordru’s palace, and it looks like Vrykos might be strong enough to hurt the Daxamite woman. Meanwhile, Rokk is having dinner with Mordru. We see the start of their conversation from Rokk’s perspective, through a page of prose. In that, Rokk expresses his fear of Mordru, but then discovers that Vidar is on the planet – they are only there for Mysa. Cham wakes up in a fine bed, and finds that he, Jo, and Kono have been dressed in archaic pajamas. Kono finds Furball in a stable, and struggling to overcome whatever they drugged him with. Vrykos ends up knocking Laurel into their area of the dungeons, surprising everyone. Kono brings down the roof on Vrykos, who is angry that he now won’t be able to drink Laurel’s blood, because he can’t fight her without engaging the Legion, which he’s forbidden to do. He decides instead to drink Vidar’s blood. Mysa is going through a bit of a crisis, having been thoroughly degraded by Mordru; she decides to go help her friends. We return to the dinner, and learn that Mordru is equally intimidated by Rokk, and is angry with himself for telling him about Vidar. Rokk threatens to bring the rest of the Legion and the other planets to bear on him. Mysa teleports to Rond, and feels terrible when she sees the state he’s in. Vrykos arrives and stops her from fixing him. The Legionnaires, carrying Furball, try to find their way out of the dungeon; Laurel hears Mysa and starts moving through the walls. Vrykos beats on Mysa, and Rond tries to fight him. Laurel swaps Rond and Cham at top speed, and the heroes encircle him. Mysa finds some strength, and blasts him, before collapsing and screaming. Mordru agrees to let the Legionnaires leave with Mysa and Vidar, which infuriates him. Celeste, Bounty, Devlin, and Jan leave Trom in an old Legion cruiser. Devlin worries that he’s betrayed the guy who brought them to that world (I’m not sure why he couldn’t just call him), but Jan insists that they begin their hunt for Roxxas on Winath, where he wants to pay tribute to Blok. Mordru is in his room on Tharn, irritated by his losses. He learns that Vrykos can be saved, and we learn that he left the ex-Legionnaires on a distant world as an act of petulance. Scientists on a research station have been tracking a strange energy from Earth to Trom, that is now headed for Winath. The issue ends with an ad for the ProbeCB, the “biologically grown humanoid” that we’ve been seeing in various administrative roles throughout this run.
- Marla receives a message from Cham updating him on what happened on Tharn. He tells him that his group is on Zirr, and that Rokk, Laurel, and Rond are away from the rest of them. He also says that they are heading to Winath to pay respects to Blok. This gets Marla thinking, and most of the rest of the issue is a flashback (drawn by Chris Sprouse) to his relationship with Cham’s father, RJ Brande. Back in the day, Marla worked at Metropolis Spaceport, and intervened when a Durlan showed up out of nowhere and was attacked by some guards. The guards began to beat on him too, but he freed the Durlan and the two of them beat the guards back. Since the Durlan couldn’t speak Interlac, Marla took him to the only other Durlan he knew, a smuggler named Theg. They talked, and Theg revealed that the Durlan spoke an old dialect and was amnesiac (clearly, this is the Durlan who disappeared from the pages of LEGION ‘89). Theg took the Durlan back to Durla, where they got stuck on the backwards planet. Theg also took the Yorggian Fever with him, and the epidemic that resulted killed the Durlan’s mate, but not before their children, Reep and Liggt were born. The Durlan and Theg ended up eventually returning to UP space and being treated for their illness (which would eventually trap them in a single shape). The Durlan began to look through unused patents to start a business. Later, in the form of RJ Brande, he approached Marla, who had moved up at the docks, and hired him away to help with the company he and Theg, now calling himself Doyle, had formed. As the company grew, Doyle became only interested in living the high life, so eventually Brande bought him out. Later, once Doyle had blown all his money, he started threatening Brande’s life. At the same time, Brande started thinking about how he could give back to society, and collecting items from the 20th century. He seemed especially interested in the hero Lar Gand, known as Valor. Doyle hired assassins to try to kill Brande, but they were stopped by three teenagers who happened to be travelling on the same spaceliner as Brande. Brande got the idea of forming a team of heroes, and brought the three – Rokk Krinn, Garth Ranzz, and Imra Arden in, giving them a blank cheque that they struggled to use. The team continued to gel, but Doyle escaped them. Soon, they had new members – Phantom Girl and Triplicate Girl, but Marla remained sceptical about the project, until it had achieved a few more successes. Brande approached Marla about recruiting a certain Durlan to the team, and sent him to meet with Reep Daggle, without revealing their connection. In the present, on Zirr, Rokk and Rond sit and watch as Laurel takes apart a group of Khund who have come to the planet as part of their expansionist plans. We learn that Laurel has been fighting the Khunds off almost single-handedly for a while, and Rokk wonders if the Legion should get involved. After Laurel is done, Rokk asks why they brought them to Zirr. We learn that Rond and Laurel live on that planet, and they take Rokk to their home, and introduce him to their daughter Lauren. An Omincom page from 2972 talks about RJ Brande’s meteoric rise in business. Another details some information that has been intercepted from the Khund, discussing their plans to kidnap Laurel’s daughter and use her against the “she-demon” who has interfered in their plans.
- Roxxas is at a holo-library on Cygnus IV looking for information on the Legionnaires, but can’t find Laurel Gand’s holo. A small child shows up to return it, and while it looks like Roxxas might have hurt the child, he actually rewarded him. He sits down to watch the holo, which is narrated by Laurel and is shown to us through a flashback sequence drawn by Paris Cullins. We learn that Laurel, while Daxamite, grew up on an asteroid that was part of Daxam’s defense web. Khunds snuck on board one day, and killed her parents while she was still young. She was able to use the defense system against them, and ended up destroying their attack fleet before it could get to Daxam. This made her a hero, but also made it so the Khunds would always be hunting her. Her cousin Eltro arranged for her to go to Earth and attend school there at an orphanage. There, she was approached by Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, and Triplicate Girl to join the Legion. She went to the try-out, where she met Brainiac 5 and was instantly smitten with him. As part of her try-out, she decided to uncover some lost Earth artifacts, but somehow came into contact with a seam of lead underground, causing her severe lead poisoning. Brainy figured out a way to cure her, and they both became Legionnaires. Later, the team decided to track down Doyle Brande, who was working with the Khunds by this point. Chameleon Boy and Brainy end up pinned down when Laurel arrives to save the day, and captured Doyle herself. Brainy and Laurel got closer. Roxxas doesn’t find what he’s looking for there, and isn’t sure how to proceed with his mission. He sees the news that Earthgov has hired Celeste Rockfish to track him down, and he feels betrayed. The scientists continue tracking the energy they saw, which they learn didn’t originate on Earth. We see a growing green light as they discuss this energy, which is still headed towards Winath. Roxxas continues to be angry that Earthgov is trying to distance themselves from his actions, and we see Dirk Morgna on the news making statements about tracking him down. Roxxas sees that most of the Legion, and Celeste, are gathering on Winath, and decides to go there. On Winath, Vi worries about how she is going to speak to Rokk, after being so involved in her planet’s war with his, and knowing that she helped massacre thousands of Braalians. An Omnicom page from 2974 answers questions about the relationship status of the Legionnaires. A history text from 2994 helps to review the long history of Khundian aggression towards the UP, and specifically, Earth.
- Roxxas arrives on Winath, wearing a distorter. Many of the others are on the planet too. Rokk and Jo chat about the fact that Rond and Laurel have a baby, and speculate on how Brainy is going to react when he learns of this. Garth comes to see them. Ayla admires the Legion cruiser that Jan came in, and thinks about what it would be like if the Legion got back together. Roxxas is on a tour of the Lightning Ring Plantation, and makes himself invisible to ditch the tour group. Imra talks to Brainy about the fact that, since learning of Blok’s death, Mysa just sits and plays an old holo that shows Blok saving her from danger over and over again. Brainy agrees to see if he can help her. Bounty and Devlin are in the grove where the statues of dead Legionnaires are kept when Bounty realizes that Roxxas is there, and rushes off. Devlin has no idea how to get back to the main buildings, and it’s suggested he runs afoul of the local bees. Cham and Celeste spend time in the sauna together, and Cham tries to get her to leave Roxxas to the Legionnaires. Bounty tracks Roxxas, who is disguised as a plantation worker to a remote location. Mekt finds him there, and Roxxas assumes that Mekt is still Lightning Lord, and is also there to kill the Legionnaires. Roxxas senses Bounty somehow, and fires explosives at her. She tries to fight back, but the explosives were laced with a nerve toxin, and she collapses. Mekt tries to talk sense into Roxxas, but then zaps him with his lightning, which leads Roxxas to fire explosives at him and then give him a serious beating. Vi is in her quarters, hiding from Rokk and trying to justify to herself her actions in the war. She’s surprised that Kono has slipped into her room, trying to get her to take her into the town. Jan and Jo are talking, and Jan senses Roxxas’s presence. Jo uses his ultra-vision to see what’s happened, and goes rushing off, leaving Jan to warn the others. As Cham gets dressed from the sauna, Roxxas shows up and shoots him in the head. Next, he kneecaps Celeste. Jan interrupts Imra’s exercises, and Imra telepathically locates Roxxas. Jan rushes off. As Roxxas beats on Celeste, he makes it clear to her that the Dominators are in charge of Earthgov. He knocks her senseless, but is then attacked by Jo, who switches from ultra-speed to ultra-strength. Roxxas fires some kind of explosive at him that looks like it disintegrates him and the entire floor. Roxxas was saving that for Laurel though, so he’s a little worried. Next we see a news bulletin about the chaos on Winath. It lists Bounty, Jo, and Reep as presumed dead, and says that Celeste is in extremely grave condition, that Mekt is in critical condition, and that Devlin is missing. The two Dominators that run Earth are in a gross-looking hot tub, debating on what might happen if Roxxas reveals that they are in charge on Earth; they also worry that Roxxas might come after them next. That green energy we’ve seen in space approaches Winath, and then just disappears. At the Metropolis spaceport on Earth, Tenzil Kem (fka Matter-Eater Lad) arrives with “walking currency”, alongside Calorie Queen, wanting entrance to the planet (apparently former Legionnaires need special waivers to come to Earth) so he can do some archaeology. An Omnicom Daily Planet article brings together Devlin O’Ryan and Iris West’s reporting about the link between Earthgov and Roxxas. Another page gives us Mekt’s patient record from his time on Labyrinth. The letters column for this issue says that a multi-part Superman/Legion crossover is in the works. I’m pretty sure that never happened…
- Issue eleven is interesting in that it is mostly drawn by Craig Brasfield, and featuring Tenzil Kem, but the story is interspersed with pages drawn by Giffen that involve the main action of the series. The book opens on an ad for the holoshow Wild Archaeology, starring Bismollian Senator Tenzil Kem, fka Matter-Eater Lad. A news broadcast from Winath warns the public that Roxxas has not been found, and shows that Bounty and Mekt have had their conditions upgraded to stable, and that Devlin is suffering an allergic reaction; it also mentions that this information came from Earthgov, which is not always reliable. Tenzil is on Earth, where they are excavating what we can tell is the Bat-Cave, but he is using it as proof of a ridiculous theory about the Titan Presidents of Bismoll. Later, he learns that his show is canceled, and he needs to retool it into a courtroom drama. At a medical clinic on Winath, we “hear” Roxxas demand treatment for multiple injuries, and we can see that he’s already killed one nurse. Brainy is going over medical reports, and we see that Mekt is going to be fine, and that because Brainy had talked Reep into moving around his main organs, he’ll be fine. Brainy ponders what’s going on with Bounty, who will also be fine. When Imra comes to check in, he tells her that Celeste is not likely to make it. Tenzil is with Shvaughn Erin at SP headquarters looking at video of Brek Bannin, fka Polar Boy, fomenting a revolution and getting arrested. We learn that Brek’s been in jail for two years, as Tenzil and Shvaughn speak both out loud, for the benefit of the surveillance cameras, and through telepathic plugs, so they can figure out how Tenzil can best hope their old friend. Circe is watching this with the Dominators, and is hoping that Shvaughn will slip up. Brek is not too happy to learn that Tenzil is representing him. Later, Tenzil meets secretly with the prosecutor, who seems to be into him, and also makes it clear that she would love to find a reason to let Brek off. The case is scheduled to start in one day. We see a news update that Roxxas is still being hunted on Winath, and the Warden of Labyrinth maintains that he objected to Roxxas’s release. We see an ad for Tenzil For The Defense. In court, Tenzil uses a fair amount of buffoonery, giving Dirk and the Dominators satisfaction that they can’t lose. There’s a few comic pages, in which Tenzil tries to prove that Brek is a Green Lantern, and then mentally unfit. The judge orders that Brek is fully sane, and then when Tenzil points out that Brek was kept in prison for two years to prove that, the prosecutor is able to argue that his right to a speedy trial was denied him, and she drops the charges. Tenzil rushes Brek off the planet before Earthgov can arrest him again. We see an Omnicom page that has two critics discussing Tenzil For The Defense. We see a character standing in the middle of a rainbow swirl, as various snatches of dialogue spiral around him. In a bright light, the man, Jo, arrives on solid ground, and wonders where he could be. He thinks he’s still on Winath, but we see a sign that says he’s in the Khundia district of The Dominion.
- The first Annual in this new series doesn’t really fit in here, but this is when it was published, so there you go. In it, Tom and Mary Bierbaum dig through Legion continuity to show how things have changed since the Time Trapper was retroactively replaced with Glorith. We learn that a year before the Great Collapse, Glorith massacred every single being on Daxam. The members of the conspiracy from before – Saturn Girl, Duo Damsel, Brainiac 5, and Lar Gand (who no one seems to call Valor in this era), were joined by Laurel Gand in preparing to attack and possibly kill Glorith. Ultra Boy figured out what was going on, and went to Imra to try to convince her not to go through with their plans. He had her read his mind, and she learned some surprising things. When the five Legionnaires did attack, and were joined by Green Lantern Rond Vidar, Glorith killed one of Luornu’s selves, took out Brainy and Vidar, aged Lar, and left her facing Imra. Somehow, Glorith read Imra’s mind, which takes us to the knowledge that she learned from Jo. We see Jo’s childhood growing up on Rimbor, getting involved in street gangs, where he learned some valuable lessons, and eventually ended up getting swallowed by a space dragon that gave him his ultra energy (Jo has one of the dumber origin stories in the Legion). After learning to use his powers, he ended up helping Legionnaire Phantom Girl fight the villain Sugyn, which led to him going to Earth to try out for the Legion, under the tutelage of Marla Latham (who for some reason dressed like him). His try-out mission was to go to the 20th century to learn why Valor, the great hero who was the inspiration for the Legion, disappeared. As he and Marla travelled, their time bubble was hit by purple energy. When they arrived, they found Valor in a big fight against some Dominion warships. Jo helped out, and Valor learned of a plot to invade Earth from a Dominator. Jo and Marla returned to the 30th century, where Jo and, weirdly, Reflecto, were inducted into the team. He started to think that something was wrong, and felt like something had manipulated him into being there at the right moment to help Valor learn what was happening. A talk with Marla linked the energy to the day that RJ Brande turned up in that era. Jo’s further study suggested that something was happening in the near future to counterbalance the disturbance around Brande. A talk with Invisible Kid leads Jo to meet with Brande, and Jo figures out he’s from the 20th century. They agree to keep each other’s secrets, as Jo continues to puzzle this out. Brainy also found the counterbalancing disturbance, and posited that Glorith was responsible. Jo and the two Gands (it’s weird that we don’t learn how or when Valor came to live in the future) tested the barrier, and Jo figured out that Glorith has been manipulating the Legion, but figure he has to keep it secret. Jo demonstrated strong acting abilities, and ended up getting close to Tinya. The Legion began to plan a strike against Mordru, which leads Jo to realize that was Glorith’s goal all along. Tinya figured out he was hiding something (he was afraid Glorith would realize that he was on to her), but she trusts him. Jo ends up negotiating a treaty with the Jaguar Court of Grykk, which, due to their relationship with Mordru, put the attack on hold. Everyone was mad at Jo, except for Tinya, who came to realize that he was playing a long game and wasn’t as dumb as everyone thought. Jo went to Mordru, and disguised as an old man, manipulated him into attacking Glorith. She was victorious, but the fight weakened them both. Around the same time, Brainy figured out what Jo already had, but Glorith appeared to manipulate his mind, perhaps leading to one of his breakdowns. Jo ended up being accused of murdering his old girlfriend on Rimbor, but Cham helped him, and in the end, Brainy was revealed to be responsible. Jo figured out that Glorith had gotten to him. This brings us back to the conspiracy event, and we see Laurel take advantage of Glorith’s confusion on learning of Jo’s involvement, forcing her to retreat into the time stream. Later, Shady talked to Jo about how Lar was recovering from the beating he took, and mentioned that the Eltro Gand personality was in him, which lines up with Legion #4. Later, Jo proposed to Tinya. Later still, Brainy was on Colu studying the “iron curtain” of time while Jo was waiting for Tinya to return from Bgztl. Brainy realised the counterbalancing force was set to hit, and just as Tinya began to appear, a purple lightning bolt appeared to cause her death. This was a very dense annual, and I felt like while it helped reveal many of the changes to the Legion’s continuity brought about after the Glorith retcon, it raised more questions that were never answered.
- Issue twelve opens with Brainy looking over Celeste, and thinking about the fact that she’s going to die. The green light we’ve seen coming through space appears over the hospital. Rokk talks to Cham, who is pleased to learn that Rokk sent a small squad after Roxxas; they both feel like this means that the Legion is back. We see some of Celeste’s memories, revealing that she is the niece of the very rich Leland McCauley, and that she has come across a dead or dying Green Lantern. The green light continues to approach her. Kono talks to Devlin, and they notice the green light approaching Celeste’s room. Garth stops Devlin from going in there, but Brainy and Kono do. They are almost blinded, but then see Celeste, bathed in green light, and perhaps completely healed. Brin Londo walks naked through the forests of Winath, and we learn that he periodically returns from his Furball form to his previous one. He figures it has to do with the Zuunium in his system, and is too ashamed to let his friends know that he is their pet; apparently Jo is the only one who knew Furball’s secret. When Brin sees the green light at the plantation, he decides he can’t go help his friends. In another section of Winath, the Science Police are set up outside the building where they think Roxxas is. They discuss the three Legionnaires that have entered the building – Vi, Ayla, and Jan, not knowing that Roxxas is listening in. Vi locates him, and the others converge on her. We see that Roxxas is in rough shape, badly injured and with facial scars that remind me of Two-Face. He has a final Dominator weapon, but doesn’t use it, and instead collapses. The women consider letting him die from his injuries, but Jan insists they get him help. Jo discovers he’s on a remote Khund planet, where he finds very old technology, and a Khund who speaks a dialect he can’t understand. On the news, we see that Roxxas is in custody, and there is speculation that the Legion has returned. The Daily Planet is reporting that Roxxas has confirmed that he was hired by Earthgov to assassinate the former Legionnaires, a revelation that angers the Dominators. Cham and Rokk talk some more, and Cham gives him a new jacket – the new Legion uniform. On the world of Quarantine, the Persuader has broken into the underwater medical facility housing children and one prisoner. The SP who work there are getting slaughtered, but one former Legionnaire, Kent Shakespeare, is also there to engage the Persuader. The villain tells him he’s not there for Garridan Ranzz, but Kent still won’t let him go. Outside, SP Captain Allon, fka Colossal Boy, decides that he should get into this fight, even though command doesn’t like him doing things like this. The Persuader has Kent on the ground, and is about to kill him with his axe. An Omnicom page shows the back and forth between Cham, Marla, and the company that manufactured the new Legion uniforms. Another page shows an SP APB for the Persuader, revealing that he is likely trying to kill the son of Starfinger II, likely on behalf of Starfinger III, the brother of Starfinger I.
- Persuader thinks he has Kent on the ropes, but Kent starts to fight back. Ivy, a girl in the Quarantine facility, is with Garridan Ranzz (when did they change his name from Validus?), and wants to see what’s happening. The SPs in the facility are trying to figure out how to evacuate the children, aided by Captain Allon, who can’t use his Colossal Boy powers without causing further damage. The Persuader cuts a hole into an exterior wall, starting to flood the facility. This gives Kent an idea, and as a forceshield seals the gap, he pushes the Persuader through it, so his neck is caught in the shield. Circe meets with some Dominators on a battle-wagon in orbit around Earth. They want her to use Dirk to spread more propaganda and deny their involvement in Earthgov affairs. In the Darzyl System, the former Fatal Five villain Mano talks to an outcaste Dominator about having to explain to Starfinger (Starfinger III) that the Persuader failed in his mission. We see SP Chief Gigi Cusimano on the news, talking about how she wishes the Legion would return, and giving Kent credit for capturing the Persuader. Later, Gim and Kent talk, and Kent makes it clear that he wants to join the reforming Legion on Winath. This is overheard by Ivy, who storms off before she hears him say how much he’ll miss the kids on Quarantine. Jo is brought to a very rustic Khundian farmhouse, where he’s fed some food. We learn (Jo doesn’t understand the language) that the Khund family has called in the Dominion to retrieve him. When Jo see that Dominators are outside (they do not have discs on their head, but do wear large brooches that denote their caste), he takes off at ultra-speed. He sees that the area is surrounded, and hears the Dominators execute the couple that had taken him in. As Kent travels to Winath, he replays his last conversation with Ivy, who told him she hopes he dies. Laurel continues to fight off Khund incursions in deep space, and thinks about Jo’s supposed death. On Gnogg, we learn that Brek cannot remove the giant head that Tenzil made him wear as part of his insanity defense. On Winath, Rokk thinks about where to locate the Legion’s new headquarters. Garth comes to see him, and tells him he has just the place. They see Furball return. Celeste refuses to explain to Brainy why she was glowing green, or how she was healed. Kono yells at Furball. Vi finally approaches Rokk, and is surprised when he apologizes to her about Venado Bay. She tries to apologize to him, and the scene is very emotional. In a letter to Lydda, he explains how they both carry the war with them, and tells her that the ceremony for Blok will be happening soon. At the end of his letter, he tells her that the Legion is coming back, which makes her cheer. We get to read the abstract of a report that Brande staff has put together for Cham, explaining the state of the universe. From it, we learn that the Khunds have taken over many former UP worlds, that Starfinger is seen as a growing threat, that Leland McCauley is the richest person in the universe, but that he might be unstable, and that there is general consensus that the Dominators are in charge of Earthgov. The growth of the Dark Circle is also mentioned. In an interlude (that somehow comes at the end of the issue), Glorith has her mind invaded by the Time Trapper. She travels to his pocket universe, where we learn that the Trapper still survives, although with very little power. He proposes that he and Glorith join forces to take over, but instead, she ages him and consumes his remaining power. With this, her timeline is further solidified, but it’s interesting to note that she is aware of the former one, Mon-El, Superboy, and all the rest. Coming away from this encounter, she feels it’s time for her to make her move.
- Some uniquely dressed men with guns come to a hotel in the Tartarus Sector, looking for Tenzil Kem, a guest there. It turns out they have been sent by Evillo, the Prince of Tartarus, whose daughters want to meet a Legionnaire. We see that Tartarus is married to Saturn Queen. Tenzil, Calorie Queen, and Brek are not sure what to expect, but Tenzil is putting a positive spin on things. When Cal threatens Evillo, Tenzil agrees to meet with the girls, but is knocked over by them as they rush to Brek. On the Khund planet, Jo has slipped into a port, but realizes that none of the Khund ships there can leave the atmosphere. He spots a guarded Dominion section, and slips into there. Tenzil chats with Saturn Queen, who warns him that Evillo is showing interest in Cal, and that Evillo’s wives don’t live very long (she is #12). They hear Cal scream. We see that she’s tossed Evillo across the room, and that’s done nothing more than turn him on. Tenzil comes in, after having changed into his Legion uniform, and when he makes Evillo angry, Evillo grows horns and blasts Tenzil. This transports him to some kind of Hell, where he’s greeted by a decaying creature that wants to show him around. Jo manages to hotwire a Dominion vessel, which starts crashing its way around the port before heading into space. Jo is surprised to see how deeply the Dominion has entered Khund space, and is not sure his damaged ship can even make it as far as Rimbor. The dead guy shows Tenzil the Valley of Lost Souls, a field of candles, each of which belonging to a lost soul. There’s a giant candle in the middle, which apparently must never be blown out. Tenzil learns that the shackles he’s wearing can electrify him if he is defiant, and he meets Erma, a woman who is falling apart because her shackles were activated for two minutes. The guy takes Tenzil to the Bags of Eternity, a gigantic bag pipe that spirits must blow into for eternity. Tenzil takes his place where he is supposed to blow into the Bags, and realizes that he’s sitting next to the old Legion villain Sugyn. Rokk, Cham, and Garth survey Talus, a planetoid that the Ranzz’s have bought. The planetoid is covered in scrap, which Garth thought would fund a salvage business. The camera drone they are piloting shows them the facility that Garth thinks would work as a new headquarters for the Legion, and while it’s rough, it does look like a possibility. Tenzil and Sugyn climb the giant candle that can never be blown out, Tenzil eats their shackles, and then Sugyn blows the candle out, which immediately returns them to Tartatus. Cal lets Tenzil know that he was gone long enough that his planet declared him dead. Tenzil excitedly starts planning his funeral. We learn that Brek has decided to stay on Tartarus to train Evillo’s daughters in their powers; just then all of Evillo’s dead wives turn up, as Tenzil has freed everyone in that Hell realm. We see Tenzil flying off on his own, talking to Cal on the vidscreen. It turns out she’s been named his replacement in the Bismollian senate, so he’s heading to Winath to hook up with the Legion. An Omnicom page shows a letter from Loomis to Cham, sharing his assessment of the new headquarters on Talus. It turns out that the planetoid is built completely from ancient spacecraft that were attracted by the gravity generators of an old Dominion battlewagon. The Ranzz’s facility was last used as a brothel by a massage company, and needs a lot of work before it can be suitable as a headquarters, but for the right amount of money, Loomis thinks it can work.
- Brainy is working at the new headquarters, which is not adequate to his needs. He worries that he can’t track the power he saw attached to Celeste, who is off on a mission to Earth with Bounty and Jan. He also confirms that Jo was sent into the past, but doesn’t know how to track him. Throughout his monologue, he keeps making Freudian slips to show that he’s really thinking about Laurel and Rond Vidar. Loomis works to fix power supply issues in the new headquarters, while Cham and Rokk worry. Kono discovers some of the accoutrements left behind by the massage company that previously occupied the place, and she and Furball cause a power outage. As Brandon Peterson takes over the art for the bulk of this issue, we lose the nine-panel grid. Marte Allon’s shuttle is launching from Orando when a massive fleet of Khund ships attack the planet. Marte’s shuttle is shot down, and waves of Khunds attack the first wave of defenses. Hearing that all the Khunds have returned to their ships, General Kiritan (a rare yellow Khund) gives the order for the Red Terror to be activated. A mist is spread over the planet, and when it’s activated, it creates extreme terror in everyone exposed to it. The mist is deactivated, and the General lands, walking right into the throneroom, where Projectra, Queen of Orando (and the one who returned it to its proper orbit) lies shaking in fear. His Commander, Galt, chafes at Kiritan’s insistence that honor be obeyed. On Weber’s World, King John, the leader of the UP (is the United Planets a monarchy now?) gives a briefing about the expanse of the Khund assault, as they overrun many worlds. We see that he’s speaking to the Legion. Later, Cham addresses the team to make sure they are up for getting involved in a war. Everyone seems on board, even Vi, who previously swore she’d never go to war again. Mysa just sits with her head in her hands, but the rest of the team is ready to leave; we learn that Rokk and Cham aren’t going with them. On the independent world Gallan, Cham meets with an informant named Orlak, who has smuggled him a sample of the Red Terror formula. The Khunds attack Venegar, but meet heavier resistance thanks to the Legionnaires. When the Khunds are about to activate the Red Terror, Rokk orders the team to retreat. Vi is hit in the leg, but the team avoids the mist by sealing themselves inside their ship. Mysa is just sitting and crying, and we learn that Vi’s leg has to go. Some of the Khunds are trapped in the mist, and we see that their ‘war masks’ do them no good. On Talok VIII, a Khund speaks to the Hill People, offering an alliance saying that if they attack the City People, the Khunds will aid them and leave them in charge; war masks are offered as protection against the Red Terror. At UP Militia Headquarters, King John explains that due to Khund ships’ reliance on Pluridium, it is most likely they will attack either Talok VIII or Xolnar next. Xolnar is the home of the UP’s Militia Academy, run by Chuck and Luornu Taine (fka Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel, respectively). They are supported by extra UP militia, but are hurrying to ready their cadets in case of attack, aided by Jed (fka Power Boy) and Berta (fka Nightshade). On Talok VIII, Grev, the planet’s champion, tries to convince his wife, the former Lady Memory, to get the Hill People to reject the Khunds. He’s joined by Valor and his cousin, Tasmia (fka Shadow Lass). On Gallan, Cham meets with Orlak again, who reassures him that the Khunds are going to attack Talok VIII. Berta leads a patrol on Xolnar, and they are ambushed and killed by some Khunds. In the past, Jo has arrived on Rimbor, some four thousand years before it was settled. He crashed his ship in landing there, and now he’s stuck. On Elia, the Dominion’s homeworld, some Dominators discuss the situation on Earth, where more protests against them are taking place. They have sent two more battlewagons, and plan intend to shut down all resistance there. On Earth, Circe (who is coloured mostly blue for some reason) orders Dirk to give a speech, against his fears that it’s not going to work. We see that Dirk might be getting ready to resist her. A letter from 2993 announces that Grev plans to marry Kahnya, the former Lady Memory, in the attempt to bring the City and Hill People of Talok VIII together, and to possibly produce offspring with both of their abilities.
- The war is not going well, and the Khunds have managed to take over the planet Xalla. Brainy is meeting with King John and some others. He’s identified the Red Terror and some of the other Khund weapons as coming from the 28th century. There are also reports that the Khund’s mythical Great Demon-Mother. King John reiterates that the Khunds are going to attack either Talok VIII or Xolnar. Brainy points out that the lack of proper atmosphere makes it a poor target for the Red Terror, and this matches with Cham’s intel. On Khundia, Commander Galt meets with Warlord Galmark, partly to complain about Kiritan. Galmark suggests that maybe Kiritan should not return after the war. On Xolnar, we see that Kent and Mysa have gone to support Chuck, Luornu, and Jed, even though no one expects an attack there. Mysa feels sorry for herself, and Jed yells at her, making her run off crying. Luornu tells him off for treating her like a militia recruit. Rokk checks on Vi, who is doing physio for her new cybernetic leg; she wants to return to the fight instead of taking the time to grow a new leg. Rokk has a proposition for her. On Gallan, a merchant trafficking women seeks out Orlak. When they find a private place to talk, the merchant turns out to be Cham, and the woman is Laurel, wearing a distorter. Their goal is for Orlak to smuggle Laurel to Khundia to try to figure out where their weapons are coming from. The entire UP fleet is in orbit around Talok VIII, with shields designed by Brainy to work against the Khunds’ new weapons. Valor and Tasmia have joined Brainy and Ayla, but they don’t actually talk. As Orlak accompanies Laurel on Khundia, they are stopped and arrested for treason. Galt returns to the fleet, and tells Kiritan that Galmark has ordered that Galt lead the attack on Xolnar, and that Kiritan lead a decoy attack on Talok VIII. A militia scout on Xolnar spots the Khunds preparing to attack moments before they bombard the academy. The building is quickly rendered indefensible, so Luornu orders everyone into the mines. Jed has to save Mysa, who is trying to work a spell. They take shelter behind the mine’s massive doors, while the Khunds continue to fire on them. Jed tries to apologize to Mysa for being so rough with her, and Luornu worries that they can’t hold out for long. On Khundia, the soldiers who arrested Orlak and Laurel take them to a statue of the demon-mother – it’s Glorith! On Earth (in a sequence drawn by Giffen again), we see the ruins of a “city of Khundish agitators”, which was really the city of Marzal, Tyroc’s home. Troy, fka Tyroc, is now a part of a cell of resistance fighters mostly made up of former Legion of Substitute members. Staq, fka Fire Lad, comes to get him for a meeting with Jacques, fka Invisible Kid, their leader. They pass through a holo-shield, and we see Chlorophyll Kid practicing using his powers in new ways. Jacques is on a call with Universo – they are discussing working together against the Dominion. Drura, fka Infectious Lass, asks if Universo can be trusted, but Jacques insists they need the help. In New Mexico, Universo talks to his compatriot, Grinn (a guy whose head is missing, but whose mouth floats above his shoulders), about how they need Jacques’s help. A member of the Dark Circle, wearing the shirt we see on Devlin, tells Universo that the Dark Circle might see a return on their investment. A page from the Handbook of the UP Military Academy explains how Chuck and Luornu set up the academy, and serves as a welcome to new recruits.
- Grev watches as the Talokian Hill People prepare to attack, and accuses his wife of doing nothing to stop them. They talk to Brainy, who tells them that they have made progress in working against the Khunds’ weapons. The Khunds appear in orbit around Talok VIII and find a massive UP fleet, and a number of Legionnaires, including Valor, Tasmia, and Ayla waiting for them. The trans suit Brainy gave Tasmia and Ayla is effective against their weapons. The Khunds continue to attack the mine on Xolnar, where the Academy people are holed up. Mysa tries to pull Jed off the defense line for a break, just when he’s hit by an explosion; Kent says he’s not going to make it. On Khundia, Orlak and the disguised Laurel are brought before the Demon-Mother, who is indeed Glorith. She recognizes Laurel through her distorter, and freezes her. Glorith explains that she’s been providing the Khunds with weapons so she can collect magical artifacts from the worlds they capture. The Khunds are getting torn up by the Legion in orbit around Talok VIII. Kono keeps phasing on and off different ships, causing them problems along the way. A few Khund ships get past the defenses, while on the planet, Grev is leading a victory against the Hill People. Brainy tests his defense against the Red Terror when he sees it being spread in the atmosphere. It works, and the Khunds recognize that they lost here. General Kiritan refuses to surrender, and directs his ship into the atmosphere to burn up. King John worries that the victory came too easily, and figures out that Xolnar was the real target. Brainy suggests they can get there in time to help, using an alternate to modern technology. On Xolnar, Mysa is again feeling sorry for herself. Chuck gives her a pep talk, and uses bad metaphors to convince her that she has the ingredients she needs for a defense spell on hand. She gets to conjuring, and manages to erect a shield around the mine entrance that the Khunds can’t get past. In the meanwhile, the Academy troops can shoot out, so they do. Commander Galt gets cold feet, and cannot call in reinforcements, as the UP fleet has arrived, powered by anti-matter fusion engines that Brainy somehow outfitted everyone with. Chuck leads the way into the Khund command post, and finds that Galt has run away. On Khundia, a troop lets Glorith knows what’s happened, and as she fumes, Orlak grabs a blaster. She uses her powers to kill him, but that gives Laurel a chance. Vi busts out of Laurel’s big earring, and fires a “chronal howitzer”, the same device Roxxas used on Jo, at Glorith. She disappears, leaving a hole in the floor. Later, King John visits Projectra, who is recovering on Orando. Way into the future, Glorith stands around, considering that to return to the 30th century would take all of her power. In the epilogue, drawn by Giffen, we see a Daily Planet article interspersed with comic panels. Earthgov has arrested and executed Dawn and Don Allen, the Tornado Twins – the children of Barry Allen and reporter Iris West Allen, who exposed the Dominator influence on Earthgov. We see Don’s fantasy that he was fast enough to save his sister, but the reality is that they were both killed. We see Dirk looking at his old Sun Boy costume. At the Planet’s main office, Devlin turns up for work for the first time in a while, and from his monologue, we see that he’s working with Shvaughn and Jacques, and that they need information from him, and that he’s decided to get personally involved in the Earthgov story.
- As Projectra sleeps in her bed on Orando, an assassin attempts to stab her; Projectra wakes up in time to stop the attack. We learn that the Dark Circle is active on Orando, manipulating the uncertainty after the Khund attack, and the scarcity of food, to foment dissent and gain membership in their cult. Valor is there with Tasmia and Cham, and he promises to help. Vi and Laurel have snuck onto Medicus One, despite its proximity to Earth, so they can see Doctor Gym’ll about Vi’s leg. He says it checks out, but will continue to be itchy; he suggests she check in and grow a new one, but Vi declines. Valor and Tasmia investigate the attacks on relief freighters coming to Orando, and discover a pair of Dark Circle guys holding one up. On Orando, a Dark Circle minister (if that’s the right term) conducts a meeting, appealing to her audience’s fear. Tasmia and Valor turn up in the costumes of the guys they stopped on the freighter. They reveal that the minister is a Carggite, when she splits into three. Valor and Tasmia head towards Cargg, but first stop on Xolnar, where they ask Luornu to come with them. She declines. They make their way to Cargg, where they find that the cult is everywhere. Valor heads straight to the Palace of the Arch-Khana, the seat of leadership on the planet. Dark Circle guards try to stop him from entering, but he heads right in, where he finds the Arch-Khana flanked by Dark Circle ‘advisors’. The Arch-Khana insists everything is fine, so Valor starts taking apart their fleet. This prompts the Circle to gather a large number of its followers in a public square, and the Arch-Khana orders the followers to kill themselves in twenty-seven second intervals if the ‘outside agitators’ don’t leave. Valor stops the first sacrifice, and shows himself to the crowd, who sees him as the founder of their planet. They are confused, until finally the Arch-Khana breaks from the Dark Circle followers who have her at gunpoint, and tells the crowd to listen to Valor. Valor and Tasmia save her from the Dark Circle. Later, the Arch-Khana and her daughter debate over what the people of Cargg will decide to believe in. On Xolnar, Chuck, Luornu, Mysa, and the others bury their dead. Mysa feels indebted to Jed, as she is starting to feel like she will be fine. Valor pushes a ship full of Dark Circle people towards their part of space, and then he and Tasmia leave (as does Brandon Peterson, as that’s the end of his short run). On Earth (and drawn by Giffen), Jacques meets with Universo, agreeing to share information and work together to fight Earthgov, but Jacques makes it clear he doesn’t agree with Universo’s methods.Circe talks to a probe about the fact that Celeste, Bounty, and Devlin have returned to Earth, possibly with a fourth person they couldn’t identify (but who we know to be Jan). Bounty is shown eavesdropping on Circe’s conversation. In Earthgov Plaza, someone has blown up the state’s news studio. Shvaughn worries that the underground forces she works with might be responsible (it’s suggested that Marella Tao, Brin’s ex, was killed in the blast). Five thousand years in the past, Jo has made his way to Earth, having cobbled together a flyable ship, and looks forward to interacting with people again. The issue ends with a flyer used by the Dark Circle to recruit followers (and really, it doesn’t look too different from something you might see on-line today recruiting people to the alt-right).
- In Adventure Comics #478, a time-travelling Superman ends up in 2995, just as Laurel gets beaten up by the crazed Daxamite Dev-Em. This Dev-Em has been sent from the 20th century by Valor, to save him from lead poisoning, but it’s driven him crazy. Clearly, in the new timeline, the classic Dev-Em no longer exists. Superman ends up working with Laurel, Vi, Furball, Garth, and Irma to try to stop Dev-Em’s rampage. Dev-Em discovers a pocket of Dominators working under the moon; Imra telepathically reads one of the Dominators and learns of the Dominions work for the last twenty years, as well as the fact that there are bombs riddled throughout the moon, that Dev-Em is going to detonate. Superman and the Legion stop him, and take him into custody. The Linear Man who has been trying to get Superman back to his own time decides that the moon was supposed to explode, and detonates the bombs, blowing up the entire moon, just as the Legion flies away. What’s interesting about this issue is that it establishes that the Legionnaires have memories of the Time Trapper, the pocket universe, and Superman’s previous interactions with the Legion in the pocket universe, which also establishes that Superboy was still a member of the team.
- The first half of issue nineteen follows immediately on the explosion of the moon, as the shockwave and the debris fly towards the Earth. We see Doctor Gym’ll affected on Medicus-One, and watch as reports come in that the medical station took a direct hit, as do various places on the Earth’s surface, especially since the electro-shields that are supposed to protect against things like that are off-line. Tsunamis hit in places like the California coast. The Dominators beneath Metropolis are tracking two large pieces expected to hit in Baghdad and Rio de Janeiro, and we see them discussing something called “Triple-Strike”, a contingency plan the Dominators had in place, and which seems to have been activated without their permission. They quickly move to override the final command in this program, but learn that their battlewagon in orbit has been hit by debris and is losing altitude. That ship has a full complement of weaponry on it, and when it explodes, it sends a nega-pulse power surge through the atmosphere, shutting down numerous systems, including the electro-shield one that was about to be turned online, and the Dominator system that was going to shut down the rest of Triple-Strike.. One large meteor hits Baghdad, levelling it. Circe is angry, as many of her SPs are getting killed. In Arctica, Circadia Senius and his probe manage to launch something called the Luna-Sub-One orbiter, which is designed to replace the moon’s gravitational stability (I guess it’s lucky they have that on hand). They see a meteor moving towards their area, and know they will be wiped out. The Dominators discuss the damage caused by Triple-Strike, but also acknowledge that they were probably going to end up doing this anyway. The final step in that program is for the Earth’s fusion power spheres to all explode, which is what happens. We see a partial list of the cities where the explosions are taking place. Jo lands in the Mediterranean Sea, and swims to Egypt five thousand years ago (four thousand years ago to our perspective). His arrival is noticed by Nabu, whose assistant thinks he should be killed. Jo finds a hut, but its inhabitants are dead. As he sleeps, a woman approaches him, and seems to read his mind. The next day, as he looks for a city, he finds the woman, who speaks to him in Interlac. She says the villagers killed the people in the hut, and claims she’s from Bgztl. She immediately reminds Jo of Tinya, and we see them talk and become close. We see that they start to build a home together, raise some goats they captured, and eventually the woman, Asherya, tells Jo she’s pregnant. The Pharoah, Amen-Em-Het, is angry that Nabu has not done anything about this woman, so he orders Nabu to kill her. Nabu, wearing the classic Doctor Fate helmet, appears before the woman, who he calls Hytuurnus. It turns out she’s a Lord of Chaos, and Nabu attacks her. She goes running to Jo for help, before being disintegrated. Jo is angry, and unable to listen when Nabu tries to explain things to him. A day later, he returns to Jo, and sends him back to his own time. Jo arrives on Winath. Later, he goes to Shanghalla to finally cry over Tinya’s grave, something he didn’t allow himself to do before. An Omnicom page shows a letter from an SP Captain to Circe, explaining how they’ve uncovered the details of Triple-Strike, and warning that the SP are very angry about everything that has happened, and suggesting that there could be a revolt if the Dominator control over Earthgov can be proven.
- Issue twenty opens on an image of the Dominator version of the Omnicom; the third and fourth Dominion fleets are being called in to help quell unrest on Earth. The orders describe the importance of it appearing that Earthgov is in control of the situation, and for the Dominators in the Earth embassy to appear as if they control the Dominion fleets, until such a time as they can be arrested and returned to Dominion space for their part in the Triple-Strike debacle. We see the the Dominion officers making their way to Earth do not agree with this deployment. On Earth, Circe is in a hospital facility, where Dirk was taken. His powers went haywire when the null-radiation from the powersphere explosion hit him, and now his entire body is covered by second and third degree burns. On Weber’s World, King John speaks with UP Council Chairman Relnic about the way Earthgov is insisting that the recent disasters on Earth were caused by the Khunds, and their insistence that the UP not get involved. John wants to help anyway, but Relnic insists that they wait. We see that SP officers in Brisbane are in open revolt against the Dominators, which leads to them calling in an airstrike on the SP station. Devlin is trapped in wreckage in Metropolis, and is badly injured. He hides from a Dominator patrol he believes is hunting him, and then spots a pair of people in shadows. He is blasted by one of them, who then discuss helping him. Some of the key Dominators talk about the fact that something called Chamber SW6 was breached, and that the specimens there, who have not been mind wiped, are gone. Celeste is angry that Laurel has come to Earth, wearing a distorter to look like her, and to order her back to Legion HQ. Celeste refuses, so Laurel uses a teleportation gun that she got from Brainy; it teleports Celeste, but it leaves her clothing behind. Kono listens to Celeste yell at Brainy, and then gets chased by Kent, who she was taking photos of while he was in the shower. Mysa has a dream, and wakes with the knowledge that “it” is still out “there”, waiting for her. This makes her happy. Cham reviews footage from the Moon, worrying that Superman was responsible for the satellite’s destruction. Vi is upset that her new leg is blue, but Ayla assures her it makes no difference to her. On the news, we see that the son of Starfinger II has been murdered, and that Dirk has died of his wounds. Lydda is watching this, and is very upset. She receives news that Garth and Imra have had twin girls. Jo is on Quarantine, where he’s undergoing a psych assessment that he doesn’t really want to do. Rokk is there too, meeting with an Imskian veteran, who wants to know what happened at Venado Bay. Rokk reluctantly tells his story, and we learn that he, Loomis, and Kent (this is a surprise that he was in the Braalian army, but isn’t Braalian) were hit by the blast from the damper. We saw that Rokk stumbled into an Imskian unit that had taken a Braalian command base. He was almost killed by the Imskians, but Vi was there, and stopped them from shooting him. Rokk, confused, cut her eye with his laser stiv. The vet he told this story to fell asleep, so Rokk figures out this was a ploy by Brainy. The doctor he talked to is joined by Ivy, who we learn can talk to plants. On Earth, Dag (fka Stone Boy) and Ulu (fka Colour Kid), members of the Resistance, talk about how the fallout from Earth’s troubles is causing snow to fall in Africa. Drura comes to see them, mentioning that things haven’t been smooth for Jacques. Inside their base, we see that Jacques and Tenzil are watching a video sent by Shvaughn, wherein she shows where Dominator underground chambers are in Metropolis. We learn from Tenzil that Jan is with Shvaughn. Circe is in one of the Dominator’s offices. When he finds her there, she shoots him dead; this surprises Bounty, who is still surveilling her. We see that across the Earth, SP stations are having problems, with officers being killed by the Dominion. An Omnicom page shows us how the Venado Bay incident is written about in an Imskian textbook compared to a more standard UP one.
- Issue twenty-one launches “The Quiet Darkness”, an arc written by inker Al Gordon. The back quarter of the issue is by the usual writing conglomerate. It opens with two girls, Aria and Lori, lost in the sewers of Zuun. It’s clear that they’ve left some kind of situation, and they jump at every noise. A group of mercs or bounty hunters find them, and argue over what they can do with them, when Furball shows up. They shoot him, and he attacks, killing all but one of them. Aria feels bad that Furball is bleeding, and wants to help him. He grabs her backpack and starts eating her food. At Legion HQ on Talus, Celeste takes a call from Brainiac 5, who explains that he’s in a police station on Zuun, where he’s travelled with Furball for some tests. The planet is undergoing some kind of interference that is affecting all technology, and is under martial law. Brainy has been detained, and is calling for help. Jo calls a senator he knows, and then gathers Kent to travel with him. On Zuun, the girls feed Furball some more. The police on Zuun learn that Brainy has fooled them, leaving a hologram behind. The surviving merc returns to his employer, who kills him for failing. We learn that the boss is Darkseid. He heads to a lab, where a scientist named Francis, Aria’s father, is involved in some kind of experiment on Coda, her brother. Coda is not well, and Francis believes that it has something to do with his connection to Aria. Darkseid turns to another bounty hunter, Lobo! The Dominators continue to worry about the fact that Batch SW6 has escaped, and that they need to find them. Their other project, Project Champion, is progressing well. It seems they took the matrix out of Computo and mixed it with genetics from SW6 to grow a Champion. As a test, they sent it out to kill Atmos, which it did easily. The Dominator Ambassador feels that Champion will save him, but at that moment he is arrested by Pinnacle Command. The hidden figures tend to Devlin, who is confused by their appearance, complementing one of them on how she looks, and how she had “it” fixed. The Pinnacle Command departs from the Dominator orbital ships, heading towards Earth. The General learns that the ambassador is in custody and that Circe killed his attaché. Pinnacle Command sends a message to the homeworld saying that he is preparing to execute the “90% solution.” In New Mexico, Universo talks to Grinn about the Dominion chambers. Universo feels they can win, and suggests that Jacques might not survive the fight. A Dark Circle agent listens from around a corner. A Dominion Omnicom page lists the steps that the Dominion is going to be taking to prop up and maintain control of Earthgov.
- Aria, Lori, and Furball (now being called Frisky by Aria) continue to wander and hide on Zuun. They find a place to rest. Lobo finds the area where Furball killed the mercs last issue. The cruiser that Jo, Kent, and Celeste are taking to Zuun suffers some mechanical problems. They lose lights for a bit, and are unable to fly at overdrive speeds, slowing down their trip considerably. Darkseid is watching them, and then goes to check on Francis and his work. Francis is worried that Lobo will hurt Aria. He believes that Coda is getting worse because he’s cut his tie with Aria, and references something called the “Gemini Matrix.” Lobo kills some SPs, now trying to figure out where Brainiac 5 went. The Legion cruiser approaches the planet, and suffers more mechanical problems. Kent believes that someone is using a field energy inverter on them, and they see a large ship waiting for them. Aria dreams that she sees Coda, who has come to her for a last memory. He starts to fall apart in front of her, and she wakes screaming his name. The noise has attracted some SPs, who start shooting at Furball. They manage to escape by going underground, where they find Brainy. The SPs that were chasing them are approached by Lobo. Aria is excited to meet Brainiac 5, but she and Lori are vague about their details. Aria mentions that her father knew Brainy, and once studied on Colu. Brainy is surprised to hear this, and does know her father, who was brilliant and eccentric. Brainy refers to the Gemini Matrix, and Aria says that’s why she had to leave. To change the subject, she mentions that Brainy is her second favourite Legionnaire. When she says that Timber Wolf is her favourite, Furball licks her, and Brainy reveals that he is Timber Wolf. They hear something, and see Lobo approaching. The rest of issue twenty-two is drawn by Jason Pearson, whose upcoming work on the book is incredible, and will be the focus of the next column. Cham and Rokk talk about how the team is refusing costumes, code names, and structure, but Rokk is clear that the people are all that matters. Kono snoops around in Mysa’s room and sees that her sister Nura (fka Dream Girl) has been trying to get in touch with her but Mysa’s been ignoring her. On Earth, the Dominator General wants Project Champion to track down Batch SW6. Valor has taken out a Dark Circle outpost in the Altair Sector that he didn’t know was there. He tries to stop the Circle’s computer from deleting all of its files, and sees records from the 2970s that discuss the acquisition, over a few years, of Legion DNA and cell samples, and plans swap Legionnaires with doppelgangers. This leaves Lar wondering if there is a doppelganger Legion somewhere, or if he’s a part of it. An Omnicom page shows us Tasmia’s journal, recounting what she and Lar have been up to since leaving Cargg. After the Dark Circle outpost, she records that Lar is brooding and secretive. Another Omnicom page shows that SP officer Dvron (who we haven’t seen yet in this title) is aware that two thieves, Spider Queen and Benn Pares (last seen trying to steal the Miracle Machine in a flashback issue of the last volume) are trying to steal something called the Stancio Dazzle Gem from Xanthu’s Museum of 1000 Worlds.
- The Legion cruiser is in a dock of the larger Zuunian ship. Jo, Kent, and Celeste are met by armed soldiers and meet Chief Commander Skan’l-la, the lord governor of the sector. He tells them they can’t go to Zuun, and has two massive industrial repair droids and a ton of soldiers to stop them. He also refers to Kent as Impulse, the first time that his superhero name has been used. On Zuun, Brainy, Furball, Lori, and Aria stand off against Lobo. The Legionnaires start fighting the Zuunians, with Jo and Kent both concerned about keeping Celeste safe, but also unable to keep from enjoying themselves. A Zuunian probe keeps locating and losing Aria’s signal, and it determines that she is the source of all the interference. Skan’l-la orders that Aria be transported via boom tube. Lobo fights Brainy and Furball, and isn’t happy when he hears the boom from the boom tube. The thing is, it’s Lori that gets transported into the middle of the fight. The large droids are about to crush Celeste and Lori, until a massive green light explodes out of Celeste, destroying the droids and soldiers, and turning her transparent. Kent grabs her, and tells Lori to follow. Lobo finishes beating up Furball and grabs Aria. He wraps her up and puts her on his bike. Jo has destroyed the gyro unit on the Zuunian ship, and they make a rough escape. Jo and Kent put on their old Legion outfits, since their clothes were ruined in the fight, and Lori sees Lobo flying off with Aria. With Aria gone, their tracking devices work again, and they find Brainy. He’s watching Aria’s father’s message to her, and learns that the Gemini Matrix is real, and that all of the things happening on Zuun are connected to her. Brainy learns that Kent got a trace on Lobo’s bike, and they prepare to go after her, not knowing that Darkseid is aware of all of this, and is preparing for them. On Earth, Laurel meets with Jacques, who tells her to let his cell take care of the raid on the underground Dominator chambers. She returns to Celeste’s office, where Bounty takes her to task for going around without disguising herself. She then tells her to come with her to meet someone unexpected. Circe continues to mourn all of her dead SP men, and meets with Bounty and Laurel. Devlin is sick from radiation exposure. The shadowy figures discuss what to do with him, and worry that he’s a fugitive. One person in the group, who looks a lot like a younger Shrinking Violet, maintains he can be trusted. In the Altair sector, Valor tells Shady that he has to go to Earth on his own to deal with a problem from before she became a Legionnaire. As he leaves, he has to admit to himself that she can tell he’s scared. An Omnicom page shares Earthgov’s findings on the impact of the powersphere detonations, and how they have led to disease. Another Omnicom page continues Dvron’s report. He and two other SPs apprehended Spider Girl, but were not able to find the gem that she was trying to steal; she maintains that Benn Pares stole the gem while the SPs fought her.
- Jo, Brainy, Celeste, Kent, Furball, and Lori are on Lobo’s trail, and are surprised to see that their ship is working perfectly again. Francis dreams that he speaks to his wife, and we learn that he made a deal with Darkseid while she was pregnant, and that led to him using the Gemini Matrix on the fetus she carried, splitting it into two, and ultimately led to his wife’s decision to die in childbirth. Darkseid wakes Francis to tell him that Aria is there. She is, against her will, stuffed into a tank, while Darkseid insists that Francis stick to the terms of their deal. The Legionnaires arrive outside Darkseid’s place, and he invites them in and takes them to Francis. Brainy tries to help save the children, who are both dying, and then smashes the tanks they are in. Coda is dying, and Brainy points out that this means Darkseid’s plans have failed. Darkseid disagrees, and there is a lot of talk about fate and the universe and stuff. Coda’s body disappears (the effect looks a lot like when Giffen draws the Lords of Order), but Aria can feel him and talks to him. A bright light comes out of Aria, and when it subsides, she is now a full-grown woman whom Darkseid calls Gemini. He explains that she is meant to be a bridge between God and man, but she rejects that, feeling she was always only an experiment. Lobo threatens her, and she tosses him across the room, knocking off his sunglasses and revealing that he’s actually a probe. Darkseid disintegrates him. Gemini is upset that Furball doesn’t recognize her now. Darkseid snaps his fingers, and Furball reverts to Brin, although Darkseid says that the chemicals in his system will now kill him. Darkseid keeps pushing Gemini to do what he brought her there for, and she kills him, which is what he wanted all along. That took all the power out of Gemini, but she has remained as a grown woman. Francis asks her to stay with him and she agrees. We see Coda walk Darkseid away, into a cloudy landscape. That’s the end of the Quiet Darkness. From there, we see that the Dominators have named Project Champion B.I.O.N, and are sending him, wearing a blue cape and a picture of the Earth on his forehead, out into Metropolis to find Batch SW6. He leaves his Dominator escort behind, and flies out, using his telepathy until he hones in on one of them. He flies into Celeste’s office, where he confronts Laurel Gand, accusing her of being part of SW6, and Dominion property. Somewhere else, the girl continues to talk to Devlin, who is starting to feel better. She reveals that she really is a teenage Shrinking Violet, and shows him nineteen other youthful Legionnaires; they announce to him that the Legion is back. An Omnicom page shows us Brainy’s Scientific Journal. In it, he says that Aria is a normal adult now, that Brin is in bad shape, and that returning to his Furball form might be the only thing that saves him, and that he can find no trace of Darkseid. A Dominator page outlines the instructions given to BION regarding the search for SW6, and confirms that the Legionnaires we just saw are from that Batch.
- The second Annual follows up on the first one, and tells the story of Valor and why he’s become a near religious figure on so many worlds in the 30th century. It opens in the 30th century, in Dark Circle space, where members of the cult recount their history. One of them is upset about their loss on Cargg, and the other leaders of the group decide he needs to learn the truth about Valor (I’m not sure if the already-established fact that the entire Dark Circle is made up of clones of five beings still holds true; I don’t think it does). He is taken to three albino beings in a forest, who begin to tell the story of how Lar Gand left his service to Vril Dox’s LEGION, and ended up getting involved in the fight shown in Annual #1, where he and the visiting Ultra Boy ended up learning that the Dominators had plans to invade Earth. Valor flew to Elia, the Dominators’ homeworld, where he found hives full of human prisoners, many of whom were killed in the escape attempt Valor made. He discovered a massive tank of humans who had been mutated by the Dominators, and didn’t know how to help them. He sought out help, and discovered the Sub-Domina, a rebel group, looking to overthrow the caste system. He joined with the group, and we met 362, the female Dominator leader, Shamarra, a human mutated to produce cold, Mac, a young Dominator, and Lustig, a merchant. Valor urged them to rebel with as little bloodshed as possible. Their first target was a prison for the Diamond Caste, a group of scientists who had rejected the disk system and wore diamonds on their head. They freed and joined with them, and next turned to freeing the humans in the tanks. As they freed them, many joined with their rescuers, and they displayed new powers that helped with the fight. The highest castes decided that they should abandon Elia and destroy it. As they attempted to flee in their hive, Valor did his best to hold them in place. Something odd happened, signified by some purple lights, and Valor was successful in keeping them there, while the Diamond Caste stopped the Doomsday Program, and managed to wipe all Dominator knowledge of human genetics. The ruling class had their disks scrubbed, and were made to live as outcasts in Dominator society. Next Valor proposed that the mutated humans, no longer able to fit in on Earth, begin to colonize and settle on a variety of worlds, based on the abilities that they have demonstrated. For example, he suggested that the humans with magnetic abilities move to Braal (it’s interesting that all the presumably uninhabited worlds were all already named, and that he knew what properties they possessed). By moving there, they could also serve as bulwarks between the Earth and Dominator space. Shamarra leads the people like her to Thaar, for example. Most of the Diamond Caste went with the humans to the new worlds, and Valor exiled the rest of the scientists from Dominator society. They ended up becoming the fifth world in the Dark Circle alliance, which was probably not a good thing. Later, Valor fought warriors from out of time, and was saved by Glorith, who wanted him to come to the future and rule the universe with her. She made it clear that she helped him on Elia, but he rejected her plans. As a result, she banished him to the buffer zone between Earth and Bgztl, where for a thousand years, he existed as a spirit, able to look in on our dimension and watch time progress. Finally, in the 30th century, he was found by Phantom Girl, and the Legion was able to pull him out of the buffer zone. He was quickly treated for the lead poisoning that is fatal to Daxamies, but after helping the Legion with one battle, he had to be sent back until a permanent cure could be found. That happened, and when he joined the Legion long-term, he was surprised to see that he was welcomed almost as a god. He rejected this form of worship, and became a Legionnaire. The Dark Circle storytellers have to finish telling their story, as the sun is coming up, and the cultist who was being told the story feels more than before the extent of the threat Valor poses to the Dark Circle.
- Issue twenty-five is the first of the run (aside from the Annuals) to give no credit to Keith Giffen. It opens with the exact same page as the last of issue twenty-four, with the SW6 Legion presenting themselves to Devlin, who is shocked to see them, and even more surprised to realize they were the people who had attacked him. He points out that the Legion he knows are all in their thirties, and asks where they came from. Invisible Kid appears to be the leader, and Lyle narrates how they all woke up out of their pods, naked and confused. Saturn Girl discovered a datapad with the date – April 11, 2995, leaving them to wonder how they ended up in their future. Looking outside (although I thought they were underground) they were stunned to see Metropolis in such rough shape. Brainiac 5 figured out how to synthesize them some clothing, and recreated their uniforms for them. At that time, some Dominators stumbled across them, and tried to arrest them. They fired on Karate Kid and Princess Projectra, stunning them, and Laurel attacked them. When reinforcements came, the Legionnaires were gone, but really were just being hidden by Projectra’s powers. When they fled, that’s when they came across Devlin, who is shocked to hear that they want to get in touch with Earthgov. Brainy figures out that the Dominators were conducting experiments, and supports Devlin’s assessment of politics on Earth, but the team still wants to venture out in their colourful costumes. Brainy suspects that the null radiation that Devlin took, followed by a blast from Lightning Lad (who no longer has a metal arm) might be causing changes in Devlin. They walk out into Metropolis, where Sun Boy is surprised to see a big picture of himself. They also discover that Sun Boy’s statue is the only one still standing along the Avenue of Super-Heroes, and that it’s been marred by graffiti. They also see their clubhouse is missing from Weisinger Plaza, although we see their most recent HQ lying on its side. The team walks into the open to salute their former base, which is noticed by Dominion satellites. An air strike (set to stun) is called in, and some of the Legionnaires are hurt. They find a place to hide, and Devlin suggests that they reach out to the underground. Brainy cobbles together a communicator, and they send a message arranging a meeting that is immediately picked up by the Dominion. Invisible Kid is still distrusting of Devlin, but they go ahead with the plan. It looks like the Dominion is closing in on them, but that’s a red herring – it’s Devlin alone that the Dominators find. They are about to kill him when Matter-Eater Lad interferes, pointing out that killing someone with knowledge of the underground would be stupid. The rest of SW6 is shown meeting with Grinn and some of his men (this meeting having been arranged telepathically by Saturn Girl). He tells them that Foccart is in Africa, and that instead they will be meeting with Vidar. They are surprised to see that this is Universo, and Karate Kid believes they’ve been betrayed, but Lyle insists on hearing him out. They tell Universo to prove his change of heart by helping them rescue Devlin. Matter-Eater Lad is still talking to the Dominators when Chameleon Boy, Phantom Girl, and Shrinking Violet show up to take out the Dominators. Devlin is shot, but the blast reflects back on the Dominator somehow. Later, Laurel and Valor chat about how much has changed. The Dominators talk about how SW6 eluded them, and how they can’t track down BION, which has had its tracking devices disabled or destroyed. An Omnicom page shows Shrinking Violet’s new journal, wherein she talks about seeing all of her friends naked, and how she is developing feelings for Devlin.
This feels like the right place to end this column, as with the next issue, Jason Pearson starts pencilling over Giffen’s layouts, and the Terra Mosaic storyline begins, as the Underground and the Legion go to war with the Dominators, and the SW6 Legion becomes central to the story.
Having read these comics, I am in awe of just how bold Giffen and the Bierbaums were in their approach to this title. Even leaving aside the shifting timeline and the new history they installed, I can’t think of another title that changed so radically thirty years of status quo, and made so many irreversible decisions in how characters were portrayed. I think this is one of the most complex comics I’ve ever read, as well as one of the most information-dense.
Look over the list of main and supporting characters at the start of this column, and then consider that they effectively doubled it by introducing the SW6 kids. All of these characters feel essential to this story, and almost all of them undergo some sort of story arc (although many are not resolved at this point).
There’s really so much to praise that trying to structure my thoughts on this title in a coherent way is kind of overwhelming. Where it could have been easy to make this a story about the Legion getting back together after something like four years of being separated, Giffen and the Bierbaums instead make this a story about the collapse of the structures that are supposed to protect people. After the Great Collapse (or maybe well before it), the Dominators started to exert their influence on Earth, eventually turning Earthgov and the population against the Legion and driving them off the world. The UP suffered from rot as well, with the Khunds expanding into UP space. The Dark Circle did the same, taking control of many worlds.
Through this, most of the Legionnaires became ground down by life. Rokk and Vi struggled to overcome their memories of war. Jo was lost without Tinya. Brin mutated. Brekk rotted in jail. Laurel waged war and secretly had a kid. Lar and Tasmia more or less disappeared. Garth, Imra, and Ayla just stayed home, building up their business. Tenzil became more of a joke. Kent basically hid out on Quarantine. Jan moped around a planet where he was the only living inhabitant. Dirk sold out, big time. Mysa was Mordru’s wife, but also his prisoner. Chuck and Luornu train soldiers for the UP. Jacques has gone from being a shy kid to running an rebel cell made up mostly of former Substitute Legion members. Cham took over his father’s business, and became successful. None of the Legionnaires resembled their traditional portrayals at the start of this series, and so much of the fun of it has been watching them regain their footing, albeit in a more adult, and less happy, manner.
When the team finally reunites, some thirteen issues into the run, it’s not a joyous occasion, as they have had to give up their celebrity status and flashy lifestyle, but it is cause for guarded celebration. The universe is a mess, and it’s past time for the heroes to return. Unfortunately, their return is marred by war with the Khunds, but it does put them back on the right track.
And then, as things are starting to look up, Giffen and Bierbaum decide to blow up the moon, rain destruction on the Earth, and make it look like Superman was responsible. Again, they appear to show no fear in breaking things, and taking this book into the type of territory that is usually reserved for Elseworld or alternate future type stories.
From there, it’s time to reveal that Batch SW6, who we’ve been hearing the Dominators talk about for ages, is actually a group of youthful Legionnaires, who might be clones, or might be the originals, who have been replaced by clones.
And then there’s the shifting timelines. So all of the stuff I’ve just mentioned is exciting and groundbreaking on its own, leaving readers to try to figure out everything that happened to their favourite characters, or trying to guess just who Kent Shakespeare is. But only four issues into this series, the writers had Mon-El basically erase himself and the Time Trapper from the Legion’s history, recreating a world where the Legion never existed, and because of that, where Mordru was all-powerful. That timeline lasted for one issue before Rond Vidar, Mysa, and Glorith, a new character and Mordru’s first wife, again messed with the timestream, installing Glorith in the Time Trapper’s previous role, and recreating Mon-El as Valor. With that, we also got the inclusion of Laurel Gand, and we presumed the erasure of Superboy from the Legion’s history.
That got even more confusing, as in the first Annual, we saw that Superboy did still fight alongside the Legion, he was just no longer their inspiration (that being Valor’s role). Later, we learned that Superman really did meet some of the Legionnaires in Smallville, in the story that originally introduced the Time Trapper’s pocket universe. As well, we see that the Time Trapper avoided being erased, but ended up being eaten by Glorith.
This got confusing. I’m still (both from my perspective as someone who has freshly read these comics, and as someone who has read a couple of decades worth of Legion adventures after) unsure what role Superboy played in this Legion. I am fairly certain that Laurel has taken over any role that Supergirl ever played, especially since we’ve seen that she and Brainy were together for a time.
Here’s the other thing though – it doesn’t much matter. These characters are still the incredible characters that they always were, and Laurel has been a great addition to the team (I do think it’s weird that she never appeared to use a superhero name, at a time when the rest of the Legion was really into that – I’d have thought Valor Girl a shoe-in). The continuity is interesting (why was Reflecto shown standing next to Ultra Boy, when in the original comics, Reflecto was Superboy?) but ultimately doesn’t much affect this long and complicated story.
It’s interesting that in the letters page, the Bierbaums frequently explain that they had no choice but to make these timeline fixes, as DC continued to fiddle with its post-Crisis continuity, although I’m not convinced that they had to go so far with it. The thing is, I love the sense of the unknown that these changes brought to the book, and I love Laurel.
Actually, all of the new characters added to the book are pretty great. Kent is cool, and I like that he fits the jock role usually played by Mon-El and Ultra Boy, but is also a doctor. Kono brings a Jubilee-like quality to the title that is probably needed, injecting some youth as the other characters get older and more dour. Bounty and Celeste are interesting, as they are both pretty mysterious at this stage. Okay, I don’t like Devlin and his whole Jimmy Olson act very much, but that’s the only new character I’m not fond of. It’s too bad that these new characters didn’t carry forward into later takes on the team.
Reading this again, after having just worked my way through the complete run of Paul Levitz’s Legion, I wonder how anyone not already familiar with these characters might have navigated this series, but then I remember that as a kid, I didn’t know most of the characters’ real names before reading this series.
The idea that the characters eschew code names, uniforms, and hierarchy makes a lot of sense. A group of adults in this situation would likely act exactly as the Legionnaires do, although it’s easy to see why that would frustrate Cham.
I like how much the Legionnaires have grown as adults. We see new confidence in Cham, and a general lack of drama among the older, wiser Legionnaires that have committed to the team.
One of the most interesting elements of this book is the relationship between Vi and Ayla. That something might be going on between them was gently hinted at in Levitz’s comics, but Giffen and the Bierbaums make it much more believable that they are in a romantic relationship.
There are a few things that stand out to me about this comic that makes it unique. The core creative team of Giffen, the Bierbaums, inker Al Gordon, and even, at times, colourist Tom McCraw seem to share and consult on the writing with great regularity, with writing credits being shared. You’d think that would work against such an intricately-written comic, but instead it seems to help it flourish. I’m not sure which moments come from Giffen, a Bierbaum, or from Gordon, and that’s exceptionally cool. We often talk about pairings in comics (Lee and Kirby, Claremont and Byrne, Wolfman and Perez, Brubaker and Phillips) that seem to surpass expectations, but the working relationship between these creatives, and some of the other collaborators that they brought in, must have been amazing. It definitely produced some amazing stories, and a sense of a unified vision.
The addition of text pages at the back of most issues, usually in the form of an Omnicom page, really helped to further flesh out the story and help readers understand some of the important background, or to receive info dumps that would have completely disrupted the flow of the comic. They were creative and entertaining, and one could argue that Giffen and friends perhaps invented the ipad…
Also almost completely unique at the time is Giffen’s use of the nine-panel grid. Because of that, it takes forever to read a single issue. Giffen and co. filled each issue with so much story that it would take an entire arc today to match what they could sometimes achieve in one comic. The nine-panel grid also allowed Giffen room to experiment with storytelling, and to indulge in some of his stranger inclinations with regards to using long shots, extreme closeups, or covering characters’ faces in black ink. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell what’s happening on the page, but never in a way that detracts from the story. I love how Giffen makes the future look so shabby and run-down.
It’s curious that while Giffen was working on this, he was best known for his humorous comics, especially Justice League America. I’m sure that’s why we got the two issues focusing on Tenzil and Brek, which served to really disrupt the darkness of this title.
The Legion has always had an active and vocal fan base, and I find myself really enjoying reading the letters pages in these comics. Tom and Mary Bierbaum usually are the ones responding to the letters, and they really fostered a sense of community in the pages. This is interesting, because so much of these earliest issues were controversial, yet they managed to strike a respectful tone, and provide a balanced overview of what the fans were saying.
As much as I loved these comics, I remember being even more excited about this book once Jason Pearon took over the art, and the story shifted to being almost exclusively about the fight against the Dominion on Earth. I can’t wait to dive into the next stack, and the Terra Mosaic.
If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.
These comics haven’t been collected (although it seems that a collection was solicited and canceled a few years ago), so if you want to read them for yourself, it’s time to go longbox hunting.
Tags: DC Comics, Legion of Super-Heroes, Retro Reviews