The Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 4 #26-39 By Giffen, The Bierbaums, Pearson & Others For DC Comics

The Legion of Super-Heroes (Vol. 4) #26-39, Annual #3 (February 1992 – January 1993)

Plot/Story by Keith Giffen (#26-27, 29-32, 34-36, 38), Tom Bierbaum (#28, 33, 37, 39, Annual #3), Mary Bierbaum (#28, 33, 37, 39, Annual #3), Al Gordon (Annual #3)

Plot/Story Assist by Tom Bierbaum (#26-27, 29-32, 34-36, 38), Mary Bierbaum (#26-27, 29-32, 34-36, 38), Tom McCraw (#27, 29), Jason Pearson (#30, 34, 38)

Dialogue by Tom Bierbaum (#26-39, Annual #3), Mary Bierbaum (#26-39, Annual #3), Al Gordon (Annual #3)

Breakdowns by Keith Giffen (#26-32, 34-36, 38)

Pencilled by Jason Pearson (#26-30, 32, 34-36, 38), Colleen Doran (#31), Curt Swan (#31), David A. Williams (#33), Chris Sprouse (#33), June Brigman (#37), Stuart Immonen (#39), Keith Giffen (#39), Rob Haynes (Annual #3), Ian Montgomery (Annual #3), Joe Phillips (Annual #3), Brandon Peterson (Annual #3)

Inked by Al Gordon (#26, 28-29, 31-32, Annual #3), Tony Harris (#27), Karl Story (#30, 32-36, 38), Karl Kesel (#31), John Dell (#37, 39, Annual #3), Keith Giffen (#39), Scott Hanna (Annual #3)

Colour by Tom McCraw (#26-39, Annual #3)

Spoilers (from twenty-seven to twenty-eight years ago)

The first twenty-five issues of this series are among my most treasured and favoured comics, but I felt that this title got even better during the run of issues I’m going to be writing about in this column.

The Legion has more or less returned to a vastly different universe, where the United Planets suffer as many challenges as the Legionnaires do.  The Earth has been secretly taken over by the Dominators, and then devastated in a series of explosions sparked off by the destruction of the Moon.  Cells of rebels, including ones run by former Legion foe Universo, and former Legionnaire Jacques Foccart, comprised mostly of former members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes, resist the Dominion, with some covert support from the Legion.

In the devastation of the Dominator’s Triple-Strike protocol, Batch SW6, a collection of twenty teenage Legionnaires has escaped. They are either the original Legion, or clones of them, but now they are out in the world, and the Dominion has sent BION, an artificial being based on Computo, to track them down.

Things are bleak as hell when these issues open, as Keith Giffen steps back from providing full pencils, instead laying out pages for the incredible Jason Pearson to draw.

The end of this run was devastating, and I remember it as making me cry when I was fourteen or fifteen.  These are some of the best comics I’ve ever read, and I’m excited to dive back into them, and share them with you.

Let’s track who turned up in the title:

The Legion of Super-Heroes

  • Laurel Gand (#26-27, 34, 38-39)
  • Brin Londo, formerly Timber Wolf and Furball (#26-27, 29, 34, Annual #3)
  • Kono (Brita An’Nan; #26-27, 32, 36-38, Annual #3)
  • Brainiac 5 (Querl Dox; #26-27, 29, 36-39, Annual #3)
  • Reep “Cham” Daggle, formerly Chameleon Boy (#26-27, 29-30, 32-33, 39, Annual #3)
  • Rokk Krinn, formerly Cosmic Boy (#26-28, 30, 32, 34, 36-39, Annual #3)
  • Jacques Foccart, formerly Invisible Kid (#27, 29, 32, 34-36, 38)
  • Tenzil Kem, formerly Matter-Eater Lad (#27, 29, 32, 34-36, 39)
  • Ayla Ranzz, formerly Lightning Lass (#27, 36, 38-39, Annual #3)
  • Salu “Vi” Digby, formerly Shrinking Violet (#27, 38-39, Annual #3)
  • Dirk Morgna, formerly Sun Boy (#28-29, 34-36)
  • Nura Nal, formerly Dream Girl (#28, 37, Annual #3)
  • Dawnstar (#28, 36)
  • Blok (#28)
  • Crystal Kid (#28, 33)
  • Jan Arrah, formerly Element Lad (#28, 31, 34-36, 39)
  • Kent Shakespeare, formerly Impulse (#28, 36-37, 39, Annual #3)
  • Echo (#28)
  • Tellus (Ganglios; #28, Annual #3)
  • Brekk Bannin, formerly Polar Boy (#28)
  • Valor (Lar Gand; #29-32, 34, 36, Annual #3)
  • Jo Nah, formerly Ultra Boy (#29, 37, 39, Annual #3)
  • Troy Stewart, formerly Tyroc (#29, 32, 34-36, 38)
  • Devlin O’Ryan (#29-30, 32, 34-36, 38)
  • Bounty (#29-30, 32, 34-36)
  • Garth Ranzz, formerly Lightning Lad (#33, Annual #3)
  • Rouvin, formerly Kid Quantum (#33, 39)
  • Thom Kallor, formerly Star Boy (#37, Annual #3)
  • Imra Ardeen-Ranzz, formerly Saturn Girl (#37, Annual #3)
  • Celeste Rockfish, formerly Celeste McCauley (#39, Annual #3)
  • Projectra, formerly Sensor Girl (Annual #3)
  • Gim Allon, formerly Colossal Boy (Annual #3)
  • Luornu Taine, formerly Triplicate Girl and Duplicate Girl (Annual #3)
  • Tasmia Mallor, formerly Shadow Lass (Annual #3)
  • Chuck Taine, formerly Bouncing Boy (Annual #3)

The Legion of Super-Heroes (Batch SW6)

  • Invisible Kid (Lyle Norg; #26-27, 29-32, 34-39)
  • Saturn Girl (Imra Ardeen; #27, 29, 31-33, 35-36)
  • Matter-Eater Lad (Tenzil Kem; #27, 29-30, 32, 36, 39)
  • Phantom Girl (Tinya Wazzo; #29-30, 32, 35-37)
  • Ferro Lad (Andrew Nolan; #29-30, 32, 35-36, 38-39)
  • Shrinking Violet (Salu Digby; #29-30, 34-36, 38)
  • Laurel Gand (#29-30, 32, 34-36)
  • Lightning Lad (Garth Ranzz; #29-30, 32-33, 35-37)
  • Brainiac 5 (Querl Dox; #29-30, 32, 35-38)
  • Chameleon Boy (Reep Daggle; #29-32)
  • Cosmic Boy (Rokk Krinn; #29-30, 32, 35-36, 38-39)
  • Element Lad (Jan Arrah; #29, 31, 34-35, 39)
  • Sun Boy (Dirk Morgna; #29-30, 32, 35-36, 39)
  • Ultra Boy (Jo Nah; #29-30, 32, 35, 39)
  • Valor (Lar Gand; #30-32, 35-37)
  • Karate Kid (Val Armorr; #30, 32)
  • Princess Projectra (#30, 32)
  • Duo Damsel (Luornu Durgo; #32, 34, 36-37)
  • Light Lass (Ayla Ranzz; #32, 36, 39)
  • Colossal Boy (Gim Allon; #32, 35-36)

The “Subs” Resistance

  • Chlorophyll Kid (#26-30, 32, 35-36)
  • Ron-Karr (#26-27, 30, 32, 35)
  • Ulu Vakk, formerly Colour Kid (#26-27, 29-30, 32, 35-36)
  • Staq Malvern, formerly Fire Lad (#26-30, 32, 34-36)
  • Dag Wentin, formerly Stone Boy (#26-27, 29-30, 34-35)
  • Blake (#27, 29)
  • Drura Sehpt, formerly Infectious Lass (#29, 32, 35-36)
  • Monica Sade (#29-30, 32, 34-36)
  • Pete Dursin, formerly Porcupine Pete (#32, 34-35)

Villains

  • Dominators (#26-35)
  • B.I.O.N (#26-27)
  • Universo (#26-27, 30, 32, 34-35)
  • Grinn (#26-27, 29-30, 32)
  • The Dark Circle (#27, 32, 34)
  • Spider Girl (Sussa Paka; #27, 30, 32, 34, 36)
  • Doctor Regulus (#28)
  • Mama Granite (#30)
  • Flare (#30)
  • Elasti-Kid (#30)
  • Ghost (#30)
  • Hunter (#33)
  • Leland McCauley IV (#34-35, 39)
  • Starfinger III (#37)

Guest Stars

  • Rond Vidar (formerly the Green Lantern; #29, 37, Annual #3)
  • Thrust (#34, Annual #3)
  • Gemini (Aria; #34, Annual #3)
  • Death (Endless; #38)

Supporting Characters

  • President Tayla Wellington (#26, 28-29)
  • Loomis (#27, 38, Annual #3)
  • Lydda Jath, formerly Night Girl (#27, 36, 39, Annual #3)
  • Gigi Cusimano (Science Police Chief; #28)
  • Shvaughn/Sean Erin (Science Police; #28, 31, 34)
  • Circe (head of Science Police Earth; #28-30, 32, 34-36)
  • Arlington Morse (acting President of Earth; #29, 34-35)
  • King John/Jonn (Leader of UP Militia; #30, 32, 34-36, Annual #3)
  • Anton Relnic (UP Council Chairman; #30, 32, 34-36)
  • Admiral Darios (UP First Fleet; #30-32, 34-35)
  • Proty II (#33, Annual #3)
  • RJ Brande (#33, 39)
  • Catspaw (#33)
  • Danielle Foccart (#33)
  • Xao Jin (#33)
  • Pol Krinn (Rokk and Lydda’s son; #36, 39)
  • Dacey Ardeen Ranzz (daughter of Garth and Imra; #37, Annual #3)
  • Doritt Ardeen Ranzz (daughter of Garth and Imra; #37, Annual #3)
  • Yvyya Kallor (Thom’s wife; #37, Annual #3)
  • Garridan Ranzz (37, Annual #3)
  • Ivy (#37)
  • Leland McCauley III (#39)
  • Graym Ranzz (Annual #3)
  • Mekt Ranzz, formerly Lightning Lord; (Annual #3)
  • Lauren Vidar (Rond and Laurel’s daughter; Annual #3)
  • Holt (Mekt’s ‘friend’; Annual #3)
  • Yera Allon (Annual #3)
  • Tab (Projectra’s ‘advisor’; Annual #3)

Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:

  • The Terra Mosaic begins as the Dominators work to track down BION.  They find him, and realize that he’s in the offices of Celeste Rockfish.  He’s destroyed Laurel Gand’s distorter, revealing her true identity. He tells her to return to her chamber, which of course she doesn’t know about.  He hits her hard enough to almost put her in orbit, and they begin to fight. She realizes how strong he is, and that their battle puts innocents at risk, so she moves away.  At the office of Earth’s President, the Dominator Pinnacle Command tells her what to put in a speech. Pinnacle Command learns that BION is fighting the wrong Laurel Gand. That fight continues to go poorly for Laurel, as BION has all the abilities of the SW6 Legionnaires.  He is constrained by the fact that he is to bring Laurel in alive. In New Mexico, Universo prepares for the assault on the underground chambers. SW6 Invisible Kid argues that his group should be part of the assault, but Universo assures him that his rebels have trained and planned for the mission; of course, he also wants control of the chambers for himself.  Outside the chambers, Chlorophyll Kid uses his powers to deactivate the Dominators’ plant-based tech. Vakk, fka Colour Kid, approaches the Dominion guards, and Grinn prepares to launch the assault. Laurel realizes that she can’t defeat BION. Pinnacle Command watches through BION’s tracking devices, which they’ve managed to turn back on, but then learns that the chamber is under attack.  We can’t see the attack, as Vakk’s powers are being used to bathe the area in light, allowing the resistance to have the upper hand, taking the chamber without casualties. Dag, fka Stone Boy, leads the troops into the chambers, while Grinn is dismissive of their history as Substitute Heroes. Staq, fka Fire Lad, almost rises to his bait. Laurel blasts BION in the eyes and takes off into space.  BION is supposed to stay on Earth, but is also supposed to track down all SW6 subjects, so he pursues her. Laurel rests for a minute amid the remains of the Moon, before heading towards Talus, figuring BION is after all of the Legion. Chlor seals off the chambers, while one of Grinn’s men shoots a Dominator lab tech; Dag swears to keep a close eye on Grinn’s men. The Dominators amass a large number of troops outside the entrance to the chambers.  On Talus, Kono sits with Brin, who is quite weak, and talks about how strange it is that she treated him as a pet when he was in his Furball form. Cham and Rokk, fka Cosmic Boy, talk about how Cham wants to send the whole team to Earth, especially since he can’t receive reports from the members they already have there. Laurel shows up, badly injured. We see BION standing outside their headquarters, preparing to engage the Legion. The Dominators learn that they can’t get through Chlor’s barriers, and that the self-destruct mechanisms in that chamber will cause all the chambers on Earth to be destroyed.  Pinnacle Command is furious to see that things are falling apart, and when he learns that BION has left the planet, he decides to shoot the messenger who told him that. Grinn and Staq stand in the chamber. Grinn is making jokes about Ron-Karr, who has joined the Subs despite having once been a villain. Staq points out that Karr’s powers to fold flat are useful now. Karr reports that he cannot defuse the detonation system in the chamber, as the tech it’s attached to is quite ancient; we see a LEGION ‘89 symbol on the wall. This issue also shows us a map of the Legion’s headquarters on Talus.
  • The Dominators provide a little status update, before we go to the chambers under Weisinger Plaza.  Dag talks to someone named Blake, another resistance fighter we haven’t met before, about how they can hear the Dominators on the other side of the barrier Chlor put up.  Vakk takes Dag to the chamber Chlor just opened; it’s full of pods, and they don’t know what’s in them. The Dominator Pinnacle Command reviews some files of just which subjects are in the chambers, and which have undergone mind wipes.  Most of the names are unfamiliar to me, but I do see the name Myg, who is maybe the second Karate Kid? It says he has “sonic emissions” powers, but I don’t know about that. Pinnacle Command is unhappy to see that a subject named Monica Sade (I like to think it’s pronounced like the singer, not the Marquis), has not been mind wiped.  She’s a teleporter, and apparently an assassin. Pinnacle Command is getting more and more angry. In New Mexico, Universo meets with someone from the Dark Circle, who is not happy to learn that twenty teenage Legionnaires are around, and might find him. Universo lets slip that he wants Jacques to learn of them. Next we see Lyle call him, which shocks Jacques.  He calls for Tenzil to come to the holophone, as Saturn Girl goes looking for Matter Eater Lad. Rokk and Cham detect an explosive decompression in their headquarters, as BION breaks into Kono’s room. As she’s not on his list, he ignores her as she runs from him, after having tried to drop him through the floor. Brainy is in the infirmary looking after Laurel and Brin when BION enters and easily zaps him unconscious.  As Rokk and Ayla go looking for Kono, Loomis reconnects their security system, which tells them that BION is in the infirmary. Vi joins them (either her leg is no longer blue, or there’s a colouring error), and when she goes ahead to scout, is met by a tiny BION. Next BION puts Ayla to sleep, and comes after Rokk, who is grabbed through the floor by Kono. They run. Loomis sees that they are heading out onto the asteroid, and comes up with a plan.  BION tracks Rokk and Kono telepathically, and hears that they are setting up traps for him. Cham attacks him, but is quickly put down. BION pursues Rokk, and gets slowed a little by his traps. Rokk and Kono make their way to the old Dominator warship that is at the centre of the asteroid, and are surprised to find Loomis already there. He sets up a space of increased gravity. When BION catches up, having lost track of Rokk telepathically, he is maneuvered onto the gravity patch.  Kono reaches inside his chest and pulls out some wires, disabling the robot. When the Dominator Pinnacle Command learns that BION has shut down, he heads to the cell where the ambassador is being held, and shoots him dead. In the chamber, Staq and Grinn argue about opening the pods. Staq insists they stay closed unless Jacques or Universo order them to open them; Grinn does not like having to follow orders. We get two Omnicom pages of Officer Dvron’s continued account of how he arrested Spider Girl, but she managed to get away by attempting to seduce him, and made off with a valuable helmet owned by the assistant chief (that he may have stolen from Starfinger).  Next, we see a transcript of two Earth SP officers who spot Spider Girl, and attempt to arrest her. This issue ends with a comic page showing that Spider Girl has stolen something from Earthgov, but she doesn’t know what it is. It is believed she has stolen this thing on Starfinger’s behalf.
  • Issue twenty-eight is a complicated one, told all from Dirk’s point of view, but in a stream-of-consciousness style that will be hard to summarize.  We see in some panels that are completely dark, or that are starting to form a close-up of a Dominator’s face, but the conversations of the Dominators, about the extent of Dirk’s injuries, blend with his childhood memories.  We see young Dirk being made fun of by some older kids, and his dad giving him some tough guy advice. We know that Dirk is in a lot of pain, and also see how his earliest memories are of his mother leaving him with a nanny that his father is involved with.  As a child, Dirk complained when people cheated in sports, and then later was given a job supervising scientists at his father’s company, while still a teen. Doctor Regulus didn’t like him from the start, and Dirk managed to walk in on his father having sex with some woamn.   His father’s way of dealing with this was to send him to a whorehouse. Later, Dirk entered Regulus’s lab during an experiment, and it led to one of the scientists being killed. Later, after Regulus’s career was ruined by this, he locked Dirk in a lab as a reactor overloaded, and this gave him his Sun Boy powers.  Later, he defeated Regulus, and joined the Legion. The subs take the chamber as Dirk continues to reminisce, remembering when Gigi and Yera conspired to make him look bad. He has another memory of a time when he had hoped to help evacuate a planet from some sort of danger, and couldn’t live up to his promises. Later still, during the Five Year Gap, he became leader of the team, and had conflict with Cosmic Boy.  We watch as Dream Girl resigned after the Black Dawn ‘debacle’, which we don’t know anything about. We do learn that it was a bad loss, that Brin and Drake (Wildfire) were sacrificed. This led to Blok resigning, as the people of Earth turned on the Legion. We see other people complaining, including Element Lad and Tellus. Kent complained to him about his lack of support, and there were four other people I don’t recognize.  Some research shows two of them to be Crystal Kid and Echo, but I’m not sure who the other two are (one looks like Arion). Polar Boy, on the other hand, supported Dirk with enthusiasm. While they are walking in the street together, people heckled them, and Dirk quit. Later, as the Subs took control of the chambers, Dirk remembered being in a line for free food, and being attacked by the other people in line. He’s saved by the SP, and Shvaughn took pity on him, taking him home to feed him.  She discouraged him from joining up with Earthgov, but he saw that as proof that she was against him too. Later, he was picked up by Circe, who seduced him into working for the President, and then by extension, the Dominators. We see him telling a variety of lies for the Dominion, and finally getting angry at them after the Tornado Twins were executed. He got surrounded by a crowd while in a car, and the SPs ended up disintegrating everyone in the area. As news came in about the destruction of the Moon, Dirk decided to finally do the right thing, and put on his old Sun Boy costume and revealed himself to the people in the street.  They began to heckle and yell at him, just as the powersphere was detonated, and Dirk’s powers went nuts. Dirk is screaming in his pod, and Staq and Chlor, standing outside it, can hear him. They discover that it’s Dirk in there, and are surprised, as he was believed dead. Staq believes he would rather be dead. This is a very powerful issue. The pages where Dirk stands in his costume, with a self-satisfied grin on his face, only to finally understand that people hate him, are heartbreaking, and proof of just how great an artist Pearson is.
  • On Talus, Brainy works on BION, recognizing that the Dominators reprogramed his Computo work.  Rond Vidar comes to thank him for looking after Laurel, but Brainy flees from the awkwardness of this, to check on Brin, whose attempts at empathy are rebuked.  Valor has arrived, and is talking to Cham about what he discovered about the existence of a clone Legion, suggesting that he isn’t sure which group are the clones.  On Earth, a detachment of blue-dot Dominator soldiers are ready to breach the chamber held by the Subs. They make their way in, and receive resistance from the Subs.  Things look bad, but then Staq has his men pull back, and uses his Fire Lad powers to fry the Dominators. This ends the assault, but also reveals to the Dominators who has their chamber.  They resume jamming the signals in the chamber. Pinnacle Command, now knowing his enemies are, begins to formulate a plan involving subjects in another chamber. In Africa, Jacques, Troy, and Tenzil discuss the discovery of the SW6, and how they can’t coordinate with the Subs because of the jamming taking place.  Chlor builds new barricades, and Staq hears shooting. He rushes towards a chamber, where he finds Grinn fighting Sade. She holds a gun to Staq’s head, but Grinn tells her to shoot him. Instead, she teleports over and holds the gun to his mouth. Staq convinces her that they should work together. In New Mexico, the SW6 Legion talks with Devlin about his concerns around Universo.  Lyle has decided to trust Universo since there’s no evidence against him; Devlin wants Saturn Girl to scan him. Imra doesn’t like it, but ends up agreeing. Staq talks to Sade about working with them, and she agrees; Staq punches Grinn in the mouth. Ulu considers shutting off Dirk’s life support, to put him out of his pain, but can’t bring himself to do it. Bounty and Circe talk, with Bounty making it clear that as part of the resistance, Circe needs to follow orders.  Circe surprises her by suggesting that she can get them into Pinnacle Command. Pinnacle Command travels to New Zealand, where he has techs preparing four chamber subjects who have been mind wiped, to assault the Subs for him through a secret entrance they’ve detected. Imra scans Universo, and discovers that he’s working with the Dark Circle. This shocks Devlin, but the kids dismiss it, as they think the Circle is a fringe group. The President, Tayla Wellington, broadcasts a live message to the UP, during which she decides to expose the extent to which the Dominion control Earth, and a small disked guard shoots her in the head.  Pinnacle Command doesn’t even get that angry, and just promotes a functionary. On an Omnicom page, we see SW6 Brainy’s thoughts on how the Legion kids were transported to the future (he doesn’t believe they are clones). He also writes at length about why their flight rings don’t work, speculating that some kind of signal being broadcast by Earthgov is jamming them. Shrinking Violet’s journal continues to show that she has an interest in Devlin, and that SW6 Sun Boy is depressed by how much everyone hates his older self.
  • Issue thirty opens with a traditional newspaper front page – that of the Interstellar Press, reporting the assassination of President Wellington.  The article recounts what we saw, and then explains that her replacement, Acting President Arlington Morse, announced that the Dominator soldier that shot her was working for the Khund Empire.  A sidebar shows a chronology of the Dominion’s time on Earth, providing us one of the clearest timelines we’ve seen of the Five Year Gap. On Elia, some key Dominators suggest to the supreme leader, that Pinnacle Command be replaced, but the leader approves of his methods.  On Khundia, the leadership there is angered to be associated with so cowardly an assassanation, and see opportunity when they learn that the Dominion are moving fleets away from the Aetian sector to support their forces on Earth. On Weber’s World, Anton Relnic and King John discuss the importance of supporting Earth and want to move ships there to push the Dominion away.  On Talus, Rokk and Cham discuss what to do. Rokk is reluctant to send the Legion into another war. Valor suggests that he go to Earth alone to report back on conditions. With rioting breaking out across Earth, Pinnacle Command orders his orbital guns to disintegrate the centre of three separate riots in Metropolis, which appears to be effective in dispersing the surviving crowds.  In New Mexico, the SW6 Chameleon Boy finds the Dark Circle representative staying at Universo’s base, and reports back to Invisible Kid and Devlin. Phantom Girl shows up with more evidence. Circe leads Bounty into a secret access tunnel under SP Headquarters. It looks like Spider Girl is hiding there too. One of Universo’s men reports to him that the SW6 Legionnaires have taken off.  Universo doesn’t look too upset when he has to report this to the Dark Circle, and it’s clear that he’s made sure that this has happened. The UP first fleet, under the command of Admiral Darios, a Hyrakian, arrives in orbit of Earth. They recognize that the Dominion has been firing on Earth, and order the Dominion to cease all acts of aggression. A Dominion ambassador argues with Relnic over holophone.  In the chambers beneath Metropolis, Ron-Karr investigates the chamber’s self-destruct mechanism, which has been soaked in an ancient proton jelly, making it unstable. Ulu gives him a pep talk. The four Dominion agents, who are clearly based on the Fantastic Four – Mama Granite, Flare, Elasti-Kid, and Ghost, make their way towards a hidden entrance to the chamber. Sade stands in part of the chamber, where her thoughts are interrupted by Grinn just as Flare cuts through the floor and attacks.  The SW6 kids have arrived in Metropolis, with Devlin. He’s sure they’ve been set up – the datapad that Phantom Girl found discusses the Dark Circle taking the kids away – but Lyle and the others are kind of naive about things like this. Devlin wants them to connect with Jacques’s underground, but they think they should go their own way. SW6 Valor leaves to contact the UP. Sade holds her own against the Dominion Agents, getting Flare to fry Elasti-Kid, and shooting Ghost even though she’s invisible.  She tries to shoot Mama Granite, but her head is too strong. The Subs arrive to help, and Staq takes down Flare, while Dag, who can now move around in his Stone Boy form, takes out Mama Granite. Sade wants to kill the two prisoners, but Staq stops her. Ron-Karr suggests that the tunnel they used to enter could be the Subs way out of the chambers. Pinnacle Command seems happy to see the UP fleet on his doorstep, as he can now engage in open warfare; he wishes he’d killed President Wellington earlier now.  The issue ends with more of the newspaper article about her killing, although we don’t learn much that’s new.
  • Issue thirty-one features guest art by Colleen Doran and Curt Swan, pencilling over Giffen’s layouts, which is a little different.  It opens on Jan, making his way through Metropolis after the curfew, thinking about his relationship with Shvaughn, and how she always seemed very needy at a time when he felt the need to pursue his own spiritual journey, which is what led to him spending three years on Trom all alone.  We see him break into a pharmacy, and steal something called Rokyn, that he knows Shvaughn will need to decide to take. Elsewhere in the city, the SW6 Element Lad and Chameleon Boy watch as a column of Dominion troops make their way through the city in a hurry. Deciding to slow them down, Young Jan decides to turn some of the pavement they’re on into oxygen.  Their tanks collapse, and some of the Dominators die. Young Cham is angry about this, and Young Jan, who clearly didn’t think it through, is beside himself with grief and regret. He runs from Cham. Jan returns to Shvaughn’s apartment, where she appears to be in medical distress. She mentions that she won’t be able to get more Profem with the Dominion locking the whole planet down.  Jan gives her the Rokyn, which will make what she’s going through easier, and she asks him to wait outside. He thinks some more about their relationship and how little they knew each other. Shvaughn wants Jan to tell her the story of the Trommite Cub, and while he tells her the story (it’s about a young Trommite who kills his father with his powers), we see Young Jan walking through the city crying.  Jan pauses in his story, and Shvaughn runs to the washroom to be sick. Looking out the window, Jan sees Young Jan, and reacts in surprise, but then Shvaughn comes out of the washroom, having cut her hair, and reveals that her name is really Sean. Jan makes it clear that the transformation that Sean is undergoing doesn’t matter to him, and Sean insists he finish the story. This time, we watch Young Jan sit by himself, crying, as we hear that everyone in the Trommite Cub’s village abandoned him, including even his pet, until he decides to use his powers to kill himself.  Young Cham talks to Invisible Kid, and they argue about the fact that they should never have been outside, before agreeing that finding Young Jan is the most important thing. With Jan having finished the story, Sean, now dressed as a male, decides to head out into the city, having to make his way on his own. Sean collapses in the snow, and is found by Young Jan, who tries to help him. Young Jan talks to him, and Sean tries to give him advice before walking away from him. Young Jan is confused by this meeting, and is found by Saturn Girl, who comforts him and leads him back to the others.  Sean returns to his place, and finds that Jan has left, but also feels at peace. Jan returns to the Underground. In orbit, Valor arrives at the UP flagship, and goes to meet Admiral Darios, who wants him to meet someone else. Batch SW6 Valor has also made his way to the same ship, and they meet, each surprised by the other’s existence. A report on the commercial opportunities available on Earth paints a bleak picture, but a person we don’t see, stroking the Emerald Eye, believes that he or she can make money off of Earth. An Omnicom page shows an article from 2975 about Element Lad’s tragic story.  Another two Omnicom pages contain a letter from Sean to Gigi Cusimano, wherein he explains the parts of his story that he never shared with his best friend before. I remember that this comic was probably the first sensitive and believable exposure I ever had to a trans character, in comics or elsewhere. It’s remarkable that today, this vision of a future where medicine can help someone express their true gender, feels a little quaint, but when it first came out, it provided me with my first opportunity to consider this topic, and probably went a long way to helping me understand how this would feel.  
  • The third Annual fits here, and features two stories.  The first is a spotlight on Timber Wolf, written by Al Gordon.  It begins with Brainy reviewing images of Brin. His thoughts are interrupted as Kent escorts a priest away from Brin’s room – Brin has asked for last rites.  Gathered around Brin are Celeste, Kono, and Jo, as they reminisce about some of their better times together. Brainy worries that he is picking up intermittent signals from the room.  Brin weakens, and asks everyone to leave. He holds Kono back for a moment, and tries to talk to her about her hatred of men, but starts to hallucinate that he can see an angel. Brainy and Kent talk about the signals from the room, and wonder if it’s magic.  We see that it’s actually Aria, who has kept her Gemini powers. She wants to help Brin, but finds that something is blocking her powers. Brin suspects it’s the Zuunium in his system, which has caused him pain all the time. Aria thinks that she should go back in time to stop his father from ever injecting him with the drug, but Brin interrupts her concentration, and they both vanish.  Later, Brainy goes through the images of Brin again, and sees a new one of a wolfen hero, and decides he should interrupt the wake. The second part of the first story, now featuring art by Joe Phillips, begins with Brin, now looking like a werewolf, holding a now-unconscious Aria, as they stand in the middle of traffic in a 20th century city. Cops react badly to his appearance, but he runs away, finding an abandoned warehouse to collect himself.  There’s an ongoing thread about police figuring out what to do about this whole thing, while Brin steals food and supplies, and tries to help Aria, who is not well. The cops get word that their werewolf is in the warehouse, which they intend to use for a drugs and weapons bust that night. One of them calls in help from someone named Thrust. As Brin returns to the warehouse, he sees gangsters inside it, who have tied up Aria. He busts in to help her, and somehow, he speaks English while Aria speaks Interlac.  There’s a firefight, and Brin takes a lot of them down, before being hit with some kind of high tech 90s gun. The FBI bust in just as Brin recovers, and then Thrust, an orange guy in spandex bike shorts, Vans, and kneepads shows up. This story is to be continued in Legion #33. We see an Omnicom page holding Brainy’s notes on Brin, and his belief that he was transported to the moment of his origin, but that the timestream then randomly ejected him and Aria into the 20th century, where Brainy thinks he ended up being his own inspiration.
  • The second story in this Annual is by the Bierbaums and features art by Brandon Peterson.  Garth and Imra feel that the christening of their infant daughters – Dacey and Doritt – serves as a good excuse for a Legion reunion on Winath.  Rokk and Cham agree, although they think it’s best to wait for Brin to die first. Soon, they begin to arrive, and Ayla is happy to see her nephew Graym.  Vi, Rokk, Lydda, and Proty II arrive. At night, Imra sees Garth standing outside with Proty and some other Proteans. Projectra arrives with Gim and Yera, and it’s suggested that Mekt has a boyfriend.  Nura, fka Dream Girl, arrives with her “advisor,” who looks like her ex. Cham and Kent bring Garridan, the Ranzz’s son, in a special quarantine suit so he doesn’t spread the Validus plague. His being there upsets Imra, who has a lot of guilt about not being able to spend time with him.  She talks to Garth about how she feels that ever since Proty I sacrificed himself to resurrect Garth, they’ve been punished. Kent lets Ayla know that Brin has vanished, and that Brainy thinks he’s lost in time. Proty and Cham do a silly dance. As some of the women change to go swimming, Yera takes off when she sees Vi coming.  As the women swim (remember, people don’t wear much on Winath), Kono bring Luornu up to date on recent events. Many of the guys watch them swim, ogling them, and we learn that Jo and Tab, Nura’s assistant, know each other. Some of the women, including Tasmia, watch the guys. Lydda and Imra discuss Lydda’s pregnancy, which is apparently never easy for Kathoonis.  Later, many of the gang go to a Batball game, where the Winath team, the Jaybirds (as in naked as…) are playing against the Dreamers, Naltor’s team, coached by Thom (fka Star Boy). His wife, Yvyya, is there, but that doesn’t stop Nura from kissing him. Garridan throws out the first pitch. Imra, Rokk, Chuck, and Luornu pay their respects to the dead in the grove where the memorial statues stand, and we notice a statue we’ve never seen before.  At the game, everyone has a good time, and there’s a lot of light flirting going on. Rokk and Cham talk to King John and Valor on vid-screens, and learn that things are momentarily quiet on Earth. The others return, and then go out for the night. Like any group of old friends trying to recapture their glory days, things have a tendency to go a little maudlin. They remember Tinya and Dirk, and Kono starts to get bored. This continues at a dinner where they talk about forgiveness, and again at another table, where Tellus and Projectra disagree about the Dark Circle’s beliefs.  Nura tries to dance with Thom, while Luornu flirts with Gim. Jo and Kent want to go looking for Brin, while Kono gets carded. Garth is seen meeting with some Proties again, who merge into one when someone comes along. Vi and Ayla sneak away, and worry a little about Garth. They find Gim and Luornu having fun in the water together, and don’t know what to think. The next morning, everyone frolics some more, and gossip about Luornu and Gim. Yera leaves for a bit, and Vi follows. The two Ranzz boys play together, but then Graym gets angry at Garridan and tries to open his suit.  Yera stops them from fighting, and learns that Graym is jealous of all the special attention that Garridan is getting. She talks them down, and suggests that he go get one of the spare containment suits to wear from Mekt. Vi steps out of the shadows and praises her, before making it clear that she’s forgiven Yera for her involvement in Vi’s being held prisoner years before. The two babies are christened, and Lydda goes into labour. Garth talks to the Proties again, not knowing that Ayla is watching. He tells them that he can’t go with them, as he’s been living as Garth for twenty years, and will not leave his family.  This is a big revelation, as it’s clear now that Proty I never died, but inhabited Garth’s body. He says he won’t sacrifice his family, even for Kid Quantum (who?), and they accept that. Ayla tells him that she’s probably always known that he was really Proty, and that he should open up to Imra about it. We see everyone enjoying each other’s company, and that Rokk and Lydda’s baby is healthy. The story closes with Garth and Imra lying in bed together, declaring their love for one another. I found this story to be emotionally satisfying, especially after reading so many Legion comics so recently; it helped solidify my love for these characters even more.
  • Kono finds Cham asleep at a monitor, which shows a report on the whereabouts of RJ Brande, the Legion founder, and his father.  She dumps her ice cream sundae on his head. SW6’s Brainiac 5 (who managed to fix the kids’ flight rings) hears a broadcast from inside the Dominator chambers, and goes to Devlin and Invisible Kid, who are arguing about their next steps, with the information.  We see that it’s Ron-Karr sending the message, and he manages to get through to Jacques. As they talk, Lyle comes in on their discussion with an offer of help. On Toonar, a yellow lizard fellow named Zyzan goes to see someone named Foxworth with information about RJ Brande he wants to sell to the Legion.  Kono interrupts Cham’s shower to tell him that Foxworth is calling. Pinnacle Command keeps his inferiors in their current strategy, and we see that he’s not able to communicate with anyone on Elia. King John and Relnic argue on Weber’s World about what to do with the information they’ve learned about the Dominators.  Universo walks around outside, missing the moon, when his Dark Circle contact comes to tell him that Elia is being overrun. Cham tells Rokk that he’s leaving, and Rokk figures it has something to do with his father, and wishes him well. As the Subs get ready to leave the chambers, Grinn insists that they bring the pods with them, but Staq pulls rank, and Sade supports Staq.  Vakk asks about taking Dirk with them, but Staq refuses, not sure that they could help him. Ron-Karr tells him that he spoke with Jacques and the SW6. Phantom Girl arrives just then to share the plan. In Africa, Jacques wants to come with the rescue squad, but the others him to stay. The two Valors are with the UP fleet, deciding what they should do when SW6 Valor receives a message from Saturn Girl.  In Metropolis, the Dominators continue to guard the chamber. Pinnacle Command arrives, and delivers an ultimatum to the Subs, giving them ten minutes to surrender. Bounty, Circe, and Sussa reach a shaky agreement to work together when the tunnels they are in begin to collapse. We see that the entire SP Headquarters is being lifted into the sky, and then dropped, the work of Element Lad, Light Lass, and Cosmic Boy.  Pete, fka Porcupine Pete, pilots the undergrounds ship towards Metropolis, with Troy on board. They are joined by SW6 Laurel Gand as air support. The Dominators pick up a large vessel approaching and scramble their fighters, who are not able to find anything. Pete approaches their target. Pinnacle Command’s ultimatum about to run out, Staq appears in the doorway to the chambers and surrenders. Pinnacle Command orders the Subs taken prisoner, and they are loaded onto an approaching Dominator ship.  As it leaves, Pinnacle Command disappears. As it turns out, he was SW6 Chameleon Boy, and Princess Projectra, who is with Karate Kid, disguised Pete’s ship as the Dominator vessel. The Dominator jets still can’t find what they were looking for, because it was actually SW6 Colossal Boy flying around at full size. He and SW6 Ultra Boy leave the scene. On Pete’s ship, Troy congratulates the Subs, while Phantom Girl chats with Chlor. Grinn regrets losing the chamber subjects, but comments that he set the self-destruct to blow.  Sade tells the others, as we see a large explosion. Admiral Darios learns of all the Dominion chambers around the Earth exploding at once, due to their being linked. The Valors worry about how much of the surface would be detonated with the chambers, especially in Metropolis. The SW6 kids are gathered trying to locate their missing members. They deduce that Projectra, Karate Kid, and Chameleon Boy were all killed in the blast. Lyle vows to make someone pay. An Omnicom page shows us the full text of Marla’s letter to Cham, outlining the search for RJ Brande.  It’s clear that his disappearance is connected to the scenes from years before of him meeting with the Proteans.
  • Cham has headed to a world called Yal, in the middle of nowhere, where he disguises his appearance and starts to look for his father.  On Winath, Garth stands before the statue of Kid Quantum and talks to Proty about how he feels he should have gone with the other Proteans (I’m not sure why Proty didn’t go).  On Earth, the Zyzan, the lizard guy from the last issue, wants to sell the Dominators information about RJ Brande’s whereabouts. The Dominator he talks to doesn’t care, until he mentions the Soul of Antares.  On Yal, we hear a man and woman talking about someone named Rouvin at a bar. The woman is attracted to and interested in him, but Rouvin never pays her any mind. Rouvin arrives at the bar to exchange whatever it is he’s prospected for some credits.  He goes to the local law, a robot named Aazar, and pays him off. On Ferno, The Hunter hunts down and kills a probe, before getting news that the Dominion wants to hire him for a job. We see Rouvin typing a manifesto of sorts in his isolated cabin. It lays out his thoughts on peace; we see he has a Legion flag and a Legion uniform – Kid Quantum’s – hanging on the wall.  Cham finds RJ Brande eating in a spot in Yal’s main city, and they embrace. Brande tells him that he’s close to finding the Soul of Antares; their conversation is being overheard by a different law robot. A superior Dominator (Pinnacle Command?) is unhappy to learn that a lower caste Dominator hired the Hunter, until he hands over an information disk. This disk explains to us that Glorith once tried to conquer Antares II, the home of the Proteans, but in order to protect themselves from the slavery she wanted from them, they combined their collective sentience into one being, the Soul of Antares, and left the rest of the Proteans inert, except for seven individuals.  These are the ones that went on to meet with Brande in 1985. On Yal, Cham and Brande pose as shepherds, and travel with some cow-like things. They go into the bar that Rouvin was in before, and the bartender wants them to leave. Cham tries to negotiate with her, but it’s Brande’s form of sweet talk that is more successful. Before they can talk about why they are there, they see the Hunter arrive with the second law robot. They go to Aazar, who won’t tell them about Rouvin, so they destroy him. Cham jumps the Hunter, but gets shot. The Hunter figures out that Brande is there, and pulls a gun on him, wanting to know where Rouvin is. The bartender rides out to get Rouvin.  Cham’s in rough shape, due to his old injuries, and when Brande still cant tell him what he wants to know, the Hunter starts shooting at Cham. Cham has trouble dodging, so Brande agrees to tell him what he wants to know. Rouvin shows up, and promises to surrender if the Hunter leaves the others alone. At the bar, the law robot is about to kill everyone. One of the cow things approaches it. Cham recognizes Rouvin as Kid Quantum, and is surprised to learn that he is the Soul of Antares. The Hunter is impressed that he hid from Glorith by joining the Legion. The law robot approaches with the cow things, all of whom turn out to be Proteans, who attack Hunter. Cham has recovered enough that he is able to take Hunter down.  A little later, Rouvin and the Proteans prepare to take a ship to Antares. We see the pilot get zapped by the Emerald Eye though, which orders him to redirect the vessel to Gallan. On Earth, in a segment drawn by Chris Sprouse, SW6’s Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl search the rubble from the explosion of the Dominator chambers, hoping to find their missing friends. Instead, they find a Dominator that Garth wants to kill. They are watched by three other Dominators, who are going to snipe them, but are instead attacked by a cat lady, and Crystal Kid, who is with two others. They make short work of the Dominators, albeit rather sloppily. Garth and Imra approach them and introductions are shared. We learn that one of them, Danielle Foccart, has the ability to speak with computers, and just before the explosion happened, she was able to defuse some of the charges, saving the four of them.  Crystal Kid introduces Xao Jin, a magic user. Imra suggests that they join up with the resistance, saying that Jacques will be very happy to hear from Danielle. An information page tells us the story of Antares II again, with more detail. We also get a small profile of Kid Quantum, the ninth person to join the Legion. He didn’t have powers, but instead relied on a belt that created stasis fields. He was the first Legionnaire to die on a mission, although clearly that wasn’t what actually happened.
  • Leland McCauley is meeting with Relnic on Weber’s World, offering a way to broadcast to every Omnicom on Earth, past the Dominion’s jamming technology, for a price.  A UP news broadcast shows acting Earth President Morse claiming the UP has attacked Earth and its Dominion allies; a reporter can see that fighting has broken out outside of Earth orbit between the UP and the Dominion, but King John (now his name is spelled Jonn?) declines to comment.  Pinnacle Command enters his mobile command post, and tries once again to reach Elia. There is open fighting between the Resistance and the Dominion around the Earth. Universo watches the news, and is joined by his Dark Circle ally, who wants to call on the Circle to strike now. Universo hypnotizes him into killing himself, and then leaves his base, which is full of Circle troops.  As he flies away, we see him activate the base’s self-destruct. Admiral Darios is surprised to see the Dominion ships in space enter the Earth’s atmosphere. He has his ships rush to get beneath them, figuring out what Pinnacle Command is up to. Bounty, Circe, and Sussa are trapped in rubble beneath SP headquarters, but Sussa is able to use her hair to clear them a path into a computer room.  Bounty kills the Dominators there, and seeing that they had an open link between the SP and Dominion computers, Circe quickly inserts a purging computer virus, which begins to delete all of their data. On Talus, Rokk watches the news, and is joined by Laurel, who is recovering from her injuries. Rokk is frustrated that the Legion has been sidelined by the UP, and wishes Cham would return. We see that Sean Erin (fka Shvaughn) is fighting the Dominion alongside some SPs.  In Africa, Jacques is angry to learn that Sade tossed Grinn out of their ship after the chambers detonated, killing him. Staq and Troy agree with her decision, while Invisible Kid and Tenzil agree with Jacques; he worries that the resistance is losing control. Sade talks to Valor about his reasons for not fighting; he believes that Earth has to win its own battle, but she thinks that’s wrong. The Dominion ships are hovering over large population centres, so the UP ships can’t fire on them.  Pinnacle Command is still worried that there is no news from Elia. SW6 Element Lad mourns his dead friends, and is joined by SW6 Luornu, who talks about how it felt when she lost one of her selves (this is weird, as before this, I was pretty sure that she came out of the pods as Triplicate Girl, not as Duo Damsel, but maybe that was just an incorrect assumption). Admiral Darios is not sure how to attack the Dominators now, and receives word from Jonn that they will be broadcasting a message soon, and gives him a sneak peek, which surprises him.  Dirk emerges from the rubble in Metropolis, on fire, and possibly delusional. Jan watches what’s going on, and when it reminds him of Roxxas’s attack on Trom, he decides it’s time to act regardless of orders. That works out, as one of the Resistance tells him that Jacques just gave the go ahead to liberate Metropolis. SW6 Shrinking Violet walks around worrying, and is joined by Devlin; they support one another. Circe’s virus makes its way into Pinnacle Command’s computers, just as his crew loses control of his ship. It turns out that SW6 Laurel is carrying it into the hangar deck of a UP ship.  On Elia, the Dominator leadership decide that they have to fight back against the beings attacking them, abandoning their forces on Earth to commit all they have to that fight. A letter from King Jonn explains why he doesn’t want the Legion to get involved in the fight for Earth.
  • Issue thirty-four features a six-page preview of the Timber Wolf miniseries (I suspect it’s the first six pages of the first issue).  In it, Timber Wolf gets tossed around by Thrust, while the cops hold Aria. Thrust is surprised to learn that they speak Interlac, and reveals that his mother is a Durlan.  Brin worries about his ferocity, which he sees reflected in Thrust’s eyes.
  • Around the Earth, people rise up against the Dominion as the battle enters its third day.  With Pinnacle Command missing, and Elia unreachable, the Dominators, who strictly observe their caste system, are at a loss as to what to do.  SW6’s Valor starts disabling Dominion weapons, and then turns his attention to individual battlewagons, getting commanders to surrender to the UP forces.  The acting president of Earth argues with a Dominator when the two Invisible Kids take them both out. Other SW6 Legionnaires enter the fray, with Colossal Boy and Ultra Boy taking out some Dominion fighters.  In Africa, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, and Devlin monitor what’s happening; Devlin wishes he was more involved in the fight. They receive, over their Omnicom, a message from Relnic, being broadcast to everyone on the planet, to rise up.  It also announces that Elia is about to fall to an unknown force. Dirk, still on fire, in pain, and very confused, stumbles around the wreckage of Metropolis. He is heard by the SW6 Sun Boy, Ferro Lad, and Cosmic Boy. Sun Boy blasts him, thinking he’s a monster, but the others stop him from hurting him.  Upon seeing his younger self, Dirk collapses. Bounty and Circe emerge from the rubble, and Bounty identifies Dirk, surprising Circe. One of the lower caste Dominators decides to break with tradition and pilot his ship back to Elia to try to help with the fight there. Other ships join him, but Admiral Darios misinterprets their movements as an attack, and the shooting war is back on.  In Metropolis, Jan dissolves Dominator gun emplacements. People rush the Dominion embassy. Jacques sends out a broadcast around the world, announcing to the Dominion that they’ve lost. He offers them free passage back to Elia, and threatens that no mercy would be given to any who remain. Lyle and SW6 Brainiac 5 praise him, and we learn that SW6 Element Lad has encased their location in inertron.  Drura has infected the acting president with a stomach virus. SW6 Lightning Lad comes to tell him that there’s good news coming in from around the world. Sade is not happy to hear that Dominators are surrendering, and wants to kill a bunch. Ron-Karr announces to the other Subs that the war is over. The battle continues in space, as the UP fleet is not able to receive word from the ground that the Dominators have been given free passage.  Pinnacle Command is shown a badly garbled message from Elia recalling him. Relnic makes it clear that he cannot go home, as he is a war criminal, but King Jonn does give his word that the rest of the Dominion fleet can return home. Pinnacle Command addresses his entire fleet, ordering them to stand down; Devlin and Vi cry to see peace achieved. A UP news broadcast announces the end of hostilities. The UP has declared Earth a protectorate until elections can be held, and announces that Jacques is the new acting president.  The same broadcast announces the existence of the teenage Legion. We see celebration in Metropolis. Admiral Darios speaks to Jacques, which is how he learns of his new position; he is very surprised by this. SW6 Laurel is on hand as Pinnacle Command is transferred; he considers her words it was humanity that saved mankind, while it was his hatred that destroyed him. On Gallan, Universo meets with Leland McCauley, and we learn that they intend to use Omnicoms to take subliminal control of the people of Earth. An Omnicom page shows us young Violet’s thoughts on the end of the war, hugging Devlin, and the question of whether or not the kids can return to their own time.
  • Issue thirty-six is the end of the Terra Mosaic storyline.  It opens with Jacques and Drura talking in the Presidential Palace in London, and we see that Jacques does not feel up to the job of being the planet’s president, especially in this time of great crisis.  Troy talks to Staq over video, and we learn that there are pockets of looting around the globe, and that the surviving SP are trying to get their network back online. Lyle talks to Troy, and we see that he’s still grieving the three Legionnaires that died.  Duo Damsel comes to tell him that Brainiac 5 is talking to the other Brainiac 5. Elsewhere, Bounty wants to kill Dirk, and Circe argues with her. SW6’s Cosmic Boy calms things down, and Bounty storms off; we see that she is feeling the need to hunt someone or something.  Cos tries to commiserate with Circe, but she blames him and the other Legionnaires for the state Dirk is in. SW6 Sun Boy is sitting with Dirk, who is in very bad shape. Ferro Lad comes to relieve Sun Boy. SW6 Laurel Gand and Valor fly around looking at all the damage around them, and discuss what role they might play in this world.  Valor is a little sceptical, but Laurel believes that if they returned to their time, they could help avoid so much destruction. The older Valor talks to the older Brainy, who wants to figure out just which group of heroes is made up of clones. The two Brainies talk, and it’s clear that they are the same person. Light Lass tells Valor she doesn’t agree with Sade’s assessment of his bravery.  Bounty enters the Presidential Palace (which is weird, because we last saw her in Metropolis), and her thoughts seem erratic and thirsty for danger. She spots Sade, who is on her way out, and tells her there’s a massive bounty on her head. She shoots Sade in the shoulder, and they immediately start fighting and shooting one another. Various heroes rush to stop them, but in the end, Sade shoots Bounty through the chest from behind.  As Bounty bleeds out, she says something about finding another body, and then starts screaming. SW6 Brainy rushes to her side. On Talus, Brainiac 5 informs Rokk that he knew that Bounty was Dawnstar all along, only very altered (it looks like the Bounty entity is kind of like the Marauder Malice, and possesses people – that doesn’t explain where Dawny’s wings went). Brainy feels bad that he didn’t do more to figure her out. He also tells Rokk that he suspects that the adult Legionnaires are actually the clones.  Kent and Ayla talk about this, but Ayla is not interested in learning the truth. Jacques talks with Relnic and King Jonn, updating them, and making it clear that he doesn’t want to be President. They inform him that he’s currently leading in polls (but really, who would be doing polling at this time?). SW6 Rokk goes looking for SW6 Dirk, and finds him staring at the vandalized statue of himself. He’s feeling pretty bad about what happened to Dirk, but Rokk makes him feel okay about being able to avoid the same mistakes.  Back in the Pharmacy where they had holed up, we learn that Circe has shot and killed Dirk, and then turns her gun on herself, while Ferro Lad and Rokk try to get in. Valor leaves Earth, thinking about how the war has woken up hatred in him, and how he needs to be with Shady. Jan says goodbye to Jacques, as he is leaving too. Devlin and SW6 Violet look out over the city. Vi tells him she liked his article on the war, and he says that with the Legionnaires around, he feels the Earth will be okay. The issue ends with a view of the Earth from space, with the rubble of the moon clearly forming a ring.
  • On Naltor, it’s the night before the game that will decide the Batball championship, and Thom is at a party with his team.  A big guy accuses Thom of throwing the game for Starfinger, the gangster, but Thom denies it. Nura shows up and gets Thom to go for a walk with her.  When he isn’t willing to cheat on his wife with her, she calls him a bear scout and walks away. On Winath, Imra is putting the babies to bed when a figure in armor appears and shoots her, either disintegrating or teleporting her away.  Someone was outside their place, trying to warn her telepathically, but we don’t know who that was. It’s game day on Naltor, and the crowd is very excited and in the stadium long before the game is set to start (apparently there is something that makes it impossible for the Naltorians to predict the game’s outcome).  We learn that Thom’s best pitcher is in danger of damaging her arm if she throws more than one hundred pitches. Thom checks on his closing pitcher, who is watching replays of a mistake she made the night before; she suspects that the batter’s handicapper belt malfunctioned, giving him more speed than he should have; Thom explains they are foolproof, but becomes suspicious himself.  Yvyya, his wife, accuses him of cheating with Nura, but also seems angry that he didn’t, as she finds him a little boring now. Just before the game, a disk-scraped Dominator comes to tell Thom that Starfinger is betting heavily on this game, and wants the Dreamers to win. Thom sits in the dug-out, thinking about how people view him. The game begins. On Talus, Rokk speaks to Brainy, who is on his way to Earth.  Rokk, Rond, Jo, Kent, and Kono end up betting on the game, with only Kono supporting the Dreamers. A news broadcast shows us that things are mostly celebratory on Earth, but there are pockets of violence. The game has reached the seventh inning, and the pitcher refuses to leave when Thom asks her too; with her next throw, the other team scores, putting them ahead of the Dreamers. The Dreamers are still down by one towards the end of the ninth, with the bases loaded and two outs.  A big gorilla-like player comes to bat, and gets two strikes. Thom notices something strange – one of Starfinger’s men pointing a device at the hitter, just as he manages to hit a grand slam, giving the Dreamers the win. Amidst the celebration, Starfinger gives Thom a thumbs up. The other team’s coach is arguing with the ref that the player’s handicapper belt wasn’t working (he hit that ball really hard) and Thom comes up and agrees. The news reports that Brainy has arrived on Earth, but instead of talking to reporters, he heads into an underground installation.  On Naltor, the end of the game is about to be replayed, after the hitter was fitted with a new belt. The crowd is angry with Thom, but when the hitter gets a pop fly, the other team doesn’t catch it, and the Dreamers win anyway. On Earth, some of the SW6 Legionnaires stand around while their Brainy works on a time bubble. He wants to send Valor back to 2978, as he and Lyle figure that Valor might be the only one of them to survive the trip if the time stream is a mess. His mission is to find proof that they belong back then; he leaves, but as he does, there is a strange flash of lightning.  On Naltor, Nura comes to see Thom, and when she makes a move at him, he insists that he’s going home to his wife. On Talus, Kono is bragging about how much money she’s made off the guys.
  • Issue thirty-eight is a unique one.  It’s written as a news article, Requiem, by Devlin O’Ryan, and is presented in prose along the right third of the page, with the left two thirds given over to a single image.  Devlin begins by talking about the unfairness of what has just happened. He explains how things were starting to show improvement on Earth, as support from the UP streamed in.  Then, a massive sinkhole opened under Tokyo, near the space where the Tokyo chamber detonated, and around 4000 people died. The UP scientists, with the two Brainiac 5s, announced that the explosions in the chambers has caused a chemical reaction within the tons of toxic proton jelly that was buried in the 24th century and never cleaned up.  This reaction was causing the molecular bonds of the Earth’s core to break apart, giving the entire only days or weeks to survive. Jacques had no choice but to begin a massive evacuation program, that never had hope of saving everyone. Millions of people volunteered to stay behind, but even with full UP support, there was little chance that the job could be done in time.  The decision was made to activate technology built under 480 key districts of the Earth in the 28th century, which would lift them into space. In the end, only 102 of the domes worked, killing thousands as the domes lifted, and thousands more as the thrust needed to lift the cities blasted the Earth. Two domes – Barcelona and Tashkent, exploded, but 100 mostly empty districts made it into space.  The technology needed to connect the domes was ancient and untested, and there were some disasters, destroying five more cities, but after about ten hours, 95 domes were linked. The next challenge was to move this new structure into the Bgztl Buffer Region so the Earth’s explosion wouldn’t hit them. The engineers are able to make this happen, but another city is lost in the process. Finally, the surviving 94 domes were safe.  Jacques ordered the evacuation efforts stopped as seismic and volcanic activity made further sorties impossible. Across the galaxy, the refugees and others gathered in their vessels to watch on the screen as the Earth shook. Jacques broke down on holovid. On Earth, people gathered peacefully to wait things out, until finally, in a two-page spread, the Earth exploded. Wrapping up his article, Devlin tries to make sense of this disaster, and what it means, as Giffen and Pearson show us Death, of the Endless, looking over a gathering of people, and we see some of the Legion gathering around Rokk on Talus.  The issue, which I found very emotional to read, ends with an image of Devlin crying quietly to himself.
  • Issue thirty-nine features the debut of new artist Stuart Immonen.  On a large refugee transport, Jan is speaking at a memorial attended by many members of the Legion.  As he talks, Rokk starts to think he’s seeing the dead around him, but it’s possible he dozed off. Celeste leans his head against her shoulder and tells him to sleep.  While Jan continues to talk, Celeste remembers being on one of the last ships off Earth, and having to tell people queuing up to evacuate that they will have to wait for another ship, one that was never going to come.  As she starts to cry, Laurel shows her support, and remembers her own actions during the evacuation, when she pushed herself beyond what her injuries should have allowed, to save two arks that were about to collide, although she was unable to help a third, that got crushed under a collapsing tower.  In their quarters on another UP vessel, Vi and Ayla talk about things. Vi is suffering, and gets angry that Ayla always shows so much strength, but Ayla believes they have to be strong because they are Legionnaires. This scene is the first that without a doubt shows they are together. Brainy keeps running through different scenarios that would have perhaps saved Earth.  Laurel speaks to him, and they are about to argue, when they each decided it would be better if they worked at becoming friends. Some of the SW6 kids arrive at New Earth, the connected city domes that are all that’s left of Earth. The domes are mostly empty, as no refugees have arrived yet (they figure they can house about fifty million people there). Four of them – Sun Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Element Lad, and Ferro Lad – start to explore.  When they find a dead body, M-E Lad makes a joke, and Sun Boy punches him in a rage. Ferro Lad calms him down, pointing out that Young Tenzil has helped a lot of the other kids with his humour. Keith Giffen drew a segment of this story, his last. Leland McCauley is on Gallán, walking his father (Leland McCauley III) through his collection, talking about how the destruction of Earth gives him and Universo new opportunities. His collection is made up of beings frozen as green statues – we see Dev-Em, and what looks like someone wearing Duplicate Boy’s uniform.  We see that he has added Cham, some Proteans, RJ Brande, and Kid Quantum to his collection, and that they are held in stasis by the Emerald Eye of Ekron. Later, Leland Sr. broods, thinking about how badly he wants to destroy what Leland Jr. has built out of his legacy. He feels trapped by his son, but remembers that he invented Omnicom technology, and should have no trouble getting a message out. On New Earth, Element Lad receives Leland Sr.’s message, identifying who is being held prisoner there. Later, we see a team of SW6ers (Element Lad, Light Lass, Cosmic Boy) arrive on Gallán.  They manage to destroy security cameras and robot guards (I’m just realizing that we haven’t seen any Probes in a while) and find Cham. Jan frees him, but Leland arrives, and threatens to call the law on them. Cham has recovered, and challenges Leland, who trots out a cadre of lawyers. For two pages, Giffen inks his own art, and experiments with the very abstract style he used for a while in the mid-90s; it’s awful. The lawyers basically cut a deal freeing Cham, Brande, the Proteans, and Kid Quantum, so long as they agree to secrecy (I’m not sure why they left the other prisoners). Cham agrees, and the Proteans and KQ head off to Antares.  Brande heads off to take his company over again, while Cham fumes that they didn’t ruin McCauley. Jo, Kent, and Rokk fly a cruiser towards the spot where Earth used to be, and are stunned by the wreckage. Rokk calls home to speak to Lydda and Pol, and smiles for the first time in a while.

I decided to end this column with issue thirty-nine, as it was the last that Giffen worked on, and felt like it was wrapping up the story of Earth’s destruction.  At the same time, with Immonen coming on as artist, and the Bierbaums’ taking on the full writer role, it would have also worked as the first issue of the next column.

Reading these comics again for the first time in over twenty years, I am once again blown away by how good they are.  For basically a year, the writing team (led by Giffen) more or less sidelined the book’s main characters, and told a story that focused on the Subs and the SW6 kids, as they worked to remove the Dominion from Earth.  On its surface, that sounds very straightforward, but there was just so much going on in these comics that really stood out when read in a short span of time.

I was impressed with the way that so many of the characters, some of whom had never been more than a joke before this, were given the space to develop and grow.  We saw people like Ron-Karr and Dag step up, to say nothing of Staq. We also got to see Jacques mature into a leader with real gravitas.  

Among the SW6, who are basically the late-Silver Age Legion, we got to see the kids treated with more maturity than ever before.  Jan, the sole survivor of a planet-wide genocide, is an emotional mess, and that makes sense. Lyle, the character I barely ever got to know as he died so long ago, emerged as one of the best leaders the Legion ever had.  The writers dropped hints about Violet being unsure of her sexuality even back then, and had her working over time to prove that she was interested in Devlin, who himself moved from being a jokey Jimmy Olsen character to being taken seriously.

The plotting of this Terra Mosaic arc was meticulous.  Early into their stay in the chambers, the Sub’s Ron-Karr found the proton jelly that would end up being responsible for the destruction of the planet.  We saw the Emerald Eye collecting people long before we learned that Leland McCauley commanded it now. The slow progression of the Dominator plotline was suspenseful, right up to the point that things turned into open warfare.  Pinnacle Command, instead of correcting the mistakes of the ambassador, pushed things to the brink, and ultimately ruined the planet.  

I feel like Giffen and the Bierbaums used a remarkable amount of restraint, keeping this story moving at a realistic pace, and balancing so many plot threads and character arcs.  There was just so much going on, with such a massive cast, and yet things never felt rushed or short changed. Sure, there are a few things left unresolved, such as what happened to the group of chamber subjects that SW6 Garth and Imra found (Dragon Mage, Catseye, Crystal Kid, and Danielle Foccart), but just about everything else found resolution, amidst a ton of chaos.  I would like to know what happened with Dawnstar though, and I’m curious to know more about Celeste and her green energy, which did not appear even once during this arc. I’m also curious to know who it was that attacked the Dominator homeworld.

And then there’s the scope of this story in terms of its willingness to break things.  Before this arc, we saw the Moon destroyed, and with it large areas of the Earth’s surface.  Then, after leaving the chambers, Grinn detonated them all, causing much more destruction. The war between the UP and the Dominators, as well as the general uprising across the Earth, wrecked even more stuff.  We were left with an idea of how bad things were, but because this was comics, we were expecting things to get better. Instead, with no real warning, Giffen and the Bierbaums blew up the entire planet. Issue thirty-eight is among the most emotionally devastating comics I’ve ever read, and their decision to tell the story through Devlin’s article was a masterful one.  

The thing is, I think that perhaps the Sun Boy solo issue, number twenty-eight, was even more effective.  I love the way in which they deconstructed Dirk’s character, looking back at his previous loutish behaviour, and portraying it as a consequence of his father’s disdain for him as a child.  It all made a lot of sense, and caused me to begin to feel sorry for one of the few Legionnaire’s I didn’t previously care for all that much.

Likewise, the issue focusing on Sean Erin, who we knew before as Shvaughn, was a revelation.  Prior to that issue, I think the extent of my exposure to trans characters was in Vertigo comics (I don’t think that Invisibles was around by this point, but I might be wrong), and I saw them as the necessary trapping of being on the edge of storytelling, but not as actual characters.  I felt like I knew Shvaughn from her days as Jan’s girlfriend, as Legion liaison, and as someone often shown just hanging out with her best friend Gigi Cusimano.  She’d been a bit of a stock character, but one I had an affection for. Now, seeing her this way as her medication wore off, and her body regressed to its original, male, form, I remember feeling sympathy, and being a little surprised by how nonchalant Jan’s reaction was.  Reading it now, being older and wiser (or so I like to think), it didn’t surprise me at all, but deepened my respect for Jan. That story was handled with a lot of sensitivity, and worked remarkably well against the backdrop of all the chaos happening on Earth.

Giffen was, without a doubt, the star of this book, as the issues he didn’t plot lacked a certain quality, but everyone on this book provided stellar work.  The Bierbaums continued to grow as writers, and their reunion story in the Annual remains a favourite of mine, as it felt like coming home again.  

Jason Pearson, though, was a revelation.  As he drew over Giffen’s breakdowns, it’s hard to know exactly what was his originally, but as the run continued, we saw him grow and grow as an artist.  His character work was impeccable, and he made some characters (especially Staq) more unique than we’d seen before. He created Sade, who I wish had stuck around longer (I always thought of her when I read Pearson’s Body Bags at Image).  I wish Pearson had stuck with this book, or had gone on to do more comics work than he ultimately did; his stuff was terrific.

I’d like to say a few things about Stuart Immonen, but it probably makes more sense to wait for the next column.  Seeing Colleen Doran and Curt Swan draw over Giffen’s breakdowns, in the same issue, was a treat.

In my last column, I wrote about the organic and collaborative nature of the book, with inkers and colourists receiving some story assist credits (Pearson got some too), and how that all felt natural.  During this run, I think some strain must have developed, which was never clear in the writing, but was revealed in the letters column. This title had a hard time maintaining a consistent editor, and it appears that Giffen’s and Pearson’s departures may have been symptomatic of larger problems.  The original plans for the Legionnaires title were abandoned in favor of putting the SW6 kids in the book. Originally issue thirty-nine was going to be double-sized, but then got split up and rejigged.   

At the same time, the Legion line grew to proportions never seen before.  Timber Wolf landed his own miniseries, set in the 20th century (you’ll see that column coming soon), Lar Gand got his own series, set before he ever met the Legion (also coming soon), and the SW6 kids were given their own book, Legionnaires (which, I feel, was partly responsible for the downfall of the Legion I love).

From what I remember, after Giffen left, the Bierbaums kept things going well for a while, but I also remember the quality of the book slipping.  We’re going to be digging into that next time.

If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.

These comics have not been collected anywhere, but they really should be.

 

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