January 16th, 2021

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #7

Here's another read of the current series of the Legion of Super-Heroes. This time out, a story that I actually liked for the most part.






Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #7
September, 2020
"Untitled"
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencillers: Ryan Sook (page 1) and Stephen Byrne (pages 2-22)
Inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger (page 1) and Stephen Byrne (pages 2-22)
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Ryan Sook
Variant Cover: Alex Garner
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Brian Cunningham


Mission Monitor Board:
Cosmic Boy, Superboy, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Triplicate Girl, Monster Boy, Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Chameleon Boy, White Witch, Colossal Boy, Ultra Boy, Dream Girl, Shadow Lass, Mon-El; Wildfire, Timber Wolf, Dawnstar, Star Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Element Lad, Bouncing Boy, Gold Lantern, Dr. Fate, Blok, Shrinking Violet, Phantom Girl, Chemical King (?), Karate Kid, Princess Projectra

Guest Star:
Unite Planets President R.J. Brande

Supporting Characters:
Legion-U.P. Liasion Rose Forrest; General Crav Nah

Opposition:
None really, just the Legionnaires themselves


Synopsis:
The issue begins with a one-page close-up of Wildfire, who explains that he is Drake Burroughs, originally an Earthman, although "no one is really *from* Earth any more." He says that he was rejected for Legion membership originally, because the Legionnaires thought his powers just duplicated those of several others, but he is actually an energy release generator and was holding back a power that he had because he didn't want to kill everyone. Wildfire follows this up with a summation of what occurred in the previous issue, i.e., Aquaman's Trident rewatering New Earth, and because of the questions surrounding the Trident, Rimbor, the Horraz and Superboy, the Legion has decided to approach things...differently.

The Legion of Super-Heroes goes en masse to the United Planets Great Hall (presumably on Daxam) to address the United Planets Council. In a long-winded manner, Cosmic Boy addresses the Council and the absent (but he hopes listening) General Crav Nah of Rimbor and apologizes for the Legion's actions and for attacking General Crav Nah. President Brande is not pleased or impressed with the Legion's intrusion, and says that the U.P. has just voted in favour of interplanetary sanctions against Rimbor, and asks Cosmic Boy if he would like to rescind his apology to a newly minted war criminal. President Brande is also not happy about the Legion recruiting Superboy (Jon Kent) into their midst, but Brainiac 5 points out that his induction into the Legion is a matter of Legion business, as set out in the guidelines and bylaws of the Legion as set up with the United Planets. However, the President states the Council will vote on the matter as it was an egregious abuse of the space-time continuum. In a noble moment, Superboy shows his upbringing in the House of Kent, saying how the United Planets needs to exist to smooth over hostilities and stop catastrophes like the destruction of Krypton. He apologizes if he has made things worse for the Legion, and says that if they really feel that way, he will resign and return to the 21st Century. R.J. Brande realizes that going against this legendary hero who is being reasonable and contrite won't win her any popularity contests. She tries to get on Superboy's good side, even with a "let's do lunch sometime" request, and tells Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, and the rest of the Legionnaires that they have autonomy, and then praises their actions in the last little while. The Legionnaires leave, but not before Brande tells them to make an appointment next time. The Legionnaires return to their home base.

Later, in New Metropolis at Legion Headquarters, on Luornu Durgo/Triplicate Girl's floor of the residence complex, Triplicate Girl and Monster Boy are sort of discussing the mess with President Brande and the humour, or lack thereof, in the situation. Luornu Purple tells him it's a matter of how well the Legionnaires cope with the situation. The talk then turns to brownies of all things, which on Cargg are called Brownie Cakeys Delicious, whereas on Monster Boy's homeworld of Tor-Etto are just called brownies. Purple Luornu then points out that Saturn Girl is giving Cosmic Boy "the talk" outside.

Outside, Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl are having a very public argument about how Cosmic Boy is failing as their leader. She tells him that his speech before the U.P. Council was too whiny. While he denies this, she tells him that she knows how the U.P. Council found it, because she could read their minds. Saturn Girl tells him that what he did was not leadership, it was a Braalian athlete putting on a show. Cosmic Boy says that is what he is or at least was, and that as long as he's the elected Legion leader, that's how it's going to work. She reminds him that he wasn't "elected" by the Legion, it was a case of the three Legion founders deciding that he should be their leader. She tells him that if he really wants to have an election, now that there's a full Legion, they can do that. Cosmic Boy reacts angrily, saying that Brainiac 5 acts like the Legion leader. Saturn Girl doesn't mind his attitude, because she (and the other Legionnaires) know(s) that Brainiac 5 is the smartest Legionnaire; that's why he's *in* the Legion. Brainiac 5, who has been listening in to the conversation, says they should have an election. Rokk is also tired that Imra keeps reading his mind, and while she offers him some sound advice, he tells her that on Braal it is offensive that she read his mind. Brainiac 5 suggests that the group have a team meeting.

Elsewhere, in the new residence of Lightning Lad and his family, his two mothers, one human and one electrical, thank him for setting the new house up for them and the other three siblings, but his human mother wonders if there's more. When she comments that it looks exactly like their old home, she says that they didn't like the old place so much it was all they could afford on Winath. He has Computo scan his mother's "galgo" (whatever that is) and give them whatever they want. Computo reconfigures and redesigns the home, making Lightning Lad's mothers happy, but Ayla, who is not wearing her flight ring or her uniform, comments that now she can't even go home when she wants to. Ayla tells Garth that while she hated it on Winath, she now knows that she hated being embarrassed in front of the whole United Planets of Hypocrites, telling Garth that she wishes it had gone as well as he thinks it did, and that the Legion should not be speaking to those war mongers. Their discussion is interrupted by a Legion signal from Lightning Lad's flight ring. Brainiac 5 has called a meeting.

At the Legion of Super-Heroes meeting of the entire roster, Brainiac 5 tries to suggest the Legion hold an official election for the leadership position. Cosmic Boy feels that as Legion leader, he should be the one to call for the election, but Lightning Lad says that it would be inappropriate for the Legion leader to call for a vote on his own leadership. With various Legionnaires weighing in with an opinion, Brainiac 5's motion passes, and the Legion decides to vote for a new leader. Colossal Boy nominates Superboy, but he refuses to serve given his unfamiliarity with so much of Legion business and day-to-day matters. Superboy then proceeds to get into another argument with Mon-El, but Ultra Boy interrupts them. Ultra Boy enters himself into the leadership debate and vote, stating the Legion needs a plan moving forward and that he's the one to give it to them, not Cosmic Boy. He also doesn't like the way Brainiac 5 has been doing certain things, and wants to check and balance that. Cosmic Boy wants to run again, but feels that he shouldn't have to defend himself and his actions; he becomes tongue-tied and frustrated, and flies off in a huff. The Legionnaires cast their votes, and in a landslide Ultra Boy wins the election and becomes the Legion's new leader.

However, a new arrival teleports in and spoils the moment. Ultra Boy asks if his tenure starts now, according to the Legion bylaws, and Brainiac 5 confirms that it does. He orders the other Legionnaires to get behind him. His father, General Crav, leader of the planet Rimbor, has arrived. He demands the Legion of Super-Heroes surrender to him, or they will all die. The story continues in the next issue.


Commentary:
This issue is probably the first in the current series of the Legion of Super-Heroes that I liked for the most part. The reasons for that stem primarily from the fact that this issue is about the Legionnaires and also gives us the first Legion leader election in the new series. Throw in the artwork this issue by Stephen Byrne, and I thought it was a very enjoyable issue with a good ride, leading up to events that don't bode well for the Legion.

It was nice to get a look at the Legionnaires in little, personal moments this issue. In order of appearance here, somewhat... The opening splash page features Wildfire this time out. We learn how he was rejected for duplicating other Legionnaire powers, gained membership for one power that he can only use once it appears, calls himself Energy Release Generator, and talks about how he's something of a hot-head and that one can't contain his voice. It's an interesting set of observations about the character from his own perspective, and sheds some light on the character that owes a lot to Wildfire's classic Legion history. The scene with Triplicate Girl and Monster Boy was quite a bit of fun, though it had the serious note about the earlier meeting between the Legion and the United Planets Council, but the whole business with the brownies was a lot of fun and reminded me of the Babylon 5 and other tv series and books and the like about how Swedish meatballs are found on the homeworlds of every race in the galaxy. That said, Luornu's three personalities are becoming clearer, and I also noticed here that Monster Boy (whose name appears to be Arune?) keeps changing his facial structure throughout. Whether this is a choice on his part or whether his powers work that way on a constant basis I can't really say at this point. The scene with Lightning Lad and Lightning Lass and their family was an interesting one, but I'm not sure what the dynamic is in the family let alone the names of the parents and the three siblings. Are Lightning Lad and Lightning/Light Lass's powers natural (their mom is what, living lightning?)? Why are there only five children, as aren't twins the norm on this version of Winath? It did show us how Garth appears to want to please his mothers, though he was annoyed that they didn't want to live in the same home as they had on Winath. And what exactly is a "galgo"? The scene also continued to show the reader (or should that be hammer over the head?) that Ayla is a progressive, rebellious, very political young woman, even when it comes to the Legion. And what about that bit about the privacy not afforded by the flight ring? That's something that's alluded to by the fact that Brainiac 5 seems to be keeping tabs on all the Legionnaires through their flight rings.

The argument between Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 is not so much painful to read, as it is a complete step away from the Legion characters and the lore that I know about this team. The reader has Brainiac 5 admitting to listening in to all of his teammates' conversations, and perhaps being able to observe them through the flight ring technology. The reader has Saturn Girl admitting to using her mental powers for the same thing, and more besides. It's no wonder that Cosmic Boy comes across feeling targeted. Now, I'm not sure if Cosmic Boy was supposed to come off as the sympathetic character here, but he certainly did for me. While Brainiac 5 was never a character I warmed up to because of how he's been portrayed over the years, Saturn Girl saying that he is allowed to do whatever he wants because he's so smart is just...ickk. Perhaps Computo needs to go bad...soon. That said, the story does give us the first actual Legion election in which Ultra Boy becomes the new leader, but the series so far has portrayed Cosmic Boy in a poor light and this doesn't augur well for him at this point. And with Ultra Boy's father being General Crav Nah, that just promises more trouble for the Legion ahead.

That said, the scene at the United Planets Council Hall came across as badly handled and choreographed, but Cosmic Boy's speech was inspired and to be honest, fit the character that we've seen of Rokk Krinn in the past as a leader and the voice of reason. Saturn Girl's comment that it was "a Braalian athletic putting on a show" was quite disrespectful and made it seem as if Imra didn't get what he was doing. President Brande is still someone that I don't trust, and the scene at the U.P. Council Hall reinforced that. It seems like President Brande is angry when Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5 tell her that the Legion is autonomous from the U.P., but when Superboy says the same things, she is okay with it. Something's wrong there, and I get the feeling that the Legion and the U.P. are going to clash at some point over other, major issues.

This issue marks a first, as the story features the first Legion leadership election in the current series run. This leadership election is unlike any that we've seen in the past, as it comes across almost as a non-confidence vote against Cosmic Boy, who really has done the best that he can under the given circumstances. I was somewhat shocked that it was Saturn Girl who instigated the possibility of the election, but it is Brainiac 5 who pushes the election into motion. For the most part, Imra and Rokk do not come across as friends the way they did in earlier versions of the Legion, and it is obvious that Rokk feels betrayed by her. Lightning Lad doesn't help matters by pointing out that Rokk can't call the meeting about an election for Legion leader since he is the Legion leader, which doesn't make a lot of sense. While I was surprised that Cosmic Boy wanted to be nominated for leader again, I didn't expect that Colossal Boy would nominate Superboy, though I will say that I'm glad he refused the nomination. Ultra Boy's self-nomination was an interesting twist, since the character has come across as a bit impulsive and hot-headed for most of this series' run. His reasons for wanting to be Legion leader, however, are quite insightful and makes me wonder whether there's more to Ultra Boy under the brain hood than I thought. There's a bit of humour to the Legion election as well, with Chameleon Boy asking if there are assigned seats for the voting and White Witch asking if it's a paying job. Ultra Boy's explaining his reasons for becoming Leader, coupled with Cosmic Boy's feelings of betrayal and quick departure, lend a seriousness to the scene that I appreciated. The final voting, to be honest, shocked me no end. It seems that only 3 Legionnaires (Shadow Lass, Superboy and Lightning Lad) voted for Cosmic Boy, the rest of the team voting for Ultra Boy in an absolute landslide win. Personally, I was very curious to see how Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5 voted, but I guess the assumption can be made they voted for Ultra Boy. Needless to say, with the Rimborian situation at hand, it will make things interesting to say the least with a more "action" oriented Legion leader in place, and I can't help but wonder how the Legion-United Planets relationship will play out with Ultra Boy now at the helm. Like I said, interesting times ahead.

I don't know who Stephen Byrne is, but I liked the artwork that he did for this issue. While not as solid or realistic as the artwork by Ryan Sook on his own, the pencils and inks of Byrne bring a lovely polish of sorts to the future, the work being expressive here. Given that this issue is one of lots of talking, very little fighting, one needs that expressive look in a story such as this. Mind you, there's a bit of a cartoonish feel to some of the characters here, but for the most part Byrne is following Ryan Sook's model sheets (or whatever they are called) for the various characters.


Final Notes:
The story continues in the next issue...

This is the seventh issue in a row that does not have a title for the story...

This issue features the first Legion election in the current run of the series...

The listing of the Legion membership is taken primarily from the image on pages 2 and 3, and depicts 27 members of the Legion. This does not include Karate Kid (he appears later in one panel), Princess Projectra, Invisible Kid (Jacques Foccart) and Ferro Lad (who was mentioned in a previous issue). I am assuming that the figure on the far left of the greenish skeletal person is Chemical King, but I could be wrong on this. The Legionnaires listed before the semi-colon have speaking parts in this story...

The Interlac on the splash page with Wildfire reads,
"ENERGY RELEASE GENERATOR IS NOT A THING."...

We learn that Monster's Boy name is Arune, and that he comes from the planet Tor-Etto...

The Interlac on page 10 reads,
"Each member of the Legion has a section of the residential complex tailored to their specific needs. Within reason."...

The Interlac on page 14 reads,
"SIX BROTHERS AND SISTERS. SIX! ONLY ONE OTHER, HIS TWIN, SHARES HIS POWER."...

The Interlac on page 16 reads,
"HEAVEN

THE CREATION OF THE UNITED PLANETS BROUGHT TOGETHER CUISINE FROM AROUND THE GALAXY IN SUCH SURPRISING AND DELIGHTFUL WAYS. PLEASE AVOID THE THANAGARIAN JERKY UNLESS YOU'VE BEEN PREVIOUSLY VACCINATED."...

Ultra Boy is elected Legion Leader in this issue, by a landslide vote.





Next Issue: DC Cybernetic Summer 80-Page Giant Vol 1 #1

DC Cybernetic Summer 80-Page Giant Vol 1 #1

Another read of a current Legion of Super-Heroes story. This tme out, a tale of cybernetic romance. Enjoy! :)






DC Cybernetic Summer 80-Page Giant Vol 1 #1
September, 2020
"Summer Lovin'"
Writer: Liz Erickson
Artist: Nik Virella
Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Colourist: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Cover: Dan Mora (pencils) & Tamra Bonvillain (inks)
Editor: Katie Kubert


Mission Monitor Board:
Saturn Girl, Superboy, Lightning Lad, Brainiac 5

Supporting Cast:
Lana Lang (cameo)

Opposition:
A Moravecan


Synopsis:
The story begins with Superboy and three Legionnaires (Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Brainiac 5) fighting a large-eyed, tentacled menace on the Kent Farm. Saturn Girl warns Superboy as the creature swats him with a massive tentacle, and the Boy of Steel is swatted right back into the kent house, crashing into his bedroom. Momentarily stunned by the attack, Superboy is almost snatched up by the creature before he gives it a taste of its own medicine, and hoists the creature up by its appendages and throws it through the roof and into the air. Caught in a shower of purple goo, the Legionnaires are stunned when te creature seemingly disappears. Brainiac 5 explains that they are dealing with a Moravecan, a creature capable of moving faster than the speed of light when threatened, but only briefly. This means there is a chance they can still catch him, if Brainiac 5 can track him.

Superboy decides that since he might be away on Legion business for a while searching for the Moravecan, he needs to take care of some business. He goes back to his bedroom and activates one of his robot doubles to stand in for him as Clark Kent. Superboy chooses R217 for the job, instructing it to act like its Clark on summer vacation, and also to clean up his room. The reader sees things through R217's point of view for just a moment, with four possible responses (1. Yes, master! 2. Of course, master! 3. Happy to be of service, master! 4. Regret to inform maintenance is required.). Before R217 can reply, Superboy is called back to the Legionnaires to continue the search for the Moravecan.

The next morning, acting as Clark Kent, R217 heads to the local soda shop. He's greeted by Lana Lang and several other kids, but clumsily bumps into a blonde, bespectacled young woman named Mae. For a moment, R217 goes through four different options on how to respond to the flustered young woman. (1. Gee willikers! How clumsy of me! 2. I’m so sorry, my fault entirely! 3. May I help you up? 4. Regret to inform maintenance is required.) Mae blushes, and R217 begins to stammer over what to say (its face equally red). Noticing Mae's books, R217 asks if she's studying robotics. Mae mentions it's for a project she’s doing on her own time, but nervously thinks "Clark" would find it boring. On the contrary, R217 coaxes Mae into a conversation about robots and mimicking human tasks. At that point, Mae works up the courage to blurt out an invitation for "Clark" to see a movie with her. R217 agrees to do so.

Later that night at the drive-in, Mae continues her discussion on robotics with R217. Mae worries that she's merely rambling, but R217 assures her that he loves hearing her thoughts. He tells her that he is certain she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to. Mae admits that "Clark" is quieter than she believed he would be. R217 explains he's trying to pay attention, because everything feels new and he wants to remember it all. Mae says she wasn't sure he would accept her invitation. After all, he's Clark Kent and she' just...Mae. R217 replies that he couldn't think of doing anything better than what he's doing right now. Mae and R217 kiss.

Superboy enters the scene at that moment, and informs everyone that there's a "dangerous element" loose in the vicinity and that he needs everyone to vacate the area immediately. Brainiac 5 and Saturn Girl discuss the fact that they saw the Moravecan release its spores, but they can't figure out who, other than themselves, was exposed to the spores.

R217 tells Mae that she needs to run immediately, and follow the crowd to safety. Before she leaves, R217 tells he that she's an extraordinary person.

Superboy confronts R217, gently explaining that the robot hasn't answered any of Superboy's calls because of a bug in his programming. They just have to remove the foreign matter, and restore him to his factory settings. R217's pleas for understanding fall on deaf ears, so he fights back. He is quickly taken down by a bolt of electricity from Lightning Lad. Superboy opens R217's chest compartment to reveal that the Moravecan's spores did indeed take root inside him. As Superboy pulls the spores out of R217's chest, Brainiac 5 says it's lucky they found him in time. Once the Moravecan spores infect the native population, they can enslave whole planets. As R217 powers down, Superboy says that it's a good thing no one got hurt.

Two months later, after summer vacation is over and school begins again, Mae finds (the real) Clark and says she hasn't seen him since the drive-in. Mae tries to talk about her newest experiment, but Clark's got no idea who she is and states he has to get to class. Quietly heartbroken and confused, Mae can only say goodbye.


Commentary:
One thing for sure: It's been a very strange time for Legion fans. The release of the Bendis series has gotten, to say the least, mixed reactions from veteran Legion fans, who have complained about yet another continuity reboot starting everything over. DC Comics seems to have recognized this, which would explain why they featured a Bronze Age-styled Legion tale in the From Beyond The Unknown 100-Page Giant Vol 1, and now this Silver Age style Legion story in DC Cybernetic Summer Vol 1 #1.

This story is seemingly set during the period of the Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 run of the comic, as the masthead on the story's first page would seem to indicate, and as noted above, is a Silver Age story in both art style and feel of the writing. The Legion roster consists of Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Brainiac 5, along with Superboy naturally, but... The Legionnaires don't really play all that large a role in the tale (Saturn Girl doesn't really do anything in the story), as this is more a romance story about "Clark Kent" (actually Superboy robot R217 and the young woman, Mae. With only eight pages of story, writer Liz Erickson (who I believe is also an editor at DC Comics these days) does a pretty good job of giving us a story that has some deeper meaning to it and that fits the theme of this issue of the comic overall. That didn't make the story any less enjoyable to me, however.

The idea of a Superboy robot gaining sentience and falling in love feels very much like a Silver Age Legion story. However, if this story had actually come from the early 1960s, the larger implications of shutting R217 off would have been glossed over or ignored in the story itself. It would have been one of those uncomfortable elements the readers only consider by looking at the subtext. In this case, however, R217's emotions and eventual shutdown are treated as tragic because while the reader has seen things from his point of view, the Legionnaires have not.

If the story made me feel anything at the end, it was sadness. Mae (whose last name we never learn) is left heartbroken and saddened, left wondering at the end why Clark is now ignoring her after they shared such a tender moment at the drive-in two months before. Not to mention the role poor Mae had in this drama. She now has to wonder why Clark is supposedly ignoring her after they shared such a tender moment. At the same time, the coincidence of her interest in robotics in the story makes it doubly ironic that she became involved with a Superboy robot. I have to wonder whether Mae will show up in some form in other DC Comics' continuity as a robotics specialist or expert. However, there is something else that struck me in the story. Given that the Moravecan's spores were inside R217, did some of the spores manage to enter Mae when she kissed "Clark"? And if so, will we ever see a sequel story featuring Mae or the Moravecan spores' attempts to enslave others and conquer Earth? Probably not, since the story appears to be a one-shot set in the Silver Age Smallville, but still it would be interesting...

As mentioned, the story is a mere 8 pages long, but writer Liz Erickson did a marvellous job in terms of the story beats and pacing. It is sure and deft in its feel, knows where it's going and who its focus is on, and doesn't waver from those parameters. The dialogue is very Silver Age with a modern sensibility to to it that I rather enjoyed. I'm not familiar with Nik (Nicole) Virella's art or style, other from this story, though I did look up the artist's work and saw that she did what appears to be some good work on Marvel's "Hyperion" stuff. I really like her work here, as she perfectly captures the Silver Age aesthetic here with her own style. The Moravecan alien here has a very Silver Age feel, with the modern aesthetic of the disgusting purple goo going for it (which I believe are where the spores come from). Her facial expressions on the characters are superb in the story too, giving R217 a very human appearance and feel and making Mae's emotions clearly visible on her face. The artwork in this story really captured the essence of what the writer was doing here, and gave the reader 8 pages of pure entertainment and Silver Age Legion storytelling. Just lovely.


Final Notes:
This story is seemingly set during the period of the Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 tales, as the masthead at the top of the first page of the story would seem to indicate...

In addition to the new Legion story by Liz Erickson and Nik Virella, there's a Batman story by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, a Wonder Woman and Platinum (of the Metal Men) story by Andrew Constant and Nicola Scott, a Red Tornado story by Stephanie Phillips and Leila del Duca, a Booster Gold and Blue Beetle story by Heath Corson and Scott Koblish, a Flash story by Joshua Williamson and David Lafuente, a Midnighter and Apollo story by Steve Orlando and Paul Pelletier, a Harley Quinn and Sy Borgman story by Che Grayson and Marguerite Sauvage, a Robotman story by Max Bemis and Greg Smallwood, and a Cyborg, Superman and Cyborg Superman story by Stuart Moore and Cully Hammer.





Next Issue: Action Comics Vol 1 #1024