Or – “And Now, A Moment Of Silence For The Late Dave Cockrum…”


You will be missed, Dave.

If you’re a regular reader at Major Spoilers (And if so, hey, howarya? Have some dip!), you may have noticed that I’ve read a lot of comics. A LOT of comics… maybe less than a googolplex, but more than 50,000. Oddly, I didn’t actually discover the concept of the “funny book” until much later than most. My younger cousin Donnie (now a Harley mechanic with some seriously awesome tattoo work) had stacks of comic books, mid-70’s Action Comics, Human Fly, the original excellent and now gawdawful expensive run of Star Wars, Spectacular Spider-Man, Battlestar Galactica and more. But when I was about 11, his father, my Uncle Bob, informed me that I was probably too old to read the things, and being the contrary and complicated Sagittarius that I am, I decided that if I wasn’t supposed to read ’em, there must be something interesting going on there. Three decades later, and we actually have a third bedroom for my hobby. Which is why I found it so deliciously amazing when the first image of this issue gave me, no joke, goosebumps and completely took my breath away. When I opened the book, what I saw… was this.


Dominators are among the creepiest aliens ever designed (right up there with Giger’s Alien designs, certain members of the Borg, and The Sidri), and the image of Earth in their lsh1.jpgclawed fingers is creepy enough, but it’s “Remember the Fifffdee-tu” that really rattled my cage. Certainly the secret of 52 has been of great debate, especially here, but it suddenly dawns on me here the sheer scope of what’s happening/happened. This is ONE THOUSAND YEARS in the future, and yet an entire alien race seems to be holding a grudge. Them’s far-reaching effects, indeed. Moreover, the blood-red Earth is another echo of the Crisis on Infinite Earths and its red skies. Something big is on the horizon… Let’s just hope it’s not yet-another moment of “Can You Top This?” What has gone before in Legion, in a nutshell: Lightning Lad’s brother and his Wanderers arrive on Earth, claiming something bad is going to happen, and trying to steal away Legionnaires to fight for his side, when all hell officially breaks loose. The Dominators are now in control of the Earth’s technology. Worse than that, they’re prepared. The head Dominators have turned off the information nets, blocked all transmission, and are controlling all artificial lifeforms. And as for facing down superhumans, that’s covered as well, thanks to prodigal Legionnaire Sun Boy and his small band of super-rogues. Using their genetic expertise, the Dominators have managed to duplicate the abilities of his group (invulnerability, speed, agility, and limited control over environmental forces) into their own super-soldiers…


As we contemplate the torture of a former Legionnaire, we turn our attention back to Earth, to the headquarters of the United Planets. The ambassadors of the galaxy are appalled that this could happen, and horrified to have to try and defend themselves, as the Dominators assault their building. A contingent of Legionnaires is outside, but it’s Invisible Kid who sees them throwing delegates out of the building, hurling innocents to their death to lure the Legion into the open. Invisible Kid is too much of a hero to let it go, and his impulsiveness turns out to be costly…


The Dominators even control the flight rings. Luckily for Lyle, Chameleon can fly unaided, and one of the Wanderers has the ability to graft his arm back on, but even so, the element of surprise is now gone. Cosmic Boy and Chameleon are forced to act now, while other members work on the second element of the plan. Brainiac 5, for instance, is working feverishly to find a way off-planet, finally working with another of his Coluan race. You’d think that he’d finally be happy to not have to work with “the monkeys” of the Legion, but Brainy is much more complex than that. And his arrogance can be seen from space with the naked eye.


I have to say I rather like “Plant Lad,” and find it kind of fitting that Brainiac 5, the only 12th level intelligence extant, is even hateful and condescending to a 10th level brain. With no way of communicating, Cosmic Boy’s team is in the dark, but Karate Kid (no, not Ralph Macchio) has at least one line of communication that’s still open: Theena, a young woman who’s symbiotic link to a clairvoyant alien gives us our first view of the whole chessboard…


Phantom Girl looking for “something?” I wonder if that is significant, in any way, he said conspiratorially, eh? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink? In any case, the Dominators decide to find a way through Plant Lad’s impromptu Amazon by the tried and true method: hack & slash. They have forgotten that the strength of the Legion lies not just in their powers, but in sheer number and determination, as they walk right into the artillery… known to their mama as Garth and Mekt Ranzz (Lightning Lad and the artist once known as “Lightning Lord”). Apparently, fifty-seven kajillion volts of pure energy are enough to even slow down an army of big yellow bruisers, working well enough that the sibs still have time to rehash old wounds…


Gotta love a little soap opera in your all-out battle sequence, eh? The Ranzz line gives Cosmic Boy enough time to get the delegates out to Brainiac’s makeshift teleporter in the woods. Even with the loss of all technology, Brainiac still made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear… or so it seems. The gate powers up, and people enter, but…


Oh, this just keeps getting worse and worse. That’s killed a goodly portion of the people that they intended to save, and now the super-Dominators are closing in. Mekt snarls that he told Cosmic Boy the plan was a farce, and Cos suddenly tells everyone to bug out, and those with blaster powers to cover the retreat. “That includes you!” he yells at Mekt, pointing out that the Dominator forces wear METAL armor, making this a game for Cos and his awesome mastery of magnetic forces. Erik Lensherr, eat your heart out. Mekt leaves his counterpart (and isn’t it convenient that all the real strong leadership types keep getting taken out of the picture when Mr. Ranzz the elder is around? I smell a setup) and heads off, only to be confronted by his brother.


The music swells, and I suddenly wonder if this issue isn’t shorter than usual. Turns out, it is, as the lettercolumn is a full four pages long this month, and gives a very classy look back on the influence of Dave Cockrum on the Legion, on fandom, and on comic books in general. This may explain why you see Legionnaires in their classic 70’s costumes up top, but more than that, DC allows space for other creators to share their memories of Dave, a man who gave comics nearly everything that he had, and got precious little back for his trouble.

On the whole, this issue felt unsatisfying, partly because of it’s dark, “it gets worse and worse” nature, and partly because of the shortness due to the Cockrum tribute. Since I can’t think of any better reason to lose pages than to remember a talent like Dave, I won’t downgrade the issue too much. Obviously, this is building to something else, but right now the entire frickin’ DC Universe seems to be building to something, and it feels like I’ve been anticipating forever. The art is as excellent as ever, especially Kitson’s faces, and Mark Waid never fails to impress with plot and dialogue. If this issue fails in anything, it’s just to be as overwhelmingly exciting as I expect from The Legion, and that’s not really any kind of insult. It’s a 3 star issue, in any case, and if Phantom Girl is doing what I think she’s doing, then next issue may be a revelation for the Dominators indeed…



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Matt, time for a little Dominator history… Were they or weren’t they central villains in the old-school LoSH days? Also, how often have they appeared since Invasion!? I’ve always found them quite creepy since Invasion! when it was revealed they had the metagene bomb to turn off super powers (I wonder how come Lex Luthor never tried to tap into this).

  2. Matthew Peterson on

    They ARE indeed old-school villains, dating back to Adventure Comics under Jim Shooter in the late 60’s. They appeared sparingly (as in, even *I* don’t know where they occur between Adventure #361 and “Invasion!”), but were used in the Invasion series to beef up DC’s cosmic presence, as were previously only-seen-in-the-future Daxamites and Durlans.

    Interestingly, their Metagene bomb was designed to KILL metahumans, when in reality it left a great many of them more powerful than before. They were also used in the Legion’s “5 Years Later” storyline in Vol. 4, having taken over the Earth after the collapse of the United Planets. It was here that they were revealed to have captured the real Legion and sent out a cloned version in their stead, and then the entire Legion fandom turned on Keith Giffen and his co-writers, Tom & Mary Bierbaum.

    I know that they have appeared in recent issues of Green Lantern Corps (which I didn’t like very much), that they were recurring villains in Legionnaires and LoSH Volume 4, that a rogue Dominator called Gunther was a member of the “Blasters” under Snapper Carr’s leadership (a series that deserved much more, especially with Peter David writing and James Fry art), and… uh… well, that’s about the long and short of it.

    The basics of the race: They’re amoral, brilliant scientists, whose technology is plant based in nature, their society is caste-based, with the size of the red disk on their head illustrating their place in the world (bigger disk=higher caste) and they’re known for being sneaky and Macchiavellian in their plotting. Plus, they look creepy as all hell.

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