Or – “I Think Roosevelt Once Said Something About Changing Horses Midstream…”

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This particular issue was solicited as:

SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #29
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Barry Kitson & Mick Gray
Cover by Kitson

Of those promised things, the only one that’s actually true of what we GET is “Cover by Kitson.” Incorrect solicitations are the kind of thing that usually tick me off, since I’m committing to buy a comic three months in advance. And, since my friendly local comic store (Gatekeeper Hobbies, Huntoon & Gage, Topeka! Ask us about our Fred J. Dukes look-alike contest!!) is also a secondary source of income, I can’t in good conscience put back a comic that I ordered. After all, my friends and bosses have already PAID for the !&$%ing thing… (Also, the manager will put me in the Tazzmission and choke me out, and he’s one of the few men I know with the size and strength to actually injure me.) In any case, the REAL question is, how does this change in creative affect the overall product?

I won’t lie and tell you I couldn’t tell the difference, but the finished product is not at all bad. Previously, on Legion: Lightning Lad and Light Lass’s prodigal brother Mekt has returned, in command of a team of superhumans called the Wanderers LSH1.jpg(apparently a prototype phase of what would become the Legion.) During their attack on the Legion, Saturn and Phantom Girls become aware of the presence of a ghostly man in a cape, and Brainiac 5 proves his brilliance by pulling him into reality. This specter is revealed to be none other than Mon-El, a man thrust into the Kryptonian Phantom Zone to save his life. When Mekt captures several Legionnaires, he reveals that he’s there to stop an invasion by the Dominators, but it’s too late. The big yellow disk-heads completely disengage all of Earth’s technology, and their genetically engineered super-warriors beat the Legion within an inch of their lives. Only a last ditch ‘hail Mary’ by Cosmic Boy, who allowed himself to be tortured for information that led to a Dominator trap, turned the tide. The Dominators have Earth, but a combined super-powered force of Wanderers and Legionnaires are on the homeworld of the Dominion (including AT LEAST THREE Kryptonian level powerhouses.) And… they… are… very… ANGRY. Before we get to the swift and blinding violence, we start the issue with a flashback from the villain of the piece, as the Dominator in charge of genetic engineering remembers how he first realized his true calling…

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“The standard curriculum was strictly enforced.” Heh. That’s hysterical, and reminds me of a few poli-sci classes I had back in the “Contract With America” days. Sometimes I miss the sound of slogans and rhetoric echoing down the corridors of Rarick Hall… and then I return to sanity. The Dominator damns his peers and superiors for fools, because a scant 23 years later, the planet is overrun with “the scum of the galaxy,” and we see Colossal Boy and Supergirl leading a Legion/Wanderers charge. They’re in the market for what I term “MPD,” Maximum Property Damage. Now that the team is off Earth, their flight-rings are working again, and they’re CRACKING SKULLS. The Dominator foot-soldiers give their battle cry of “Remember the Fiff-Dee TUU!” and the Legionnaires can’t figure out what it’s supposed to mean. Mekt Ranzz and Cosmic Boy, frankly, could give a rat’s @$$ WHAT it means…

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…they’re busy fighting a war. I have to say that the only thing that hasn’t worked for me with the new artist is C.B.’s hair, it’s more ‘Cosmo Kramer’ than ‘Cosmic Krinn.’ The Dominator Scientist desperately calls upon his caste leaders for assistance, for guidance, but all they have to say is “[we] should have terminated this imbecile the day we met!” Truer words, Caste Leader, truer words… The unnamed (because they’re ALL unnamed) Dominator is appalled that they can’t see all that he’s done for the empire. After all, the empire was barely able to rebuild after the botched invasion of Earth, and even a thousand years later, they haven’t escaped the fear of pink fleshy humanoids. They sign a pact (they don’t call it a “non-aggression treaty” because those concepts, tellingly, don’t have WORDS in the Dominators language) to leave the humans alone, and vice versa, and it works until…

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Oh, Booster. Is there no end to your screw-uppery? The Doms are busy testing their newest Doomsday weapon (because pretty much all Dominator weapons are Doomsday weapons, even their coffee spoons have a detonator) when Booster rushes in. Much as he did to John Henry and Natasha Irons in 52 (stealing the gun they had built to take down Black Adam and popping out with a jaunty “It wouldn’t have worked anyway!”), Mr. Gold horks their gun, and gives a snappy remark (even though none of the Dominators speak English anymore.)

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The paranoid Dominators didn’t get what was exactly said, but their translators DID clarify one phrase: “Fifty-Two Worlds.” They’re horrified, thinking that they’ve been fools to let the Earthers be while they assemble that many planets against them. In a Dominator mind, there’s not other explanation for what happened, and they immediately go into action. Only this scientist was able to figure out a plan, but it would require breaking the ONE taboo of their society: it meant he had to admit that Dominators were not perfect. His plan was simple, to effect metahuman powers in Dominator stock, and he nearly chokes when he has to speak to the Highest Caste Leader…

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From his (incredibly alien and twisted perspective), you almost kind of admire the creature, as he only tried to protect his way of life with the limited information that he had access to. He suddenly unlocks the restraints that are holding back his prisoners (including Legionnaire Sun Boy), but is questioned by one of his creations, a giant Dominator trooper. “My intention was never to DEFEAT the Earth scum, but to INVITE catastrophic war!” The trooper, still indoctrinated, thinks he’s insane, but the scientist serenely tells him that the Dominator society will be destroyed by the monkeys, but that the trooper will live. He and his superhuman kind will be the future of the new Dominion, and that he has done his job by replacing the flawed system…

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And that, my friends, is evolution in action. The scientist dies content, believing that he’s saved his people from an evolutionary dead end. Sun Boy and company escape to help the fight, but at least one Legionnaire is having some problems with Dominion-World.

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Um… Element Lad is RIGHT there? Lead is an ELEMENT? Transform the lead into… I dunno, a Wendy’s double cheeseburger? Is this thing ON? *taptap* Nevermind… Sun Boy and his team arrive just in time to defend Mon and company from a couple of recalcitrant Dominion savages, and Cosmic and Sun Boys have a cute moment. “Sun Boy! We thought you were dead,” exclaims Cos. “For a while, so did I,” replies Dirk. Cosmic Boy replies that he hopes that Sun Boy and company haven’t made any plans, because they’re dusting out the barn, taking down the banjos, heating up the bonfire and thawing out some hot dogs… In other words, there’s gonna be a fight.

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Next issue finally promises an end to the Wanderers saga, and as much as I’ve been enjoying Legion, it’ll be nice to see things calm down for a bit. I would like to see a little bit more of Mon-El, and some more information on the team members who’ve been mostly fighting in the background these last few months. With a cast this sprawling, the high-speed pace of the “Dominator War” has been heck on characterization. I also want to know what’s up with Dream Girl? What was Phantom Girl looking for in the basement of Legion HQ? Is Mon back for good? Is Brainiac crazy? Most of all, I want to know: WHERE’S BLOK???

This was actually surprisingly good, given that I went in a little irritated by the unsolicited changes and missing the ultra-smooth renderings of Barry Kitson. Kevin Sharpe & Mark McKenna do admirable work, and while it’s not Barry Kitson, there are a lot of very talented artists out there who aren’t Barry. The art wasn’t distracting (save for Cosmic Boy’s hair) and though I’m still wary of Tony Bedard (I felt like Exiles took a 360 turn for the worse under his pen), I’m less worried than I was when I heard Mark Waid was leaving this title. Recent events make me wonder about the plans for the Legion, but right now I’m satisfied with this issue. In the words of Randy Jackson, there weren’t any fireworks, but it was a’ight, dawg. Translated for the Jackson-impaired? Bedard and company dealt admirably with a hard task and a lot of storyline baggage, and earned 3 out of 5 stars. I’ll be looking forward to see what the new team does AFTER they wrap up the old team’s big storyline…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

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.

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6 Comments

  1. Brent F.
    May 3, 2007 at 2:11 pm — Reply

    Between this random, but funny, appearance and his story in 52 I’m really stoked for Booster’s new series.

  2. May 3, 2007 at 2:40 pm — Reply

    As am I… I remember when Booster first appeared (am I dating myself?) and thought that his costume was awesome and that they completely wasted his potential, so I’m looking forward to a new take on it.

  3. davek
    May 3, 2007 at 4:16 pm — Reply

    Not to be picky, but I thought it was Lincoln that originated the “Don’t change horses midstream.” I could be wrong.

  4. Brent F.
    May 3, 2007 at 5:02 pm — Reply

    Funny how characters with wasted potential manage to gain vocal fan followings that’ll support the character no matter how many bad stories they throw at them.

  5. May 3, 2007 at 7:15 pm — Reply

    Funny how characters with wasted potential manage to gain vocal fan followings that’ll support the character no matter how many bad stories they throw at them.

    You just described a lot of Legion fandom, man… We take the good… We take the bad. We take ’em both, and there you have The Facts of Life! The Faaacts of Life!!

  6. May 4, 2007 at 8:00 am — Reply

    Not to be picky, but I thought it was Lincoln that originated the “Don’t change horses midstream.” I could be wrong.

    The quote is indeed sometimes attributed to Lincoln, but was used as a campaign slogan by Roosevelt in 1940 and 1944. Suffice to say, either way, it makes me look like a pseudo-intellectual schmuck, thus, it has done it’s job. :)

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