Or – “Did NOT See That One Coming.”

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For all the love I give the original incarnation of the Legion, it’s sometimes important to note that the book does still come out monthly, and while we’re a couple of reboots down the line, I feel like the creative minds behind it are again firing on all cylinders. Aside from my ongoing lament about the loss of the less powerful or later-period original Legionnaires, (Bouncing Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Tyroc, and the Substitute Heroes are mostly missing, and later characters like Wildfire, Dawnstar, & Blok are, as yet, undepicted) and echoing Christopher Bird’s sentiment that Ultra Boy is a musclehead but NOT a complete moron, the “threeboot” Legion is consistently reminding me why I love this title in the first place.

Previously, on Supergirl & The Legion of Superheroes: a mysterious woman claiming to be the legendary Kara Zor-El appeared in the 30th century. Meanwhile, a quasi-military force known as The Wanderers arrived on Earth, trapping the Legion within LSH1.jpgtheir own headquarters. When the team escaped, (thanks to the help of the legendary Mon-El, freed from the Kryptonian Phantom Zone thanks to Brainiac 5) they found that the Wanderers weren’t the TRUE enemy, but were in fact trying to help repel an attack by The Dominators, an alien hegemony dedicated to the destruction of an imaginary alliance against them. Mekt Ranzz, Wanderer leader, and Cosmic Boy created a plan wherein Cos was kidnapped, only to spring a trap from INSIDE the Dominator’s own headquarters. The Legionnaires are able to invade Dominator homeworld, and we find that the perceived threat to the Dominion is actually a mistaken impression inadvertently created by the actions of Booster Gold. The Dominator homeworld is ill-equipped to repel an attack by a superhuman force as powerful as the combined Wanderer/Legion strike team, and we start this issue with a solemn moment… a funeral procession for Mon-El of Daxam, apparently lost in battle. Seven days later, we find Cosmic Boy and Mekt strategizing, opining that the war is essentially won, and that Brainiac has both cured the technoplague on Earth AND made a stargate that can get them home. And now, the bad news…

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Sun Boy points out, rightfully, that a full-on Legion assault will LITERALLY tear the planet in half, but Mekt doesn’t believe that Cos has the stones for it. Dream Boy thinks Mekt shouldn’t be so sure, since he can SEE the future, and he knows Mekt is wrong. “Cos… Explain to them about the BOMB you’ve got Brainy building.” Everyone falls silent, staring at Cosmic Boy, who deadpans, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “That’s not what Dream Girl told me!” replies the young precognitive, and everyone is confused, since Dream Girl is currently suffering from a minor outbreak of “death.”

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Brainiac blows off the questions about Dream Girl with, “It’s complicated… The short form is, we have once more benefitted from my genius.” High above the world, though not floating in their tin cans, Mon-El and Supergirl continue thrashing the Dominators infra-structure, but it’s obviously that the lead poisoning is continuing to ravage Mon’s system, so much so that Supergirl has to nearly carry him back to the team. Brainiac continues readying his device, while the team members grill Cosmic Boy for the truth. Is it really a bomb? He grudgingly admits that it is, that the Dominators must be stopped by any means necessary. Worse than that, Mekt points out, there’s no delivery system. Somebody has to fly the bomb in manually, and will probably be killed in the attempt. Supergirl arrives in time to point out the advantages of Kryptonian genes. “I’m the obvious candidate for that kinda stuff. You know… Invulnerable?” Brainiac 5 doubts that she can be responsible for the death of 5 billion sentients, and the debate rages for a moment before Cosmic Boy gets involved.

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The crowd returns to a dull roar, with half the people disbelieving that Cos is this cold, and Mekt infuriated. “Have you lost your mind?” asks Lightning Lad. “He won’t survive! He can barely stand up as it is!” Cosmic Boy points out that he has the best chance, and even IF he gets back to Earth okay, Brainiac has to rebuild the multilab and find the ingredients, and then Mon himself weighs in, with the caveat that even all of that will only work if the poisoning isn’t already irreversible. Angered at being left out of the decision, Mekt once again tries to force his way into control…

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The Kryptonite gambit works (and also proves that Cosmic Boy is a badass in his own right) and Mon makes C.B. promise that he’ll get the team home safely. Cos agrees, then Mon-El turns to the group and takes a moment to deliver his own epitaph. “Go… and don’t judge Cos. He’s right.” He reminds them that by all rights, he should have died 1000 years ago, but that the last few days have brought him back to true life, making him part of something bigger than himself. “Thank you all for letting me live again… if only for a little while.” Mon flies away, weakly, and uses the last of his strength to bore to the center of the Dominator planet as the team transports home using the gateway. We return to the present of the future, as the Mon-El funeral ends with Cosmic Boy saying a few words. “We have always said that the Legion isn’t a team. It’s a movement. In any system, on any world in known space, anyone who is willing to fight for CHANGE is welcome to call himself a Legionnaire. At last count, we numbered over a quarter of a million…”

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As things slowly return to normal (or as normal as Legion events get), Cosmic Boy, Dream Boy and Phantom Girl discuss what REALLY happened, and finally explain what she was looking for in the basement of Legion HQ last issue: The Phantom Zone projector. Cos was concerned that Mekt actually BELIEVED it when he said he owned Mon-El, and with Dream Boy’s help, they cooked up the “bomb” scheme, when actually young Master El and the entire Dominator homeworld have been shifted into the zone. As the results of the leader elections start to come in, Cos is torn, wanting on the one hand to continue his term, but on the other to move on to new pastures. “Take a break or take command. Either one, doesn’t matter,” advises Phantom Girl. “As of five minutes ago, Ultra Boy and Karate Kid were leading the election, and it’s coming down to the wire. ANYTHING could happen.” Rokk returns to his quarters, to think about her words, when the completely unthinkable occurs…

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This is a truly awesome moment for Cosmic Boy, and echoes the moment 50 years ago when he, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl made the same offer to a young Superboy Tom Welling, the greatest hero of his own era. At the same moment, the final results of the election come in, and the other two founders rush in to tell Cosmic Boy the news (it’s not explicitly stated, but from their tone, I think he won leadership again.) When they can’t find him, Saturn Girl scans, and finds no trace of their partner. “I don’t think he wanted us to WORRY, though. He left us something to remember him by.” They see the statue of the three founders, with Cosmic Boy’s own flight ring hanging from it… he’s gone.

This issue is the swansong I was afraid we had missed from Waid and Kitson, the last notes of the Legion symphony they’ve been writing since issue one. The constant Legion theme throughout the years has been one of sacrifice, and I was happy to see that it lived on in Mon-El (though happier still to see one of my favorite LSHers cheat death.) The moment where Mekt Ranzz and his brother Garth (Lightning Lad) agreed to reconcile was perfect, and Dream Boy, Phantom Girl, and even Brainiac 5 had character-defining moments throughout. With the mystery of Supergirl still unanswered, and a well-established member at least temporarily gone, the playing field is wide open for new writer Tony Bedard to go wherever his whims take him. Barry Kitson’s art was near-perfect throughout, and the issue ended with such a goosebump-inducing moment that it wouldn’t be fair to give it less that 4.5 stars out of 5. The next few issues should be interesting, and I’m keeping an eye on the ‘Lightning Saga’ as well, for whatever developments are coming… If nothing else, this stands as an excellent run of Legion, probably the best Post-Crisis run the team has ever had, and gives testament to the longevity of the core concepts. Long live the Legion…

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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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4 Comments

  1. Mark I.
    May 29, 2007 at 1:54 pm — Reply

    Neat. So, the “Knights Tempus,” huh? They’re shadowed because their individuality is pointless to the story, right? Not because they’re EVILLLLL? Great.

    Anyhoo…Knights TEMPUS? Like TIME? Like TIME TRAPPER? How’s that dude’s continuity these days? Still involve Rokk?

  2. May 29, 2007 at 2:02 pm — Reply

    There is no sign of the Time Trapper in the current incarnation of the Legion…

    *ominous musical stinger*

  3. Randall W
    May 29, 2007 at 9:58 pm — Reply

    What it looks like to me is that Cosmic boy wins the election but before he can be told, which may affect his decision to go with them, some strange people turn up spinning a story about him being the greatest hero and they want him to join them. So Cosmic boy, who may have gone on to lead the Legion to greatness instead dissapears. Seems to me some strange people just removed a possible threat to their future plans.

  4. May 30, 2007 at 9:08 am — Reply

    It’s always possible, and a perfectly valid read on the situation… But Mark Waid likes his happy endings… and frankly, so do I. Until I’m told different, I’ll stick with my initial interpretation.

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