Or – “Will Anything Ever Be As Awesome As The Things We Did When We Were 13?”

When I was around that age, my favorite things included 1,000,000 Dollar Bars, Playboy Magazine, Choose Your Own Adventure Books, and the movie “The Black Hole.”  Now, the chocolate is too sweet, the magazine not nearly as worldly and wise as I had thought, the books predictable and maudlin, and even the wonder that was “The Black Hole” is marred by my internal cinematographer ripping the scenes apart, critiquing the dialogue, and noticing the primitive pre-digital special effects.  When Jim Shooter was 13, he was writing the Legion of Super-Heroes and generating legendary stories every month.  But, the question becomes, how has HIS teenage wasteland aged?

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Previously, on Legion of Superheroes:  In the wake of a devastating war with the Dominators, Legion leader Cosmic Boy left the 30th Century for the 41st, the better to serve as inspiration to an even FURTHER future superteam.  Supergirl was elected in his wake, but her first mission (a search for Cos) led to the discovery of only her leadership deficiencies and a portal home to the 20th Century.  That left her deputy, Lightning Lad, as the new leader of a Legion which he seems woefully incapable of effectively running, and the team in utter chaos.  After some bad personnel decisions, even Garth is questioning his ability to handle the job, but a mysterious someone (Cosmic Boy?  Brainiac 5?  Henry, the Janitor?) edited his mission logs to better distribute the membership, reapportioning the Legion in a very thoughtful fashion.  This doesn’t, however, keep Saturn Girl from commiting multiple felonious telepathic assaults, including on Timber Wolf (!) to keep him from killing strangers.  Princess Projectra, for her part, has found her parents murdered, her life destroyed, and the royal wealth of Orando torn asunder to pay off various debts.  Now, things are about to get bad…

We start out the festivities on the far-flung planet Talok VIII, home of Tasmia Mallor, whom some of us know as Shadow Lass.  Shady is in mid combat with a monstrous semi-humanoid creature with claws, teeth, and dreadlocks of steel.  She is swept aside quickly, as Brainiac 5 teleports right into the middle of her fight.  Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of the unlicensed transport systems he’s using is a violent gastric distress, and the greatest 12th level intellect in the galaxy… loses his lunch.  Right in the path, I might add, of the creature that wants to kill Shadow Lass.  He’s stunned to see the creature analyzing his forceshield, but Shadow Lass quickly blinds, attacks, and beheads it, in that order.  The Talokians quickly start cutting the creature up (some sort of victory ritual, perhaps?) and Brainiac is again amazed to see the corpse teleport away.  “Florg!” he curses.  “It’s gone.”  Can I just say that I have a real problem with the rampant pseudo-future-cursing in this title?  Brainiac has not been portrayed as the type to use the F-word, but “Florg” has been pretty clearly an analogue for it.  It feels awkward and tacked on.  Worst of all, ALL the Legionnaires are “florg”ing and “nass”ing and “frecking gooby”ing all over the place.

Back on Earth, Lightning Lad awakes to finally get good news: his 7 a.m. meeting has been cancelled.  The bad news?  His team is all over the place, with Shadow Lass vomiting, Karate Kid and Light Lass fraternizing, and Timber Wolf raging against Saturn Girl’s telepathic control.  T-Wolf is freed, and goes nearly psychotic with rage that Saturn Girl took over his thoughts. Immediately, the Legionnaires are all aflutter about her transgression, with half the team shocked that she would invade his mind, the other half shocked that anyone would question Imra stopping Brin from killing an innocent man.  The volume goes straight through the roof, until the din is shattered by a massive clap of thunder, accompanied by a huge electrical discharge. “ENOUGH!” cries Lightning Lad, shutting off the voltage and immediately turning to our Mr. Londo. “So, Wolf…  If Saturn Girl hadn’t messed with your mind, you’d be dead or incarcerated right now.  But you’re right…  That’s your business, not hers…  What do you want me to do with her?”  Timber Wolf points out that L.L. won’t do “florg-all” (see what I mean about the f-word?) to his girlfriend, but Garth, amazingly, stands his ground.  “Legionnaires have been EXPELLED for less…  Whatever you say, goes.”  Timber Wolf florgs again that she’d better keep her telepathy to herself, and Saturn Girl agrees, wholeheartedly. 

Lightning Lad orders her to never, ever do this to a teammate again unless there’s no recourse, and she agrees, but he then flat-out orders Timber Wolf that he WILL get control of himself, or he TOO will be out of the Legion.  Phantom Girl and Light Lass are impressed (as am I) by Garth’s handling of a difficult situation, but then he ruins it by explaining that he’s keeping bureaucrats at bay with a fake notice of “Stink-Wart plague.”  Princess Projectra enters, and immediately, someone points out her bracelet, stolen last episode from the auction house that took all her belongings.  The doors suddenly burst open, and half the United Planets bursts in to ruin the team’s fun, including a process server who announces that Projectra is being sued.  A few minutes later, Brainiac has assembled a team to investigate the alien monsters (“There’s just one thing…  Have any of you eaten recently?”  Heh…) while Lightning Lad and Light Lass have a family bonding moment.  “The way you handled Timber Wolf and your girlfriend, and that pushy zorker Brainy…  I’m so proud of you.”  Another fake curse word?  Enough already!  While Triplicate Girl hurls, Karate Kid doesn’t (“Part of my martial arts discipline is total control over every part of my body,” he says.  “We’ver heard some GOSSIP about that,” replies Triplicate Girl before being shushed by herself) and Phantom Girl threatens to, all over Brainiac’s shoes, Invisible Kid goes recruiting.  He is unsuccessful in finding Giselle, the girl from previous issues, and heads home, while Projectra finds out that she CAN, in fact, be held responsible for part of Orando’s debt.  Hounded by autograph seekers, Projectra loses her cool, and we cut to the Legion’s medical bay.  “Saturn Girl!  The Princess!  I think she KILLED someone!!”

This issue reminds me of an old rant from my college days.  Back in the 80’s/early 90’s there was a movie called ‘Young Guns.’  This movie had what I like to call “Shotgun Plotting,” where vignettes were strung together in rough sequence, held together by snappy dialogue and some nice character work.  At several points during this film, the plot was propelled forward by a character running into the room and screaming something (“Charlie’s gettin’ MARRIED!”)  The whole of this issue felt a bit like that, with moment after moment careening into the next, in a thirty car pileup of little personal moments.  As with any storytelling engine, it’s not inherently bad, and this issue worked better for me than the two previous partly because OF that storytelling technique.  Basically, any book with 24 main characters will have to stretch to give them all face-time, and this issue manages to pull it off.  The Projectra subplot is doing nothing for me, but I expect that it will bring Jeckie (one of the Legionnaires Shooter introduced back in the day) to what her progenitor would prefer she be like.  If we take the nice character moments, but subtract the faux naughty words, divide by the strong characterization, but multiple times the somewhat nebulous ‘Big Bad,’ then take it all to the square root of feral Timber Wolf, we get a strong 3 out of 5 star rating…  If only I could find a way to connect THIS storyline with the things that happened in the W/KRP Legion that came before, instead of the Pre-Crisis Legion that was Shooter’s oeuvre, this would be one of the better LSH storylines in recent memory.


 

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. April 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm — Reply

    Shotgun plotting or no, Young Guns was one of the best westerns ever made — ranking right up there with Tombstone.

  2. mosdef
    April 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm — Reply

    to answer your question matthew no. nothing will ever be as awesome as when we were kids, the lack of knowledge coupled with innocence makes things alot more wholesome and fun as a kid so that once we get older we look back and see something if not completely different, it may look kinda dumb. i hate bein a grown up sometimes…

  3. katzedecimal
    April 10, 2008 at 5:39 pm — Reply

    I just loved how the very first appearance of ShooterBoot-Brainy is heralded with a mighty horf. It’s as though he were chucking up all the nastiness he was forced to swallow under the W/KRP — because immediately thereafter, he actually started to exhibit just a wee tad of Brainy-like emotion (mainly frustration ;) )

    The pseudo-cussin’ makes Katze want to smack a squaj. I’m down with ‘sprock’ and ‘nass’ (and ‘squaj’…) but felgercarb, ‘florg’ doesn’t even sound cussish! “Zorker?” – what is this, “the Adventures of Scooby Doo in the 31st (and a half) Century?” Zoinks! – anybody want to place bets on which Legionnaire says “Jinkies?”

  4. April 10, 2008 at 8:21 pm — Reply

    My personal favourite Legionnaire interjection was Tenzil Kem’s “Sweet Maria Sludgebucket!”

  5. katzedecimal
    April 10, 2008 at 9:03 pm — Reply

    Ooo, I like that one XD

  6. April 10, 2008 at 9:14 pm — Reply

    I wasn’t knocking shotgun plotting, Jacin. Hell, I even like Young Guns II, inferior though it is. I was just trying to make a comparison to convey my message…

    “The pseudo-cussin’ makes Katze want to smack a squaj. I’m down with ’sprock’ and ‘nass’ (and ’squaj’…) but felgercarb, ‘florg’ doesn’t even sound cussish! “Zorker?” – what is this, “the Adventures of Scooby Doo in the 31st (and a half) Century?” Zoinks! – anybody want to place bets on which Legionnaire says “Jinkies?””

    My money’s on Triplicate Girl. After all, she’s got the haircut.

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