Or – “When The Whole World Has Been Turned Upside-Down!”

The first four issues of this book have set multiple plots in motion and focused more on Earth-Man than on any of the other Legionnaires, leading to some consternation on the part of fandom.  As for me, I’m irritated in a quiet way, and hope to see either a massive Smackdown or a legitimate Face Turn to resolve the whole thing, all the while knowing that I more than likely won’t be happy either way.  At least my inevitable self-generated disappointment won’t come as a surprise…

Legion of Super-Heroes #5
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
1:10 Variant cover by JIM LEE & SCOTT WILLIAMS
Colors by HI-FI
Published by DC COMICS

Previously, on Legion of Super-Heroes:  All the Legionnaires have been thrown asunder in the wake of the near-collapse of the United Planets and, coincidentally, the universe.  After saving it all (with the help of the Archie and WKRP Legions) the team has returned to action under the auspices of the U.P., but has been forced to take Earthgov’s handpicked Legionnaire Earth-Man into their ranks.  While dealing with the sociopath in their midst, the team was taken by surprised when Titan was destroyed in a disaster, while followers of Darkseid kidnapped Garridan and Graym Ranzz from right under their telepathic mothers nose.  The heroes have been sidetracked by the attack of Saturn Queen of the Legion of Super-Villains as well as a Green Lantern ring that wants to restart the Corps in the 31st Century.  Something that does raise a question, though, is the fact that Earth-Man is apparently completely fearless and completely honest, which may mean that he’s less of a raging intergalactic d-bag than his actions to date have indicated…

We open on Earth, in someplace called “Painted Desert Camp,” where a shuttle full of Titanian refugees has crashed, causing the lost souls within to have to deal with another trauma on top of the hell they’ve been through since their entire homeworld was destroyed.  (It’s not a planet, which makes it hard to write about.)  As the Legionnaires go into action, we get a lot of exposition in a short time, but somehow this issue makes it seem a bit less to bite off than the previous issues.  Sun Boy gets some badass time, melting the damaged shuttle to harmless slag, but the team is surprised by the arrival of an armored strike force calling itself the “Earth Force.”  (Aren’t those the guys with Egyptians helmets who used to hang out with Thor?  Yep.)  Projectra is knocked out as the action shifts to Naltor.  A wise man once asked why the Naltorians don’t see everything coming, and it’s a fair cop, but Legionnaire Dream Girl clearly knows it.  She is not surprised to see Dyogene (the energy creature who tried to recruit Earth-Man to the GLC in previous issues) but doesn’t know who he’s come to recruit or why.  Turns out that Professor Li, the woman who probably blew up Titan is being targeted, but she rebukes the power of the Guardians with some VERY harsh words, entreated the creature to “Find another fool!”  Adriana wondered what was up with this chick in our review of issue #1, but it’s becoming clear that something’s very wrong with her.

Back in the Painted Desert, the Legionnaires and the Earth Force throw down, and Dirk “Sun Boy” Morgna and Gim “Colossal Boy” Allon find that the xenophobic warriors are pulling back, making Dirk wonder if the fact that both Legionnaires are from Earth is causing the enemy to go easy on them.  Timber Wolf gets a big ol’ @$$-kicking moment, but even he is eventually overcome, leaving only Sun Boy standing.  The Earth Force zaps him with some sort of sapping-ray, draining his solar energies away.  Just as Sun Boy is about to fall, he is supported by his teammate…  Earth-Man?  “The question I’ll bet you’re asking yourself is…  Who is he here to help?” asks the former Absorbency Boy.  Back at Legion headquarters, Cosmic Boy chews out Brainiac 5, who has stayed behind to repair the damaged time bubble with the help of ancient insect teacher Circadia Senius.  Things get weird, as an old friend is killed at Science Police headquarters, Circadia reveals something strange about the mysterious Doctor L, and Earth-Man seems to be on a path to redemption as Cos and the backup squad arrive from Metropolis.  The Legionnaires overcome the Earth-Force, and Earth-Man leads his new teammates to the center of his former friends, the xenophobic conspiracy that he refused to help last issue.  “Since I got this ring, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about who our kind really is…  And my kind sure as hell doesn’t include YOU!” rages Earth-Man at his former pals.  The issue ends with a surprising “House and Cuddy” moment that makes you wonder why Phantom Girl doesn’t know how to knock.

I admit it, I’m surprised that they’re doing a full-fledged redemption bit here, especially given that Geoff Johns essentially portrayed Earth-Man as an unrepentant sociopath with no compunctions about the worst crimes imaginable in the defense of his people.  But hey, that was more than 2 years ago, and thus as far as official continuity goes, it never happened.  (That’s not a dig at DC, mind you, just a statement on the status quo of comics in general these days.)  I’m a little surprised at the actions of one of our LSH pals this issue, but it was pretty clearly foreshadowed in previous issues (and even more obviously, on this month’s cover, if you know where to look) what was going to happen.  Much as Avengers did earlier in the week, this book presently surprised me, turning some of my expectations of blah on their head and going in a direction that both surprises and pleases me, sort of.  Legion of Super-Heroes #5 is a welcome improvement, with lovely art by Yildiray Cinar and Wayne Faucher, and while I still want more XS, more Gates, more Matter-Eater Lad and more anybody who isn’t Earth-Man, it’s still getting less annoying to read the book, resulting in a run-on sentence from hell and 3.5 out of 5 stars overall

Rating: ★★★½☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  If Earth-Man really does make a full Face Turn, does it actually mitigate his horrible actions and attempted murder of Legionnaires in previous arcs?  Or is this another “Darth-Vader-throws-the-Emperor-down-a-well” moment?

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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  1. J Michael T
    September 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm — Reply

    re: your question of the day… I’m not sure, since I decided to pick up this series after not looking at the Legion for years, and I’m mostly aware of Earth-Man’s “past” via your comments. I’m not sure I will Feel much if he turns into a good guy. For this I blame the many, many reboots!!

    I listened to this weekend’s podcast right before I read this post. Does your stand on the Legion title change after this issue? I’m still on wait-and-see mode. But the end is near …

  2. Navarre
    September 29, 2010 at 7:35 am — Reply

    re: Question of the Day:

    I believe all people are capable of redemption and deserving of forgiveness if truly remorseful.

    I really don’t care in the case of Earth-Man. This is a reflection of an uninteresting character as opposed to the concept in question.

  3. TaZ
    September 29, 2010 at 9:09 am — Reply

    If there is no such thing as redemption, if a man or woman cannot decide that their past paths were wrong and they seek to walk a new path then we don’t need heroes…we need a black ops team to take everyone “bad” out.

  4. Luis Dantas
    September 30, 2010 at 5:52 am — Reply

    Redemption is one thing, but turning full-fledged psychopaths into “misunderstood” or “previously confused” heroes bugs me. To this day I wonder why USAgent is still tolerated. Earth-Man was completely despicable in his Action Comics storyline, and you will notice that he is basically turning against those that support him as of late. I won’t quite trust him yet.

    Still, Earth-Man may well be getting better. But it will take years for him to reach the level of maturity that makes him hero material all the same. At best he is now a goof attempting to Learn Better. Without some sort of continuity-defying cheat that is the best possible reading for him.

    Maybe there is something very wrong with Professor Li, but it seems to me that there is something wronger with Dyogene, if his taste for GL standard-bearers is any hint. I’m betting that Dyogene will be revealed to be Parallax – or for a good joke, maybe it is Ganthet trying to show that he did not choose too badly with Kyle Rayner way back then. Either way, I don’t expect a true reestablishement of the GLC in the future.

  5. MarkW
    September 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm — Reply

    In the context of Levitz’s new Legion run a face turn by EM makes sense, but when you read the new volume back to back with the Action comics run (as I did last night) it’s VERY jarring. It might as well not be the same character. Johns’ makes it pretty clear that EM was not simply a do gooder who took “the ends justify the means” to an extreme. His whole rant about how it should have been him in the Legion instead of Clark Kent suggest heavily that his motivation for going after the Legion wasn’t simply for the benefit of Earth.

    But, an imature character with a chip on his shoulder can be pretty easily deluded. It’s not out of the realm of possiblity that being around the Legion and being a member would cause him to rather quickly see things in a different light. And lets not forget what Brainy is potentially doing to him through his flight ring.

  6. Mijder
    October 5, 2010 at 4:01 pm — Reply

    Reposting most of this from a post I made earlier today on facebook, so please forgive me.
    I still think too much stuff is happening off-panel with this book.
    The fight with Timberwold was really disappointing, because they show the lead up to it and they cut away and a few panels someone says, “Well Timberwolf got his ass kicked.” I’m sorry, but if a badass like Brin Londo (pulled that out of the back of my geeky brain, yay me) gets taken down by a mob…I WANT TO SEE IT! There lots of moments like that in the book. The first panel is the Legion rescuing some Titan refuges from a sabotaged transport ship AFTER it has crashed. A little bit later, Princess Projectra and a bunch of the other Legionnaires are set upon by some xenophobic terrorists and the next panel we see Projectra falling out of the sky and are then are informed via DIALOGUE that the terrorists used a really cool SOUNDING grenade on her that overwhelmed her SENSORY powers.
    It is like they are writing for a radio play or doing the comic like they have a low special effect budget. This is comics guys! The visual sky is the limit. Hell, I know Levitz can do it. I’ve got 100+ comics in boxes upstairs showing him doing it!

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