Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Barry Kitson (p), Mick Gray (i), Nathan Eyring (colors)
Publisher: DC Comics
Despite all the indications a few months ago that I should drop Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, I stuck with this series because I wanted to see how 52 factored into Supergirl’s appearance in the 31st century. It’s taken far too long (and we’re not there yet), but my perseverance is starting to pay off, and the explanation of Supergirl’s appearance is on the horizon.
As for the latest issue, it is a well-written chapter in an ongoing arc about the Dominators attempting to take control of Earth (and the United Planets) by creating an artificial intelligence (AI) that can take control of all mechanical devices on Earth. In effect, the Dominators are controlling the AI entity known as The Construct that Steve Englehart introduced into the DC universe way back in Justice League of America (first series) #142 and #146—though there have not been any specific references to Englehart’s stories.
The action in Waid’s current story doesn’t seem forced merely for the sake of having action in the way that Marvel’s Mighty Avengers #1 does. Instead, we are given a context for the fighting and other action that is going on in the story.
The Legion is working with The Wanderers (lead by Mekt Ranzz) to try to prevent the takeover by The Dominators. However, Mekt is insistent on trying to take an offensive approach (and leading his troops to slaughter) while allowing the United Planet delegates to fall to The Dominators. Meanwhile, The Legion is intent on taking a defensive position—which, of course, is not how victories are achieved.
One of the things I like about this story is how Waid avoids the clichés that longtime comic book readers have come to expect in these types of stories. While I think it’s safe to say that The Dominators will eventually be defeated at the end of the arc (though not necessarily a certainty), Waid manages to surprise his audience in the meantime with a few unexpected twists.
For instance, The Legion attempts to save the UP delegates by getting them out of the United Planets Building and teleporting them to safety off world. However, since The Dominators are controlling all mechanical devices through their AI program, teleporting the UP delegates to safety is no easy task.
To accomplish the salvation of the delegates, Brainiac Five requires a “screen” that will block AI infiltration of the area in which he’s attempting to piece together a teleporter. That “screen” is provided by The Wanderer known as Plant Lad (formerly Chlorophyll Kid in old Legion continuity), who grows a thicket of trees around Brainiac Five. The machines controlled by The Dominators’ AI program have difficulty penetrating heavily wooded areas.
However, a tenth-level Coluan (from The Wanderers) messes up something while working on the teleporter with Brainiac Five, and the device starts shooting out sparks as it’s powered up. Additionally, now that the device has been activated, the AI program can begin to take control of this machine.
Of course, Brainiac Five is able to fix the problem with the teleporter in a matter of minutes, and Cosmic Boy orders the delegates through the gateway.
Up to this point, there really isn’t anything that we wouldn’t have expected in a Legion story from 20 (or even 40) years ago. We now expect the delegates to make it through the gate with seconds to spare—allowing The Legion to achieve the first victory against The Dominators that will change the course of the conflict. However, that’s not what happens.
Instead, the AI program was able to take control of the teleportation device just as the delegates started entering the gate. Rather than teleporting off world in the nick of time, the delegates are sliced to pieces by the gate—with hands and feet presumably making it off world while the rest of their bodies remain on Earth.
As the delegates scream in agony while twisting on the ground, all Cosmic Boy can say is, “Grab the survivors! Get them out of here!”
Other expected twists also occur in this arc. A few of the additional things that I like about this story are:
- A splash page with an image of a Dominator holding the Earth in the palm of his hand as he says, “Remember the Fifffdee-Tu.” Apparently, whatever happened to The Dominators in the last eight issues of 52 is something so significant to their society that they have adapted this battle cry—similar to the “Remember the Alamo” battle cry of Sam Houston’s army during the Battle of San Jacinto in the Texas Revolutionary War.
- The appearance of old continuity Legion characters—such as the aforementioned Chlorophyll Kid now known as Plant Lad (which, of course, is still a stupid name, but at least it’s slightly better than “Chlorophyll Kid”).
- Finally, I’m happy to report that the battle cry for this incarnation of The Legion has not been heard for several issues now. I hope I never again have to read the words “Eat it, Grandpa” in this series.
Yes, for those who abandoned this series a few months ago, The Legion of Super-Heroes really is worth coming back to. Mark Waid and new Legion editor Mike Marts seem to know what they’re doing.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!