Monday, January 31, 2011
The Legion: The Great Darkness Saga, part 4
Legion of Super-Heroes #293 (Nov. 1982)
"Within the Darkness"
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artists: Keith Giffen/Larry Mahlstedt
Karen: How about that cover? It really catches your eye, doesn't it? I always enjoy seeing covers where the artist toys with the logo.
Doug: For me, that cover is reminiscent of Batman #194 from 1967 and by Carmine Infantino. I, too, really like the creativity of Giffen's effort here -- it's striking!
Karen: With the fourth part of our story, we're picking up steam. All the Legionnaires, including Superboy, have been called in in an effort to locate the Master. Six cruisers full of Legionnaires accompany those heroes who are able to travel through space unaided. The Legionnaires are still trying to figure out who the Master is -and how they can possibly stop someone who has stripped the powers from their greatest foes.
Doug: Again, we've remarked that the cat's out of the bag on this two-decades-later re-read. But I'll tell you -- if I had actually read this at the time of publication, I'd have been stumped. This slow reveal is really good -- very suspenseful! And I just love any story when all of the good guys are called together, to fight a menace no single hero could withstand!
Karen: There are a lot of scenes with various Legionnaires, expressing their concerns over the situation. We check in again on the mysterious baby the team found on the Sorcerer's World -who seems to be growing rapidly. There's also a look at the fallout from the Legion election -with perennial second place winner Element Lad letting off some steam at Dream Girl.
Doug: Did you think the new Invisible Kid was getting too much face time in this storyline? I know we've previously discussed "pet characters"; is that what's going on here? And re: the baby -- and again, this is looking at this story with the lens of history -- is the pay-off going to be solid? I mean, I know there's only one ish left in this arc. So this kid is basically going to get 4-5 panels over two issues, and then solve this existence-as-we-know-it-is-about-to-end problem in one concluding installment?
Karen: I was never particularly fond of this Invisible Kid. As you say, it sort of felt like the pet character syndrome here. I kind of liked that the old Invisible Kid was a scientist too. As for the baby -well, you know he's just a plot device!
Karen: Meanwhile the Master has made his way to the planet Daxam, and manages to mentally enslave all 3 billion inhabitants. To top it off, he somehow causes Daxam to be switched physically with his own dead world, so that Daxam is now in orbit of a yellow sun. Of course, that makes all the Daxamites as super-powered as Mon-El.
Doug: Again, I'm not a Fourth World authority by any stretch of the imagination. But, could this really happen? I don't recall our Dark Foe as having anywhere near that sort of power. Kirbyphiles, fill me in!
Karen: My impression is that he got souped-up by all the power he stole, but like you, I wouldn't call myself an expert on this character by any means! The Legionnaires encounter the Servants on a planet that should be Daxam -of course, we know about the Master's switcheroo. They wind up getting their butts kicked, at least until Superboy shows up to defeat his pseudo-clone. Brainy starts putting things together with that big brain of his, realizing what 3 billion super-powered Daxamites could do.
Karen: Speaking of those guys, their Master has given them their first task: he has them use their heat vision to turn their once-beautiful world into a molten ball and then sculpt it into his image. Finally the Master is revealed...as Darkseid! What, you mean you already knew?
Doug: This was megalomania at it's best! Or worst... Hey, in regard to how Giffen drew Darkseid? Think he's a little slim? I think of him as just massive. Thanos-like. Oh, wait -- we haven't discussed that yet. Was Thanos Marvel's (or at least Jim Starlin's) answer to Darkseid?
Karen: If I recall correctly Doug, Starlin was influenced by the Kirby Fourth World characters, and editor Roy Thomas encouraged him to beef up Thanos, who originally had a more normal build. I believe Roy is to have said, "Let's show DC how to do Darkseid!" That might be apocryphal, but who knows. There's certainly a similarity.
Karen: Here, in the penultimate issue, it finally feels like we're getting somewhere. We had some nice action and events on a huge scale -the re-shaping of Daxam is really pretty awesome. Things seem quite desperate for the team.
Doug: Again, kudos to Levitz and Giffen on the pace of the story. What seemed like a dragger at the outset became a tension-filled slow reveal, and in my worthless opinion seemed to hit pay dirt as we head to the last issue. I think I would have enjoyed this story off the spinner rack when I was 16 -- if I had been reading comics at that time!