L.E.G.I.O.N. ’89 #7 – Reviews Of Old Comics
TRIGGER WARNING: This comic features content that may be distressing to people sensitive to the subject of sexual assault.
It’s amazing what a difference time makes with comic book stories. As a Legion fan, I picked up L.E.G.I.O.N. for it’s links to the 30th century. It had to fight against the perception of being the ancestors of some key Legionnaires conveniently teaming up a thousand years before their descendants would find themselves on the same team. In that first year, efforts were made to fight this, with the inclusion of characters unrelated to the Legion. Among those characters was Stealth.
Stealth was a mystery. Her powers were an ability to cancel out sound around her and baffle any attempts to detect her. She was hard to analyze with technology, which eventually came from the nature of her race’s reproduction, which was very genetically regressive. She was physically formidable, but on a team with a giant rock creature and the Shadow Champion of Lallor, she was easy to dismiss. However, this issue came about which put her into a new light.
This is where it gets a little troublesome. Stealth’s mystery takes a drastic turn in this issue resulting in multiple murders and sexual assault, all committed by Stealth. In 1989, this could be perceived as flipping the script on women being assaulted by men, but in today’s climate, it doesn’t sit as well. If this were another web site, this issue might make the list of “times DC Comics went too far” or “things DC Comics doesn’t want you to remember.” Since it’s me, it gets a listing in Reviews of Old Comics.
Plot/Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Script: Alan Grant
Penciller: Barry Kitson
Inker: Mark McKenna
Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski
Letterer: Gaspar (Saladino)
This cover is awesome. I’ve always preferred covers without any captions, word balloons or other blurbs touting the issue. Great cover art can sell the issue on its own, and Kevin Maguire is one of those artists that could deliver it.
Now it’s time to deal with the elephant in the room for this comic. Stealth commits several sexual assaults. It’s seen as horrific by those that learn of it, but the Durlan does nothing to alert anyone of it, and by the time Dox learns, it’s too late for him. In subsequent issues, Stealth’s crimes are not punished or condemned, but otherwise ignored. Dox makes her an officer in L.E.G.I.O.N.. They even cover up her assault on Dox.
As time has gone on, this element doesn’t age well at all. It’s a hard sell for getting anyone interested in this series, even as an ancillary series to Legion of Super-Heroes or Lobo. The scripting tries to juxtapose it with Lobo’s brutality, but it’s a false comparison. Lobo’s brutality is for the sake of carnage, while Stealth is exerting power over others and satisfy baser desires that go beyond the need to murder.
As for the story itself, it shows why Lobo as a character had to be curtailed. Lobo is a parody. In making him a regular character in a series, he has to be taken down the power level ladder. As a result of this scheme Dox uses to take out the drug lords, Lobo’s unique reproductive quality of growing instant clones from his blood is rendered inoperative. It needed to be done, and outside of the next issue’s rage, Lobo doesn’t get dramatically changed by it at all.
Dox’s character takes his ultimate turn here. His motives are explained as genuinely for the best, but a lack of empathy or morality doesn’t place limits on him using those around him to further his ends. It’s also nice that it takes several issues to get the team called L.E.G.I.O.N. in place, evenm though that doesn’t happen until around the eleventh issue.
The art by Barry Kitson shows some of the element s that got refined for his more recent work. A lot of the lack of appeal may come down to inker Mark McKenna. Within two years, Kitson would be inking himself and showing a lot more detail. Here, the end product was sparser, and left the book looking unremarkable. The core is there, but the end result is lackluster.
This issue has not been collected, to the best of my research. L.E.G.I.O.N. never had very much impact on the rest of the DC Continuity. Just recently, Vril Dox reappeared in the DC Continuity, making this series more interesting. However, to own a copy of this issue, you certainly shouldn’t spend too much. It should be easy to find in well-stocked bargain boxes. While not apparently on Comixology, it can be found for Kindle, and may be available on other digital platforms that have escaped my notice.
Final Rating: 5.0 (out of 10)
The sexual assault wipes out any advantage the writing gives this book. I feel that calling this an average comic doesn’t get into how badly this has aged.