Legion Of Super-Heroes #6 – Review Of Old Comics
Because I’m drawing a blank on what old comic to read next, let’s get back to covering the Legion of Super-Heroes stories that hooked me in the 1980’s. When last we left the Legion of this Era, Shadow Lass and Mon-El thwarted Lady Memory on Talok VIII. Five Legionnaires are missing in Limbo and Lightning Lass and Lightning Lord got inadvertently abducted by Zymyr.
Like with most of the Baxter series, I read this issue after the fact, probably years after it first came out. I’m also thinking about if I want to stop this around issue twelve, which is about where I took a sabbatical from the Legion. I did that because it was at this point that I couldn’t regularly get to a comic shop. I tried to place it where it fell chronologically with Tales of the Legion. While Dream Girl is talking about returning to Earth, Lightning Lass isn’t at the group meeting in Tales of the Legion #318. I guess that there was a long sabbatical on Winath at the end of this story.
Writer: Paul Levitz
Penciller: Joe Orlando
Inker: Larry Mahlstedt
Colorist: Gene D’Angelo
Letterer: John Costanza
On an uncharted world, Zymyr is upset that in fleeing from the defeat of the Legion of Super-Villains, he had two unintentional stowaways in Lightning Lord and Lightning Lass. His robots take them to his laboratory. They fight back a little, but Zymyr puts them to sleep so he can probe their memories.
Growing up on Winath, Mekt Ranzz was a bully to his younger siblings. Being a solo birth was unusual on Winath, so Mekt was apparently acting out his ostracizing from society. One day the three siblings were on a space speeder to a party. Their ship was running out of power and they were forced to make an emergency landing on Korbal. They tried to charge the ship with energy from the indigenous lightning beasts. The beasts attacked the trio instead, giving them lightning powers.
Zymyr decides he will use the two captives to power his machinery, and leaves to make preparations. Mekt blames their ordeal on Ayla for not joining the Legion of Super-Villains. Ayla wishes she were safe with the other Legionnaires.
On Earth, Dream Girl lets Cosmic Boy, Wildfire and Invisible Kid know that until they find the missing Legionnaires, she’ll act as leader. Invisible Kid can’t control the power that let him pull Wildfire to the Dream Dimension for assistance. This leads to an argument between the two that ends with Cosmic Boy hoping the escaped members of the Super-Villains are lost as well.
Lightning Lord and Ayla decide to work together to escape. Their escape leads them into the clutches of an underwater creature. As she loses consciousness, Ayla remembers how when her brother Lightning Lad died savign Earth, she impersonated him to take his place in the Legion. Ayla and Mekt are rescued from the creature by Zymyr’s robots and placed under capture again.
This sparks Ayla’s memories of Lightning Lad coming back to life. Her time in the Legion would be limited. Two Legionnaires couldn’t have the same powers, according to the constitution. Dream Girl then gimmicked an explosion in a way that would change Ayla’s powers into the ability to make things super-light. She took the new name of Light Lass. She stayed in the Legion and eventually met and fell in love with her new teammate Timber Wolf.
Zymyr arrives into his zoo where Mekt and Ayla are being held by the robots. The pair fight back with their lightning powers. Mekt threatens to wreck everything with his powers unless Zymyr returns them home with a space warp. The villain relents.
In Limbo, Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, Shrinking Violet, Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl drift in the void. Ultra Boy finds a nearby inhabited planet. They steer their bubble towards the planet.
Ayla and Mekt arrive on Winath, almost exactly where she was abducted. Ayla is willing to let Mekt go free, but he attacks. When he threatens the nearby children that rush to her defense, Ayla subdues him with her lightning. Mekt has reminded her why she was with the Legion all of those years. After the Science Police have taken Mekt away, she takes a long rest. After recuperating, she says goodbye to Winath and rejoin the Legion as Lightning Lass.
Spotlight issues became a tradition under Paul Levitz. There was a great one with Cosmic Boy that really defined the character. Star Boy’s spotlight answered the question of his changed powers. Wildfire’s spotlight added depth to the brash character that had been depicted in the 1970s. This one doesn’t add very much. It just provides a bridge to bring Lightning Lass back to the Legion. That’s necessary, I suppose, but it doesn’t mean that new information could have been added about Ayla dealing with suspecting Timber Wolf of cheating on her, or more of the reasons for her leaving the Legion.
Paul Levitz had a set method of constructing a story that had the “A” plot being broken up by advancements in the subplots. Some artists could make these transitions easier. Before he left, Keith Giffen became a master of it. Steve Lightle got very good at it, as did Greg Larocque at times. Joe Orlando, unfortunately, was not.
I have heard through interviews with artists that worked on the Legion that Paul Levitz pretty much worked with “Marvel-style” scripts. This was because he was simultaneously the publisher at DC Comics. Joe Orlando is one of those artists from before the Silver Age, and seldom did those guest spots work well in Legion stories of this period. Perhaps much of it may come from the fact that Orlando wore multiple hats at DC, specifically heading up the special projects department. I don’t know if he was still working in that capacity at the time he drew this story, but there are pages that look very rushed.
If you’re looking for the issue itself, then you should be able to find it without too much searching. Don’t pay more than a few dollars for it, as you can probably find a copy in bargain boxes. If you want to read it digitally, then you can find it on Comixology and DC Universe. This issue was collected in Legion of Super-Heroes: An Eye For An Eye (ISBN: 978-1-4012-15699). That collection is out of print, but not for so long, that a copy shouldn’t be locatable with a little searching.
Final Rating: 5.0 (out of 10)
There’s just so much that keeps this comic from elevating beyond just an average comic. It is a low point for the Baxter series, but not representative of the series as a whole.