Reviews of Old Comics: Legion of Super-Heroes #309

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #309

March 1984

I’m picking back up my reviews of old Legion comics from the period that I started regularly buying Legion of Super-Heroes. I held off to avoid getting into a rut, but let’s pick back up where we left off, in the middle of the Omen/Prophet story line, which had good intentions, but failed to have the impact of the Great Darkness Saga.

SYNOPSIS:

Ultra Boy issues an ultimatum to the Prophet, who continues his warnings about a great evil threatening everything. Timber Wolf attacks and is quickly rebuffed, leading the small group of Legionnaires, Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass and Invisible Kid to attack. Despite very valiant efforts, the attack is futile.

Elsewhere, an old man approaches a castle delivering a message from his masters for them to surrender the castle or watch it fall. The slam the door in his face. At Legion HQ, Brainiac 5 is attempting once again to get Computo out of the body of Danielle Foccart, but fails again when Computo briefly awakens before Brainiac 5 can tranquilize him.

On another planet, Omen realizes the Prophet is missing and departs to address the problem. The Prophet panics when he realizes that his duplicity has been discovered and prepares to annihilate the Legionnaires that have opposed him on Khundia. The Khundian warlords accuse UP Ambassador Relnic of using the diplomatic mission to bring Legionnaires to Khundia to attack, despite evidence Relnic points out that the Legionnaires are fighting an invader on behalf of the Khunds. He sends in the Legionnaires that accompanied him to Khundia, just in time to stop the Prophet’s deadly attack. Their combined attacks fare no better in harming the Prophet until Invisible Kid notices that the Prophet’s eyes are reflecting sunlight, despite Khundia being in a state of perpetual eclipse. He directs Shadow Lass to place her deepest shadows into his eyes, which render the Prophet vulnerable to a physical assault, just as Omen arrives, filling the sky above the Legionnaires.

In a second story, Projectra and Karate Kid find their honeymoon spoiled when they are attacked by her brother Pharoxx, who has taken over the resort planet that they were staying at. Karate Kid defeats him in single combat, which prompts “others” to teleport Pharoxx away.

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REVIEW:

Much better than the previous issue, this one advances the threat of Omen and the Prophet, and shows the Prophet as truly formidable. The fact that some of the “weakest” Legionnaires faced down the Prophet for so long highlights that the Legion is not a team where they just wait for Mon-El or Ultra Boy to show up and pound an opponent into oblivion. Ultra Boy’s assumption of leadership in combat proves this, although given his characterization in recent issues, it may just be an assumption that all Legionnaires are as invincible as him. I tend to side with those that Ultra Boy’s demeanor is one that appreciates how useful anyone can be in combat, given that his time on Rimbor as an underdog showed him that it’s not power, but strategy that wins the fight. Unfortunately, so much time in a Legion that boasted so many powerful members has directed this into full frontal assaults, which not every member is suited. Invisible Kid and Phantom Girl come across in this story as the most effective given their powers. At no point in this chapter of the story is Omen presented as a threat, which lends to the theory that the Prophet was just driven insane by grief and being drafted into the service of Omen.

Paul Levitz has admitted that this is one of the least successful storylines from this run on Legion of Super-Heroes. If the story had not been broken up over four issues, or the lengths of those stories not been shortened for two back-up stories, one of which (in the previous issue) could have appeared later, it might have been more successful a story. While the Prophet was a striking design, Omen being designed as a being accented with flowers doesn’t strike the type of terror that his disciple did.

That design is probably the only weak point to Keith Giffen’s artwork, now showing the full influence of of Argentinian cartoonist Jose Muñoz. Everyone is recognizable, and the action is readable. The coloring even conveys Invisible Kid’s powers extremely good. How to depict a character that can turn invisible is always a challenge, and Keith Giffen went about it quite competently. The only time that an invisible character is rendered is where Invisible Kid realizes the Prophet’s weakness, and quite frankly, I don’t find it distracting.

The back up story appears to be a throw away story, albeit ably illustrated by Pat Broderick, whose artwork isn’t done justice by Mike DeCarlo’s inking. The lines are just too fine, and make the motions that the text describes as fluid appear stiff. The identity of the “others” that teleport Pharoxx away wouldn’t be revealed for another five months when Levitz and Giffen would start the multi-issue Legion of Super-Villains storyline. LOSHv2_30924 NOTES:

This issue has been collected in Legion of Super-Heroes: The Curse (ISBN #1401230989). Like most comics in this series, it can be found in bargain boxes, so I definitely recommend not paying too much for it.

FINAL RATING: 7.5 (out of a possible 10) The Omen / Prophet storyline is very weak, but is very strong in here. The artwork is fantastic, but is severely weakened by the story having no sense of real threat.