Reviews of Old Comics: Legion of Super-Heroes #311

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LOSHv2_311 LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #311
May  1984

There’s not been a return to my series reviewing the Legion comics as I started reading them for over a month, primarily because of our October Halloween celebration, although I was sorely tempted to do a review of the Ghost of Ferro Lad story from an old Adventure Comics, but I’m always hesitant to review a comic that old, but when Comixology exists, I probably shouldn’t be. Nevertheless, now that the Omen/Prophet storyline is done, let’s continue with the one Legionnaire that stayed behind, Brainiac 5.

SYNOPSIS:

Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy are giving Legion fan Flynt Brojj a tour of Legion Headquarters when it falls apart, demolished from inside. When Bouncing Boy attempts to investigate, he discovers the shields are still up, preventing them from entering to assist Brainiac 5, the only active Legionnaire still at the Clubhouse when it collapsed.

Inside the basement structure of Legion HQ, Brainiac 5 is frustrated that his latest attempt to rid Danielle Foccart of the presence of Computo has resulted in the destruction of much of the Legion Headquarters. Computo takes advantage of some of the damage to the Multi-Lab to attack its creator.

Meanwhile, as the Legion returns from Khundia, Dream Girl lets Element Lad know that despite sending Omen and the Prophet to another dimension, they still don’t know much about their fate, as Lyle Norg thinks he died and was in Hell. Wildfire requests permission to attend to a personal matter. He storms off without giving Element Lad  chance to get out much more than a “yes,” giving Element Lad the impression that being Legion leader won’t be too much of a change in how Legionnaires like Wildfire treat him.

Brainiac 5’s force field protects him completely from Computo, who begins to rage against him. Switching it to containing Computo, he begins to start a computer sequence to finally separate Computo from Danielle Foccart when Computo launches one violent attack that send s Brainiac 5 flying from the wreckage of Headquarters towards where Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel  argue with the Science Police captain about what to do to help Brainiac 5. Bouncing Boy literally springs into action to catch Brainiac 5.

Brainiac 5 explains that just as Computo launched his final attack, he activated a computer program to isolate Computo into a crystal globe that contained a new master system for Computo. He then turns down any assistance in rebuilding Legion HQ and they watch the debris reshape itself into a massive new headquarters entirely above ground. Computo then emerges from the wreckage exhibiting a new persona that will act as the majordomo for the new Legion HQ.

In a second story, Wildfire arrives on Starhaven, seeking Dawnstar. Her parents tell him that on her Grand Tour where she is supposed to find her soul-mate and it is taking her to her naming place. Wildfire flies off after her. Dawnstar is back in the solar system and rescues a cruiser in trouble on her way to her naming place, the planet Venus.

Her parents worry about their daughter, and if her Grand Tour will reveal her soul mate. On Venus, she approaches the cloud cover and is met by Wildfire, from whom she flees. To get her stop, he begins to burn off the cloud cover. When she stops to listen toi him, he tells her that he came to be certain that the guy she chooses as her soul mate is perfect. Dawnstar confesses that she has often cried herself to sleep that Wildfire had no body inside his suit. He holds her close and tells her that at least they have a beautiful friendship.

Dawnstar returns to her parents and tells them that she has decided that Wildfire is her soulmate whether they can share their love physically or not, because their bond is emotional and for now, that is enough for her.

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REVIEW:

The first story was the first step towards Brainiac 5 becoming my favorite Legionnaire. The second one cemented Wildfire’s place as my favorite Legionnaire at the time. Paul Levitz was sometimes best when he was writing a short story to be completed in one issue or part of one issue. Both stories give happy endings to lengthy subplots. The Brainiac 5 subplot goes back over two years, just prior to the Great Darkness Saga, and the Wildfire/Dawnstar subplot goes back to issue #304, where I started my collecting of the Legion. It’s nice to have “done in one issue” stories, but the fact that these are resolutions of running subplots make it a little harder for a reader with no knowledge of the Legion.

He does include a bit of bad science. When Wildfire begins to burn off the cloud cover on Venus, Dawnstar scream that without it, the planet will overheat. Since 1963, we’ve known that Venus was already very, very hot. That problem could have been solved by replacing the word “planet” with “settlements.” I hate bad science.

Keith Giffen’s art on the first story is quite nice, using the page layout to mirror the intensity of the story. The panel layouts become much more conventional as the tempo resolves to a calm conclusion. The page with Wildfire leaving on personal business looks complex but is a relatively standard panel layout that is easy to follow for an average comics reader. The likenesses stay consistent, which would be expected from someone like Giffen who has spent over two years with these characters at this point.

Gene Colan’s art on the second story is exquisite and very moody, which lends a heaviness to the story. His rendition of Dawnstar is a little young in appearance, although he does avoid doing too many close-ups, which can be forgiven when the story has so few characters. His rendition of Starhaven is fabulous, capturing the unspoiled nature of it. He even draws the tender conclusion with Wildfire holding Dawnstar is well done, but too small for my taste. I believe it should have been larger on the page.

A little bonus is the first appearance of the Interlac alphabet which let artists start including Easter Eggs for readers and in recent years, give space-faring characters in the DC Universe their own language. If you want to download the font created by Kashif “Blue Panther” Husain, it’s available several places, but I’m going to recommend here, just because it’s a Legion fan site.

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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. You can get The Curse through Comixology for just under $20 as I write this, so if finding the individual issue is a problem, you can go that route.

FINAL RATING: 9.0 (out of a possible 10) Bad Science always a problem for me. I can forgive it if it reflects the time period, but when it’s something that was known and doesn’t give explanation, that’s a problem. It’s also hard for a brand new reader to jump into, which could be a problem, but with such happy endings, I could see someone picking it up, reading it, and saying,”I want to read another issue.”