Action Comics #860 (2008)

Action Comics #860 (February, 2008)
“Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Chapter 3: Lightning and Shadows”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Gary Frank
Inker – Jon Sibal
Colorist – Dave McCaig
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Associate Editor – Nachie Castro
Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.99

We’ve hit the halfway point… and we’re still havin’ a good time!  Let’s hit it and git it!

We pick up our story with the Justice League of Earth checking into the report of the broken Time Sphere (I prefer “Time Bubble” but whattayagonnado?).  It’s made completely clear here that these folks are “in” on the big lie.  They know Superman’s true origin, and are responsible (at least in part) of massaging those facts to fuel the rampant anti-alien sentiment and xenophobia of 31st Century Earth.

Meanwhile, at the Alien Holding Camp (#6736… not sure if those numbers hold any significance), we see a spiky-haired prisoner being interrogated… and beaten by the Warden.  His only reply to his tormentor’s questioning is “Long Live the Legion”.  I’m thinking he’s going to wind up being important.  Anyhoo, the beating is interrupted by a report that the Camp is under attack… 

… by the Legion of Super-Heroes!

The heroes fight their way into the holding cells and proceed to free several of the alien captives.  Many are awestruck at the sight of the curious man in blue with the red cape… though, the camp guards assume he’s just another fake.  Hell, under a Red Sun… I suppose that might just be a moot point.  Superman is able to overpower the guards, however, not without taking a bit of “battle damage” from an errant billy club.  As he stands (relatively) victorious, an alien child informs him that Superman doesn’t bleed.  Dunno, kid… if someone just saved me from a life of torture, I don’t think I’d get hung up on semantics.

The ramshackle Legionnaires continue following Brainiac-5’s trail… finding that it disappears inside one of the cells.  Dawnstar deduces, via “wormhole residue” that Brainy had teleported back to Colu… which positively tickles Wildfire.  Apparently the only planet worse than Earth right now is Colu!

The gang decides to continue that other Legionnaire presence that Dawnstar felt at the end of last issue… and, wouldn’tcha know it, it leads to that interrogation room!  As they approach it’s giant door, there is a rather frosty explosion.  We learn that the man in the box was Polar Boy!  A one-armed Polar Boy even!  Colossal Boy gives his buddy Brek a Legion Flight Ring… and Polar Boy manifests a right-arm and hand out of ice to wear it.  It’s a really neat looking visual… though I’m always a bit iffy when it comes to mutilation of established characters.  We get a bit of exposition from Brek… learning that he was one of the first Substitute Heroes, and worked hard to earn his ring… something that separates him from the Legion-Rejects who went on to become the Justice League of Earth.

We suddenly find the crew walking through a dark hallway… it isn’t entirely clear if they’re still in the Holding Camp or not.  I assume they are, but at the same time… that would make this too convenient.  Either way, it’s here they run into Shadow Lass and Night Girl… and hoo-boy, we are in Chipmunk Cheek City.

Night Girl is overjoyed at the sight of Polar Boy, while Shadow Lass is gobsmacked to see Superman.  From here, the ladies lead the crew into the all-new all-different Legion Clubhouse.  See what I mean about being too convenient?  Unless that upturned rocket serving as the Holding Camp was the original clubhouse???  Can’t say for sure…

The Clubhouse is sort of an Underground Railroad for Extraterrestrials… and the remaining Legionnaires act as conductors helping them escape the camps and return to their home planets.  Superman questions how they can do something so high-tech and still remain off the grid… it’s here that we learn that they’re making their own energy thanks to Lightning Lass.  Oh, Timber Wolf is there too, for good measure.

As the Legion-types reconnoiter, they are interrupted by a telepathic message… from Earth-Man!  It would appear that his “absorbency” powers help him to take on (or absorb) powers from others… in this instance, Saturn Girl and her telepathy… and, well also Lightning Lad for his shoot-lightning-from-his-hands thing.  The Clubhouse has been discovered… and a fight is on!

The Legionnaires have to hold back the depowered Superman as he instinctively goes to jump into battle.  They drag and load him into a pod to ensure his survival… and wind up firing him into space.  It looks as though the Earth explodes as he rockets away… at least part of it anyway!  As luck would have it, he lands on Colu!

Upon exiting the pod, Superman finds himself surrounded by some brainy-looking individuals who are all hungry for knowledge.  It’s actually quite creepy… they have these wires with male-connectors coming from their heads, which “pok” (at least that’s the sound I’m imagining) into Superman’s… knocking him out.

He wakes up stood before the man who orders his termination… Brainiac-5?!

Another great chapter!  Perhaps not as great as last issue, but still a swell time!

We spoke yesterday about subtlety… and, hey… why not do that again?  Today we see an Intergalactic Underground Railroad which is necessitated by rampant xenophobia and hatred… sounds perfectly reasonable.  A lesser writer would have had these scenes littered with video monitors of a fat white man (these days, an orange one), or a man wearing an American Flag bandanna egging the baddies on.  Johns is better than that… and leaves politicizing the issue to the reader… if they choose to.  If you choose to leave politics out of it… it’s just a great story with a message of tolerance, acceptance, and overcoming widespread propagandist-fueled fear and hatred.  Very well done.

The status quo changes a bit with this issue… it looks like the Earth is (at least partly) toast, and the next chapter will largely take place on Colu.  I’m wondering what color Sun they’ve got there, hmm.

One of the main reasons why I’ve “ducked” the Legion for so long is the space opera aspect… at least my projecting that LoSH is largely a space opera.  I used to absolutely hate it when the X-Men would have space adventures… I felt so disconnected, and thought the stories were pretty boring.  I couldn’t imagine reading a series where every issue is a “space” issue.  It’s probably why Kyle Rayner’s time as (the main) Green Lantern resonated with me so much… he was largely Earth-bound.

In leaving Earth and heading to Colu, I feel like we’re “dipping a toe” into the space opera… and I can really appreciate that.  I don’t feel overwhelmed… and I certainly don’t feel disengaged.  It’s just when they pile planet upon planet all at once… I sorta check out.

I once had a warehouse guy working for me… he referred to people who didn’t like to fly (in planes, naturally) as “ground lizards”.  So, for ground lizards such as myself… I definitely appreciate the way this is panning out.

Overall… loving this run, and I most certainly recommend checking it out.  Just like I said yesterday… grab the trade, you’ll be happy you did!

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