Well, there’s no doubt about it after this issue. Shadow Lass has lost her mind. Bad enough she’s sleeping with new member Earth-Man, a xenophobic killer forced on the team after trying to destroy the Legion. That could be considered a private foolishness.
But here she votes for him to be Cosmic Boy’s successor as leader. At the very least this is an insult to those colleagues he hurt; at worst, it’s putting members’ safety in the hands of one who has yet to earn widespread trust.
Earth-Man, for his part, votes for Polar Boy, whose arm was torn off during the conflict with his so-called Justice League. As possible apologies go, that’s not bad, showing a hint of rehabilitation.
Neither, though, bets on the right guy – Brainiac 5 almost takes the leader gong, but he’s pipped to the post by Mon-El.
That would be Mon-El, who left the team last issue to be the local Green Lantern. Oops. Oh well, a little wrinkle such as this – the in-story result follows a real-life reader vote – will keep writer Paul Levitz on his toes.
Serves him right, he’s been making writing this comic look far too easy. He does it again here, deftly juggling groups of Legionnaires engaged in a conflict with shape-changing assassins. The Durlans worship recently murdered Legion backer RJ Brande, and they’re out to kill United Planets politicians and get revenge on Cosmic Boy, whom they feel failed to save Brande.
Happily, Cos holds his own against the Durlan impersonating Science Police chief Zendak until reinforcements arrive in the shapes of Invisible Kid, Element Lad and Phantom Girl.
Elsewhere, Dream Girl, Colossal Boy, Earth-Man and Shadow Lass defeat a Durlan who attacks Brande’s assistant, Pheebs. While Colossal Boy rags on Dreamy for not predicting the attack, he can’t criticise her fighting ability – she almost takes the Durlan single-handed.
Also around this month is Tellus, whose psi skills come in handy after he takes the injured Dawnstar to Medicus One space hospital. And his forthright nature proves useful in cutting through the bureaucratic nonsense of Dr Gym’ll.
The team’s own Durlan, Chameleon Boy, cameos with Brainiac 5, who points the under-attack Cosmic Boy towards the Clubhouse store of Cancellite, which prevents Durlans from shape-changing.
Just what Cancellite is could be better explained – you either have to work it out from context, or have read elderly issues of Adventure Comics. On a more positive note, the Durlan storyline is rattling along at a cracking place, with pretty much the whole team engaged in entertaining fashion. Members are likeable and use their powers smartly in sharply choreographed fight scenes.
The leader election is handled well in a two-page vignette towards the end, showing just who voted for whom. I’m surprised to see Mon-El come out on top, as he never seems to have much fan buzz. Perhaps his recent run in the Superman title was more popular than I thought. Or maybe his status as Earth-Man’s most outspoken critic secured the win.
Hopping on as guest to pencil about half of the book is Daniel HDR (who sounds like a 31st-century robot), and he does a lovely job with the storytelling. Regular penciller Yildiray Cinar handles the pages set on Brande’s island. As ever, Cinar offers plenty of great-looking illustrations, lit up by fine ‘acting’ and vibrant action. There’s one splash page of Colossal Boy facing off against a Durlan that’s just gorgeous, and a panel in which dramatic shading on the hero’s face builds tension as to what the Durlan is turning into.
The only quibble I have is that we don’t see what happens to Pheebs – on the sidelines of a fight, he suddenly appears badly injured or dead. I hope he survives, as the alien has a terrific visual. Credit also to Wayne Faucher and Bob Wiacek, who ink the pages with élan, letterer Sal Cipriano and colour house Hi-Fi.
Cinar also supplies the lovely cover, with expectant members looking as surprised at their new leader’s identity as Levitz likely was. It’s going to be fun to see what he comes up with.