It’s the final issue of this expanded look at the origins of the Legion of Super-Heroes and it’s confirmed that the figure behind the attacks on team benefactor RJ Brande is the Time Trapper. This issue starts with him influencing United Planets Security Directorate member Mycroft to take out Brande, but it turns out Brande isn’t alone – Chameleon Boy has been on hand, disguised as a bug. Soon Cham has the upper hand – or rather, tentacle.
Out in space, the rest of the Legion prepares for the next, inevitable attack by the armada that’s been making attempts to get out of a wormhole and into UP space. Pondering Phantom Girl’s extra-dimensional origins, Brainiac 5 comes up with the idea of using the chronal energy of a damaged Time Bubble to destroy the portal once and for all. Brainy’s up for the dangerous mission of delivering the craft to the splinter in space, Ultra Boy seems ready to take the job on, but finally, Phantom Girl insists she’ll do the deed, returning to her homeworld of Bgztl in the process.
Back on Earth, Cham is confronted by the Time Trapper, the twisted personification of Entropy. He’s able to switch off Cham’s transmuting abilities and the Durlan teen looks set to become the first Legionnaire to fall when the Trapper is pulled apart, or at least, away … Phantom Girl’s errand was a success; the wormhole is gone, and with it, the Trapper’s connection to the 31st century.
And Phantom Girl’s decided not to return home after all – she kinda likes these Legion guys. The story ends with a delicious spread of the founding Legionnaires, and the promise of more members to come.
And that’s it, six issues of breezy teen superheroics, giving us our first detailed look at what happened in between the first meeting of Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy, and their recruiting of Superboy. It’s quite funny to see here just how obsessed Saturn Girl is with getting the legendary Kryptonian on board – if I didn’t know better I’d say she had quite the crush. One crush there’s no doubt about is Ultra Boy’s for Phantom Girl, whose beginnings we see here in a priceless panel involving a blushing Brainy.
Given his status as the Legion’s greatest foe, it’s rather good to see the Time Trapper actually began bedeviling the team earlier than we knew. It fits, given that the first time he/sometimes she was mentioned in Adventure Comics, he was already known to the ‘Super-Hero Club’.
Then again …
Given his status as the Legion’s greatest foe, it’s rather a shame that the Time Trapper’s not more of a problem for the team over the course of this mini-series. Powerful on a cosmic scale, all he’s really done is send minions to (not) kill Brande, in the hope this would nip the Legion’s legend in the bud. I guess that simply wiping the members off the face of reality would be too big a risk, for some reason, but still, he should be a lot more impressive than he’s come across as. There’s never been much sense of danger in this origin event – the aliens attack, the Legion knocks ’em back; Brande is targeted, Brande is saved. It’s all been just a little bit too cosy, with the Legionnaires given little chance to truly impress.
Nevertheless, this has been an enjoyable romp, as newly revealed episodes instantly hit the nostalgia buttons. Writer Paul Levitz made the members likeable, feeling no need to dollop on the interpersonal conflict that today passes for deep characterisation. Legion: Secret Origin is a tribute to a more innocent time and, as such, it has many more merits than flaws.
One such merit is the art by penciller Chris Batista and inker Mark Deering. The characters look heroic, they’re fluid on the page and the feel evoked is that of a classic Silver Age comic. I’m still not keen on the updated costumes, the odd moments of super-skinniness, Tinya grinning like a loon and the Time Trapper’s wonderfully corny purple robes being swapped for a shadow-man effect. And it’s not terribly clear where Cham comes from before rescuing Brande – that’s one tiny bug. But what the heck, I’d be happy to see Batista and Deering back on the Legion anytime.
I hope this series sold well enough to greenlight other Legion projects outside the main Legion of Super-Heroes and Legion Lost titles – if not more mini-series, then at least the odd annual or special. Perhaps even more untold tales. Hopefully, though, more intense ones.