Brainiac 5 and Harmonia are at Circadia Senius’ lab, disagreeing about the possibility of beating the blockage in the time stream, when Dream Girl drops by. She’s had a premonition that something important is going to occur.
And occur it does, as two unknown assailants pop up. Literally – they come out of a Boom Tube that isn’t quite a Boom Tube – it’s black rather than white, and instead of going ‘BOOM’ it goes ‘PLOINK’. Brainy’s force field belt fails due to one alien, Dys, being able to dampen tech-based abilities. But Harmonia’s elemental powers are natural, and Dream Girl’s knack for anticipating a foe’s moves makes her a mean martial artist. Brainy stops pondering the fact that his flight ring is also kaput long enough to enter the fray, belting Dys with a veeblefetzer (or perhaps it’s a framistat, I always get them confused). This peeves Dys enough to grab Brainy with his tentacles and slam him into unconsciousness. Dream Girl quickly follows.
By the time Ultra Boy arrives to help Harmonia battle the other enemy, Trog, Dys has escaped with Dream Girl, Brainy and the tech he’s disabled. Trog, having been stopped from entering the Ploink Tube by Harmonia and thoroughly pummeled by Ultra Boy, commits suicide, devolving to slime. Dys reports back to his masters – the Dominators. They wanted Brainy because he possesses ‘the accelerated intelligence gene’ but Dys gambled and brought back Dreamy too, correctly sensing that she’s almost as bright as Brainy. What’s more, ‘she seemed his companion’.
Across United Planets space, Mon-El is accompanying Legion Academy graduate turned Science Police officer Gravity Kid to the cell occupied by Validus. The Legion fears someone is trying to put a Fatal Five back together, and the giant with the mental lightning was the original’s most fearsome member. But he’s safe and sound in his cell of inertron, the galaxy’s toughest metal. Apparently, at least.
Back on Earth, an energy signature links Dys and Trog to the Dominators, and the Legion readies to take the fight to them – until Mon-El arrives with the news that Earthgov won’t authorise such a move. There’s a treaty with the Dominators in place and not enough evidence against them to risk wrecking it.
Paul Levitz melds tense action with clever characterisation, building on last issue’s hints of a Fatal Five rebirth while upping the threat posed by the Dominators. Interaction between the team members is natural and enjoyable, while there’s an enticing tease of what might be to come in Dys’s opinion on the Dream Girl/Brainy relationship (a call back to the Mark Waid/Barry Kitson Legion series). There’s a fun moment when we see that Ultra Boy doesn’t always time his one-power-at-a-time switches to perfection, and the news that the Legion is still scouting for Academy recruits*. Best of all is Star Boy’s decision to go it alone – it’s classic Thom Kallor.
Francis Portela’s illustrations are simply delicious. If anyone at DC or Marvel paid attention to the Legion books they’d be grabbing this guy for the fluidity of his line, the character he puts into faces, the way he lays out both the high drama and the quieter times. Simply put, Portela is proving one of the best artists this series has ever had. And doing his illustrations justice is colour artist Javier Mena, whether it’s giving Ultra Boy his very own speed trail or lighting the fight scenes according to the energies unleashed (click on image to enlarge).
The cover, by classic Legion artist Steve Lightle, is a beaut, showing two of the longest-serving Legionnaires are as vital today as when they debutred. And Guy Major uses Dream Girl and Brainy’s trademark colours on both illo and logo to make the cover pop further.
This is a wonderful issue all round, the highlight of the current run. The Legion is always at its best as dark forces gather, and here are two separate sets. If you’ve yet to try this book, dive right in – Levitz, Portela and their teammates make it easy.