lsh liveblog

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The Legion has already gotten pretty big: established members thus far include the six shown hiding Cyclops’s parts, the real Sun Boy, plus Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, Star Boy, and of course Superboy and Supergirl.

The idea of hiding a disassembled superweapon in the past to prevent it being misused is a bit weird at first glance, but also pretty clever. Anyone looking for this thing in the 30th century has to contend with a thousand years of time and natural forces having destroyed all traces of evidence showing where it was buried. On the flip side, someone in the 20th century might stumble across one of the pieces, but they wouldn’t have any clue what they’d discovered- especially since they’d be trying to understand the purpose of an artifact that’s actually only one-sixth of a complete device. The plan is really only vulnerable to attack by someone like the impostor Sun Boy, who has a list of the parts’ locations (… somehow) and the help of Superboy to retrieve them.

The weapon itself, unfortunately, is just an incredibly morally reductive concept. The idea doesn’t even have any interesting qualities or implications like that thing about Saturn Queen having been an upstanding citizen on Saturn did.

This is mainly a plot device to enable the other, even sillier side of the story*, but I do like the idea that visitors from the Legion’s era don’t always know how their visits will affect the world of the past.

(* Sun Boy’s accidental EMP knocks out the robots that Clark normally uses to replace him at school when Superboy business comes up, so now Clark is absent from Smallville with no replacement. Meanwhile Tom Tanner, a juvenile delinquent who looks just like Clark, takes refuge in Smallville while on the run, and falls into Clark’s identity when the locals “recognize” him…)

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Luthor and the super-villains allow Superman to perform a super-feat in honor of Saturn Woman (before she dies in his place, as promised). He promises not to save her, and instead fetches some material from Saturn’s rings to create a new ring around the planetoid where the villains lured him. Then this happens.

Now. Obviously this “radiations cancel out Saturn people’s criminal traits” idea is a radical oversimplification at best, and the fact that the plot hinges on the villains telling Superman their origin stories is pretty dumb… but there are some good ideas here, at least in potentia.

For one thing, Saturn Queen totally owns her entire team (who were fighting the Legion to a standstill earlier) when she changes sides, and no one questions this at all. There is no male chauvinism in the future, at least on this page.

Another interesting implication is that Saturn Queen isn’t a die-hard supervillain. Maybe she’s just someone who made bad choices, and maybe those choices don’t represent who she is at heart. A more nuanced rendering of this story could describe her as, in essence, mentally ill/neurodivergent- she was (knowingly or otherwise) being medicated or otherwise accommodated back on Saturn, and she lapsed into destructive behavior patterns when she came to Earth and found herself without her support systems. Superman provided a medical treatment that made her lucid again, at which point she was able to recognize her mistakes and start to recover. (I would really enjoy some fanfic about her after the events of this story- facing up to what she’s done, going through recovery and therapy, and finding a way to make a positive difference going forward, whether that’s with the Legion or elsewhere.)

Finally- whether or not his assessment of her physiology is correct, Superman’s actions show that he believes Saturn Queen’s crimes don’t reflect her essential identity as a person. She lured him into a deadly trap only minutes or hours ago- but now, without threat, incentive, or coercion, he trusts her to save Saturn Woman’s life. This abiding belief in everyone being basically good is an often understated trait of his, but one that I really appreciate. Superman’s heroism isn’t limited to rescuing people from physical danger or foiling threats to the status quo- he inspires others to do the right thing, and that means believing that they know what that is and giving them the chance to choose it for themselves.

The Sun Boy who visits the 20th century in this story, seen here talking to Superboy, is later revealed to be an impostor. His story of the real Sun Boy’s Legion audition and induction seems pretty legit, though- if nothing else, we see later in this story that Sun Boy has been inducted into the Legion since we last saw him. And this version of Sun Boy’s origin is pretty close to the one that sticks.

Sun Boy is the latest Legion character to recount an origin of the form “I got hit by X, and now I can generate X”- previously seen with Cosmic King and the shared origin of Lightning Lad and Lightning Lord. This is the second most popular format for origins so far, after “I come from a planet where everyone can do what I can do” (Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl and Triplicate Girl, Mon-El, & Saturn Queen).

The idea that the lightning power was “transfer[red]… like an infectious disease” is really interesting, actually. Obviously it doesn’t fit with the facts of the story and the observed mechanisms of infectious diseases in our world- lightning is just an electrical discharge, it couldn’t carry a microorganism safely from one host to another- but bending the rules of observed reality is what superheroes and science fiction are FOR.

What if Lightning Lad and Lightning Lord’s powers really are produced by some sort of microorganism? If this is true, their origin isn’t a freak accident involving random variables; it could be repeated. Maybe those two had some unusual capacity to survive and master the power, something that other people don’t have- but maybe not. Maybe lightning powers could be replicable. (This certainly seems to be true in lightning monsters.)

What kind of organism would the “disease” have to be, to transmit itself via electric current? They’re in control of the lightning, so it must be symbiotic to some extent. Does it live in the electric discharge- in the electrons themselves, or the energy pattern? Reproduce there? Could it be spreading to the people they hit with their bolts, the way it spread to them when they were hit? If they can interface with it and command its lightning-generating ability… can it reciprocate that, and exert its will on them? The nervous system is very reliant on electrical signals…

A bigger Legion with a history of their own super-feats, a solid link between Superboy Legion stories and Supergirl Legion stories, and a really cool title. The idea that Clark is helping someone he’s just met to assemble a “terrible invention”, apparently without knowing why, is pretty weird, but overall this looks promising.

(I’m honestly curious about the idea that Sun Boy is the villain- is this an impostor? Was Sun Boy really out to get Clark at one point? Does he have a more complicated motive? This is only his second appearance…)

The Legion of Super-Villains reveal that they want Luthor’s help to humiliate Superman as a way of retaliating against the LSH, because they “know that Superman joined the Super-Hero Club when he was young”. With Luthor’s knowledge of the enemy and the LSV’s formidable powers, they hassle Superman for a while and then bait him into a trap.

Cosmic King’s, Lightning Lord’s and Saturn Queen’s origin stories all end with a mention of the teller joining the already-extant Legion of Super-Villains.

The unexplored implication, then, is that none of them is a founding member of that group. It was originally conceived and implemented by one or more other villains, none of whom are present for this mission.

That’s an interesting character hook if I’ve ever heard one.

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I don’t honestly know what the young Lightning Lord is doing in that last panel. Tasering this woman while he steals her jewelry, maybe? (This comic is from 1961; did people in 1961 know it was possible to paralyze with electricity? Or is it just assumed that he’s killing her? o_o)

I like the dress design though.