Omnicommentary #2: Shake Hands with Danger (Ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum)

Legionnaires #2: In Death's Grip

Creative Team: Tom & Mary Bierbaum (writers); Chris Sprouse (penciller); Karl Story (inker); Pat Brosseau (letterer); Tom McCraw (colorist); May 1993.

Legion Roll Call: Apparition; Gossamer; Inferno; Leviathan; Live Wire; Saturn Girl; Shrinking Violet; Triad; and Ultra Boy.

Miscellaneous Notes: This month has a note of "Special Thanks to Wade Grawbadger". Probably better known as Wade von Grawbadger, he's an inker whose best known run was on James Robinson's Starman.

Summary: Mano & the Hand gang are quickly taken down thanks to some quick thinking by Triad & Violet, and he's turned over to the Science Police.  Back at the HQ, we have a *sigh* love triangle brewing between the three founders before tryout time.  Here we meet Cera Kesh, a plain & slightly pudgy (which means "morbidly obese" compared to standard comic designs) telekinetic girl who is publically humiliated by Live Wire & Inferno for the high crime of having a butt.  However, Cera is being watched by an errant Emerald Eye who's drawn to her distress.  Meanwhile, Leland McCauley and his emerald-clad arm candy steal the Atomic Axe.  Finally, Leviathan & Gossamer go into the sewers to investigate some missing workers and wind up being jumped by a stony-looking monster.

Continuity Notes: The Sciene Police Liason that the Legionnaires turn Mano over to is Sean Erin.  Sean is, to borrow a phrase from Matthew Peterson, a continuity clusterschmozz and a very controversial one at that.  But at the end of the day, no matter what his gender, Office Erin is a trusted longtime ally of the Legion.
At this point in Legion history, there were two Emerald Eyes out there, one of which was a bit more malevolent & controlling than the other.  The one is watching Cera, while the other isn't in apparent sight.  But note that McCauley's lady friend has green hair & is dressed in green, while he has green-tinted glasses and looks entirely too young.
Yes, the horror known as the Founders' Love Triangle has begun.  Here's the roles - Cosmic Boy is the nice guy (and not in the creepy Nice Guy sense); Live Wire is the swaggering asshole who's supposed to have a secret heart of gold that's never really evident; and Saturn Girl is the broken-willed girlfriend who likes the nice guy but stays with the nasty creep because she's a stupid girl.  If you think I'm exaggerating, read it for yourself.  Most love triangles are massive malignant tumors on their narratives, but this one is one of the all-time horrors.
Finally, this is, tragically, the only appearance of Plaid Lad.  He would've been huge in the Seventies, and he is tailor made for the noble & underused Legion of Substitute Heroes Auxiliary Reserve.  Seriously, someone needs to bring Plaid Lad back.  I love him.

Gimmicks: In this issue, our bios run from Ferro to Shrinking Violet.  Also, this issue forms (along with the next four) part of a larger throwdown between the Legionnaires and the new Fatal Five.  Think of a triptych but in five parts.  If the series hadn't been doomed to such a short life, this would've made an awesome poster.

I Love the 90s: The back ad has Double Dragon 3: The Arcade Game for the Sega Genesis.  The NES version of this game was immortalized in an Angry Video Game Nerd review that starts with the "Bimmy & Jimmy" typo and just gets worse from there.

DC Commercial Break: Milestone must have just been getting started, since we have a 1/3-page B&W ad for Blood Syndicate (which desperately needs to be collected) and a great full-page color ad for Icon (which needs some more collections).

Comments: Despite my quickie description, a little under half the issue is devoted to taking down Mano, with everything else coming after it.  This is part of an arc to build a new Fatal Five, which would probably take a year nowadays.  As it is, this storyline was probably seen as padded when it was released if only because it took actual time for characterization.
But enough with the rest of this - I want to talk about Cera Kesh.  Cera was the first comic book character who looked like me - pimply, bad dresser, mousy brown hair, and (by comic book standards) heavy-set.  And like me, she was mocked & bullied; unlike me, however, there's a glowing Emerald Eye waiting in the wings to be her bestest friend and punish those who wronged her.  I instantly felt for her, and I still do, maybe more than I did in the past.  Even the attempt Saturn Girl makes to console her comes off as cruel and incredibly stupid.  How can you say someone "doesn't mean to be a jerk" and believe it, unless you're that much of an abused girlfriend that you truly do believe it?  Unless Live Wire & Inferno both have some highly specialized form of Tourette's that manifests as precise insults instead of twitching or shouting, their comments are completely deliberate - and appalling.
I remember reading this and eagerly waiting to see how Cera would dish out some revenge.  And even now, when I know there really won't be any closure due to the series' short life, I still can't wait for her to kick some ass.  Even when the bullies are supposed to be your heroes, it's still satisfying to see them get a well-earned punch in the face.


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