Omnicommentary #3: I'll Love Her and Keep Her and Call Her George

Legionnaires #3: The Beast Below

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

Legion Roll Call: Andromeda; Brainiac 5; Cosmic Boy; Dragonmage; Gossamer; Invisible Kid; Inferno; Leviathan; Live Wire; Shrinking Violet.

Miscellaneous Notes: This issue's note is "Special thanks to Gaijin Studios".  Chris Sprouse was part of this art group, along with Cully Hamner, Adam Hughes, and other notables.  Sadly, as of early 2011, Gaijin has shut down and parted ways.

Summary: Leviathan tries to fight the stony monster (seen last issue killing two tech workers), but he accidentally knocks out Gossamer & winds up being knocked out himself.  Brainy identifies the monster as Mordecai, gets a rescue party together, and intends to hit it with a suspended animation gun to move it to safety.  Gossamer, of course, is safe - Mordecai has locked her in a little cage and written her a poem, which hints to its origins.  The rescue & fight are pretty much chaos, with Live Wire losing his temper (of course), Leviathan showing up & promptly fainting on top of everyone, and Gossamer trying to keep everyone from hurting each other after freeing herself.  Before Brainy can stop Mordecai from killing Leviathan, it vanishes in a burst of green light.  Everyone's fine, but Brainy is understandably disturbed by the sudden exit.  Meanwhile, the Atomic Axe reaches the Persuader, who immediately cleaves his way to freedom.  More importantly, Cera stews in her anger until she snaps (after being teased by strangers in public); the Emerald Eye then appears and turns her into the new Emerald Empress.

Continuity Notes: It's pretty much clear now that the Fatal Five is being reformed, although who is doing it and why isn't obvious right away.  Yes, the meta reason is "fight with classic baddies", but in-story reason is still forthcoming.
Mordecai is pretty much a replacement for Validus, whose storyline has been nicely resolved.  We get hints that it may have been a human of noble lineage, and we see that Gossamer wasn't its first pet girl.  Unfortunately, Mordecai isn't the best caretaker, since all we see of her is her skeleton.  Either way, we don't get to find out any more than what we see here.
Cera Kesh is now the Emerald Empress, and she expressly wants vengeance.  Her costume is one of my favorites, even with the crotch-floss, if only for the ornamental dagger that serves absolutely no purpose other than looking cool.  We still don't know where the second Eye is, however.
If you're wondering why Invisible Kid was in the roll call, it's because he stands wordlessly behind Brainy in one scene.  I call Roll Call Abuse.
Finally, when Andromeda finds a rat, she mentions that Apparition is scared of them.  Believe it or not, this will come up again.

Gimmicks: We get the last three bios - Triad, Ultra Boy, and Valor, a.k.a. Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Comic.  Even his bio here is a continuity clusterschmozz not to be read by those prone to headaches.

I Love the 90s: Super Mario Brothers: The Movie.  That is all.

DC Commercial Break: The "DC Universe" column is devoted to promoting the "Bloodlines" crossover in the annuals - by having one of the aliens rip up the text so you can't read it.
If you're in Colorado, you had a chance to meet the Superman Lives Tour, and I sincerely hope you took it.  Guests included the Simonsons, Murphy Anderson, Gil Kane, Julius Schwartz, and Curt Swan.  Back then, these names were alien to me.  Now?  I'd give an IOU for my first born for a chance to attend one of these stops.  That roster is just astonishing!

Commentary: Again, most of this issue is a fight scene of some kind, but it gives the Bierbaums a chance to make with the characterization.  We get Leviathan feeling like he has something to prove, Dragonmage being the typical nervous rookie, and Brainy being  Brainy, albeit in more of a nicer manner than you'd expect.  We also get more of Garth being a violent asshole, but here it feels a tiny bit justified, as he's worried about his sister as well as just being his usual dickish self.  Shame no other stories after this have such an excuse.
Sprouse's art in this issue is particularly effective.  I especially like the contrasts between the clean, bright HQ scenes and the dim, grimy sewer scenes.  His expressions are great, too - I love the look of sheer disbelief on Andromeda's face after Mordecai decks her.  There's only one real complaint with this issue, but it just barely falls on Sprouse's shoulders.
Mordecai, to me at least, isn't that good a substitute for Validus.  Its bits of backstory don't seem all that original, and its only abilities are being strong & angry.  Its design is duller than Validus's, too, which is actually a big deal.  When I think of the Fatal Five, I find Validus's look - the eyeless, noseless brute with an exposed brain that crackles with lightning - to be the most iconic.  Blok's tattooed hillbilly cousin just isn't the same.  Maybe Mordecai would've functioned better in a team, but we won't get that far.  It's clear who the real star of this new Fatal Five is (and I'm not saying that out of personal bias - just wait & see), and it ain't Mordecai.
This issue is starting to feel more like a modern trade-written comic.  Yes, it's to introduce a new villain, but there's something about it that makes me feel like it would've been more effective as half an issue and more room for other subplots.  So maybe it was actually the Bierbaums who created decompression...

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