Omnicommentary #7: Bikinis with a Side of Awkwardness

Legionnaires #7: Devils in the Deep

Creative Team: Tom & Mary Bierbaum (writers); Adam Hughes (pencils); Mark Farmer (inks); Pat Brosseau (letters); Tom McCraw (colors); October 1993

Legion Roll Call: Brainiac 5; Andromeda; Apparition; Ultra Boy; Inferno; Shrinking Violet; Triad; and Matter-Eater Lad.

Miscellaneous Notes: The credits roll along the bottoms of the first few pages, which is understandable.  This isn't art you want to clutter up if you can avoid it.

Summary: Big fight's over, so let's have a downtime issue.  What's survived of the underwater city of Tritonis is a tourist trap & luxury resort which a handful of Legionnaires set off to enjoy.  They go to a resort run by a family of sorta-Asian merfolk & proceed to live it up.  However, after Inferno's date (the owner's daughter, Keiki) is hurt by a local packing heat & hunting a shadowy "sea devil", he learns a horrible truth - Tritonis has had numerous attacks from the sea devils and is pretty much a war zone, but for tourisms' sake, they have to keep this fact quiet.  Thanks to the Legionnaires, the Tritonesians learn that the sea devils didn't know about Earthfall & thought that the merfolk were trying to wipe them out, and a truce is negogiated.  The Legionnaires leave, but after having to return thanks to a forgotten flight ring, Inferno learns that their indulgences weren't on the house and that Keiki's family will have to close the resort since they can't pay off their debts.  He & Tenzil alert the others, who happily pay their share - even though those two will be sorta broke for the next couple years to make up for their tabs.

Continuity Notes: This is the first issue where Tenzil's crush on Vi is really shown; she uses the excuse that she's still dating Duplicate Boy (of the Heroes of Lallor), which if you know the wider story makes for a very obvious dodge.  Tenzil even snarks about it.  I think this is where my fondness for them as a potential couple comes from - as much as I love Vi & Ayla together, the wiseass & the wallflower here are just super cute to me.
Keiki is worth mentioning, as she'll show up again in a storyline that was cut short.  She's the only design in her family that doesn't feel too questionable, since she looks like Ariel's Asian cousin (complete with red hair & pink seashell bikini top).  Her parents, sadly, are really questionable, especially her dad, best described as mer-Charlie Chan.  Looking at them reminds me of the first time I saw the Are You Being Served? episode "Roots" - it makes the whole thing uncomfortable.  Maybe Keiki was spared being too much of a caricature because of future use?
Finally, Tenzil eats a laser machine gun.  That panel sums up what makes him so freaking awesome.

We Get Letters: A man named Rex Joyner says two things that I agree with.  First, he calls out the story & creative team for treating Cera Kesh as bad because of her weight; living in an era where people seem to be encouraged to berate & insult us zaftig folk "for our own good", I really appreciate this sentiment & especially from the opposite sex.  Second, he says, "A few flaws tend to overshadow all the good stuff," which echoes my experience with the title.  Also, Roger Ash wants to know if there's an SW6 version of Fortress Lad.  Mr. Joyner, Mr. Ash, if either of you are still out there, I owe you both a drink.

I Love the 90s: In-story, the Atlantic Park sign (home of the very depressing Caravan of Extinct Species) resembles the logo of a certain island full of dinosaurs.
Ad-wise, we have wireless Duo Turbo controllers for your 16-bit systems.  From Acclaim, in that brief era before their gimmickry made them the laughingstock of the game industry & doomed them.

DC Commercial Break: Between roughly 400 ads for the return of Superman and a very pointy Azbats inviting you to read Detective Comics #500, an ad for Zero Hour sneaks in.  And with that one page, this Legion is officially on life support.

Commentary: I want you to remember what Mr. Joyner said about flaws being bad enough to hurt the good points in this title, because I am going to say way too much about what amounts to a "beach & bikini episode".
I miss Adam Hughes doing interiors; with the exception of Keiki's cringe-worthy parents, his design work on the characters & resort is astonishing.  His body language puts Kevin Maguire to shame, and his reaction shots are hilarious.  The characters get some great moments - the Triads argue amongst themselves, Brainy & Andromeda have some cute couple moments, Tenzil has his attempt to woo Vi, and Dirk finally gets to show a side of himself other than "douchebag".  But there's a deep flaw in the central conflict that ruined all of this issue's good points.
The first thing we see the sea devils do in this issue is kill a young boy.  There's no word if he was found or escaped, and the sea devils express no remorse about anything we see them do, let alone this implied child murder.  You cannot honestly expect an audience to see a civilization (which is what the sea devils are to be considered by the end of the story) as tragic & misunderstood when the first thing we see is them kill a child and brush it off.  Even people like me who have an active phobia of parenthood will find this to be too much of a moral disconnect.  And as a result, along with the choice to make most of the Tritonesians trigger-happy jerks, the truce reached at the end rings especially hollow & false.
This could have been the best issue so far, but one page ruined the whole thing.  And I don't mean the Zero Hour ad.


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