RandoMonday: Legion of Super-Heroes #6

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Legion of Super-Heroes (1984) #6 by Paul Levitz (writer), Joe Orlando (guest penciller), Larry Mahlstedt (inker), John Constanza (letterer), Carl Gafford (colorist), Karen Berger (editor), and Steve Lightle and Larry Mahlstedt (cover)

Spotlight on Lightning Lass! Though it is curious that her more famous (?) brother is looming very large on the cover despite Ayla being colored in a way that focuses on her. But then, these siblings have long been closely knit together, and this is reinforced in this retelling of the siblings’ origin via the framing story of Ayla and black sheep brother Mekt having been captured by Zymyr, a Gil’Dishpanian (one of my favorite Legion alien race names I like to pronounce) who simply wishes to know how they came to lords of lightning. That, and they can become power batteries for his (its?) machines. As Ayla and Mekt attempt to escape a few times Ayla waxes historical taking through various high points (from a character standpoint) in her life, such as when she took Garth’s place in the Legion after he “died”, when she became Light Lass, and when she fell in love with Timber Wolf. After their last attempt at escaping, Zymyr is done with them and agrees to teleport them back to Orando instead of deep space or something else that would kill them. Mekt being, well, Mekt, he attacks his sister, first blasting her with his lightning (side note: it appears that the lightning siblings powers do affect each other, so how is the lightning that they generate different from one another? I’m putting on my nerd cap now, but in this story, Mekt’s lightning is blueish and Ayla’s is pinkish–that must mean something [other than a convenient way to differentiate each character’s powers].), and then pulling her by her hair along the ground after she insults him! Her friends on Orando help her, but Ayla ultimately defeats her brother. And that’s what struck me about this part of the story 30 years after I first read it: just how how abusive Mekt is to his sister. Mekt has always been shown as a bit unstable, but to attack his little sister this way was disturbing. It makes an interesting comparison to the Mekt that we are shown in the 5YL Legion. The story ends with Ayla deciding to return to the Legion.

Joe Orlando was never a favorite DC artist of mine, but Larry Mahlstedt’s inks help tone down the Orlandoness that I’m just not a big fan of. I think I would have preferred Orlando drawing the flashback scenes and have someone else do the contemporary pages (such as Steve Lightle, who is advertised at the end of the book as becoming the new regular artist starting with the following issue).

Of note in the book’s back matter is a letter in the Legion Outpost (remember letters’ pages kids?). A contributor complains that LoSH #1 was “3000% grimmer than Batman has ever been” and “what’s with [the] violence?”. Well, I bet that reader got real disappointed in the years following, when “grim and gritty” became the watch words for mainstream comics for a while. Finally, Dick Giordano fills us in on the ill-fated (at that time) JLA/Avengers crossover in his much-missed Meanwhile column. This two-part examination of the team up that never happened (at least until 2003, about 20 years later) provided an insider’s view of the internal machinations of comic book publishing that I found utterly fascinating (of course, I also read Marvel’s version of events in Marvel Age #19). You can read an overview of this debacle at the Marvel Comics of the 1980s blog.