Comics Reviews: Legion of Super-Heroes Annual 1, Warlord Annual 1

LSH Annual 1 coverLegion of Super-Heroes Annual #1 – “Monsters in a Little Girl’s Mind” – Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Bruce Patterson

This story starts with Shvaughn Erin showing up at Legion headquarters to let them know she’s the new liaison officer from the Science Police. The Legion’s security devices grab her and she wonders if nobody told the legion she was coming. Wildfire blasts her free before he and Dawnstar take off for some R&R. Shvaughn heads inside where Element Lad welcomes her and shows her around the headquarters, which has been revamped recently. They end up in the new medical bay, where Brainiac 5, Mon-El, and Dream Girl are trying to help a catatonic girl named Danielle Foccart. She’s suffering from a strange energy overload in her nervous system that leavesexplosions in the lab her comatose and Brainiac 5 thought he could do something to help her. (He came across her case while doing research to cure Matter-Eater Lad’s psychosis.) Brainy has added some special circuits to the computer, but he’s worried about them, hoping they don’t get out of control like before. He hasn’t shared his fears with his teammates, so they’re surprised when an energy surge starts blowing up consoles in the lab. Dream Girl is blasted and Brainy barely activates his force field in time to keep from being blown up. Mon-El and Danielle’s brother, Jacques Foccart (who was there observing), are shocked when Danielle sits up and smiles, with red light streaming from Cosmic Boy overwhelmedher eyes. The damage isn’t localized to the lab either: Cosmic Boy’s chambers become animated, covering him with pieces of metal so he can barely move; Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl’s atomizer (which is like a high-tech garbage disposal) starts vapourizing everything in their quarters; and Star Boy and Sun Boy are attacked by the avatars they’re playing in a 3-D Dungeons & Dragons game. A force shield automatically activates around the headquarters perimeter, letting the Science Police outside know that something’s up, since the shield isn’t supposed to be activated without permission from Earth’s government. Element Lad and Shvaughn are blocked fro m reaching the medical center by a barrier that reforms as fast as Element Lad uses his transmutation powers on it. In the lab, Mon-El is held helpless by a combination of red sun energy and his anti-lead serum being neutralized,Computo reveals itself leaving Brainy and Jacques to hear their antagonist identify itself … it’s COMPUTO, the sentient computer that Brainy accidentally created a few years ago that subsequently went nuts and tried to take over the world. I guess those were the “questionable” circuits Brainy used—probably a mistake. Shvaughn sends out an emergency signal and the Science Police evacuate the area around Legion HQ and cut off all electronic communications to and from the building to keep COMPUTO from spreading its terror. Naturally rumours about COMPUTO get out and Duo Damsel freaks when she hears the news. COMPUTO killed one of her duplicates the first time the Legion fought him (turning her from Triplicate Girl to Duo Damsel) and just knowing he’s back Duo Damsel freaking outis enough to bring back all the trauma. Her husband Bouncing Boy wasn’t with the legion back then (having lost his powers temporarily), but he stands by her now and does his best to comfort her. At Legion HQ, Shadow Lass joins Element Lad and Shvaughn, who wonders how Shady got past COMPUTO. Shady wasn’t part of the Legion during their first encounter with COMPUTO, so maybe it doesn’t recognize her as a threat now. Before Shvaughn can ponder that, Shadow Lass tells them COMPUTO has declared war on Earth’s government. They also get an alert saying COMPUTO has screwed up life-support inside the HQ, withdrawing the air supply and turning up the heat. We get some cameos from other Legionnaires: in the 20th Century, Superboy feels a strange chill, like something ominous is happening;Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl find Cosmic Boy Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet are checking out a new ship when it suddenly blasts right out of the hangar at top speed, taking them on a high-velocity trip. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl blast free of their chambers and find Cosmic Boy unconscious and covered in rubble. They see a blast from Sun Boy coming through the door of the game room and Lightning Lad goes to check it out. Outside, the Substitutes want to go in to help, but the Science Police won’t let anyone through. In the medical center, Jacques despairs that his sister’s body is being used by COMPUTO, while Brainiac 5 realizes the trouble his experiment has caused as he watches the other Legionnaires being attacked by their own headquarters. COMPUTO tells Brainy his one flaw is letting his emotions override his logic. In the gym, Blok and Timber Phantom Girl attacked by a vacuumWolf are attacked by the equipment. At Science Police Central, Marte Allon (President of Earth and Colossal Boy’s mother) directs the evacuation and quarantine procedures. The Green Lanterns call from Oa, offering to help, but she turns them down. In the medical center, Danielle Foccart’s body starts to show the effects of COMPUTO’s takeover, which is like torture for her brother. Brainiac 5 considers letting COMPUTO burn out Danielle’s body, making him more vulnerable, but figures some Legionnaires might die before that happens … plus, Brainy has been trying to save Danielle, not kill her. He has to come up with a way to outwit COMPUTO and destroy it forever. In Ultra Boy’s quarters, he, Phantom Girl, and Light Lass are attacked by various machines (including a homicidal Roomba) as they clean up. In a nearby park, Chameleon Boy mulls over his recent adventure on Khundia that went so wrong and considers what to do next. In the medicalColossal Boy and Violet saved center, Brainy gets an idea and manages to slip Jacques a telepathic plug (which the Legionnaires use to communicate in airless space) without COMPUTO catching on. Colossal Boy and Shrinking Violet’s runaway ship in intercepted by Wildfire and Dawnstar (who were called to action by the Science Police), who destroy the ship and save them from falling to their deaths. Outside the medical lab, Element Lad is exhausted and ready to give up, but Shadow Lass suggests they use the secondary maintenance tunnels to access the lab, since COMPUTO hasn’t overridden that circuitry yet. Lightning Lad rescues Star Boy and Sun Boy from being killed by their D&D game by blowing out the computer. Inside, Brainy telepathically informs Jacques that the serum formerly belonging to Lyle Norg (aka Invisible Kid) Brainy explains his plan to Jacquesis hidden in a secret drawer in the lab. If Jacques takes the serum, he might be able to sneak up on COMPUTO and take it down … but that might kill Danielle too. (And there’s a slight chance Jacques will be allergic to the invisibility serum, which would kill him instantly.) Jacques wonders if possibly killing Danielle is better than letting her die from COMPUTO’s possession of her. In the gym, Timber Wolf an Blok try to fight their way through the door, but can’t. Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Star Boy take the unconscious Cosmic Boy and Sun Boy to Timber Wolf’s quarters (which are very organic, pretty much barren of high-tech), but COMPUTO manages to attack them even there, sending a simulacrum of Lightning lad in his younger days to blast them. In the lab, COMPUTO taunts Brainiac 5 about human emotions,Jacques takes the serum saying the very idea of Lightning Lad fighting a younger, more self-assured version of himself will drive him right over the edge. COMPUTO torments the paralyzed Mon-El with the possibility of returning to the Phantom Zone. Jacques realizes he has to stop COMPUTO before it burns out Danielle’s body and takes over the main computers, no matter the cost, so he retrieves the invisibility serum and drinks it. When he vanishes, COMPUTO knows Brainy is setting him up for something and freaks out. In Ultra Boy’s quarters, Light Lass has gotten Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl to safety, but she’s almost unconscious from the room exploding every few minutes. Just before another explosion hits, she wonders again if anything happened between Timber Wolf and Saturn Girl on the asteroid. In the lab, COMPUTO animates Mon-El helps get the hypothe machinery to inundate Brainy, whose force-field protects him for the moment. Brainy telepathically directs the invisible Jacques to a hypo full of sedatives. Brainy also directs Mon-El (who was already wearing a telepathic plug) to use his heat vision to melt the container where the hypo is stored. Brainy drops his shield, allowing the flying debris to smash into him. That distracts COMPUTO so its control of Mon-El slips a little, allowing him to free the hypo, which Jacques grabs. Unfortunately, the hypo stays visible, so Jacques has to keep low, hiding the hypo behind debris. COMPUTO threatens to kill Danielle, but that only steels Jacques’ resolve; he jumps Danielle and slaps the hypo onto her chest, knocking her out and ending COMPUTO’sJacques uses the hypo on Danielle control of her. All the craziness throughout HQ immediately ends and Brainy puts Danielle into a suspended animation tank. He tells Jacques she’s alive—barely—but she has to be kept unconscious to keep COMPUTO from taking her over again. Later at a meeting of the entire Legion, Brainiac 5 apologizes and tries to resign, nominating Jacques to take his place. After some debate, the others agree and Brainy lets Jacques know. Brainy promises he’ll never sop trying to cure Danielle and Jacques says he’d be proud to be the new Invisible Kid and join the Legion.

Noticeable Things:

  • This story takes place between LSH 289 (when Lightning Lad quit as leader, forcing Element Lad to take over) and LSH 290.
  • The Legion’s original fight with COMPUTO took place way back in Adventure Comics 340-341.
  • In the Legion’s era, the Green Lantern Corps are forbidden from coming to Earth, but at this point we don’t know why. In fact, I can’t remember if the reason for that was ever told in a story.
  • There’s a series of vignettes showing someone on a barren planet sensing COMPUTO’s power, sending a crude creature of darkness to investigate, and ending up disappointed when the dark creature is destroyed by a barrier around Earth. This is a reference to the main antagonist of the upcoming Great Darkness Saga, which starts in LSH 290.
  • There’s a two-page blueprint of the new Legion HQ in this issue, but the blue background makes it kind of hard to see details, which is why I’m not including a scan of it; the one in Who’s Who works better.

Warlord Annual 1 coverWarlord Annual #1 – “Gateway to Doom” – Mike Grell/Rodin Rodriguez

This one starts with Shakira (in her cat form) watching as a royal entourage is attacked by tribesmen in the jungle. All the guards are killed, leaving only the princess (Alisandre) and a minstrel (Tristan), who tries to defend her even though he obviously has no fighting skills. Luckily Shakira has summoned help and Travis Morgan shows up to take care of the tribesmen. Alisandre urges Tristan to flee with her, but he feels obligated to Morgan and sticks around to help, busting his lute over a tribesman’s head. After dispatching the last of their foes, Morgan learns that Alisandre is a princess from Kalabas on her way to Groniko, where she’s to marry King Marselus. Morgan explains they were attacked for violating the tribe’s sacred place, an ancient Atlantean temple.Morgan shows off the Atlantean ruins Morgan takes them inside to show them the fantastic array of machines built by the Atlanteans centuries ago. One of the computers still works (barely) and they get a glimpse of the splendour and technology the Atlanteans once commanded. Morgan explains how a few Atlanteans fled here from outside after their people destroyed themselves in a cataclysmic war. Alisandre considers them savages, but Morgan points out the Atlanteans mastered science that hasn’t been seen since, so they’d consider the modern Skartarians to be the real savages. Alisandre is haughty and wants nothing to do with Morgan, but he knows she and Tristan don’t stand a chance of getting to Groniko on their own so he offers to guide them as long as they agree to pull their own weight. Morgan learns that Alisandre has never met King Shakira and Alisandre fightMarselus … she’s going to marry him sight unseen for political purposes, which Morgan finds funny. Since there are only three horses, Morgan orders the princess to leave all her finery and take only the bare essentials. She’s not happy about his attitude and draws a dagger, but Shakira jumps down and claws it out of her hand. Shakira starts pawing through Alisandre’s jewelry and the princess grabs a spear to skewer her, but Shakira transforms back into human form. They square off and Alisandre gets knocked on her ass. Morgan wonders if there might be some hidden bit of decency in Alisandre; Tristan seems to think so (even though she treats him with utter contempt), but Shakira points out the obvious … Tristan is in love with Alisandre. Morgan figures he and Shakira can help Tristan look good to the princess, so maybe she’ll appreciate him more. Tristan’s a classic nerd, soswamp serpent attacks he needs all the help he can get. The first time they halt for a meal, the princess decides she needs a bath and jumps into a pool by a waterfall. Morgan tosses a lizard in the pool, knowing Alisandre will freak out and call on Tristan for help. Unfortunately, Tristan’s intentions are purer than his actions and he trips and falls on his ass during the “rescue”. Even more unfortunately, the pool is home to a serpentine monster that rises up to chomp whoever’s disturbing its rest. Tristan tries to save Alisandre but gets slammed down, so Morgan has to tackle the beast, stabbing it and finishing it off with his Automag. While they’re fighting the serpent, three soldiers slip in and grab the princess, carrying her off. Shakira finds their trail and leads the others after her, but when they reach the place the soldiers took the princess, first sight of DoomgateShakira says it’s hopeless. The princess has been taken to the haunted city of Doomgate, from which no captive ever returns. Morgan isn’t ready to give up yet, so he disguises himself as a servant and has Tristan pretend to be a court magician to bluff their way through the gates. (Shakira goes in as Tristan’s feline familiar, naturally.) They learn there’s a sacrifice scheduled (I think we all know who that is) to someone called Tarantis. At the festivities, Tristan uses his “magic” to transform Shakira from a cat into a beautiful woman, which distracts the revelers enough to let Morgan slip away into the palace. He takes out a guard and forces him to guide him to the dungeons. The guard refuses to go inside, saying the sacrifice is a sacred rite, so Morgan knocks him out and wastes a couple more guards. He finds Alisandre with a couple of attendants, who flee farther into the dungeons.Tarantis attacks More guards arrive and Morgan figures he and Alisandre better go deeper into the dungeons as well and hope there’s another way out. The guards don’t bother to follow and we soon learn why … the dungeons are the domain of Tarantis, a gigantic spider. Naturally, Alisandre faints, so Morgan has to carry her. He gets by the spider with a few stabs of his sword and finds a door leading outside, but Tarantis doesn’t give up that easily. The spider smashes through the wall and comes after Morgan and the princess. Morgan cuts the spider up some more and ends up squishing it under a stone archway; I guess there’ll be a hell of a rainstorm coming. While the inhabitants mourn the death of their “goddess”, Morgan and company flee the city as fast as possible. Alisandre is still a petulant pain in the ass and Morgan gives her Tarantis gets squishedshit, telling her she needs a good spanking. He also points out that despite he treating him like crap, Tristan is in love with her and has risked his life numerous times to help her. Alisandre tells Tristan she appreciates all he’s done, but explains that she’s a princess and has to do what’s best for her and her realm, so she’s still going to marry King Marselus. Tristan finally understands that Alisandre would never lower herself to be with a common minstrel and gives up any hope he had of being with her. They arrive at Groniko, which isn’t quite the big kingdom they were expecting. Alisandre explains that Groniko is of strategic importance, since it borders two large kingdoms and levies taxes from both. But the main city is kind of a depressing shithole, and the palace isn’t much better. They find a chubbyAlisandre's poetic justice old man outside and ask him about King Marselus. Turns out this roly-poly old dude is King Marselus, and he’s in such bad shape he needs people to bring him into and out of the palace. He’s not too impressed with his bride-to-be, thinking Alisandre is nothing but skin and bones, but he figures they can get her plumped up before the wedding. Alisandre realizes she might have been better off with Tristan after all, but he and Morgan are already on their way out of the palace, laughing their asses off. So I guess it’s poetic justice, having Alisandre get screwed over like that at the end; after all, she didn’t have to be an asshole to everybody, that was a choice she made. Then Morgan rescuing Alisandreagain, I get the feeling Tristan wasn’t so much in love with her, as in lust; he certainly wasn’t attracted to her personality. So maybe he learned something too. As usual, Grell’s art is amazing … for all her faults, Alisandre is certainly attractive.

Noticeable Things:

  • According to Mike’s Amazing World of Comics (which I use to figure out the cover dates of all the comics I review), this Annual was published between Warlord 61 and 62, but the story has to take place earlier since Morgan was in Shamballah by then and Shakira was still in Kaambuka. It can’t take place later, because Rostov isn’t there. Morgan and Shakira were still traveling alone together in Warlord 49, but it seems unlikely the single-minded Morgan would detour from looking for Jennifer to escort a pain in the ass like Alisandre to Groniko. So it most likely takes place before all that, probably between Warlord 39 and Warlord 40.

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