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Legion of Super-Heroes #50

Posted: Saturday, January 31, 2009
By: Ray Tate

Justin Thyme
Ramon Bachs, Livesay (i), Jo Smith (c)
DC Comics
"Hack the Infinity Net"

It looks like there was some kind of brouhaha in the offices of DC. Jim Shooter appears to have fled the coop before finishing the finale to Legion of Super-Heroes. Either that, or Shooter's story was deemed unacceptable by the editorial powers that be. It's probably the former. I can't believe that DC editors actually look at the stories they're supposed to be editing. So, the powers decided to use Shooter's notes and give them to a writer on staff. That writer wisely decided to remain anonymous under the pseudonym Justin Thyme, or let me spell it out for you, Just In Time.

The original title to the story was going to be "Virtual Suicide." Justin Thyme retitles the tale "Hack the Infinity Net." On the very first page, Thyme recalls what Shooter wrote in the past but fails to understand the previous chapters. If one planet ripping the Solar System apart is a threat, surely "a Hundred such planets" would be more of a threat. Except they're not. They bear "Billions of alien destroyers," but they don't appear to affect the cosmos one iota. Let's put it another way-- If I dropped a pebble into a still pond of water, I would get ripples. If I dropped a handful of pebbles into the water, I would get multiple ripples. The pebbles are the planets. The water is the cosmos. The "alien destroyers" would be less of a threat than the presence of "hundreds of planets" suddenly appearing out of nowhere. Shooter would not have accepted such a horrendous ignorance of science. That many planets should tear the universe a new one. At the very least each one should disrupt whatever system they are in. It took the combined effort of Brainiac 5, Starboy and Light Lass to stabilize a single incursion. Justin Thyme, huh? Geoff Johns, is that you?

On the next pages, Brainiac 5 explains things that are already known to the Legionnaires. True, Brainy likes the sound of his own voice, but he loathes redundancy. Last issue, Shrinking Violet worked the controls on the Stargate while Brainy and his away team infiltrated the single planet that intruded on the Solar System, yet she is among Legionnaires listening to Brainy prattle on. He mentions one thing that's new: "What they do have is an etheric link to a processing nexus in a computer network they call the Infinity Net." The trouble is that there's no foreshadowing and no explanation as to how he came by this information. Last issue, he and his team used the aliens' own data rippers to capture information, but what he and the other Legionnaires discovered is a factory for making alien destroyers not this Infinity Net.

Brainy's plan is for a strike-team to go digital themselves." I cannot believe this was Shooter's original plan. It's pedestrian, and it doesn't gibe with original title. In the previous issue Shooter includes this dialogue between Lightning Lad and Invisible Kid:

"There's no way to get at the real...I mean virtual bad guys? Nothing we can do?"

"Not without destroying most of the universe."

Such a conversation would seem to scotch the entire plot to this rushed concluding chapter. I mean if it was as simple as Brainy hooking up Legionnaires and sending them into cyberspace to fight the baddies, he would have likely done that once he discovered the incursion was caused by avatars, not living beings.

Sizzle in the body of Gazelle is also on tap for the meeting. Shooter carefully crafted the personalities of these two new character, and they're direct opposites. Sizzle is somewhat naive and open. Gazelle is cunning and introverted. So whoever wrote this finale got seriously confused, or perhaps he or she thought characters could be replaced without writing a single scrap of new dialogue. Shooter had Invisible Kid crush on Gazelle, but she didn't really return his feelings. Even if she did, she certainly wouldn't be so clingy as she is here, nor would there have been such clunky softness in her voice.

Anywho, Brainy uploads the Legionnaires and they do absolutely nothing when they get to the virtual world. Well, they fly. Ultra Boy takes a hit from a phaser blast or something. Lightning Lad tags a security robot. Saturn Girl folds her arms in front of her. This action squeezes her boobs together. That's something I suppose.

Brainiac Five's plan appears to hinge on Invisible Kid's horniness for Gazelle. Invisible Kid creates a pumped up version of himself to impress Gazelle in the virtual world. That makes no sense to me either. According to the plot, Brainy is using the differences between Invisible Kid's avatar and his actuality as a sign post because his equipment reads the Legion as part of the normal environment. The Invisible Kid tag allows Brainy to somehow take control of the matrix. None of this makes any sense. Invisible Kid's "tweaks" were last minute additions. That mean he was never part of Brainy's original plan. The story contradicts itself. In any case, Brainy should have been able to track the Legion with no problem in the virtual world since they are alive and unique.

The avatars and their world aren't actually alive. Therefore, Brainiac Five should be able to do a scan for bioscans like they do on Star Trek and distinguish Vulcan from Klingon, or Legionnaire from virtual denizen. Even if these virtual people are alive, Brainiac should have still been able to do something to distinguish his teammates from the cyberspace aliens. Invisible Kid's contribution is merely an ends to a means to have Sizzle/Gazelle take part in the mission and throw a little romance in the story. It's contrived nonsense.

Back in reality, the alien destroyers home in on Brainy and literally tear the Legionnaires to shreds, but Brainy merely clones their bodies so their minds can come back to something. I don't begrudge the move since I always believed Batman could have used stem cells to grow Babs a new spine. Shooter showed such regeneration was possible in previous issues. I do object to the Legion questioning whether or not their companions are in fact the real deal. Phantom Girl is one of the Legionnaires that behaves contrarily, and she was beaten to a bloody pulp last issue by a seriously deranged Princess Projectra. The Legion used the advanced medical technology of the future to save Phantom Girl's life and mend her body, but here she is saying: "It's not really them, right? They're just copies."

I believe Shooter had very little to do with this story. I suspect that he came up with a finale involving a smart use for the data rippers, good science fiction and a more original finish to his series. The Infinity Net comes out of nowhere, and Brainiac Five's plan of virtual attack is far too simple and vague. I wish I could at least partially recommend the last issue of the latest Legion reboot, but Ramon Bachs' imitation of Francis Manapul is piss poor and in no way can the short, bulky Gazelle in the pages be the same stretchy, elegant figure on the cover.

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