Friday, November 6, 2009

The Final Sacrifice

No, not the Mystery Science Theatre 3000-reviewed Canadian film travesty. We will not be talking about the Ziox today. Just a title for my last Legion of Super-Heroes post (this week) to close out my Klordny week.
It's a fun comic, lots of flying about and kissing and fighting. But, the thing is, you don't get to live in a Utopia, (well, probably at all) but certainly not without work, strife, and loss.
And the L.O.S.H. has always understood sacrifice.It's corny of me to admit how moved I was by the willingness of ALL the Legionnaires to risk their own deaths by unproven lightning rod mysticism in an attempt to resurrect their friend Lightning Lad. It's so desperate, so illogical, and so beautifully human.
That image from this '60's story is iconic to the Legion, and it still gets play today.
Pain, Death and Resurrection are constant themes in all superhero comics, and LOSH is no exception.
War between Braal and Imsk left psychological scars on Salu Digby and Rokk Krinn when they were drafted and forced to turn on each other. Color Kid was blinded by the speciesist Justice League of the year 3008. Kid Psycho died in the first Crisis. Lightning Lad tends to lose his arm, the first time to a space whale in a reversal of the Moby Dick story, urging the value of forgiveness over obsession and revenge. Triplicate Girl's extra bodies leave the trauma of their passing on her psyche when they perish.
They wouldn't be heroes if they didn't suffer and die. And (most of the time) unlike other superheroes, they don't come back.


5. Condo 'Chemical King' Arlik- Fate touches all of us, even those with the power to enhance chemical reactions. Thanks to time travel, the reader saw Chemical King's death monument before they saw him join the Legion in the sixties. And sure enough, in a Paul Levitz 1977 comic he perished to stop World War VII, just as his gravestone had said. It didn't matter to me that he was essentially a characterless Star Trek redshirt. That's just chilling, like those poor cyclopses in Krull.

4. Rond 'Green Lantern' Vidar- Son of the villainous world conqueror Universo, Rond was the last Green Lantern of his era. Never a major character, to be sure, but a very noble death from Geoff Johns and George Perez. Died while helping his teammates escape the Legion of Super-Villains, when the petulant Superboy-Prime snapped his neck. Yeeuurrghh. Grisly.

3. Candi 'Monstress' Pyponte-Le Parc III- Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's 'Legion Lost' storyline saw some of the team stranded in distant space. It also cast poor Element Lad back to the dawn of time, which drove him mad primarily from loneliness as he lived all those eons, becoming a tyrant god to an evolving alien culture. Sweet and physically Hulk-like Candi bore the brunt of his wrath, vaporized for no sane reason, leaving only her forlorn shoe.

2. R.J. Brande- Take Uncle Scroouge McDuck and make him richer on a galactic scale, generous backer of the teens who saved his life, and a jovial shapeshifter trapped by illness in human form. There you have long-term financeer, builder of planets, democratic supporter of the United Planets, (and secret father of Chameleon Boy) R.J. Brande. And now we don't. But his assassination on the senate floor in Perez and Johns' 'Legion of Three Worlds' with 'Don't ever quit' and 'Long Live the Legion' on his lips as they reverted in death to the alien body he'd been denied so long in life... Damn. I still can't believe it. I was overcome. And he's a DRAWING! That's damn good writing, right there. That's the power of fantasy to really draw me in.

1. Andrew 'Ferro Lad' Nolan- Although Lightning Lad may have been the first to die, Ferro Lad's was the first death to stick. Andrew was very shy, a mutant with an inhuman face and the ability to turn into living metal (a decade before X-Men's Colossus. The Legion, folks... only the Pulps did it before they did!) It is always easy to be overlooked in a group as big as the LOSH and it must have come as a shock to the readers, as it was a brilliant surprise to me, when Ferro Lad suddenly clocked a weakened Superboy from behind, and took his place on a suicide mission. He carried the bomb into the heart of the Sun-Eater (it's just what it sounds like) and died activating it. He saved Earth and everything else that would have been eaten (i.e. suns.)

It's all a fiction. It's all a lie. But when the lie is told so well... I am still touched. The deaths can be made to seem real to me.
They make me want to embrace my own life, my own WIFE, and eventually (WAY after the year 3000!) face my own death with that kind of courage.

Like Grig said of the fallen in 'The Last Starfighter' "I prefer to think of them as battling evil... in another dimension."


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