Monday, April 21, 2008

SARLSH, Part 7 (The End), By Johnathan

Hooray!It's the end of the Supplement to the Addendum to the Review of the Legion of Super-Heroes! Let's do it!

TELLUS


As might be becoming apparent, I quite liked these late additions to the Legion. They represented a conscious effort on various writer's parts to inject some new life into a group that had become fairly static, member-wise, at about the time Jim Shooter stopped writing stories. I mean, this is a team that had 24 members within its first ten years and then admitted 13 more in the next two decades or so - and four of those new members (White Witch, Timber Wolf, Chemical King, Polar Boy) had appeared in that first decade, while a fifth - Invisible Kid - was basically a sequel to one of the original 24. Tellus and Quislet were pretty much the only non-humanoids in the first iteration of the Legion. I mean, Tellus is still pretty humanoid, but at least he has a fish face and a tail and little stunted legs instead of being a Klingon-style "guy with some sort of extra crap on his head" alien. I always figured that he was based on this one ocean-dwelling telepathic mutant that teamed up with the Legion to fight excessively Mod aliens this one time, which is nice because I liked that story.

Sadly for people like me who like the new members, they've suffered significant attrition as a result of 'New Writer's Syndrome' which is a condition that I made up to describe the tendency of someone taking over the writing chores on a comic book to gleefully slaughter any members of the supporting cast that were introduced by the old writer (this is why I am so concerned for the Head now that Gail Simone has left The All-New Atom), whether for cheap dramatic effect or because the new writer just doesn't like 'em. The Legion is especially vulnerable on this front, for a couple of reasons: firstly, because that 'original 24' I mentioned has been established as the canon Legion and are basically there to stay (barring the occasional dramatic event), and secondly because in a team book - especially one in which the team members don't have solo super-careers - everyone is supporting cast. In essence, this means that everyone who joined the Legion after Princess Projectra and Karate Kid (non-inclusive, I guess) is fair game for ignoble death, mutilation and non-inclusion in reboots. I haven't read the Legion comic in which Tellus was killed off - heck, I don't know for sure that he does die - but I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, aside from making the Legion seem less like a Humans and Humanoids Only Club, Tellus filled much the same role as Blok: philosophical outsider who didn't quite "get" what was up with those crazy humans. Nothing new, really, though Tellus has the added element of attracting a fairly incessant stream of racist commentary from Wildfire on the subject of Tellus being a useless fish-asshole. The Legion does not, it seems, have much concern for cultural or species-related sensitivity, or perhaps were reluctant to embark on the logistically nightmarish task of trying to throw a guy made of antimatter out of a building. Tellus' powers (not shown, boo) of sub-Saturn Girl-level telepathy and telekinesis were useful, plus it was always fun to see him zoom through the air with is little legs trailing behind him. I also liked the fact that his given name (Ganglios) would be a great moniker for a brain-based super-villain (as opposed to fish-based super-hero) to sport, though this name-related joy is dampened by the fact that his super-hero name is one letter away from being shared by a most irritating telephone company.

Bah. Over all, I like Tellus, but for me he's kind of become symbolic of misused Legion characters, and so I get grumpy when I think about him too much.

NOT APPROVED

WHITE WITCH


The White Witch is a venerable character - she first appeared way back in (issue), during that whole escapade with Evillo and his mythic crew. She was there as the Hag, a cackly old witch of the Hansel and Grethel sort, and eventually her dear sister Dream Girl arranged to change her back. Subsequently, she turned up now and then when the Legion had some sort of magical trouble and Brainiac 5 was going into a Batman-as-willful-idiot fugue state ("Nope, I categorically deny the existence of magic. It's completely impossible that it exists. Laughable, really, why... hold on, Zauriel, I have the Spectre on the other line."). Eventually, she got mixed in with the whole Mordru/Sorcerer's World shebaz and I think that it was as a result of one of the LSH's interminable battles with The Poorly-Dressed Sorcerer that Mysa finally joined up, some twenty-odd years after her introduction. She was originally a sultry redhead, but I'm pretty fond of the pale n' wispy redesign, shown here, and especially of the eyelash-antennae, which are tied in to this neat theme of magic in Legion continuity - the better you are at it, the weirder-looking you get. There are all these wizards and witches on Sorcerer's world made of water and plants and such, Mysa's all pale and antennaed and Mordru's outfit is magically awful (seriously, I think that there are flashbacks to when he was less evil/powerful in which his helmet isn't as gaudy and the wings are smaller).

The White Witch was a fun addition to a team of bickering egoists, which was kind of what the Legion was at the time. She was thoughtful and spiritual rather than argumentative and moody, plus she palled around with Blok a lot. She also added a lot of power and versatility to the team: though her magic operated under D&D rules (lots of studying, only so many spells in her head at one time, once a spell is cast it's gone) she was pretty good at improvising with what she had on hand spell-wise to keep her more hapless teammates alive.

As for the picture: it's a very good rendering of the White Witch costume, though I don't know what the hell she's doing. This is further evidence, though, that Polar Boy should be making a snowflake in his picture - together with Element Lad and the White Witch, they'd have a theme going!

JOHN APPROVED

(and just because she's not a comic nerd and thus it's noteworthy, she's also JOHN'S GIRLFRIEND ANN APPROVED)

2 comments:

Michael said...

Tellus was never killed off. After the Five Year Gap, he was said to have gone back to his home planet and (along with everyone else) joined the Dark Circle. Like much of the Giffen/Bierbaum era, this was never followed up on.

Quislet was never mentioned in that era, making them lucky when you look at what happened to the other post-Adventure Legionnaires like Wildfire, Blok, and Dawnstar.

Johnathan said...

That's nice to know - being a cultist is more fun than being dead.

But Quislet - poor Quislet - has left us.