Before he can figure out how to diplomatically question Rokk’s decision, Cham comes upon the sight of the SW6 Legion busily repairing the city. He and Rokk find the sight of a full, intact version of the young Legion somewhat breath-taking.
Next we see the young SW6 Laurel desperately hoping SW6 Valor will return from his trip into the Time Stream (I believe at this time he’d been swallowed up in the Time Stream so he could have solo adventures in his own title of this period). In this scene, we get a good look at how the older Brainy differs from the younger Brainy. The older Brainy -- weary of tiptoeing around the feelings of his emotional teammates -- just grumpily dismisses the possibility that they’ll ever see the SW6 Valor again, causing Laurel to freak out. The younger Brainy -- still willing to give it his all in an attempt to get along as well as possible with his teammates, especially the girl he loves -- has been working hard to comfort Laurel and keep her hopes up and he's not a little pissed at the insensitivity of his older counterpart.
We see the Subs, who’ve added the reformed assassin Sade to their ranks, getting some adulation from a crowd for their heroics during the war for Earth, but they’re chagrined to find themselves upstaged by the arrival of Universo, whom the crowd considers an even bigger hero for his role in the Underground resistance during the war.
Next we see Jacques (Invisible Kid II) wondering if his sister Danielle survived the destruction of Earth, and hoping she’ll turn up on a certain flight, which would be the first indication that she wasn't lost with billions of others when Earth was destroyed. Troy (Tyroc) has tracked down Jacques in this crowd at the spaceport and tries to yank him away to tend to his duties as the recently appointed president of Earth. But Jacques has his priorities -- he tells Troy, who’s his vice president, that Troy can tend to those duties until Jacques finds his sister. Luckily for all concerned, Danielle turns up at this point and Jacques finally knows that his sister has survived the mass carnage of issue #38.
Another ship is bringing in a group of passengers who were Dominator experimental subjects during the war. They were mind-wiped by the Dominion and are thus potentially dangerous enemies of Earth, but the facilities that are best-suited to treating their particular mental condition are on what’s left of Earth, so they have to be brought back to the floating cities. Legionnaires Kent Shakespeare and Jan (Element Lad) are helping with security as these dangerous patients are being guided into medical transports.
The crowd recognizes the patients as having fought on the Dominators’ side during the war for Earth, and the catcalls of the crowd provoke the brainwashed patients to start shouting pro-Dominion slogans, which further riles the crowd. In the confusion, one of the patients, who looks very much like the late, great villainess Charma, manages to disengage the security shield that's holding the subjects prisoner and they’re all suddenly freed.
A free-for-all ensues and we see that the group of brainwashed subjects includes Myg (Karate Kid II) and Squire, the brother of Drake (Wildfire) Burroughs.
The Charma look-alike turns out to be Cocheta Drisden, who I believe is the sister of the original Charma. She’s got the same power to hypnotically control males and she uses it to turn the mob from anti-Dominion to pro-Dominion and now the Legionnaires find themselves in a fight against both the escaped subjects and the crowd.
Just when it’s really starting to look grim, Universo steps in and uses his hypnotic powers to convince Cocheta to stop using her hypnotic powers, and everyone suddenly realizes how pointless this whole riot has been. Once again, Universo is being hailed as a hero, and the Legion is starting to feel pretty antsy about his growing popularity.
One touch I like is that Universo’s mind control immediately gets everyone craving order, which I have perceived to be a driving force for Universo. He isn’t comfortable in a chaotic world so he wants to impose order on the world, preferably with himself in charge.
There’s a quick one-page cutaway where Nura (Dream Girl) is trying to get a friend to agree to check in on Mysa (White Witch) and offer help to her as she seeks some kind of mysterious fulfillment within the remains of the Sorcerer’s World. At the bottom of the page we find out that Nura’s friend is none other than J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter.
As we scripted that page, we clearly implied that J’onn was one of Nura’s many lovers, but I can remember they wanted to avoid that implication, since Nura’s humanoid physiology would presumably be very incompatible with J’onn’s. They ended up just adding an odd line from J’onn -- “As usual you presume too much” – which doesn’t read well on the page and doesn’t really change the implication that the two have been lovers.
I’ve been bothered over the years about how hung up people are about sexual compatibility between alien races, most of which can be traced to the clever article “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex,” which discussed how disastrous sex might be between a Kryptonion man and a human woman. But I have two big problems with how people have subsequently approached sex in the comics – for one thing, these races are so fantastic in both their humanness and their super-human powers that just about anything is possible in terms of how their sexuality might work; and secondly, everyone ignores that there are lots of things that fall under the category of making love beyond traditional baby-making man-and-woman human sex. And to this day, I prefer to think that Nura and J’onn explored a number of those possibilities.
At any rate, the story picks up back on Earth at a temporary Legion headquarter in a Brande Industries facility. Tenzil (Matter-Eater Lad) is manning the switchboard and screening out the many goofy calls they’re getting for assistance, including a pet skink stuck up a tree. A call comes in from Garth (Lighting Lad), who tells Rokk that Imra (Saturn Girl) has disappeared without a trace and left no clues whatsoever (an abduction we saw last issue, a teaser for the Tom McCraw plotted fill-in a couple issues away).
Then we move on to a “business meeting” they’ve set up so the “old” Legion can meet the “young” Legion. As they approach the meeting place, the older Jo (Ultra Boy) takes off in the other direction. Unfortunately for him, the younger Jo makes sure to track down older Jo and give him the wonderful opportunity to meet the young Tinya (Phantom Girl/Apparition), figuring older Jo wouldn't want to miss the opportunity since he's lost the older Tinya. But that meeting does not go well -- older Jo pretty much falls apart at the site of the younger version of the long-gone love of his life.
We also get meetings between young Vi and old Vi, with old Vi her younger, shyer counterpart enough of a pep talk that she's able to turns down Devlin’s offer to join him in the older Legion so SW6 Vi can stay where she belongs, in the young Legion.
Young Laurel meets old Laurel and they both have trouble understanding exactly why things didn’t work out for old Laurel and old Brainy.
The issue ends with a poignant scene in which the older Jo, still reeling from the sight of young Tinya, takes a little ship into space and sits out there drifting. He pulls out something he’s apparently been carrying around with him for years, the last note Tinya wrote to him before she disappeared. The issue ends with a silent panel of tears streaming down Jo’s face.
This was the first full issue penciled by Stuart Immonen, and it’s a pretty good-looking issue. The Legionnaires generally look great and he could make the kids’ uniforms look believable and cool while still being consistent with the original designs. His women were generally drop-dead gorgeous – for instance, you could really understand why the males in the story were powerless against the charms of Cocheta. And his Nura captured that voluptuous sexiness that makes her irresistible despite her plus-size dimensions.
And throughout the story there are many great facial expressions on the characters, really communicating the emotion of the story with skill and subtlety.
The cover demonstrated how the book was starting to “stunt” to try and pump up sales. Because we had the Squire Burroughs character in the story, they put him on the cover with artwork that made him look like the original Wildfire. The caption was “Guess Who’s Back? Wrong!” This is hardly a cover that’s representative of the significant events of the issue, but it is a cover that probably motivated a more than a few people to pick up the issue, considering that one of the steady requests we got in the letter column was for the return of Wildfire (and the very first thing they did after Mary and I were gone was to actually bring back Wildfire).
The letter’s page this time was cut down to a single page, I think because there were 24 pages of artwork. I have no recollection of why the story is longer than usual, but it’s possible somebody decided we were cramming too much into the allotted pages and freed up an extra page for us. Beyond doubt, this was an example of the really crowded, complicated stories Stuart was going to be asked to illustrate during his brief collaboration with us.