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It's OK, I'm a Senator

Legion Recollections by Tom Bierbaum

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Recollections of Legionnaires #11
gnaw on fence
Our story picks up on the Proty planet, where Matter-Eater Lad, Catspaw, Dragonmage and Shrinking Violet have crash-landed.  They’ve helped the Protys invade another crash-landed ship, in which we find the long-lost (and presumed dead) Legionnaire Kid Quantum.

The issue sports a nice cover by Chris Sprouse, showing Kid Quantum and those other Legionnaires triumphantly flying out into space with a beautiful multi-colored planet in the background.  My objection to the cover is that it shows a hale and hearty Kid Quantum in a Legionnaires uniform, serving as a pretty major spoiler that the character not only survives the major challenges he faces in this issue but becomes a Legionnaire. And to compound the spoil, they featured the cover artwork at the end of the previous issue, so on the very page after we reveal KQ’s existence, we essentially tell the readers he’s going to become a member. I’m sure our guys felt they could boost orders a little if they promised readers that they were going to see the arrival of a new team member but it’s certainly frustrating as a writer to have future developments tipped so far in advance.

At any rate the story takes us back to that moment the Legionnaires discover Kid Quantum in that mystery second ship, with the kid hooked up to an assortment of alien equipment.  It looks like the very life is being drawn out of him.

Dragonmage finds some more Protys locked in stasis inside the ship and frees them.  They reveal that Kid Quantum / James Cullen actually carries inside him the “Soul of Antarres,” the combined sentience of the Proty race.  Rather than allow themselves to be enslaved, the Protys combined their sentience into one of their own and smuggled him off-world as Kid Quantum and left behind a race of un-intelligent, un-trainable shape-shifting blobs.

It suddenly becomes time for our Legionnaires team to vamoose, as the Khunds start regaining consciousness after getting their rear ends rearranged by the Legionnaires in the previous issue.  Matter-Eater Lad, once again showing some pretty good leadership skills, guides the group to a safe escape and the Protys take the comatose Kid Quantum down into a cave that leads to underground chambers.  Matter-Eater Lad sends Dragonmage down with them to serve as a last line of defense, as M-E Lad, Violet and Catspaw try to hold off the Khunds at the cave entrance.

Dragonmage is amazed to find a huge underground chamber populated by countless Protys awaiting the arrival of Kid Quantum. The ailing hero explains to Dragonmage that he was once a Proty, in fact, the very Proty who foolishly revealed the world’s secrets to an enchanting stranger (experts in LSH continuity will know he’s talking about the vampy villainess Glorith) and put the planet in position to be conquered by her.  So he volunteered to become the vessel of the Protean’s sentience, a role he always expected to cost him his life when it came time to restore that sentience.

The Proteans line up and start dissolving into a device that’s been placed on Kid Quantum / James’ mid-section, but Dragonmage is alarmed to see that the wrenching process is killing James.

We jump back to the cave’s entrance, where Catspaw’s predator instincts get the best of her and she rashly pounces on one of the attackers and gets blasted herself.

Back below, the Protys urge Dragonmage to use his mystical powers to strengthen Kid Quantum and help him survive the restoration process.  But Dragonmage knows his powers are too dangerous and not adequately controlled -- he’d likely rip James apart in the effort.  But the Protys tell Dragonmage to link with them telepathically so they can join their wills to his and help James harness his enormous mystical powers. 

Up on the surface, the Khunds are now torturing the wounded Catspaw in hopes of flushing out the others and Tenzil falls for it, leaping to Catspaw’s defense against impossible odds.  Just as he’s about to get blasted to smithereens, a mysterious stasis field envelops the Khunds.  It turns out to be the work of Kid Quantum, who’s survived the restoration ritual thanks to the combined aid of Dragonmage and the other Protys, and is now feeling much better.  The mystical process has imbued James with the stasis-projecting powers he used to wield through artificial means and he was able to use that power to render the Khunds powerless at a most opportune moment.

We switch from that Chris Sprouse-pencilled section to a series of scenes from Joe Phillips back on New Earth.  We first see Inferno taking his current ladyfriend Sadi to DuGarm’s in Paris, only to find the entraceway to the Paris dome is barricaded by a set of virtually impervious chains.  As Inferno looks for ways to circumvent the chains, some guns emerge from the gates of Paris and open fire.

We then jump to a hospital in the Acapulco dome where Cosmic Boy’s life hangs in the balance after Live Wire inadvertently blasted him a couple issues back.  Saturn Girl can’t help herself and is reading the minds of the doctors treating Coz.  Ultra Boy convinces her to leave them alone and let them do their job, but that leads to another clash between S-Girl and Live Wire. Garth is sorry for having blasted Coz but is still trying to say it wasn’t his fault, at which point Saturn Girl says she wants to be alone and Live Wire stalks off shouting “Okay, fine, you’re alone!” leaving the status of their relationship very much up in the air.

Back at Legionnaires headquarters, they’re receiving a message from Laurel, who’s located the ship-wrecked Legionnaires on the Proty planet.  Laurel reveals that they’re bringing back a special guest, Kid Quantum, who’d like to join the team. There’s more tension between Cham and Computo when Cham quickly tells James he’s back on the team, but current leader Computo points out that such a decision is not really Cham’s to make.

And from there, it’s back to the Acapulco dome, where one of the bystanders also wounded by Live Wire is having some sort of psychedelic, telepathic meltdown as the surrounding mob threatens to turn ugly against Legionnaires Brainiac 5, Apparition, Gossamer and Ferro.  Brainy tries to get the others to clear the area because something catastrophic is about to be unleashed, but his teammates won’t abandon Brainy and an explosion of mental energy blasts out of the wounded boy.  Brainy, Tinya, Ayla and Ferro are trapped in some kind of bizarre stasis that, to the surrounding Science Police, looks to have been fatal. That’s here we leave things as the issue wraps up.

Lots going on as we continue to juggle multiple storylines touching on many characters. One of the challenges of this era was that they’d line up different artists to do different clumps of pages and we’d end up scripting pages out of order and in some cases doing scenes from future issues before prior issues were completed, meaning we really had to keep track of our plots and concentrate on what we’d written and what we’d want to make sure to write as additional pages came in.

We certainly didn’t mind and got to work with a lot of interesting artists. It would have been great if Chris Sprouse had been able to do all of these scenes -- he was really the definitive “Legionnaires” artist in my mind -- but we were lucky to get the quality artists we did to help Chris stay on schedule.


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