For those looking in on Interlac's 30th anniversary mailing who don't normally see the mailings, I should mention that for the past few years, I've been reviewing an issue per zine of our time on the Legion back in the early 1990s. This mailing we're up to Legion #16, part two of our Khund wars story, a three-part fill-in we did with penciller Brandon Peterson, who was working on one of his first pro assignments.
In re-reading this story, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of interesting storylines we wove into what I'd remembered as a pretty straight-forward war story. We had the mystery of how the Khunds had come up with a deadly technology that could drive the populations of entire planets insane; we had Cham using his espionage contacts to get insights into the highest levels of the Khund hierarchy; we had Chuck and Luornu struggling to defend an outpost world where they'd located the U.P. Militia Academy; there was Mysa struggling to hold herself together as she faced deadly warfare while still recovering from her abusive marriage to Mordru; and we had Laurel Gand disguising herself as an amazonian Khund slave to infiltrate the Khundish capital.
By the end of this issue we presented what we hoped was a pretty big surprise twist. The Khund's newfound powers were supposedly the result of the arrival of their "Demon Mother Incarnate," and at the end of the issue we find that this Demon Mother Incarnate is none other than Glorith, the villainess we put into the timeline to take the place of the Time Trapper when Legion history was scrambled back in issues #4 and 5.
In the back of this issue were four pages pencilled by Keith keeping tabs on the book's other storylines. On the first page we get what I think is the first post-five-year-gap look at Tyroc as well as the Subs (besides Brek/Polar Boy, who was prominently and humorously featured in our earlier Tenzil issues, and Lydda/Night Girl, who'd been featured as the wife of Rokk/Cosmic Boy from the start of our run). Keith's clear goal was to catch the readers off guard by presenting Tyroc (perhaps the least popular Legionnaire of the past) and the Subs (whom he'd treated previously as comic relief) as impressive, formidable combatants. It wasn't that hard for him to ramp up the Subs' powers and make them credibly a tough fighting team. I don't think Tyroc ever clicked during our run, though. There just wasn't a lot to work with in terms of visuals or power and we never came up with the right inspiration.
I believe this is where we also see both Jacques Foccart/Invisible Kid II and Universo for the first time as heads of two major arms of Earth's underground resistance. It was the start of a plotline I really liked, showing hero and villain teaming up to liberate their world from alien domination. Over time, some of the villains softened and reformed and some of the villains Universo most notably were only too eager to keep advancing their own designs at every opportunity.
Keith ended this issue with one of the biggest curveballs that he threw at the readers during the course of the series and one we never picked up on, which was that Universo was working with an agent of the Dark Circle who was very identifiably wearing the symbol we'd come to associate with Devlin O'Ryan (green sweater with a gold star on a blue-black circle outlined in red). I don't remember many questions raised about it but we'd planned to eventually establish that there was some sort of fraternity or society that Devlin was a part of that also included whoever this Dark Circle agent was. Keith was trying to lead people to guess that Devlin might be working for the Dark Circle, but of course people weren't all that invested in Devlin to begin with so there wasn't a great deal of interest whether he was or wasn't an evil agent.
We also meet Universo's right-hand man, Grinn, misspelled "Grimm" in first reference. The ever-resourceful Keith found another way to avoid drawing a face by giving this guy no head other than a floating smile. Not surprisingly, Keith initially referred to him as "Cheshire" but that name was taken and we had a devil of a time thinking of anything else that really fit, so we ended up with the less-than-scintillating name of Grinn. I enjoyed the character his speech patterns came very easily, kind of Yoda-like but coming from the most arrogant, dismissive, mean-spirited person you could imagine. Also a little reckless and full of himself, as future issues would establish.