By Jim ShooterOverview
ISSUE ONE—ROUGH PLOT:
In steaming, crackling rubble of what, moments ago, had been a mining station on a misshapen ball of rock and ice in the scattered disk region, beyond the Kuiper Belt, Karate Kid is in desperate combat against a monstrous alien thing (to be fully described in the script). A life-form with some bionics? A machine with some organics? Unknown, and to KK, moot. Several other, similar alien life-forms, henceforth referred to as Alien Destroyers (AD), are in view, lying amid the rubble, disabled? Dead?
Legionnaires don’t kill unless unavoidably in self defense or the defense of others. No question here that it’s kill or be killed.
All three of Triplicate Girl’s bodies lie wounded on the ground right behind KK. KK is all torn up—looks like he’s been through World War VIII. KK’s wounded right arm dangles uselessly at his side. The Alien Destroyer attacks with terrifying brute force and porcupine-like “quills” of energy.
KK does a left-arm “wax off” block and with his right hand (!) delivers a crippling super-karate blow. The AD falls, incapacitated. That was the last of ‘em. At the same moment, Phantom Girl transmatters in. KK stands over the thing in that ready-if-necessary martial arts stance. His right arm looks…wrong. PG, rushing to his aid says he must have broken his arm when he hit the AD. No, says KK, it was broken before he hit the thing. It’s worse now. Compound fracture (though we will not show anything gory). Willpower can only triumph over shock for so long. He starts to crumple.
PG tends to Trips and KK. They’ll be okay. The miners? KK says they got away because Trips heroically drew fire.
The same type of AD attacked an outpost in the Oort Cloud only two days ago, says PG. We knew they were dangerous. She can’t believe only Trips and KK were sent when this station was attacked. KK is seething. Wrong, he says. Only Trips was sent. When he found out, he came on his own—just in time. Wouldn’t have mattered if there were three thousand of Triplicate Girl, she wouldn’t have stood a chance against those things. What was Lightning Lad thinking? The only thing stupider would have been sending a wuss like Invisible Kid. This mission needed firepower. Ultra Boy, maybe, or fearless leader himself. Well…Lightning Lad has a lot on his mind, says PG.
Back on Earth, after an establishing shot of the LSH HQ, still under reconstruction, we find ill-equipped, new LSH Leader Lightning Lad struggling with bureaucratic crap. He’s on the comlink with a Council Delegate who wants Legion representation at a ceremony honoring another bigwig’s charity work. On another link, a representative of a citizen’s group protesting the rebuilding of LSH HQ in their district is threatening a lawsuit. A delivery manager wants LLad to sign for the Mini Magno-Ball table that’s being installed in the rec room.
The red tape is mind-boggling. Lightning Lad is completely unable to deal with this stuff—everything from paying bills to filing the proper forms to kissing the right political pants-bottom.
LLad wanted to be Leader. He asked for this. Be careful what you wish for….
LLad’s sister LLass passes through the Central Control Suite (the Bridge?) looking at a holo-list. She helps her beleaguered brother a bit, unofficially. Any good news in the correspondence? LLad asks. Bills, she says, and the usual 20 or 30 thousand coms from people—mostly kids—asking if they can have a Legion flight ring.
On Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, a city nestles among mountainous crags of frozen gases. On the mountainsides outside the containment that protects the city from the frigid cold are futuristic ski lifts and trails. Triton’s nitrogen snows offer the best skiing in the Solar System.
Even inside the containment, in the large public spaces, it is very cold. Skiers from other worlds still wear the enviro-suits that protected them from the frigidness on the slopes, though here inside they have removed their helmets. In stark contrast, the natives of Triton, genetically engineered to have a degree of control over their metabolisms to help them endure cold, are dressed as if it were balmy. They tend to be tall, lean and graceful. Their skin has a distinct bluish cast.
Four Legionnaires—Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Star Boy and Invisible Kid—transmatter in. They are met by the City Manager, who explains what we need explained. He shows the LSHers the slopes. Saturn Girl is appalled—why are people skiing?! A flight of those mysterious Alien Destroyers has been detected by Brainiac 5 on their way here! The CM says, well, the LSH has no legal standing to call an alert, and they never heard from the Science Police or U.P. authorities…. T-Wolf growls that it sounds like somebody named LLad dropped the ball. Saturn Girl says, shut up…he’s got a lot on his mind. She calls her mother….
At the moment, LLad is on the comlink with the Third Assistant Undersecretary of the Exchequer who is demanding an explanation for certain unauthorized expenditures—for instance, there were unbudgeted, round-trip transmatters to the scattered disk region only minutes ago. “Do you have any idea what transmatter trips cost?!”
LLad puts the TAUndersecretary on hold to take a call from the U.P. President’s office. An assistant reminds LLad to expect the pre-approved candidates later. At the same time a robot courier is politely demanding that LLad sign (or the 31st Century equivalent) a building inspection form related to the new construction. KK, back from the scattered disk, his arm in a futuristic sling, is stalking toward LLad. LLad is saying “Pre-approved candidates?”
KK chops the courier robot’s head off. Squeeeeeeee! Then, he grabs the comlink device and smashes that. He storms off. What was that about? asks LLad. Pay attention to who you’re sending where, KK growls. I’m going to go lie down now, he adds, weakly, as he collapses. LLad asks PG to get KK to the infirmary, quickly. PG says again?
LLad uses the sudden calm to check the Duty Roster, a large display showing the status of every single Legionnaire. (I’d like to make this a standard item.)
Brainiac 5—Lab Complex (is it in that ship I’ve seen?)
Colossal Boy—New Beijing, Earth, Team Leader
Element Lad—New Beijing, Earth
Ultra Boy—New Beijing, Earth
Dreamer—HQ – off duty
Lightning Lad—HQ, Bridge, Leader In Command
Princess Projectra—Excused – personal
Saturn Girl—Triton Team Leader
Shadow Lass—Talok VIII – ceremonial
Shrinking Violet—Ursae Majoris System
(Am I missing any? Each mission group can be color-coded to tie ‘em together.)
When LLad points at/highlights one or more of the Legionnaires on the display, details appear. He points to one of the Beijing contingent. They’re on a mission to help control an infestation of Venusian muskshrews. LLass observes that he sent a lot of muscle to battle rodents. LLad sputters a defense: they stink, and…and they can spread disease and…. She’s right. He wasn’t thinking. No transmatter loci near Beijing since the devastation, LLass says. No way to get those guys anywhere else quickly.
Oh, florg, says LLad—I sent Ultra Boy on rat patrol and Invisible Kid to Triton?!
Back to Triton. On his comlink, the City Manager Rep is getting U.P. authorization to sound an alert. Meanwhile, through one of the containment’s many huge windows (there for just this purpose) Invisible Kid watches the skiers. One skier, an amazingly, I mean amazingly beautiful young Tritonic girl, wearing even less than the other locals, is performing a spectacular X-games-times-100 somersault.
Invisible Kid, eyes wide, totally fascinated, asks Who’s that?!
An anomaly, says the CM with open disdain. A gen-engineering accident. A freak.
(We’ll learn later that her name is Giselle and because she is a genetic anomaly, her metabolic control is far beyond the norm, enabling her, for one thing, to “run hot,” using tremendous amounts of energy in sudden bursts of speed and strength. One downside is that it makes her incredibly hungry….)
Hmf, says Invisible Kid. Some of my best friends are people. He’s utterly fascinated by her.
An alarm sounds. Skiers hurry to the lift house.
As the skiers pass through the airlock into the lift house, they are told, as everyone in the city is being told, to go directly to the underground Safety Containment. Most think it’s a drill.
Giselle is in bad need of energy. She winds her metabolism down to a very low level to conserve what energy she has, moving languidly, slowly, and oh-so-sexily, peeling off her lightweight (relative to the tourists’) enviro-suit. Invisible Kid is watching her lithe body emerge from its insulating covering. Underneath, she’s wearing the typical, almost tropical clothes of the natives, that is, not a lot. She’s spectacular. Invisible Kid is awed.
A few of the other young skiers, mostly male, hassle the “freak.” They don’t like her kind. (And they can tell she’s at a low-energy state.)
The air shimmers around Giselle as she “heats up.” One of the thugs tries to shove her, but with an incredibly fast move she darts aside and flips him. She leg-sweeps another attacker, a girl, picks up a third, holding him over her head with one hand (!)—but then, her energy ebbs. The thugs surround her, grabbing her, poking her, slapping her, taunting her. The few other people around—hurrying to the Safety Containment—ignore what’s going on. They don’t like her kind either.
Suddenly, one of the female thugs falls backwards, shrieking, as if, unseen, IK yanked her down by her hair, which he did. A male thug’s pants suddenly are pulled down around his ankles. He’s freaked. Another male thug whirls trying to find the attacker—and gets an invisible punch in the face.
The thugs flee, one still trying to tug his pants up. Giselle, exhausted, sinks to her knees. By this time everyone else is gone—or so it seems. Giselle will likely pass out and die here of energy depletion.
An invisible hand holds a bottle (from a robo-vendor) containing a thick, sweet “instant glycogen” beverage made especially for the natives in front of her. She’s startled and amazed—but she takes the beverage and gulps it down. Who are you? she asks. A rose-like flower appears in her hand and a voice from thin air says “Hurry to the Safety Containment.” IK is very shy, it seems. Giselle, regaining strength, pulls herself up and limps away, wondering….
Cut to Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Star Boy and the CM. Per SG, the CM has activated the city’s anti-TNO (trans-Neptunian object) deflectors. Similar deflectors didn’t stop the Oort or scattered disk attacks, but…. The CM says that the few Science Police officers stationed on Triton have been deployed and that an SP Heavy Armament Battalion and a U.P. Strategic Defense Squadron are on their way—with luck, they’ll intercept the ADs in space, before they reach Triton.
A signal that the anti-TNO deflectors have failed sounds. The CM heads quickly toward the Safety Containment. “Good luck,” says he.
There is a thunderous explosion as Alien Destroyers smash through the containment into the city. Alarms wail. The city’s containment has been breached again and again, overtaxing the emergency auto-seal systems.
SG telepathically shouts, where is IK? Here, he says, appearing nearby, shaking the now-sore hand with which he belted the thug. “Don’t disappear on me,” she says wryly.
The ADs begin destroying the city, using weaponry, their energy quills in concert, and brute force to shatter structures. These ADs are better, more powerful than those seen previously—a next generation.
The Legionnaires defend. Big battle. It’s fierce and in doubt. Not much IK can do. He’s decorative rather than functional—or, he would be, if he could be seen.
SG sends a brief, desperate mayday via flight ring.
Back at the LSH HQ, LLad receives the mayday. LLass and PG are on the Bridge with him now. LLad’s beside himself. He, LLass and PG would go to Triton—but the Third Assistant Undersecretary of the Exchequer has cut off their transmatter energy account pending an investigation! (He was very miffed at being put on hold…!)
LLad stares at the duty roster, hoping for what? That, miraculously, Supergirl will still be there? Nope, no such fantasy-miracle-luck. There’s Dream Boy, off duty and who cares? And Princess Projectra, excused for personal reasons. Wait, says LLad—she may be the answer!
LLass says her illusion-casting power might not do any good even if she could get to Triton. True, says LLad, but she is still a Princess, albeit without a Princess-dom. She might still have the political clout to be able to get someone in the Council President’s office to overrule the Third Assistant Undersecretary of the Exchequer. LLad reaches for his comlink, then remembers that KK smashed it. LLad yells, get me a comlink!!! LLass says, use the ring, (stupid). Right, says LLad. Of course. She has a flight ring. Legionnaire. He knew that.
Cut to the Chambers of Earth’s Secretary of Diplomacy, Carl LaFong (the 31st Century equivalent of Conde Rice). Princess Projectra is meeting with LaFong, and Council Delegate Sydne Ardeen.
The meeting is to inform PP that the United Planets has officially removed Orando from its rolls. LaFong also informs PP that, officially, she has no standing. She no longer holds any recognized position of significance—she’s a girl without a planet—but that he has arranged a “provisional habitant” status for PP. Should PP apply for naturalization on Earth, or any other U.P. world, Ardeen says she’ll be happy to provide a letter of recommendation. LaFong dismisses PP and retires to his private chambers to with Ardeen to discuss another matter—the LSH over-exploiting SG’s relationship with her. (During the meeting, while arguing her fate, PP ignores com-signals from LLad).
PP is escorted out. She’s furious. She demands to see the President, demands a special meeting of the Council, demands etc., etc. etc. The security people finally try to physically remove her. Don’t. Touch. The. Princess. Suddenly the security guards see and believe that they are falling from a great height, being devoured by serpent-sharks, etc.—all illusions of PP’s making. PP departs unescorted leaving them clinging to furniture, thrashing and kicking the serpent-sharks away, trembling and defeated.
Speaking of trembling and defeated…. Cut to Triton. SG is trying without success to penetrate the AD’s minds. Timber Wolf is fighting viciously but losing ground. Star Boy is the big gun, here, crushing AD’s under massive gravitational force, but the ADs realize he’s the main threat and have begun to concentrate on him. He’s hard pressed. Invisible Kid finds out that the ADs have some sort of life-sensors that his invisibility can’t evade. He’s running and ducking for his life.
Invisible Kid comes across the inert body of Giselle behind some rubble—no pulse, no breathing, cold as nitrogen ice. Looks like she was trying to hide there, and…. She’s dead. It’s gut-wrenching for him, but he doesn’t have time to ponder why the death of this stranger is so traumatic. An AD looms. IK didn’t see it, didn’t realize one was so close. He tries to run/fly. It fires….
LLad finally makes contact with PP, who’s practically in shock, wandering through the vast commons around the capital complex. Tearfully, Provisional Habitant Projectra says she can’t help him. She’s already tried calling the President and everyone else in authority she can think of. No one will take her call.
Cut to LSH HQ. That’s it, then, he grumbles. The Triton team is on its own. He did this to them…including his beloved SG, he muses bitterly. All his fault. But if anyone can find a way to succeed against high odds, it’s SG. They’ll be okay. He hopes.
A door sensor tells LLad that the “candidates” are here. ???
Cut to Triton. Cliffhanger—SG is about to be slaughtered. Star Boy is down, Timber Wolf is being overwhelmed and Invisible Kid is trapped under tons of rubble—the AD’s shot didn’t kill him, but it brought down a wall on top of him, trapping him. He’s about to be vaporized….
END ISSUE ONE (#33?)
SUBSEQUENT ISSUES (Haven’t settled on the issue break points yet)
On Triton, the situation is desperate. Suddenly, with amazing speed, agility and strength, Giselle attacks an AD near Saturn Girl. Giselle appeared to be dead when last we saw her, but actually had used her incredible control of her metabolism to play possum until the ADs that had her cornered moved on. Now, Giselle is running hot, fighting hard. The AD’s that are about to kill IK and SG turn to attack Giselle instead.
Her psi-abilities ineffective, SG finds a fallen SP Officer’s weapon. She attacks the ADs that are about to kill Timber Wolf. She and TW aid Star Boy. The three of them—and Giselle—begin to turn the tide. The ADs fall back, regroup. It seems as if they are reassessing, adapting….
SG, too, is making adjustments. She telepathically links the Legionnaires, and includes Giselle, who is momentarily freaked by the intrusion. SG gives instructions….
Back at LSH HQ (establishing shot first), Lightning Lad is beside himself. His troops—and his beloved SG—are in terrible trouble and there’s nothing he can do. Phantom Girl and Light Lass are there with him.
A high-level official of the U.P. President’s staff, call him Popoff, enters leading six candidates for LSH membership.
Lightning Lad demands to know how Popoff got in unannounced. Turns out that every high-ranking U.P. bureaucrat/official has an all-access pass to the HQ—and LLad signed the agreement! “I did?!” Oops.
Anyway, Popoff informs LLad sotto voce that these “candidates” MUST be accepted as Legionnaires for political and patronage reasons.
Suddenly inspired, LLad asks the candidates if any of them can teleport things. No. In that case, he says….
Before he can say “Get out!” LLass whispers in LLad’s ear: “Go ahead, try ‘em out. Make it look official.”
LLad doesn’t get what she’s up to, but plays along. He, LLass and PG will judge the “candidates:”
Fruit Boy, who can cause fruit to ripen, has brought a sack of unripe fruit and shows what he can do.
Sludge, who can make any surface gooey, shows his power, permanently ruining the floor.
Virus explains that she can make anyone sick, but can’t “aim”—therefore all in range-radius, um…even allies, become sick. She’s about to demonstrate…. “No!” No demonstration necessary, says LLass.
Spy, who has heightened senses and limited ESP, says he can hear everyone’s heartbeats, smell…well, never mind, see tiny hairs standing up on the back of LLad’s neck and sense…hmm…his ESP is always drawn to the most intense thoughts and feelings nearby…he focuses…someone’s thinking really intensely about Light Lass’s…whoa! “She’s a Legionnaire, Sludge!” Spy says, “Show some respect!”
Sonar says she can hear really well under water. Is there a swimming pool handy?
Voice explains that her voice works like the Jedi mind trick (this reference FYI only), whatever she says, listeners are compelled to do—however, like the JMT, it only works on dull-witted, stupid types. She demonstrates. Of course, the only person in the room her voice works on, hugely embarrassingly, is Lightning Lad.
LLass says, great, everyone. She says the LSHers will need just a moment to confer, and then….
NO! Enough, shouts LLad. Get out of here. All of you! Popoff starts to protest. Mini-bolts of lightning flash around LLad (aimed at no one). Popoff and the “candidates” flee.
LLass hangs her head. Why did LLad do that?! She says that he should have accepted the losers, buttered up Popoff and tried to get him to overrule the transmatter freeze thing. Maybe then they could have gone to the aid of those on Triton. But, no. And now, there’s gonna be a problem with the President’s office….
LLass storms away. PG follows.
A call comes in for LLad on a non-smashed comlink. It’s from the President’s Chief of Staff. It’s about the candidates. There will be a meeting to discuss how to repair the diplomatic damage done and LLad will be there. She doesn’t have to add “or else”—it’s understood. First thing, AM.
Alone in the council room, trembling with rage and frustration, LLad tries to calm himself. Someone behind him asks if he’s too late. He’d heard there were try-outs today….
Nearly ready to fry somebody, LLad whirls. Turns out the voice belongs to a scrawny kid, young, even by LSH standards—maybe 13? His name is M’rissey. His power is that he’s a genius at applied operational calculus. You know, manipulating multiple interdependent complex systems. Transactional dynamics. Procedural analysis and process intendance. Materiel and data management.
Anything else? LLad growls sarcastically.
Trivia, says M’rissey. He’s good at trivia. LLad says “I don’t have time for this crap,” and stalks away. M’rissey looks disappointed at first—then smiles, shrugs and shuffles away—not toward the exit….
The Legion never appealed to me. From the outside looking in, I just never had any interest to even find out for myself if it was worth my time or not. I think on a superficial level, it's the crowded aspect of the book that has kept me clear from. But I'm definitely willing to read an issue or storyline, if you'd recommend one that you think is your best work on it.
Wow, I didn't see the resemblance between M'rissey and Paul Levitz until you mentioned it. Disguising real-life inspirations for characters is an art in itself. I appreciate your behind-the-scenes explanations of character creation. I too thought real writers invented everyone ex nihilo until I read this article:
"If all good writing comes from life–and I believe it does–and we fail to tap the source, we end with cardboard figures whose every move is unreal, and whose story is usually unpublishable."
M'rissey was actually inspired by Paul Levitz. And yes, he was named after Rich Morrisey. Nice catch.
When I read your latest LEGION run, Lightning Lad's painful experiences as leader made me think of all the hurdles you must have encountered as a Marvel executive. I hadn't seen such realism in the LEGION before. Not everything has to be grim and gritty to be believable. Your infusion of humor helped. The candidates cracked me up … except for one. M'rrisey. Name of a legendary fan combined with the age of a legendary creator into math and science (who could THAT possibly be?). Watch out, Brainiac 5!
Looking forward to comparing the rest of your overview with the issues that were published. I want to see the real ending you had in mind.