Friday, October 18, 2013

The Legionnaires: Laurel

So it's uh. It's been over a month since my last post. That's not too good. I'm going to try to have something up a little more often than that from now on. Ideally I'd like to average better than one post a month. That's reasonable, isn't it? For a blog that focuses on a comic book that isn't being published any more?

What shall we talk about this time? I know. We'll do another installation of The Legionnaires. Here's one of my favourites.

Laurel Gand of Ricklef II or Daxam, aka Andromeda, Sister Andromeda, Tiger Rose. Created by Keith Giffen, Tom and Mary Bierbaum, Al Gordon, James Ricklef, and Arnie Starkey.

Laurel was created for the Five Years Later run of the Legion when an editorial order came down that the Legion had to purge all traces of Supergirl from their history. So Laurel was a young woman of Daxamite ancestry who was retconned into Supergirl's role in all the Legion's past adventures. She had all the standard Kryptonian/Daxamite powers, she had a romance with Brainiac 5, she had blonde hair.

And she was wonderful. I don't know what alchemy Giffen and the Bierbaums used to turn what could have just been an anonymous placeholder into such a great character, but I'm glad they did. Laurel was formidable and fun and the heart of the 5YL Legion.

For some reason they killed her off just before the 5YL era was lost in the Zero Hour reboot. Looking back on this, I have no idea why the hell they thought this was a good idea, but since the comic book had less than a dozen issues to go before everything was swept off the table anyway, I guess it doesn't matter.

There were a couple of other versions of Laurel in Legion comics: the SW6 Laurel, a younger time-sliced clone of the regular one; and reboot Laurel, called Andromeda, a reformed xenophobe from an isolationist Daxam. Reboot Laurel wasn't as much fun (she was hateful, she held back with her powers, she eventually quit the Legion to become a space nun), although she was much improved the last couple of times we saw her.

A lot of Legion fans don't care for the Five Years Later run. I get that. But 5YL had Laurel Gand and the other versions didn't, and for that reason alone it's indispensable.

For her signature moment I have selected this sequence from late in the "Terra Mosaic" story, in which SW6 Laurel is escorting the defeated leader of the Dominator forces off of Earth. Pay attention to what I'm saying here: these panels work just fine for me as the signature moment of the entire Legion. If all comic books on Earth were to be destroyed and I could only save one page, I would save this page.

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Blogger Gus Casals said...

Count me in as both a 5YL and Laurel Fan. I was a fan from her first on panel appearance: "It's time to roll the dice, and pray for sevens".
Agreed on the rest of the iterations, liking them, but not as the original.
I had fun with the idea that Power Girl could have been a displaced Laurel used in her pre- Infinite Crisis mini

10:25 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

As a character, she was definitely a keeper; I don't know why DC didn't realize that. I miss Laurel.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to have you back. I almost deleted your blog from my saved links thinking you might not update it again!

Your past reviews on Legion comics and profiles on individual Legionnaires are priceless.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks. Sorry; I meant everyone to understand that I'd be keeping the doors open here. I guess I should've said it louder.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been a while,hasn't it? It's been even longer-over a year-since you've given us one of these essays spotlighting a Legionnaire.
It is odd how a replacement can outshine the original,even when they're almost identical.Laurel Gand was interesting in a way Supergirl seldom was to me,and I say this as someone who wasn't otherwise a fan of the 5YL era.
I liked the reboot Andromeda.She went from a warrior who fought for the wrong reasons to one who learned the right reasons.Her becoming a space nun fit right in with that,and it gave us the future version of the Flying Nun.
About as much fun as Sally Field was.
Don't keep us waiting so long for the next installment.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

No, as I say, I want to do a little better than once a month. Once every four weeks, maybe. But they won't all be The Legionnaireses.

I like Supergirl, in the right hands, about as much as I like Laurel. I think Mark Waid did a great job with her in the threeboot, for instance.

10:40 PM  
Blogger bobbydrake said...

Glas to see you are still updating this site - its still nice to talk about the Legion even if its just about the past. I loved the 5YL Legion as I've liked pretty much all incarnations of the Legion - I actually liked that it took me more than 5 minutes to read it (and then re-read it to see what I had missed). Laurel was a favourite of mine too with much more personality than Supergirl.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks. I'm dashed if I'm going to leave my decisions about what to write up to the vagaries of DC's publishing schedule.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Stile86 said...

Let me add my voice to all of us looking forward to your continued presence.

I was going to write how interesting it was that a replacement character could be so much more meaningful than the original (Kara Zor-El) only to find that Anonymous beat me to it, almost word for word. I too like some portrayals of SG but was amazed at how well Laurel was fitted in and how important her emotional moments became like seeing her baby for the first time.

Although I too was saddened to see her death, I found that issue very powerful, particularly B5's reaction - words denying his grief but with a single hidden tear speaking volumes.

I'm not sure how great your signature moment is for Laurel but it is PERFECT for the Legion and I guess since Laurel was given the role, good for her.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Not sure what I'd pick for a Laurel-specific moment. Maybe her first appearance, when she was standing there and we had no idea who she was but she was clearly someone to be reckoned with; maybe the cover of LSHv4 #39, which was supposed to be a new beginning for the 5YL Legion, and she was the character chosen to represent that.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous AJay McL said...

5YL took some getting into but was certainly worth the effort.I liked Laurel Gand much better than most iterations of Supergirl (I loved Waid/Kitson's Supergirl btw). Maybe when the Legion (inevitably)returns we'll see the "Flying Buttress" in the mix. I'd love to see more of the Space Nuns. Sister Durla, Sister Tharr, Mother Superior Zwen. "Back off Universo, we're taking you to church!"

1:35 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think the correct number of nuns in a futuristic superhero comic book is nun.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous AJay McL said...

so no Sister Bizarro? uh ok.....

2:18 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

If at all possible I would like a negative number of Bizarro characters in the comics I read. I will grudgingly settle for none at all.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

How about going back and reviewing some old issues (maybe even starting with 5YL isseus)? I wouldn't mind an excuse to re-read again and then comment on each issue here?

5:08 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, I wouldn't want to do that exactly, but I could see myself writing up articles on different stories, as distinct from specific issues. (I've already done so for Great Darkness and Omen & the Prophet, if you recall.) And I do have some candidates for writing about in this way. But issue-by-issue, in retrospect? No thanks.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Oxymoron X said...

Tony, it has been done

12:18 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Although that blog is clearly a very different animal from what this one is. But, yeah, if what you want is just to go through the issues with something to bring you back to it, then obviously you'd rather do it with Tom Bierbaum than with me.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the link. I do love this blog though so will keep checking in for updates!

6:03 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

All who seek updates at Legion Abstract will be welcome; none shall be turned away.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ha! Thanks - I wouldn't want to be though of as a traitor :)

I'm the bobbydrake above who occasionally posts - usually about my bitterness over how Phantom Girl was treated :) Thanks for the updates though - if I can't read a monthly comic I can at least take part in a little discussion...

10:14 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, the discussion absolutely has to continue. We have not yet figured out the Legion.

10:35 AM  

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