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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