Ho, ho, the mistletoe, hung where you can see. Jeff Lemire waits for you.  Kiss 'im once for me.  It's December, 2014, and in case Neil Edwards doesn't know, it's the best time of the year for DC Comics to have both Jay Leisten and Keith Champagne ink some space-time chaos.

To QUOTE Rufus: “If you guys were separated it would have been disastrous for life as we know it.  You see, eventually your music will help put an end to war and poverty.  It will align the planets and bring them into universal harmony. Allowing meaningful contact with all forms of life.  From extra terrestrials to common household pets.  And, it's excellent for dancing.”

Were you keeping score from last month?  I was.  If you recall, I lamented how the ratio of good guys to bad guys was only thirteen to seven.  Twelve to seven when you factor in the Stranges' situation.  And I made an all caps request for MORE CHARACTERS.

I should have made the sarcasm more clear.  No, no more members of The Cadre show up, so no robot horse for me, but we get five more Legionnaires, with all their field deputizing ways.  Yippie.  At least Animal Man and Green Arrow sort of acknowledge the absurdity of the now eighteen member army.  And the preposterous 1960s names of the Legionnaires.

But what's a team of eighteen superheroes to do in the face of a radical fundamentalist space nihilist shapeshifter with suddenly apparent telepathic abilities?  No time to discuss!  Split up the team!  Smart guys plan, dumb guys punch!  Oh, except you. You just sleep off the Rannian fruit wine.  We'll probably need you later.

The Infinitus Saga boldly marches forward, nary a care for anything else in the DC Universe right now, which I'm really enjoying.  Thus far, at least, Jeff Lemire is keeping the story sequestered off in the Polaris system with the JLU and these geeks from the future.  We don't care where Lobo went.  We don't care where this fits in to the Outsiders War or the search for Mia Dearden.  We don't care whether this is before or after the Crucible Academy.  There's no New Gods or Lanterns floating around.  We can't see Apokolips from here.  And given the recent news that just about every other title is slowly getting sucked in to Futures End / World's End / Convergence, it's kind of nice to still have a standalone story to enjoy.

Storywise, we don't have a whole lot going on this month, but as I said, the Saga marches forward.  We manage to still get the requisite trash-talking between Animal Man and Green Arrow.  (Space Dolphins!  Maybe we do care where Lobo went?)  We build up Stargirl's leadership skills a bit more.  We have long distance telepathic tug-of-war.  And then we fight some more.  That's about it.

We're at the half-way point of our Saga, and it's good, but it definitely feels like a brief breather on the bench half way up our hike to the top.

The art team's work this month is kind of hit-or-miss, but the hits are awesome.  There are some beautiful panels in this issue, both small moments and the epic two-page spreads you imagine a giant sixteen-on-infinity (don't forget the wraiths) battle might require.  Frankly, fitting that many characters in one drawing without it degrading in to a tangle of limbs is pretty impressive in its own right.  But to create an engaging scene where there's action to follow and nobody's reduced to background filler is glorious work.

Kudos are due to Edwards and the team on the gradual aging of Ultra.  It's one thing to go from infant to pre-teen between issues, but since the Inifinitus Saga kicked off proper we've been getting very subtle growth within each issue -- the changes in this issue (sort of Ultra's “high school years”) were particularly well done.

Aside from the aforementioned half-time feeling due to the lack of big story moments, I've got a handful of gripes with this issue.  None are ermahgerd-I'm-rage-quitting-this-series gripes.  But there's a bunch of them.  Settle in.

It's beginning to feel a bit forced needing to create more excuses to have humans in space.  And are we contradicting prior excuses?  We've seen that Stargirl's staff generates an atmosphere, but we don't know how wide a range it covers.  Presumably it won't give normals the ability to fly beyond Newton's Olde Fashioned Third Law.  (Though it would've been awesome to see Ollie run out of arrows by having to constantly fire them to nudge himself along.)  We also know that Miiyahbin's powers apparently bring an atmosphere with her wherever she goes -- handy, that -- but maybe she's not confident enough to rely on that yet?

Many artists draw the bodies of their characters without faces, allowing them to work on the face separately to get the expression just as they want it and overlay the two later.  Which is usually fine, but periodically just doesn't quite match up.  There are several frames in this issue where people have that inexplicable facial shift where features are aligned to one another, but not quite the right way in their face.  Miiyahbin even has the plastic surgery disaster spread to her nose drastically changing shape between frames.

Then there's Buddy and Timber Wolf sniffing each other.  WHAT THE HELL ARE THOSE FACES, BUDDY?  To say nothing of the sniffing gag in the first place -- it lacks a punchline.  But the first frame looks like a jock trying to think while the second one is like a drunk guy trying to decide if he should pick a fight with the bouncer or not.

If Byth is a telepath, why the hell is he screaming his plans across the battlefield to Black Mass where just any old superhero can hear the details?  He might as well tie them all up in an elaborate death trap while monologuing the details of how he's going to restart the universe.

We still have the hanging continuity question of how Braniac knew he was in the same time period as the lost Legionnaires and how he was able to contact them.  Or how they got to Polaris if the away team on Rann had to rely on these archaic Zeta Beams to pull them out.  I probably don't get it due to my lack of a twelfth level intellect. 

And finally . . . “We'll have some time en route to teach you how to use them”.  “Should the Zeta loop act up, Adam Strange will be ready for action!”. Not sure if this is an annoying plot hole or an obvious set up for comedy gold next issue.

We've got a fairly mellow issue that consists of the end of last issue's fight, a regrouping and sort-of-strategizing session, and then launching the majority of our heroes back out at the enemy.  Which, to me, feels an awful lot like a mellow surfer ska diddy about cruising around the San Francisco bay area calling out all the ladies to pack the dance floor.  Go on, I'll give you a minute.  Let your hair down and make sure you've got room to twirl.  Tim Armstrong calls our heroes “Into Action.”  I'm sure there are Legionnaires named Suzanne, Sharon, and Karen, right?

I've already compared this tale to taking a break while hiking up a mountain, as we're mostly just gathering the troops together during that break between being outnumbered by Infinity Wraiths and heading back out to assist in the defense of Rann.  So why not stick with that general theme, and say that we're Halfway Down the stairs, as in A. A. Milne's poem?  Not quite saving the galaxy (that'd be in the town), but not quite cowering in an underground bunker in Canada (which would, of course, be the nursery).

Well, dear reader, you have reached the end of my rant.  I don't like the Legion of Superheroes.  I, like Stargirl and Wildfire, don't like excessive use of time travel in comics.  But I'm still loving this Saga.

I believe my chances of seeing the Aberrant Six or Masters of Disaster pop up to assist Byth are pretty much nil.  I might yet get my robot horse, though.  Plus, now that we know that Byth is a telepath (coupled with the recent news that Andreyko's Batwoman is ending in March) I'm renewing my hopes that Harry and Randu join the team soon.

But what's up with our buddy Katar Hol?  What's your theory?

  1. He's always hated the universe and was just biding his time.
  2. He's actually not the Katar Hol we know, but a different Katar Hol from the thirty-first century, sent back to kill Sarah Connor.
  3. Mind control!  (Since, you know, Byth is apparently a telepath.  Why not?)
  4. Byth sat him down and made a very clear and well worded argument regarding the need to bring Ultra to the rift to restart the universe.  After a brief question and answer period, and maybe a spot of tea, he was convinced that it was the right thing to do.
  5. If he doesn't serve Lord Byth, then Katar will be forced to compete on Dancing With The Stars.  To the death.
  6. Byth is made of Nth metal and can make him do whatever he wants.
  7. Katar Hol once saw Hal Jordan in a Speedo.  He needs to destroy the universe to erase that image from his mind.  Clearly, it's the only way.

*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.