Wednesday, May 09, 2007

From sad android to werewolf superhero: that's a hell of a character arc.
Wow, Lone Wolf's imaginary sister is hot!
Continuing the origin of Lone Wolf, later Timber Wolf, with "The Youth who Wasn't Human!" Written by Ed Hamilton, art by John Forte. And now the weirdness starts...

The chapter begins with Lone Wolf totally moping because, as a robot/android/soulless automaton, he'll never know the joys of friends, family or love. Well, boo hoo. Speaking as someone who's been kicked in the jewels more than once, metaphorically and literally, you didn't exactly draw the shortest straw, 'Karth.' You're an incredibly lifelike android with cool powers and more emo than Red Tornado and the Vision put together. Suck it up, robot!

But, one thing he would be denied is Legion membership: since he's not human, Lone Wolf would be barred from joining under false pretenses. That rule may be in place because the Legion's a bunch of robotophobes, or just to prevent Brainiac 5 building a bunch of robots to replace everyone. Either way, Lone Wolf runs away, rather than let Light Lass see if androids do cry.

Regaining consciousness, Sun Boy and Brainiac 5 are brought up to speed by Light Lass, who cries when told Lone Wolf must be an android. Meanwhile, Lone Wolf gets almost an entire page to lament his robotness. He remembers seeing children playing, and agonizes over not having a childhood of his own; but then he probably never was picked last for dodge ball or had to go to bed early because mom and dad were fighting or missed homecoming because they had the chicken pox at 17. What? No, my childhood was awesome, why do you ask?

Lone Wolf then goes on to emote something fierce about how no girl will ever love him since he's a robot. Yeah, robots never get the sweet honeys like the Scarlet Witch or Voodoo or anything. Shouldn't the fact that you're a robot with a libido mean something? Light Lass was into him, but he regrets having to "reject her...tell her the terrible truth about myself!" You know, you being an android didn't seem to be a deal-breaker, man.

Meanwhile, Lightning Lad and Ultra Boy pick up the stranded Legionnaires. Following the android angle, Brainiac 5 has a little research done and comes up with a Dr. Mar Londo, a scientist on Zoon who had worked with androids, but died a few years prior. Figuring Lone Wolf may be hiding out there, they fly to his lab, and are met by his son, Brin Londo.
Why would you dress androids like that?  Even if they were disposable--the androids, not the clothes.
Brin explains that his dad created an army of androids (in what look like wrestling unitards, for some reason), to send into the caverns of the planet and retrieve the rare element Zuunium. Dr. Londo was going to use the element in a ray that would give humans super powers. Karth Arn was the most intelligent of the androids, so he was their leader, and Karth was the only one to make it back with the Zuunium. (The rest were destroyed by monsters, cave-ins, and so forth. Man, I hate it when they scream.) Dr. Londo tells Karth that he will be like a son to him now, but Brin says when the doctor died, Karth took off and committed those robberies as Lone Wolf.

About that time, Lone Wolf walks up to the lab, fixing to kick Brin's ass for trying to kill him with the blue-light thing that wrecked their ships. Brin wants to shoot him, but Brainy stops him, knowing Ultra Boy can put Karth in a headlock in about two seconds, which he does. Light Lass doesn't want Lone Wolf hurt, Brin does, and Brainy finds all the stolen items in the lab. (You may have wanted to hide those, yeah.) Brainy also points out 'Brin' doesn't have fingerprints. (Which he could see on the gun? I don't know.)
I got drunk and woke up in my car once, but I didn't think I was a Transformer. Well, not for long, anyway.
Caught, 'Brin' makes his confession. He was really Karth Arn, the android that brought back the Zuunium. Dr. Londo was already on the way out, but before he died he used his ray to give his son 'limited' powers. ('Limited' in this case meaning, not as strong as Superboy, Mon-el, or Ultra Boy.) Jealous, Karth decided he should be the master. Dr. Londo died after zapping his son, and while Brin was dizzy, Karth shot him with a raygun to give him amnesia. That seems like an awfully specific effect for a weapon, but all right. Karth switched clothes with he could be pretty, I guess; and told Brin the reason he didn't have any memory is because he was a newly created android, named Karth Arn. 'Karth Arn' is kind of a cool name for an android, unless on Zuun it means 'lab slave' or something. How did the android get fat, anyway? He looks like Bouncing Boy in that fourth panel.

Eventually, 'Karth' ran away, to find somewhere he could pass as human. The android Karth, still passing himself as Brin, and still wearing his harness...ew...decided maybe he should get a weapon to take care of the superpowered human if he returned. Which is why he stole the space crystals and stuff. Brainy points out that just proved Lone Wolf's innocence, since he wouldn't steal a weapon to use it on himself; although that's not outside the realm of possibility in a Legion story either.

Brin is overjoyed to discover he's human, and off-panel Brainy cures his amnesia, hopefully while clucking his tongue. Apparently, Brin thought he was an android for maybe a couple of years, and while his powers may have helped make that seem plausible, it still really isn't. Grife, Brin: didn't you maybe think you weren't an android when you were hungry? Or sleepy? Or went to the bathroom or had impure thoughts or cut yourself? This would lead to Brin's characterization as a bit thick later in the series. (I remember a much later issue, when faced with their greatest fears, and with other Legionnaires screaming in terror and panic; Brin sees himself exposed as an android again. His response? "Huh?")

He asks not to be called a Lone Wolf anymore, and as Timber Wolf would eventually join the Legion; but even then he was prone to wandering off by himself. Brin also dates Light Lass for a long time, until she catches him holding Saturn Girl; setting into motion a chain of events that would start with LL leaving him and the Legion and end with her in a committed long-term relationship with her fellow ex-Legionnaire Salu Digby, aka Shrinking Violet. Now that's a break-up. In his defense, there were other Legionnaires there, they were trapped on an ice planet and doomed to die, huddled together for warmth, and Saturn Girl was going on about how much Light Lass loved T-Wolf and her marriage to Lightning Lad was crap in comparison. Hmm. Yeah, I can see my wife not buying it either.

We'll probably have more Timber Wolf stuff some other time, but here's some other bits: his bout with drug addiction was something I saw mentioned once or twice, but never saw until Chris Sims (of Invincible Super-Blog fame) covered it,: it was a little more dramatic in my head, honestly.

A retcon during the Five Years Later era was that Brin was in constant agonizing pain, from the treatments that gave him his powers. That didn't seem to match up with anything seen before, but I suppose if I got superpowers from a weird ray, I might try to discourage others from using it. "Um, Zuunium's rare. No, not like Kryptonite, there's some of that right here. Like super rare, so I guess you shouldn't even bother trying to find any. Oh, and I'm in pain. Yeah, lots of pain. Constant agony since I got my powers, oh, ow."

Lots of Legion talk lately: Over at Again with the Comics, there's the origin of Bouncing Boy, which finally forced me to get off my ass and blog this story. And lastly, check out a Legion writer that would definitely be worth a try.

No comments: