Thursday, June 23, 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes #14 Review, and More

What Happened That You Need to Know About:

Immortus is winning a fight against Wildfire and Ultra Boy, when the Titanian refugees intervene and pacify him. Elsewhere, Saturn Queen kills Akka so that the blue space waif can power up Hunter enough so that he can find Utopia, which he does, and the LSV go there and start trashing the place.

Meanwhile, Harmonia Li stops the procedure Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl were performing on Star Boy and they all, with Mon-El's ring construct, take off for Li's home planet, Utopia, the mysterious wisdom planet; they meet Dawnstar and Mon-El and Dyogene. And, I guess, the other Legionnaires, all in Legion cruisers.

Also Dreamy has a future-vision of a funeral at Shanghalla in which Brainy tells her that Star Boy's power won a battle.


Man, Saturn Queen isn't careful with her personnel, is she? She's lost Immortus, Micro Lad, Akka... The only thing that's keeping me from saying that she's being reckless or short-sighted is that I know perfectly well that she doesn't even want any long-term plans in the first place.

This doesn't usually happen, but it felt like the size of the cast was getting away from Levitz this issue. Star Boy only had a couple of lines, and his silence was noticeable the rest of the time. What kind of shape is he in? Crazy or not? We can't tell; he won't talk.

Short issue. 81 panels? Come on. Plus it's a short issue in the middle of an action-heavy arc. Obviously we made progress this time, as everyone's converging on Utopia, and a couple of LSVers got taken off the board. But it seemed like a pretty flimsy issue anyway. I swear I'm going to have to go back and reread this run of comics and see what it's like in retrospect.

What's the advantage of a world of wisdom that nobody can get to? Okay, they're wise. How do you learn from them if they aren't around? What would be different if Saturn Queen wasted the place? I would like this explained to me. It's supposed to be one of the foundations of civilization, right?

- Immortus is looking more and more like the Doom Patrol villain General Immortus, isn't he?
- ...but what's he being set up for? Anytime a comic can make me ask stuff like that, it's a plus
- So the blue space waif has a master? Huh
- What exactly is so wise about "the end justifies the means," the way Prof. Li was trying to talk Dreamy around?
- I wonder if there's anyone we know living on Utopia
- the part where Ultra Boy talked about Superman; that was good

Art: 81 panels/20 pages = 4.1 panels/page. One single-panel page. This month the art was brought to us by Fernando Dagnino, and it's okay for a fill-in. I actually like the way he makes the Utopia wisdom-planet look; it's neat. But Saturn Queen's smile, glittery mad in previous issues, is just kind of goony here, and check out Ultra Boy at the bottom of page 6. Looking forward to Portela's return.

In Other News:

We know more now about what DC's going to be doing with the Legion once Flashpoint is over and done with: LSHv6 will end and be replaced with LSHv7, starting at #1, written by Paul Levitz and drawn by Francis Portela. No more Legion in Adventure, but we will get a Legion Lost series, featuring seven Legionnaires (Wildfire, Dawnstar, Yera, Gates, Timber Wolf, Tellus, and Tyroc) stuck in the present day, written by Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Pete Woods. Also, according to Dan DiDio, there will be no significant changes to Legion continuity; it'll be one of the least altered of all DC's titles in that respect.

All of which is not too bad.

Like almost all Legion fans, I have a lot of affection for Paul Levitz and his writing. There's no way to construe it as bad news that he's going to be continuing as Legion writer. I've been enjoying this his third run on the Legion, and I expect to continue to enjoy it. Only thing is... we sorta already know what we're getting with Levitz. He really stretched himself out on his first and second runs, but I'm not sure that he's doing the same thing now. Maybe he is. I don't know if the results of his third run deserve to be compared to those of his second run, though, or if they ever will. I do know that I would like to see what someone new has to bring to the franchise. Someone like, oh, maybe Matthew K. Manning, who did such a great job on his three issues of LSH31C. Or Chris Roberson, a big Legion fan who's fresh off rescuing the Superman title and who's boiling over with big ideas. Or even Mark Waid or Keith Giffen (or both together!), who certainly have had their chances in the past to shape the Legion, like Levitz... but, unlike Levitz, who never seemed to approach the end of what they had to say about these characters.

I am reliably assured that Fabian Nicieza is well supplied with the technical skill and adroitness necessary to handle an ensemble book like the Legion, especially when boiled down to seven characters. And he also is a big Legion fan. I've never read any of his stuff that I recall, but I'm perfectly happy to find out what he brings to the table.

Obviously there's no problem with Portela or Woods. What, are you kidding me?

I do have a couple of qualms about the storylines. I've read a couple of interviews with Nicieza where he talks about the premise of Legion Lost. My worry was that if you take these seven and isolate them in the 21st century, does your comic book lose some of its basic Legion-ness? And Nicieza seems to be aware that this is indeed a concern. Which is all I need to know; as long as he's aware of the problem, I'm not really worried about what it is he's doing about it.

It's kind of funny that DC would make a specific point of preserving retroboot Legion continuity when a) they didn't show any such consideration for the post-Crisis Legion, or the Five Years Later Legion, or the reboot Legion, or the threeboot Legion, or the animated Legion, and b) the retroboot Legion hasn't been around long enough for anyone to get attached to it. Except, of course, that we're all supposed to pretend that the retroboot Legion is the same as the original Legion, which we're also supposed to pretend is the only version of the Legion anybody ever cared about, and enough people are willing to go along that DC finds it worth sticking with.

One thing though. Look again at that lineup of characters in Legion Lost, and take note of what decade each of them were introduced in. Wildfire, '70s. Dawnstar, '70s. Yera, '80s. Gates, '90s. Timber Wolf, late '60s. Tellus, '80s. Tyroc, '70s. Removing this crowd from the Legion makes the remaining Legion very, what shall we call it, very Adventure-Comics-centric. I worry that this is a way of making the retroboot Legion extra-nostalgic.

Who's all left in the 31st-century Legion, after this? Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, Phantom Girl, Ultra Boy, Star Boy, Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Colossal Boy, Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, Lightning Lass, Polar Boy, and Dream Girl, all from the early Adventure era, plus Shadow Lass (late Adventure), Invisible Kid ('80s, but a legacy version of an Adventure era character), Earth-Man ('70s), and Quislet ('80s). Of course, one of these characters is presumably going to die, as per solicitation text, so there's something going on we don't know about. Also, we don't know what's going to happen with XS ('90s), not to mention the long-rumoured Karate Kid III, and there are a lot of Academy students around who could be pressed into service, some new and some less new, not to mention Night Girl, Bouncing Boy, and Duplicate Girl, all from the Adventure era.

If there's going to be any new blood in the Legion, it's probably going to come from whatever new recruits they get from the Academy. And I'm not really sold on any of the new Levitz-Jimenez characters. They've got potential, certainly. I don't know if I'm ready to hand any of them flight rings yet. Nightwind, sure. Power Boy, maybe once you explain to me what his new powers are, but maybe not. Lamprey, no; Cosmic Boy convinced me a few issues of Adventure ago. Comet Queen, well, she's a lot of fun and everything, but you can't convince me she'd actually be up to the job.

(Let's come up with a list of eight new Legionnaires to replace the seven lost ones and the one who's going to die. Here's mine: XS, Nightwind, the Teen Lantern, Karate Kid III, Power Girl, Kid Quantum, Kent Shakespeare, Flederweb. What do you think? Who are your eight?)

One more thing I want to point out. Who wants a preview of the new Legion Lost series? Because I think I know where you can find one. Here's whatcha do. Go to the message boards on the Comic Book Resources website, the DC message board specifically, and click on either the Legion of Super-Heroes FAQ thread or the Long Live the Legion! thread. And look for any posts by Alastor; there are a few, going back weeks or months.

See, I read something or other about how Fabian Nicieza was supposed to be doing something clever on message boards to promote Legion Lost, and I remembered that this Alastor cove had been posting these fanfictiony nonsequitur posts on these threads. Most tellingly, one of the threads was the Legion FAQ thread, which is moderated, suggesting that whatever was going on, it was with the connivance of the moderator and therefore not just a fanboy goofing around. So my theory is that Nicieza is posting these Alastor things, and the whole thing with Alastor and his sister is some kind of prequel to Legion Lost. Maybe, given the nature of the (at this writing) most recent post, Alastor himself is supposed to be the big villain of the series.

Don't say I never do anything for you guys.

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