Friday, 14 August 2009

Adventure Comics #1 review

Back as a regular title after a quarter of a century, Adventure Comics proves more fun than expected. There's an airy feel to Geoff Johns' script for the lead strip, Superboy, which I appreciate after the complexities/clutter of the current Green Lantern storylines. This is a simple tale of the newly resurrected Conner Kent beginning a search for his place in the world.

Along the way we meet two new supporting characters, teen brain Simon Valentine and . . . I can't say as she's not actually named. It could be the comics version of TV's Chloe Sullivan, at last. Anyway, it's a blonde and she likes Superboy, but likes someone else more. As for Simon, he looks to be a well-meaning boy genius but history may send him down a familiar path. That's according to what appears to be a swamp monster but is actually someone more benevolent, as smartly revealed in the second tale.

Johns does a great job of reintroducing Conner, and showing how he and Martha Kent could be just what one another needs. The story structure, with Conner trying to model his second chance on the life of co-DNA donor Superman, is clever and facilitates a pleasingly logical ending.

Francis Manapul's art here is a terrific surprise. On the Legion's most recent run his work was clunky and angular - not unsuited to the strip, but not my favourite. Here it's softer edged and when you add Brian Buccellato's palette you have a gorgeous story, as a blaze of autumnal colours light up the pages.

I mentioned the second tale above, but have no intention of spoiling its reveal - you'll feel smart when you figure it out for yourself, and I'm not denying anyone that. While this was advertised as a Starman solo, it's not at all, with plenty of other Legionnaires appearing. Which is nice.

I liked this opener less than the Superboy lead-off because we're back in the land of a never-ending Johns plot, Starman's missions in the 21st century. I'm old enough to have read plenty of stories featuring LSH members in the present day (see Karate Kid, Valor, Leionnaires, Inferno etc) and my prevailing thought is 'So, when are they going home?' Because the Legion's unique selling point is their far future setting, and if they're not there, I don't care.

Which isn't to say this isn't an entertaining little read for its minuscule 8pp runtime. Starman remains the poster boy for the Let's Laugh at Schizophrenics League, and we see that there are even more members hanging around the 21st century than previously revealed. There's one of Johns' patented final page previews of upcoming events and it's full of promise, bar the final panel, which has me grimacing in a 'change the bloody record' sorta way. But this merely whets my appetite for a full-size portion of Legion goodness.

Clayton Henry's stripwork is more than adequate here, with an especially impressive job on a double page shot of the Legion. It's just a shame some printer's devil scuppered the right hand side powers and abilities text boxes, making them unreadable. That's after mixing Night Girl and Shadow Lass's captions.

Still, it wasn't a bad beginning to the latest Legion revival and, if tradition prevails, they'll be taking over the book within a year or so.

4 comments:

  1. The comics shop guy had to convince me that the second story did indeed have more than just one Legionnaire in it, to induce me to buy the book. Well, I needed reading material to fill up time before an appointment last night so I bought it.

    Was surprised to see that Night Girl and Shadow Lass have exchanged names. What is it again that DC editors do? And why does DC want to ruin its readers' eyes by not presenting legible type?

    Legion and Legion-related stuff belong in the 31st Century, not the 21st. Go home, Legion!

    Whose idea was it to bring in these awful "these things are coming up" pages? Why not just write a story that will intrigue the reader so that they'll continue buying?

    Has the Legion burned itself out? Sigh. Wish I could drum up some enthusiasm for this. I mean: it's the Legion!

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  2. i found myself enjoying the lead story more than i ever thought i would. i've always disliked the clone Superboy, just never caught fire for me. but the simplicity of the art (reminescent of Tim Sale's work on Superman For All Seasons...most of the props going to the colourist, whose name escapes me) and the story was really refreshing. especially after reading Legion of 3 Worlds (is everyone ready for George Perez to just draw a story again without having a gajillion double-page spreads with a gajillion characters on them?) if they keep it this straightforward i may change my mind about Cloneboy.

    as to the Legion, i'm still excited at the idea of having MY Legion back. well, as much of it as i can have, anyhow. i echo the frustration of many in regards to the editing. i need to feel that the people creating the books care about the work in order for me to fully enjoy it. and, really, how bloody hard is it to match a character with its proper name? come on!

    i do hope we see an end to the 'crazy Starman' storyline soon. and, yep, boot 'em all back to the 31st century. way more fun.

    good god, this comment is long. sorry, Mart!

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  3. i just wanted to add that i really enjoy your reviews and am happy that Carol Strickland pops by as well. you two are really fun commentators.

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  4. Carol, Craig, ta for the comments - and the more detailed the better, I say!

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