Thursday, 2 September 2010

Legion of Super-Heroes #4 review

When a feature has been running as long as has the Legion of Super-Heroes, it's unlikely readers are going to agree on  a single high point. Yet there seems to be widespread agreement that the Great Darkness Saga - in which Darkseid was reborn in the 30th century - is it.

It takes a brave writer, therefore, to revisit the scenario, as comparisons with the Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen arc are inevitable. Happily, Paul Levitz is again writing the Legion, and he's not in the least intimidated by himself. So it is that this issue sees disciples of the dread lord of Apokolips bidding to bring their master back from the ether. The totems they hope will summon the New God are Graym and Garridan, twin sons of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl and once the object of Darkseid's evil attentions.

Of course, Garth and Imra Ranzz aren't going to stand by while their kids are sacrificed and, aided by Lightning Lass (aka Auntie Ayla), they mount a desperate rescue. Highlights of this include the latter making like a defibrillator and Saturn Girl showing just how scary her mental powers make her. Lightning Lad, if anything, will be remembered for showing off his own powerful mind (click on image to enlarge/giggle).
I guess Garth's a tad confused after that time his sister impersonated him to make his colleagues think he'd come back from the dead, only to be betrayed by her lack of an Adam's apple ...

Anyway, the rescue mission is a wonderful spotlight for the abilities and relationships of these longtime Legionnaires. The newest member also gets a showcase, as he has every month since this latest series began. Yup, it's Kirk Niedrigh again, still teasing his many fans as to whether he'll settle down as a Legionnaire, or continue to be an Earth-Man behaving badly. Levitz is certainly making this previously vile character more palatable, but the sooner his vacillations are over, and he's either properly in or out, the better. Out would suit me, so I never have to look at his stupid mutton chops and Desperate Dan chin again. 

Having turned down the chance to be a Green Lantern, Niedrigh further refuses demands from his xenophobic sponsors to 'eliminate' the refugees on Earth from the recently destroyed world of Titan. He flies off to do things his way, and looks set to embroil a Legionnaire in his murky plans - mind, said member, Shadow Lass, is no naif, she'll likely twist him around her little finger.

As for the Green Lantern sub-plot, it's reduced to Blue Sperm Man Dyogene and 21st-century holdout Sodam Yat witterring on about the future of the Corps. Give me a second while I see if I could care less ...

... nope. 

The dour Daxamite has started referring to himself as 'Sodam Yat the Miserable' and I so agree. He should look up DC's existing poster child for superheroic depression, Pariah, and go play among the cosmic traffic. After all, this is meant to be the Legion's book, not another pesky Green Lantern spin-off.

The Titan business gives us the issue's third story strand, as the seers of a (suddenly non-platinum blonde) Dream Girl's home planet, Naltor, agree to take in some of the refugees, in the hope that the displaced Time Institute will come too. Back on Earth, the Legionnaires - primarily Sensor Girl and Cosmic Boy - bid to learn what plots are being made against the survivors, to no avail.

Another event happens this issue which had me grinning broadly - the Legionnaires call an election for a new leader, something which always makes for fun times. If reader votes are being solicited, I'm forming the Anyone But Earth-Man Party.

With Levitz at the top of his storytelling game, and dynamite art from Yildiray Cinar, Francis Portela and Wayne Faucher, this is another excellent entry in the Legion Chronicles. If the artistic split is the same as in the last few issues, Faucher is inking Cinar, while Portela inks his own pencils. Whatever, the pages, coloured by Hi_fi and lettered by Sal Cipriano, all look good. And the cover by Cinar, Faucher and Hi-Fi is a keeper.

Glancing at the pages again, it seems as if, moreso than usual, sequences have been split across the book rather than playing out at length - scenes changes in mid-flow and pick up exactly where we left off - but it doesn't hurt the comprehension. I could be wrong, though ... perhaps it's simply Levitz experimenting with pace.  

While the Legion looks to be moving out of its parallel Adventure Comics slot, which is reinterpreting the team's earliest years, so long as this book is around to tell all-new adventures, I couldn't be happier. 

Well, maybe a little (hint: can Earth-Man).

9 comments:

  1. Ah, that old Levitz A, B & C plot structure, the first comic book writer's method I ever understood and enjoyed making sense of every month. (I didn't work out myself, of course; Mr Levitz discussed in an interview in, I think, Amazing Heroes.) Glad to hear he's still using it; if it ain't broken, and it ain't.

    I've been waiting for the trade on this one, especially after a disappointing dip in Adventure Comics. But your enthusiasm is indeed infectious, and the Great Darkness Saga was as important to my understanding of what mainstream comics can achieve as Crisis, Watchmen or indeed anything else since.

    Another sale inspired by Mr M, then. A job well done.

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  2. I like the Earth-Man stuff a little better than you do, I think -- and I'm especially intrigued by what's going to happen between him and Shadow Lass, considering the cover for issue 6. But Sodam "Weepy" Yat wore out his welcome from the moment he was introduced in Legion of Three Worlds.

    Yildiray's really hitting his stride with this issue, I think -- or maybe it's just that he and Faucher are working together better.

    And Legion Elections in the age of Twitter? I can't wait! My vote's for Shady -- I want to see a Legionnaire who's visibly not from Earth to be the face of the Legion during this period of Xenophobia. (Tho my opinion might change, depending on the Earth-Man situation.)

    (And Mart-- thanks for reviewing this!)

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  3. Loved this issue a lot. Blinding fight between the cultists and Lightning Lass. Earth man...is about to get redeemed? I hope so if hes sticking around [which I emphatically dont want...I dont want a racist in the LSH at all.] Lots of little subplots going on, ticking over nicely. Is that scientist girl from the Time Institute going to be the new female Green Lantern in the LSH, thats what I heard. Good to see Jeckie sans mask [ with it she creeps me out...reminds me of Spider Man]. Want to see more of Gates and hopefully find out if StarBoys still in the team too.

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  4. Jeckie certainly looks better without the mask, but I loved the original Sensor Girl costume, in which she looked fantastic with the mask.

    I'd not heard that Time Institute lady might be the Legion's Green Lantern - I never knew they were due one. I hoped the idea would go away after the Earth man business.

    I realise Rond Vidar was a reserve Legionnaire or somesuch, but he was barely around. Darn!

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  5. Rob, a Twitter election is a great idea - do you know if Paul Levitz is organising such?

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  6. I don't know -- but I'll ask him on Facebook!

    (And by the way, great catch on "identical twins"... that totally slipped past me, for some reason!)

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  7. Colin, hang on for that Legion trade, The Choice - it's due in, er, April 2011.

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  8. ... and he's been asked. I'll let you know if he replies!

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  9. Mart - bought, yes, bought the Legion today! Couldn't wait. Your fault.

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