So once again writer Paul Levitz focuses on a handful of storylines, with one standing out as the A plot - the attack on the Painted Desert Camp. It's here that first a handful, then a squadron, of Legionnaires struggles to rescue survivors and fight off an unexpected army. There's more room than usual for splash panels, and while I'm not always a fan, here they really work - one advertises a surprise, another sees Legion reinforcements arrive and a spread shows the team explode into action. Together they leave us in no doubt that this isn't your average team book - it has a big cast and isn't afraid to use it.
And there's still room for little moments that help define the characters - Sun Boy's oafishness, Chameleon Boy's resolve, Cosmic Boy's weariness, a surprise for Brainiac 5. And finally, Earth-Man decides on which side his bread is buttered - or at least, seems to. I suspect Brainiac 5 is influencing his new colleague's nature via tweaked flight ring. And good old horniness may also help explain Earth-Man's softening (followed by some hardening) towards extra-terrestrials.
Yildiray Cinar and Francis Portela again provide sharp pencils, with the latter inking himself and Wayne Faucher finishing Cinar. The layouts are dynamic, the pacing perfectly measured, the faces expressive and someone's even bothered to draw a fly on Sun Boy's shorts ... I appreciate that level of detail (he's been waiting to go to the toilet for 50 years now). Visually, the standout Legionnaire is Timber Wolf, bounding about like a glorious madman as he rescues, then defends, the Titanians. And we even get to see an original representation of his super-smelling. If the boy keeps this up he'll be a strong candidate for the upcoming reader-decided Legion leadership elections.
One thing I'd like to see changed concerns the mini-bios for characters, the stuff that explains their names, powers and homeworlds. On a spread such as the fight scene here, they really clutter up the place, acting as a Stand Back notice that prevents us getting absorbed by the atwork. DC, let's either trust the readers to know who people are by now or to pick up the info as they go along. If neither of these notions is a goer, simply shift the info to the first page or three, outside the narrative artwork.
At first glance Cinar and Faucher's cover - attractively coloured, like the interiors, by HiFi - looks like another iconic 'team leaps into action' shot. But we soon see that it's a twist on that old favourite, with the members reacting to having the controversial Earth-Man front and centre. It's a typically clever bit of business from one of the best superhero comics today.