Friday, 24 September 2010

Legion of Super-Heroes #5 review

On Earth, the Legion deals with a xenophobic attack on the camp housing survivors of Titan's destruction. On Naltor, Oan spawn Diogenes fails again in his bid to find a new Green Lantern, as a member of the cast turns him down and throws in an insult to boot. And back on Earth, a longtime friend of the Legion departs this life at the hands of Durlan extremists.

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.

8 comments:

  1. I suggest a roll call like they did 3boot.

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  2. That would do it - clean and straightforward.

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  3. The roll call was done before the 3boot and it was a nice thing. I just wish we could get those nasty ribbed pieces off their costumes...and those tacky, bulky belts. There was little to nothing wrong with their costumes - why change them? Sensor Girl's is a train-wreck, however....

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  4. Great review, can't wait get the issue. But what happenend to your blog? Did Color Kid run rampant? Or is it just my browser?

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  5. Sensor Girl's costume is awful, I agree. The original Sensor Girl outfit worked, but this reworking of it (to show a more skin like the old Projectra costume, and did she have eye-hols before?) just makes it awful. I like some of the other reworked costumes, though -- particularly Cos, Tasmia and Vi. I'd like to see something a little more distinct on Cham, though.

    The idea that Earth-Man is being mind-controlled/behavior modified? That's awesome, and totally in Brainy's wheelhouse. "...since I put on this ring," indeed.

    I really like Cinar's pencilling, but every now and then it seems like he skips or downplays a plot element. For instance, the shift from the splash page of Senseor Girl seeing Earthforce (and shouldn't she have sensed them from miles away? Long before Timber Wolf?) to the next scene at the crash site, where Gim shout's "Jeckie's down!" and we see a little explosion off in the corner seemed abrupt. Especially since the bomb, as Gim describes it on the next page, sounds pretty cool. Wouldn't it be better to see that happen, rather than it being described after-the-fact?

    Then again, that could easily be a script issue more than an art one.

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  6. Christian, I agree, the costumes have been over-noodled, but simply changing the frightfest Jeckie outfit would be enough for me. And the roll calls must go back to the Golden Age days of All-Star Comics, yes?

    Kashif, I'm going through my experimental period. Emphasis on the mental.

    Rob, you're right, Sensor Girl's costume was originally blank in the eye department - sorta Spider-Mannish, and all-round sensational:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/05/Sensor_Girl.jpg

    I could see them trying something totally new, but tinkering with this? That tacky tiara, for starters - DC may as well have put a trash can on her royal noggin.

    And I agree, Jeckie should know what's going on at least as soon as Brin. I let it go, assuming this was meant to be his spotlight scene. And Paul Levitz made a rod for his own back with the change from Queen Projectra to Sensor Girl - her power to 'see through the illusions of the universe' sounds awesome, but what the heck does it mean? What can she really do? It's no wonder writers falls back on the still-there illusion powers.

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  7. Looking forward to this...wont get my comics till Tuesday!

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  8. Hope you enjoy it, Karl - if you have a minute, let us know.

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