Thursday, 21 October 2010

Legion of Super-heroes #6 review

This issue features two stories and a bonus page. The first half of the book sees the conclusion of the relaunched Legion's first storyline, with the team reluctantly accepting Earth-Man, and vice versa. He's still not happy with 'offworlders', but realises that trying to get along is the sanest solution. And yes, as I thought, Brainy was tinkering with Earth-Man's head to make him a more agreeable person. That's was.

The story is a day in the life-style epilogue, with various subplots moving forward and room for supporting characters to shine. Back for the first time in decades comes Marte Allen, big league politician and Colossal Boy's ma, who, when she's not using the team for rubbish non-emergencies, is inviting Gim and wife Yera - Chameleon Girl - to a Sabbath supper. Other bits of business include the return of the Lightning Lass/Shrinking Violet (ahem) friendship, Shadow Lass's position on sex with Earth-Man (behave!) and a fun tete-a-tete between longterm couple Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy.

It's absorbing stuff from writer Paul Levitz, but would have benefited from some of the characterisation occurring during a decent fight scene - the nearest we get are a few members chasing down some naughty tourists and others stopping a pesky spaceship. There's no real challenge to our veteran heroes. While I've loved the first half year of this comic, I'm ready for a truly compelling villain to step forward, someone who can give the entire team a headache.

Regular co-artist Francis Portela gets to do a whole, if short, strip and turns in typically pleasing pages. As ever, Phantom Girl has the most interesting facial expressions - I suspect she's the artist's favourite - though Shady also benefits from attention (I love the inky cape she has these days).
Click to enlarge, kids!

Pencilling the second strip is longtime Legion hand Phil Jimenez, lavishing attention on the new and old members of the Legion Academy. It's wonderful to see Comet Queen, the Valley Girl of the super-hero set, back, along with Power Boy, Visi-Lad, Crystal Kid, Nightwind, those fish thingies, the little grey chap... Of the new guys, visually my favourites are Gravity Lad, whose flesh-flashing costume is a pleasing throwback to the days of artist Mike Grell, and Variable Lad, a massively purple-headed (write your own smut), four-armed bald chap whose powers are, of course, variable. Chemical Kid should lose the unattractive tunic, while Dragonwing looks to have been eaten by a Pac-A-Mac adorned with fussy pink serpents.

Presumably Comet Queen has been held back at school, as she's the only established Academian to join instructor Duplicate Damsel and a visiting Cosmic Boy in a bid to take down a (not the) wildfire. Again, a proper villain would have been nice. Anyway, we see a little of what everyone can do, and it's enough to pique my interest for their coming larks in Adventure Comics.

Raining on the parade is the aforementioned Cos, who's in a right old strop, moaning on about the burdens of leadership. Hurrah, then, that he calls a leadership election by issue's end. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, who quit to look after their kids this issue, won't be eligible. Neither will Mon-El, who's hanging out with Polar Boy on Daxam.

Excuse me, do these people not have contracts? They come and go willy nilly, with nary a thought for the safety of the universe, or my desire to see them. I wouldn't be surprised if Cos himself buggers off after the election, being distracted by missing memories (that's what15 multiversal crises, several reboots and a stint as the Time Trapper do to a guy).

The most intriguing scene in this storyline sees Sensor Girl mooning over dead husband Karate Kid, hugging his bloody costume to herself. Loony. She's musing on having met another KK since his death, one from a parallel reality who also got himself killed. Surely another one couldn't show up?

Gosh, here's one now, outside Projectra's penis-palace and showing a titchy tree branch who's boss. He's clad in a seriously shapeless version of the original Val Armorr's costume and models the sappiest expression you ever did see. I've taken an immediate dislike to the floppy-haired girlie man. Someone kill him, quick.

Levitz provides another sterling script here, showing his knack for making every character worth watching, while Jimenez, teamed with inker Scott Koblish, produces fine, varied layouts and interesting looking players (even when they're floppy-haired girlie men).

The issue is rounded out with a one-page strip plugging the online election, starring the Legion's very own politician, Matter-Eater Lad. This book's other regular artists, penciller Yildiray Cinar and inker Wayne Faucher, draw a perfect Tenzil Kem - let's have him back as a regular, huh?

Cinar, Faucher and colour house Hi-Fi also provide the cover, and it's not a keeper. There's Earth-Man from the rear and a Shadow Lass who's unrecognisable due to her head being deliberately cropped and a red overlay masking her distinctive blue skin. The non-identification of Shady is, of course, deliberate, inviting us to wonder who's in bed with the Legion's resident xenophobe. An intriguing wee mystery, if Earth-Man's playmate hadn't been revealed last issue. Dear oh dear.

Still, these are exciting times for the Legion, with lots of plots bubbling, a creative team that's gelling and a buzz around the election - have you voted yet? Let's hope new readers check out  a book that's ready for a return to the big leagues

9 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this issue, but I think you're right -- the Legion really needs a decent adversary right about now. Hopefully the Durlans will do the job, when it comes to a head, but right now it's still in the "intrigue" stage. They need something head-to-head.

    I'm loving Shady's cape, too -- though I find it hard to believe that 1,000 years hasn't improved on the spray-bottle method of watering plants.

    Have we seen the Avalon mission that Ayla and Vi were on yet, or is that what'll be in the Annual?

    Gravity Kid's costume is Grelltastic -- I hope his eventual cosplayers are fit!

    As for the new Karate Kid... I didn't have a problem with him, so much as wondering what the page was doing in the backup, rather than the main feature. Maybe they'll be more involved in the upcoming Academy stories.

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  2. It's extraordinary how they've captured the exact pacing from the 80s series, it really is a treat to read this book as it doesn't rely on a central threat to make it readable. That was the strength of the 80s book but also a bit of a weakness after awhile as you do need a good villain now & again and when they did turn up it was rather underwhelming - Starfinger as an example.
    But the hell with the X-Men or Avengers, DCs putting out some great team books and LSH is my favorite.

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  3. Starfinger, yup, not a villain for the ages. But won't it be wonderful when we get something like, say, the Universo Project, as I'm sure we will?

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  4. Can I gay marry Gravity Kid? Pretty please?

    For the Legion Academy "back-up", you can feel the joy PJ has in drawing this title/these characters. In fact, the characters exude joy... at least to my reading.

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  5. Good review. And I agree with Dave M, it's amazing at how much Levitz has recaptured the feel of his stories from the 1980s, with the various concurrent subplots weaving in and out of the book, and the political maneuvering in the background affecting the Legion's activities. Anyway, I decided to just do a write up of the first six issues together...

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5933876/legion_of_superheroes_s_16_paul_levitz.html?singlepage=true&cat=38

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  6. Ah Danny, Danny ... I think you're going to have to fight your way to Gravity Kid, he seems to have become an immediate fan favourite. Well, boy crush, at least. Any ladies like his look?

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  7. Thank you Ben, I'm going to make your reviews my lunchtime treat!

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  8. The fishy chick you referred to is Lamprey. I think. I like how this has the feel of the '80s series but is still moving forward. Great stuff by Levitz and Co.

    I was indifferent to Gravity Kid myself, and I kind of liked the gossamer look of Dragonwings costume. I do wonder how many copies Triplicate...err Duo Dam...err Duplicate Girl can make now?

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  9. Fishie wise, I was thinking of the couple of little orange things that float around silently ... but I haven't got my comic to hand, I may be misdrescribing!

    I hope Luorno has a limit to her bodies, along with a physical limit - more than a certain number equals weaker bodies, or whatever.

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