Friday, 24 December 2010

Legion of Super-Heroes #8 review



Well, there's no doubt about it after this issue. Shadow Lass has lost her mind.  Bad enough she's sleeping with new member Earth-Man, a xenophobic killer forced on the team after trying to destroy the Legion. That could be considered a private foolishness. 

But here she votes for him to be Cosmic Boy's successor as leader. At the very least this is an insult to those colleagues he hurt; at worst, it's putting members' safety in the hands of one who has yet to earn widespread trust.   

Earth-Man, for his part, votes for Polar Boy, whose arm was torn off during the conflict with his so-called Justice League. As possible apologies go, that's not bad, showing a hint  of rehabilitation.  

Neither, though, bets on the right guy - Brainiac 5 almost takes the leader gong, but he's pipped to the post by Mon-El.  

That would be Mon-El, who left the team last issue to be the local Green Lantern. Oops. Oh well, a little wrinkle such as this - the in-story result follows a real-life reader vote - will keep writer Paul Levitz on his toes.  

Serves him right, he's been making writing this comic look far too easy. He does it again here, deftly juggling groups of Legionnaires engaged in a conflict with shape-changing assassins. The Durlans worship recently murdered Legion backer RJ Brande, and they're out to kill United Planets politicians and get revenge on Cosmic Boy, whom they feel failed to save Brande. 

Happily, Cos holds his own against the Durlan impersonating Science Police chief Zendak until reinforcements arrive in the shapes of Invisible Kid, Element Lad and Phantom Girl.  

Elsewhere, Dream Girl, Colossal Boy, Earth-Man and Shadow Lass defeat a Durlan who attacks Brande's assistant, Pheebs. While Colossal Boy rags on Dreamy for not predicting the attack, he can't criticise her fighting ability - she almost takes the Durlan single-handed. 

Also around this month is Tellus, whose psi skills come in handy after he takes the injured Dawnstar to Medicus One space hospital. And his forthright nature proves useful in cutting through the bureaucratic nonsense of Dr Gym'll.  

The team's own Durlan, Chameleon Boy, cameos with Brainiac 5, who points the under-attack Cosmic Boy towards the Clubhouse store of Cancellite, which prevents Durlans from shape-changing. 

Just what Cancellite is could be better explained - you either have to work it out from context, or have read elderly issues of Adventure Comics. On a more positive note, the Durlan storyline is rattling along at a cracking place, with pretty much the whole team engaged in entertaining fashion. Members are likeable and use their powers smartly in sharply choreographed fight scenes. 

The leader election is handled well in a two-page vignette towards the end, showing just who voted for whom. I'm surprised to see Mon-El come out on top, as he never seems to have much fan buzz. Perhaps his recent run in the Superman title was more popular than I thought. Or maybe his status as Earth-Man's most outspoken critic secured the win. 

Hopping on as guest to pencil about half of the book is Daniel HDR (who sounds like a 31st-century robot), and he does a lovely job with the storytelling. Regular penciller Yildiray Cinar handles the pages set on Brande's island. As ever, Cinar offers plenty of great-looking illustrations, lit up by fine 'acting' and vibrant action. There's one splash page of Colossal Boy facing off against a Durlan that's just gorgeous, and a panel in which dramatic shading on the hero's face builds tension as to what the Durlan is turning into.

The only quibble I have is that we don't see what happens to Pheebs - on the sidelines of a fight, he suddenly appears badly injured or dead. I hope he survives, as the alien has a terrific visual. Credit also to Wayne Faucher and Bob Wiacek, who ink the pages with élan, letterer Sal Cipriano and colour house Hi-Fi. 

Cinar also supplies the lovely cover, with expectant members looking as surprised at their new leader's identity as Levitz likely was. It's going to be fun to see what he comes up with. 

13 comments:

  1. Ah, that's why it didn't come up - I searched for the Legion of Super-Heroes tag...

    Don't forget to separate your tags! ;o)

    Merry Chribble!

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  2. Sorted Rob. I'm away from home, so computer-less ... having to compose reviews on my phone has addled my brain.

    And a happy Christmas to you too!

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  3. Merry Christmas, Martin and a happy new year to you and your loved ones.

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  4. I haven't read this as yet but Kudos must go to Levitz & Co for honoring the online poll, they would have been justified in going for whoever came in 2nd place but by being true to the polls consensus they show they do listen to readers and will take their views onboard.

    Something quite unusual in todays marketplace.

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  5. I'd be quite happy to see Levitz continue with his plot though. Just because Mon-El won doesn't mean that he necessarily has to accept the leadership straightaway. He could say that he's not in the right place. He's just accepted a Legion ring. His personal life is in tatters. He could argue that he needs a "while" to adjust and that Brainy should be leader in the meantime.

    I could live with that.

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  6. And all the best to you and yours, Karl!

    Dave, you're right, Paul Levitz could likely have gotten away with deferring Mon's tenure, and Rob, I'd be perfectly OK with that. These things happen in life, so why not the Legion? But yeah, kudos to Writer Lad for going with it!

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  7. How could you have not seen that Shady will vote for the muttonchops guy she was bonking? Complaining about it seems a bit... odd somehow, yet it does make sense coming from you. It makes me wonder what do you think Levitz should have done with EM? Put him in TG? Send him to exile on Lallor/Rimbor? Hmm...

    Oh and Merry Christmas Martin!

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  8. Oh come now Novvy, surely you've slept with a super-villain without automatically voting for them in an election!

    Hope Christmas was good!

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  9. Maybe, just maybe, Levitz is revisiting the Dream Girl/Atmos relationship with this Earth-Man/Shadow Lass tryst?
    It was eventually revealed Atmos was using some telepathic influence over Dreamy and Earth-Man is capable of the same thing.
    I still think this is going somewhere as if it was legitimate it sells Shadow Lass down the river as a relatable and rational character, I have faith it will be dealt with credibly as LSH has covered similar themes before with the White Triangle in the 1990s...

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  10. Ah Dave, let's not encourage the return of (Pr)Atmos ...

    As for Shady, I'm holding out for her to be revealed as a Durlan wielding a modified Phantom Lady light ray.

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  11. Ah Dave, let's not encourage the return of (Pr)Atmos ...

    But there's the exciting thing with this Legion relaunch - all those characters and their universe, lovingly built up before the five year gap and zero hour threw it away, are now still usable and Canon!
    Its going to take time to re-establish all that but the old Who's Who in the LSH guidebooks I have in a box somewhere could be reprinted tomorrow and be perfectly up to date... it brings home the fact DC really did murder the Legion with the five year gap and Zero Hour.

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  12. Incidentally, this is probably my favourite cover from the current run - although the Saturn Queen one from #2 was pretty cool too.

    Given that Saturn Queen is in this new LSV one-shot coming out in a couple of months, it would be really cool if her appearance in issue 2 was really a plot on her part. She was just using the destruction of Titan as an excuse to get captured and to enact a cunning plan to free the rest of the new LSV. Now, if Levitz had thought that far in advance, I would be verrry impressed.

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  13. Such long-ish term planning is very Paul Levitz, what with those legendary wallcharts of his, so I suspect you're right.

    And I agree re: the covers, though I'd be hard pressed to choose between them!

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