Monday, 20 June 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes #14 review


The Legion of Super-Heroes' efforts to stop the reborn Legion of Super-Villains' reign of terror continue in entertaining, if occasionally infuriating, style.

The entertainment comes mainly from the action and interaction between the rich mix of characters on both sides of the morality line. There's Professor Harmonia Li's brushing off of Dream Girl with unknown powers when the seer protests at the pain Li is putting Star Boy through. There's Star Boy's reunion with Dream Girl when he comes out the other side, sane for the first time in ages. Saturn Queen's murder of one of her lackeys. Ultra Boy's assisted defeat of Immortus. Brainiac 5's attempt to comfort his mourning people with a balance sheet. And more.

The infuriating part comes from Li, who can't - or won't - stop being mysterious. And Green Lantern torchbearer Dyogene, equally adept at speaking in riddles. Both have been playing Ms and Ms Mystery for months now, and while an enigmatic character is useful at the start of a storyline, I'm well past ready for them to spill the beans. There's a good chance Li, at least, gives some answers to a demanding Mon-El and Dream Girl as they and Star Boy head for Colu, before setting off for the world of wisdom where the LSV are. After all, they have a whole journey to pass, and it would be weird were the Legionnaires to drop the subject simply because the reader is directed elsewhere. But we readers aren't privy to any new information that does emerge.

So here's what we now know of Li - perhaps someone has worked her out. She's hundreds of years old. She not only turned down a chance to become a Green Lantern, emerald energy pains her. She spent time on a world of wisdom but left to undertake research into the time stream. She has wind powers. And she's as enigmatic as she is arrogant. Anyone?

I spoke of scene changes earlier, and I'd like to renew a point I made awhile back - we really need caption boxes telling us where we are at any one time, for new readers, and old readers with memory gaps. Encylopedia Galactica entries would be best, but a quick 'Colu' or wherever would do.

Another wee mystery is: who's inhabitating the body of invulnerable cyborg Immortus who, we find out this issue, is also long-lived, having planned his move to a robot form for centuries. My best guess remains Doom Patrol enemy General Immortus, whose immortality was something of a curse due to his having the body of a gnarled old man. Perhaps inspired by his enemy Robotman, he decided to forgo the flesh.

We still don't learn the nature of this storyline's bad guy, the child who controls the Blue Flame. A reborn Darkseid has been a popular guess, but now he's a tweenie, he doesn't have that look about him. He's itching to take out 'the one who seeks me as her power grows close', which must be Li. Mustn't it? Also, he speaks of a 'dark lady' to come, weakening 'all barriers between worlds'. The Legion has its own dark lady in the Black Witch, but that's too obvious. There was also Lydia Mallor, Shadow Lass's ancestor, but she's already shown up, years previously, as a servant of Darkseid. Again, all suggestions welcome.

So many questions, so many reasons to keep reading. Harmonia Li is getting on my nerves with her refusal to give a straight answer, while demanding help from the Legion, but the other enigmas are more tasty teases, and indeed, teasers. Another one: will Dream Girl's vision this issue of, possibly, Star Boy's funeral pan out? I do hope not, we've only just got him back after extended service with the Justice Society in the 21st century.

Writer Paul Levitz continues to impress with his handling of multiple strands, building towards a massive confrontation between heroes and villains. He's ably partnered by Fernando Dagnino and Raul Fernandez, whose artwork is as attractive as their storytelling is effective. The opening scene, with its intense confrontation between Li and Dream Girl over the suffering Star Boy, is especially good. And I like the world of wisdom they depict, run by one Master Kong - aka Confucius.

DC has announced that the Legion of Super-Heroes is one of the few series whose current status won't be affected by the Flashpoint event and, given the quality of this book, I couldn't be happier.

9 comments:

  1. I'm disappointed that Harmonia Li is still being so bloody mysterious. I can't believe that, if someone did turn up claiming to have all the answers, that you wouldn't get them out of her. It would have been better if Levitz had added a word balloon from her saying something like: 'I can't tell you everything until the critical moment' to make it more realistic.

    I'm not that impressed by this incarnation of the LSV. Sure, Saturn Queen is being built up as this big murderous villain - poor Akka, I thought Levitz was gonna introduce someone new to the rogue's gallery for the Legion - but there just isn't the level of threat that the Legion faced in the Baxter run oh so many years ago.

    Yeah, I'm pleased that the Legion reboot later in the year isn't going to change things around too much. I just hope the stories get a bit stronger and drag on a little less. After all, this Harmonia Li thing has been going on since issue 1 and I'm not 100 per cent certain I'm going to think that the conclusion was entirely worth it.

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  2. Yeah, Harmonia has worn out her welcome for me, too. Spill it, Li!

    Gen. Immortus is a good guess, Mart, and one I'd welcome -- a link to the Doom Patrol would be a real surprise. I was thinking the Ultra-Humanite, for some reason -- he keeps putting his brain into new stuff, so why not an indestructable robot? But the General's already got the name...

    As for Dream Girl's prophesy, it confirms what I started thinking when I saw the cover and read the solicitation for #16: The upcoming dead Legionnaire is most likely Earth-Man. After all, he can use Thom's power too, right?

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  3. Btw, I reckon the blue flame baddie is the Flash/Barry Allen's evil twin, a bad guy called Cobalt Blue.

    http://www.comicvine.com/cobalt-blue/29-5732/

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  4. Rob, I'm optimistic for a great conclusion - certainly Paul Levitz has had long enough it set one up. We'll see. No idea when, but we'll see!

    I like your Cobalt Blue guess. I didn't like him, cos he never had a speedster name, Tut. But there's no denying the Blue Flame connection makes him, excuse me, the front runner.

    Rob S, good idea to you to as regards the Ultra-Humanite. I like the idea that DC's oldest active super-villain remains active in the 31st century.

    And the prophecy guess is likely spot-on.

    Why do the Robs get all the brains?

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  5. I love your General Immortus theory. I'm so used to the Legion being in its own continuity almost that I wasn't even thinking there might be a link to the 21st century DCU.

    I agree on getting lost at times, but I don't think captions are enough (and in the case of characters, they've become almost ridiculous). A series with multiple strands and a huge cast like this really needs to go the Marvel route and spend an interior cover on a recap.

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  6. heres an idea...could Li be connected to Flashpoint in some way? Is that why we get all these cryptic comments and few answers from her?
    Could her long sub-plot be merely a lead-up to Flushpoint and the team being split into two separete groups? Is that what shes here for?
    Some story-arcs are 12 issues long and perhaps this is what was intentioned from the start.

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  7. I remember Li did mention Flashpoint in issue 1 of the new Legion run. She says something like 'we'll be able to see what actually happened at Flashpoint', so that implies that she doesn't have a huge amount of insight into it. But it does tell us that DC editorial had decided that they would be running Flashpoint well over a year ago!

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  8. Siskoid, the unashamed recap would be interesting as an experiment. It's mot my favourite technique, I like stories to fill new readers in as they go, but yes, the LSH is especially unwieldy.

    Karl, Rob, I wonder. Li as Flashpoint tease, or integral part. I suspect, and hope for, the former ... I've never been a fan of the LSH being dragged into crossovers.

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