Adventure Comics #528 review

It's Graduation Day for Legion Academy students Nightwind, Power Boy, Lamprey and Crystal Kid but celebrations are muted in some quarters. Most of the younger students are deflated, angry or both at the fact that after years of training, none of the graduates are off to the Legion of Super-Heroes. They're leaving Montauk Point, outside Metropolis, to join the Science Police.

Miss Uncongeniality, Dragonwing, reckons the students have been sold a crock, that no one will ever be deemed good enough for the Legion. Variable Lad is more sanguine, hinting that he rolls with the punches because life's not been easy for him. Chemical Kid takes the cynical view, as ever, enjoying the chance to get up Gravity Kid's nose. Something's on the latter's mind, and we see what it as he joins the departing Power Boy, Jed Rikane. Jed fears he's going to spend the rest of his life 'slamming animals back into their cages on Takron-Galtos', bringing a tender response from Gravity Kid.

Meanwhile, someone's breaking into Legion HQ in Metropolis. In a wonderfully corny way that homages Adventure Comics past, they're shown only in shadow, despite plenty of light sources. Their thoughts make it clear they're a member of the Legion of Super-Villains, but who? We eventually see that it's the man with Element Lad's powers known as - what else? - Cosmic King. Soon he's battling Legion Academy tutors Duplicate Girl, Bouncing Boy and Night Girl, who have answered an alarm. They put up a decent fight, but the peculiarly named transmuter wrecks the oxygen supply, choking the heroes.

Still, there's one more line of defence - Comet Queen has grabbed Dragonwing and Chemical Kid and followed her teachers. Cosmic King's not worried, though ...

... he should be, as this is the penultimate issue of the current Adventure Comics run. We know that some Academy members are going to be filling in LSH slots vacated by the sub-team about to be Legion Lost in the 21st century. I wouldn't bet against it being the Academy students, fast-tracked into the big time after saving the day next month.

As for this month, it's another great showing for the Academy strip. The characters are growing, with the quiet confirmation of the relationship between Gravity Kid and Power Boy not liable to scare any horses. So they're in love, it's no big deal. The incursion by Cosmic King ties into the Legion of Super-Villains storyline in the Legion of Super-Heroes title without being dependent upon it. Comet Queen shines with her can-do attitude, contrasting with that of Night Girl, who reckons she's useless in the light (it's pretty poor if after all these years she's not developed a few tricks she can fall back on).

Duplicate Girl impresses with her take-charge attitude in the field, while husband Bouncing Boy demonstrates that he's the king of emotional intelligence. And not someone you want to slam into your face.

Interpreting Paul Levitz's splendid script are two pencillers, regular team member Geraldo Borges and new recruit Ransom Getty, and inkers Marlo Alquiza and Rob Hunter. The gentlemen acquit themselves well, excelling in both the big and small moments. The nearest thing to a problem is Gravity Kid's hair, which was almost acceptable under his visual daddy, Phil Jimenez, but now looks tragic. The painted-on beard, the pudding bowl hair, it's over-designed, too faffy - awful. It's a good thing the rest of him looks rather nice.

On a happier note, there's a very cute close-up of Bouncing Boy towards the end, as Getty and Hunter make him look as rounded and plastic as he would do.

Overall, the artwork's tasty throughout, and beautifully coloured by Hi-Fi. John J Hill provides the lettering, and does a great job.

The striking cover, by Francis Portela and Javier Mena, had me thinking poor Duplicate Girl was going to be Canon Fodder Lass yet again, losing a body in battle - it must be so tempting now she can manifest in multiples. Levitz resists, but not before teasing us with a reference to Computo, the first entity to kill a Luornu Durgo.

I'm going to miss this title enormously, once it makes way for The New 52. It's gone through several changes of direction in the couple of years since it was 'uncancelled', finding a real winner with this strip. Hopefully, it'll not be long gone.


  1. Great seeing Duplicate Girl taking charge. It's nice to see her in action, although I think it's good that she is at the Academy with Chuck rather than in the main team.

    I didn't like the way Dragonwing's costume was drawn this issue. Didn't Jiminez make her outfit much more detailed as well as diaphanous? Perhaps these pencillers simply didn't have the level of ability necessary to recreate it. Likewise, as you mention, the pencillers made Gravity Kid look messy as opposed to sleek.

    Oh and I'm glad Levitz didn't make Night Girl a permanent member of the Legion - she is totally useless in daylight, isn't she? And I don't just mean physically. Other Legionnaires like Dream Girl and Shrinking Violet are bona fide kick ass fighters even if you take away their prophetic and shrinking powers. You'd think by now that she would have put herself through years of martial arts and combat training to make herself useful even when there aren't shadows for her to hide in.

    I'm hoping that the next issue will be the big payoff, with Dragonwing demonstrating her nous and skill in such a way that she gets promoted to main Legion in the new issue 1. I'm hoping that Chemical Kid doesn't make the main team - he has come across as such a brat in this Adventure Comics arc - but I suspect he will somehow also make the main team. Oh well!

  2. It's sad but perhaps not too surprising that the Levitz/Jiminez era is over before it even started, there are certain highpoints to the September relaunch but I find it hard to invest much interest or faith in it as DC makes too many rash and impulsive decisions like this that they subsequently fumble with and balk at supporting all the way - see 'Firstwave' for just one example.
    Adventure comics I suppose could be said to have been struggling to find an identity but I think the way it was shaping up it was looking to be superior to the actual LSH book and quite a few other DC books as well. A very imaginitive artist who is also a fine plotter and ideas man is always a good foild for Paul Levitz, it's not often a writer allows an artist to plot with him these days but some of the best vintage runs in comics were engineered thusly - Claremont & Byrne, Levitz & Giffen, Wolfman & Perez, I think those days of creative partnerships are pretty much gone now though.

    The issue itself is a good one, the Academy idea is one that worked really well for the two minutes DC allowed it to. This is the recruiting engine the Legion really did need, I am under no illusions that other such Academies (Hello Avengers!) will be a springboard for membership in the main team but with the Legion it was always a natural assumption at least two of these recruits would make it and we'd have the satisfaction as readers of following their journey and being rewarded for it.

    I'll genuinly miss this book, one of my 'quiet' favorites.

  3. Rob, you're right about Dragonwing's outfit, originally it was much more fancy/faffy. And diaphanous, indeed - like a kid's see-through umbrella with pretty ponies on it. When Dragonwing makes the main team I hope we see a glimmer of likeability - otherwise she may as well have a bitch-off with Tasmia.

    Dave, it's such a shame the strip is ending, it's been refreshing fun. Did we ever hear why Phil Jimenez left? I suspect a post-Flashpoint secret project.

  4. Noooooo.... I enjoyed the two legion titles a month (and more on some other months). Will we now be stuck with just the one title a month again?

  5. Lol, only just noticed the label. I only noticed in the past cause I used to only read your Legion reviews. But now I've bookmarked your main page and read 'em all. Keep up the sterling work!

  6. Novelty, there is a second Legion book coming, a new Legion Lost.

    Thank you Rob!

  7. Personally, I'm getting a bit tired of the Academy kids spinning their wheels (either irrelevant training or naughty midnight runs). I don't begrudge Power Boy some characterization, but Chemical Kid needs to grow beyond unpleasantness.

    I did like seeing Bouncing Boy, Triplicate Girl and Night Girl in action though. I like heroes with weak powers generally and seeing them prevail (hopefully they still will).

  8. Obviously, I've enjoyed the stories more than you, but I see your point. I wish the strip were continuing, I can't believe Levitz would go off in interesting directions.


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