With tutors Night Girl, Bouncing Boy and Duplicate Girl taken out by Cosmic King, it's up to the Legion Academy students to defend Legion of Super-Heroes HQ. And while they do a fine job, a sacrifice is the price they pay for victory.
It's satisfying to see the trainee heroes finally cut loose after months of mostly minor escapades. Cosmic King is a known killer, but not one student flinches in the face of his matter transmutation powers: Comet Queen takes a nasty hit, but forces herself back into the air; Dragonwing blasts him full force with her firebreath; Variable Lad takes the form of a humongous silver serpent and rushes the villain; Gravity Kid and Glorith hold firm in the face of a razor storm; Chemical Kid prevents radiation overwhelming his classmates.
And one teenager dies.
It's a heroic moment, showing true Legion spirit, and I don't doubt the surviving classmates will be inspired to continue their efforts to join the Legion. All except one, who chooses a different path, a choice that shows that the 31st century is as progressive as it should be, from our point of view.
I've gone coy, haven't I? Thing is, it's so rare for a comic to kill off a character without warning - no Previews blurb, no 'One Member Must Die' cover starburst - that if anyone reading this intends to buy the book, it'd be nice for them to share the surprise. Ditto as regards which trainee chooses love over Legion.
I hope that smitten student changes their mind, and turns up in the new Legion series with their other half when the LSH puts the call out for reinforcements post-Flashpoint, as I enjoy both characters. Certainly, the powerful final page should have regular readers itching to see what the L'il Legion does next.
Before that, I'd like to thank Paul Levitz for his final Adventure Comics script, as the book disappears to make way for Legion Lost. He delivers a pacy narrative putting the pupils at the forefront of the action. Don't get me wrong, I love the Academy faculty, but as a longtime reader I know the depth of character shared by Lydda, Chuck and Luornu - I'm ready for the young 'uns to step up.
Penciller Geraldo Borges and inker Marlo Alquiza turn in their best artwork yet, and they've always been great. There's big drama in the compositions, big emotion on the faces. Watching Cosmic King gradually transition from overconfidence to fear is a joy, while the depictions of powers are delightfully grandiose. The cover credits imply that inker Rob Hunter was also involved with this issue - if so, well done sir! (Click to enlarge image.)
And Hi-Fi gives us some cracking colourwork, bringing the adventure to brilliant life, while letterer John J Hill ensues the script is good to read.
The cover by Francis Portela and Javier Mena is attractive, though it looks as if they're assuming Cosmic King has the same powers as Cosmic Boy. It's an easy mistake to make, Lord knows why he never changed his name to Element Emperor or something more logical...
So goodbye Adventure Comics starring the Legion Academy, you've been the little comic that could deliver intriguing new characters and fresh takes on classic concepts. You'll be missed.