Monday, 8 August 2011

Adventure Comics #529 review

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.


8 comments:

  1. Thanks for NOT revealing the surprises- I haven't been able to pick mine up yet!

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  2. Hmm, difficult to comment if I'm to avoid revealing who died and who leaves.

    Ah, here we go. I didn't like the character who leaves much anyway - because of a power overlap with one of the main Legionnaires - and for silly costume!

    Agree about the art making Cosmic King look like Cosmic Boy with the circular 'magnetic' rings that we're use to seeing from CB.

    I'll be interested to see what costumes that Academy people get when they join the main team. At the moment they look like a collection of individuals rather than people who fit into the Legion team. A bit more visual shared identity would be good - I'm sure main artist Portela will deliver!

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  3. Unlike Rob I was sorry the student go. Untapped potential is always a waste, and we'd never really seen all that student was capable of. Oh well.

    Yes, nice finish, and I can't wait to see who joins the Legion. I'd have liked Power Boy recalled, but Levitz didn't just send him off just to get him back. No, I think Chemical King is likely (historical name) and it looks like Comet Queen is being groomed (not sure I like that). Glorith, too green? And yet would make a fine replacement for White Witch.

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  4. Will, you're welcome. It'll be interesting to hear what you think.

    That's interesting, Rob, I've never been a fan of the Legionnaires sharing a visual identity. The L ring or, if pushed, a belt buckle is all the visual common link I need. Having said that, the post Zero Hour costumes - based on the Seventies Lightning Lad look - I think - worked well.

    Siskoid, one thing I want to see with Glorith is what link she has to the original Glorith, of Balduur. Let's not have that question begged for too long!

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  5. What I really liked about the issue was seeing just how powerful Cosmic King is. Yes his powers are uhm powerful, but he can also handle himself very well in hand-to-hand combat.

    I completely understand why they offed who they did, and I liked the way the one who left, left. It made good story sense, and didn't requite killing off another student.

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  6. Thanks, Travis. I love the original LSV members, less so the ones who aren't nasty versions of the LSH. And Cosmic King is right up there.

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  7. Did you mean Comet Kid when you wrote Cosmic Queen above?

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