Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes #16 review

And so ends another chapter in Legion history, as the Legion of Super-Heroes mops up the last members of the Legion of Super-Villains and the sacrifice of one hero destroys the blue being behind recent calamities.

One long-running mystery that's resolved is the identity of the little blue god. The evidence pointed towards Krona, ancient foe of the Green Lantern Corps who dared witness the Big Bang. 

Almost. He describes himself as '...evil loosed on the Universe by Krona's crime, long ago, and reborn when Titan fell and mortals gazed upon the unknowable'. He doesn't claim a name, but that's 'unknowable' for you. He's a dark god wishing to bring about the close on this particular 'yuga', which in Hindu cosmology is a period of creation.

But the Legion aren't having it, and one member realises what has to be done. Earth-Man has Mon-El use his Green Lantern energy to link the Legion, allowing him to tap into everyone's power at once. This proves enough to shatter the blue being, but Earth-Man dies in the process. His lover, Shadow Lass, flies off with his body to weep over it and, presumably, leave the Legion for a time. Mon-El, having fulfilled the mission entrusted him by Spirit of Oa Dyogene, gives back the power ring and affirms that his place is with the Legion. Dyogene, even as he resolves to rebuild the interplanetary police force, graciously admits that the Legion are the 'proud successors to the Corps'.

And there you have it. Writer Paul Levitz clears the decks of plotlines he inherited - Earth-Man and the Green Lanterns - in time to begin the Legion's New 52 book next month. There's no xenophobe unconvincingly slotted onto the team, and Mon-El gets to be Mon-El again. Shadow Lass will be missed, but I can't see her staying away for long - she's just too interesting a character. And Harmonia Li announces that she'd like to stick around as a member, meaning we'll find out what her actual powers are eventually.

Before the big finish, we see a few of the Legionnaires cut loose, with Colossal Boy engaging in an amusing bout of bowling and Phantom Girl showing off her melee moves. And Dream Girl, Star Boy and Harmonia Li let Earth-Man know that he's done enough as a Legionnaire for them to call him a friend. While I'm no Earth-Man fan, he has been visibly changing; the Legion has seen enough sparks of goodness to trust him to do what's right. It's typical of Levitz to make Earth-Man believably Legion material just as we're waving goodbye to him ... oh well, perhaps Shadow Lass can toss him into a 31st-century Lazarus Pit and revive him.

Last Green Lantern Sodam Yat hogs a page - it's clear he's sending out his will and power to boost Earth-Man's resolve and ability. As we don't see either specifically reach him, and Earth-Man already has his own inner strength and the power of the Legion, this scene feels like a waste of a page. Still, perhaps Yat has some fans who want to see his subplot resolved.

The issue is drawn by Daniel HDR, meaning there are some great expressions to complement the story - such as Shady's sadness - and plenty of excellent figurework. HDR knows how to give a story visual momentum while still studding it with standout panels. The spread of Earth-Man being charged up by the Legion, with reaction shots dotted around his central figure, is a winner, along with the climactic moment which follows. And the blue being's eye blasts are wonderfully, unashamedly 'comic book'. 
Marc Deering's inks are sharp and glossy, while the colourist at Hi-Fi shows their skill in facial modelling, and generally make the pages bright and thrilling. John J Hill's lettering is deliciously neat, too - the words are always important, never intrusive. The cover by Yildiray Cinar, Jonathan Glapion and Hi-Fi shows how to make simple gorgeous - and has the Legion flight ring ever looked so convincingly metallic?

So that's Volume Six of the Legion done - It's not been perfect, with this story and the Durlans tale stretched out too long, but it's always been compelling; this run has truly felt like the Legion of Super-Heroes I grew up with, polished for the 21st/31st century. Volume Seven debuts after an internal gap of a few months for the Legion, but just the usual four weeks for the reader. I can't wait.

7 comments:

  1. I was not against the character of Earth Man but I didn't like the idea that he had to have physical contact to use his powers. It's nice that Levitz can start LSH on a new footing here so bring on the next #1.

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  2. It was a shame the blue god baddie didn't get a little more character development. Given that he had been gestating for so many issues, the final battle seemed a little anticlimactic to me. He didn't even get a name, poor baddie. But I'll give Levitz the benefit of the doubt that he was forced to shelve a lot of the exposition when DC decided to cut the page count.

    Oh well. As Todd says, Levitz can now begin the next volume afresh. And with the shorter page count firmly established, hopefully Levitz will write punchier material that works. Fingers crossed for the new volume!

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  3. I like the touching aspect, Todd, it stops him borrowing powers without the 'owner's knowledge.

    Rob, you're bang on, we should have gotten a bit more personality from Little Blue. Hopefully he'll return when Levitz has a better window for his story.

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  4. Felt a little rushed to me, as not only the LSV plot but all the subplots had to come to an end in time for next month.

    As far as Earth-Man goes, he's an acceptable loss. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to lose any classic Legionnaires over the reboot.

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  5. Wow, did I just read that you wanted Mr. Muttonchops to get revived in a Lazarus pit? Wow. A year ago, you would have been calling for his removal from the Legion, and now...

    I think what's more amazing is watching *YOU* get transform by Levitz to change your attitudes about Earth-Man :)

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  6. I think it was probably rushed, due to the reboot. Let's see where things go next.

    Ah Novelty, you got me!

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  7. It all felt a bit rushed to me, esp all those large panels that felt empty...there were hardly any backgrounds.
    Levitz made a fairly decent end point to the series though, with what seems[hopes!] is the last hurrah to the GL corps if the LSH are being lined up as the possible successors. Still no real idea who Dyogene was or the blue chappie, and Brainy should tell Li shes a bit old to be joing the LSH.

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