Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Legion of Super-heroes #5 review

'One day, a thousand years from now ...' the Legion of Super-Heroes takes a breather. With no universe-shaking crisis to beat, the members enjoy a rare day of downtime. They train, they love, they party, they work. Over the course of 24 hours we check in with, by my count, 29 members and reserve members, the most we've seen in any issue of the Legion since its recent relaunch.

If you're looking for big dramas, this isn't the issue for you. But if you're wanting perfect cameo portraits of the members who make up the galaxy's greatest super-team, don't miss it. There's Cosmic Boy obsessing over the missing, presumed dead, team currently to be seen in Legion Lost; Harmonia Li putting the lie to her name with a disastrous spot of music making; teenage witch Glorith disturbed by ... something; Polar Boy drunkenly carousing; Dream Girl seeing 'a weird image of some big old stones ...' and more.

And it's not just the current team make-up, as we check in with the likes of child-raising founders Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad; odd couple Blok and Black Witch (in tabloid-speak, the Blok Witch); and Academy graduates Power Boy and Gravity Kid, who I'm happy to see are considered part of the gang.

The Dominator incursion plotline bubbles along, while there's foreshadowing around the nature of Glorith and those stones. The latter show up for real on the final page, which melds hope and foreboding in a single image. Overall, this done-in-one story is a box of chocolates without a solitary hard caramel, and congratulations to writer Paul Levitz for pulling it off (click on image to enlarge)
Joining Levitz is another Legion veteran, though one whose service record is a tad spottier. Still, I'll forgive this deserter as it's the great Walt Simonson, who drew the odd Legion story back in the Seventies. His loose line is perfect for this lighter tale of the Legion, his knack for body language brings the members to life and his kineticism proves handy when it comes to depicting such things as Ultra Boy playing ball. My favourite scene shows Vi on a tiny running machine by the bed she shares with Lightning Lass - it's just so ordinary yet, as she grows to full size, extraordinary.

Dan Green and Sean Parsons provide strong inking support, while Javier Mena's colours highlight such things as Element Lad's seeming depression and Glorith's fears. Pat Brosseau, meanwhile, keeps the script straight with his usual smart lettering job.

I love Day in the Life stories, because they show what the heroes are protecting - the status quo, the joyful Ordinary, that's worth fighting for. And this is a splendid one.

10 comments:

  1. Why does Ultra Boy have a Playgirl- centrespread hairstyle? I used to love the LSH but I'm just not convinced that Levitz is up to the task any more. There was one issue of Adventure- the one that introduced Gravity Kid- that thrilled me. Otherwise, the modern Legion has been one big, drip-fed bore.

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  2. Funnily enough, I've just been involved in a back and forth on Twitter as to the merits of Jo's hair. There are none.

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  3. Douglas, I'm glad I'm not the only one anymore who finds this run to be boring beyond belief. It's not even that there's no big fights or anything; the characters, even the ones that had a lot of personality in the Legion Academy stories, all seem dull & interchangeable now. And I'm still bothered that a woman who doesn't care she blew up a planet has been allowed to join - it's like Harmonia Li gets an author pass for being not heroic at all because Levitz likes her. I dropped this run, and I suffered through the barrage of pain that was Shooter's Threeboot run just because I knew there was an end coming soon. But this looks like it'll last forever. Argh.

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  4. Hi Mela, goodness knows I've moaned about the lack of big, compelling villains in this run - this issue gets a pass as it's supposed to be a quiet one; I enjoyed it hugely for what it set out to be.

    But I really hope we get some msssive nasty appearing soon.

    As for Harmonia Li, very good point.

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  6. Eek, the comment's gone! But I reckon so, Oxymoron.

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  7. This to me felt entirely like a holding issue, in the same way that planes get put into holding patterns above an airport. Nothing happened in this issue at all (apart from allowing the regular artist to catch up on his art work, I presume).

    I have such affection for these characters yet Levitz really is boring us, isn't he? Fingers crossed that next month's Dragon & Phoenix will present the Legion with a major new threat, the likes of which they have ne'er seen!

    Fingers crossed (but not holding my breath)...

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  8. I wouldn't say holding pattern so much as deliberate stop. But I do agree, Rob, impressive villains are needed.

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  9. I liked it, and I did enjoy all 5 issues of the latest run. They aren't deathless prose or frameable art (although issues 1 - 4 were great!), but are very enjoyable.

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