Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Legion: Secret Origin #4 review

As the newly formed Legion of Super-Heroes grows, the mysterious attacks on backer RJ Brande continue. Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid and Colossal Boy sign up, though Brainiac 5 resists the idea when Phantom Girl suggests he does too. The Science Police gripe to the United Planets about the Legion poaching its potential recruits, but the politicians are happy that the team is giving UP youngsters a role model to rally around. Out in space, UP Admiral Allon - Colossal Boy's dad - keeps watch over a wormhole after incursions by an unknown power, while on Earth Circadia Senius enlists Brainiac 5 to unravel the secrets of time travel.

It's all go, I tell you ... and still there's room for a fun fight with robots who don't respect Asimov, representing the Legion's first tussle as an official team. With less of the politicking of previous instalments of this mini-series, and more of our title characters, this is the best issue yet. Fun touches include Brainy using his force field to keep the dirty hordes of 31st-century Metropolis at bay, an experiment connected to the Silver Age of Comics and Invisible Kid's unexpected reasons for signing up with Brande. And it ends on a wonderfully hopeful note, delivered by Jaclyn Smith-lookalike Phantom Girl.

Speaking of Phantom Girl, Brainy seems a little in love with her, and he's not the only one, if Chris Batista's gratuitous shot of her intangible arse is anything to go by. Tut.
I really do like the penciller's work with Mark Deering, though, even if figures occasionally look as if they're being squeezed sideways. There are some superb expressions at play, and the background work is first-rate, with the 31st century looking most inviting. Top work, too, from colourist Wes Hartman and letterer Dezi Sienty - this story is going to make a fine-looking trade. And it doesn't read badly, either, with interesting parallel storylines and lots of character quirks from writer Paul Levitz. As a love letter to the Legion, this series is strictly niche, but it's a heckuva nice niche.

12 comments:

  1. I really hope this series gets collected into a hard cover or trade paperback...

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    1. October, Baron!

      LEGION: SECRET ORIGIN TP
      Writer: Paul Levitz
      Artists: Chris Batista, Rich Perotta and Marc Deering
      Collects: LEGION: SECRET ORIGIN #1-6
      $14.99 US, 144 pg

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  2. I really can't stand this series. Every time I see it on my standing order list I feel like 'oh no, I'll have to read this.'

    The framing device is bizarre and really stands in the way of any interest in the supposedly lead characters developing.

    Like last issue when Phantom Girl joined the Legion more or less off panel.

    Each of these characters had their own little origin story in the olden days and it doesn't work here. Who are these three busy bodies presiding over everything? Using them as the framing device is a massive impediment to generating any interest in the title characters.

    Paul Levitz was my favourite Legion writer but he doesn't seem to be adapting to the times well. They should let him go back to having thought bubbles and narration boxes if it helps him tell the story - there should be room for all sorts of comics writing. I doubt this is going to attract new readers anyway...

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  3. Excellent point about writing styles, Andrew, I'd love thought balloons to make a proper comeback.

    Stop reading his book, though ... life and money are too short to support work you're not enjoying.

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  4. I have to say I like reading this. It's a fresh new look on an old old story.

    And martin, are there problems with the images? I'm getting errors with them :(

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  5. Something's up ... It's like I've been attacked by the Dark Circle. I'll be near my scanner later, and will put them through again.

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  6. NOW they're working!

    One of my favorite things about this series (and Legion) is the (new?) notion that Braniac 5's force field really is head-and-shoulders above any similar technology, and the concurrent revelation that it can't be shared because of its unique (and so far unrevealed) power source. Color me curious, Greenie.

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    1. I think it's a new idea. I never even questioned previously as to why Brainiac never shared the force field tech with the outside world, I thought of it as a super power.

      Help me here ... didn't he give his belt to Luornu after her second body died, or am I misremembering?

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  7. I think he did, yes.

    Now I'm trying to remember when her second body died. During the fight with the Trapper at the end of time?

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  8. Yep, avenging Superboy. But she got it back!

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    1. And more! Me, I'm loving this series. It's actually adding something to the origin for the first time in ages. When it's done I'd like to see the security folks back or whomever is in the position now. I'm also not sure everyone's little origin stories don't still fit. With Colossal Boy, for example, there's nothing that says he wasn't on on Mars cannoodling with Gigi when exposed to that rock and then caught proto-Starfinger with her. yeah, Tinya is redone a bit (and maybe it's because she's not my cup of tea but I didn't see any gratuitousness to the butt shot) but what did she and Bgtzl have before this. She had a brother and that's the extent of what we knew, right?

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    2. Yeah, I reckon that was about it, Steve.

      I'd say the bottom was gratuitous because when someone is speaking it's traditional to see the mouth. Call me old fashioned ...

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