Thursday, 16 February 2012

Legion of Super-heroes #6 review

Sun Boy, Element Lad and Chemical Kid venture to China to clean up an environmental disaster, while Dragonwing visits her sister elsewhere in  the country. At Legion HQ, Dream Girl puts the kibosh on Star Boy's hopes of a long snogging session because she has a science project. On Panoptes, Brainiac 5 and Mon-El lead the clean-up after the recent Dominator problem. And on the Dominator homeworld, a caste warrior learns what it means to fail his betters.

This issue, creators Paul Levitz and Francis Portela do what I thought impossible - they make me like Dragonwing. The surly, snotty Legion Academy graduate shows her love of her family, while also demonstrating that she's Legion through and through. It turns out that she's not the only person in her clan to have super-powers - sister Bao Pai looks to be a human spider-crab. And she's fallen in with a very bad crowd.

Luckily, Dragonwing has learned some moves from Duplicate Damsel, and has help in the shape of her sister's abandoned shar-pei, Fu. As drawn by Portela, this is one cute pup and I do hope she takes him back to Metropolis if she survives her homecoming.

Actually, everything drawn by Portela this time looks magnificent, with the colours of Javier Mena deserving massive praise too. The flaming sea we open with looks amazing. Sun Boy in human torch mode is fabulous. Dream Girl and her holographic display is utterly splendid. And Dragonwing on the streets of China, translucent cape flapping against the neon in the rain, is marvellous. Then there's Mon-El throwing a stone that reflects his frustration, the Super-Size Me Dominator chief and his adorable plush-like lackeys, the icky Bao and more. Portelo and Mina's rain art is especially dazzling - is that a great angle at the bottom or what (click on image to enlarge)?
Levitz's script is wonderfully assured too - he really knows how to make the day-to-day dynamics of a superhero team interesting. The mix of longtime and newer members is working well, while he's transforming 31st-century Earth into a place almost as magical as Silver Age Krypton. The new threat introduced this issue, a villain team out to dominate China, looks set to be interesting, I'm dying to see what Dreamy is up to, and the way humour turns to horror in the Dominators scene is masterful.

The cover by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story isn't half-bad, but it's time Portela was allowed to lead off his own stories.

One of the better LSH issues since the relaunch, this has me itching for next month's continuation.

And more plush-sized Dominators. DC Direct, are you listening?

13 comments:

  1. Another solid issue -- and I hope we see more of Fu, too! And the spotlight on Dragonwing made me like her a lot more.

    Portela's art, to my eye, has a real Colleen Doran influence to it, particularly her earlier work. I can only hope he grows into as strong an artist as she is.

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    1. Good spot on the Colleen Doran vibe. Hmm, maybe she could do a fill-in sometime, Rob.

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  2. Nice review - for me Legion is once again one of DC's best and unspotlighted books! Here's hoping with their role in Action Comics more folks come this way.

    And yeah what is it with great artists who don't get to do their own covers??!!

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    1. We need to spread the work about the 31st Century's greatest super-teens, Dan!

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  3. This was a comfortable read... that was over way too soon IMO. I do agree with you though, Portela's art is amazing!

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    1. I'd love it if we got double-sized issues every time, like in the Seventies!

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  4. Does Portella not do covers because he's too slow? He's already had one fill-in artist on the series. Guest artists on the cover are effectively saving him one page a month.

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    1. Hmm, I never thought of that. I do hope we see covers by Portela and Mina in time.

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    2. That was kind of my suspicion too. Given that Portela pencils and inks his own art, that must be really time consuming.

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  5. My comment wasnt published last night [?] so heres a quick summary [ I had tons to say but cant be arsed typing it all out again! ]...
    Loving Element Lad's new role as mentor/teacher to Chemical King. He needs sommeone to show him the ropes! And their power-sets are very similar, which helps in his training.
    Loving more of the spotlight on Sun Boy, grossly underused these past few years imo. More of him please, but I couldnt understand Dirk's comment about Jan not being a team player; whats that all about? And Sun Boy, remember you once threw several Legionnaires off a space-ship after a nervous breakdown, so youre one to talk[!].
    Like the minor spotlight on Dragonwing - it helps to have a slightly 'unlikeable' female Legionnaire [it was tried with Kinetix but she was a lost cause] who we can empathize with. Its interesting to read a bit more about her. Her sister is someone Id like to see again soon.
    Are Dreamy, Brainy and Glorith in their own comic now?!? They hardly intereact with the others anymore.
    FABULOUS COLOURS! This is really quite a BLORIOUS looking comic; the colours fairly bounce off the page, the brightest book on the market - it illuminates my day.
    Portellas art...its his faces that have that Doran vibe, they have that slight asexual look to them. His art is so clean and crisp and clear, it complements the vibrant colours perfectly.
    An extremely enjoyable read this month.

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    1. Oh bugger Karl, sorry to hear about the lost post. That's happened to me, occasionally. Blogg has these blips ... I've thought of transferring to another platform, but every one seems to have its problems. And the risk of losing my golden words while transferring ...

      ... anyway, thanks very much for taking the time to repost. Thanks for bringing up that comment from Dirk about Jan, you're right, it makes no sense, given his many years with the LSH. He's been there almost as long as Dirk. I wonder if Paul Levitz is trying a new characterisation on Jan? Remember his mild mopiness last month?

      Expect the magnificent 'blorius' to appear a post very soon!

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  6. That word blorious....I meant to say GLORIOUS...
    bloody Blogger!

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  7. The artwork continues to make me read this comic more slowly and mindfully than most others. I spend twice as long soaking up each panel as I do on anything else I read. Both Portela's art and the colouring, especially in the opening Sun Boy, Element Lad, Chem Kid sequence, were beautiful.

    I wasn't sure about Dragonwing's little side quest but when I got to the bit where her dog got a bigger part, I was pleasantly surprised. Looks like next issue may be the start of a big brawl.

    And the Dominator pages presage something much larger for the Legion to get involved in. For the first time in many, many months, I'm excited by the Legion again.

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