Monday, 26 March 2012

Legion of Super-Heroes #7 review

Surprise surprise, the two China-set plotlines begun last issue are linked - the polluting fire raging in the Xinjiang region is the work of the future cultists running amok in the urban area. Thankfully, Legionnaires are at both sites and ready to fight. Holding back the fire are Element Lad, Sun Boy and Chemical Kid, while Dragonwing takes on the rogue metahumans - including her sister - in partnership with Chameleon Boy.

Back in Metropolis, Comet Queen and Harmonia Li are preparing to join the fire sub-team when Dream Girl, via holographic projection, tells them to get to the other emergency, Cham's flight ring having gone offline. And they don't arrive a minute too soon, as Cham has been lamped by one of the villains, and Dragonwing beaten down by force of numbers. Comet Queen shows that despite her bonkers slang ('Wow - some starburn, Legionnaire!') she's a force to be reckoned with, while the elemental Harmonia shows immense levels of power.

While this is happening, Dream Girl checks in with Chemical Kid and co, and finds the new Legionnaire growing an inferiority complex in the face of his more experienced colleagues; returning from a space mission, Mon-El decides to call a leadership election in the face of Brainiac 5's continuing attempts to snag the role; and the Dominators unveil hybrid Daxamite Dominators to use against the hated Legion.

It's a busy issue, with much in the way of incident, action and personalities at play. It's good to see Chemical Kid's ego dented a little, and even better to watch Sun Boy cut loose and Harmonia get out of the lab. Dragonwing's super-spit remains a particularly unappealing power, but she shows great Legion spirit, while Comet Queen is, as ever, a delight. There's not much I'd change in Paul Levitz's script; I'd make the scene transitions less filmic and more comic book-ish, and properly introduce the individual baddies attacking Dragonwing, but that's about it.
On the art side, Francis Portela continues to own this book, juggling hordes of characters and settings with style - an awful lot of work has gone into these pages, and it shows. Finally, this issue, he gets to design a mission suit for Harmonia, and it's rather nice, making her look endearingly witchy (click on image to enlarge). Unlike most other DC New 52 books, the Legion of Super-Heroes isn't awash with splash pages - outside of the opening page, there's just the one, and it deserves the room. Otherwise, the many attention-grabbing moments are made to work in smaller panels ... that's talent, that is. And colourist Javier Mena deserves a cover credit for his big contribution to the artistic success of this book, making the pages bold and bright without ever hurting the reader's eye. Rounding off the core creative team is letterer Pat Brosseau, whose work is ever dependable, never boring.

The cover's a tad dull, mind. I've seen far more imaginative work from penciller Chris Sprouse and inker Karl Story. Guy Major's colours are fine - there's not much for him to interpret here.

The Legion books remain a hard sell to younger fans, which is a shame, as the quality is always high. This series certainly deserves to be a big hit. I'd love to see a cheap digest of the first seven issues of this series, to give newcomers a chance to bask in the sheer scope of the 31st century, and get into the rhythm of the characters. How about it, DC?

9 comments:

  1. Out of all the Academy recruits, Dragonwing seems to be the one who's best grown into the role of Legionnaire. But boy, did Harmonia step up! Who knew she had it in her?

    While I love the book, I agree that occasionally the transitions and pacing could be tighter. The denoument of the Sun Boy team kind of sapped the tension from the book, just as it should be rising because Dragonwing has a knife at her throat. I'm not sure how I'd have paced it differently (and fit all that characterization and information in, including Sun Boy's upcoming date), but as it was, I felt like it sapped energy from the book at precisely the wrong time.

    Just the same, I look forward to this book month in and month out.

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    1. I wonder if we'll ever see Sun Boy's date - I got the impression that line was just in there to clarify the end of the Walt Simonson issue.

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  2. Oh? To me, that made me think that the Stonehenge meeting and the subsequent date are the start of a slow-burn plotline.

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    1. It could well be, but remember that interview with Walt Simonson at the time of the issue in which he said that he asked Paul Levitz to write a Stonehenge scene, because he now had decent reference, unlike last time he drew it in a DC comic.

      In case you missed it, Google 'Simonson on Art, Comics and Legion of Super-Heroes' at CBR ... My paste function's not working on iPad. Come on Blogger!

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  3. I remember that story, either from Simonson's interview at CBR or wordballoon, and think it's pretty awesome. But I'm not sure it means that the Stonehenge scene had no consequence otherwise. Levitz strikes me as a writer who sometimes plants seeds on a whim and sees what grows out of them, rather than one of those every-puzzle-piece-snaps-into-place guys like Geoff Johns or Scott Snyder.

    It's part of the reason why I think he thrives so well in the 31st century -- it's pretty much entirely his terrarium, and he has the ability to follow whichever notions he likes in the stories he tells.

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    1. That's a good point ... I hope you're right, it's decades since we've had a UK-set Legion story.

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    2. Would that UK story be the scene in the Tower Of London at the beginning of the Great Darkseid Saga. Because I've had a flashbulb memory of reading that in the rain on a bleak day while sitting on Kingston Station. Which means that I know associate that with the book you're discussing ...

      Which means you've somehow managed to sell me another comicbook.

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    3. Typo! "know" is a shameful mangling of "now". Many apologies.

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    4. That's the very one! Time for more Britain, methinks.

      And fear not, typos'r'us.

      And rotten commercial 'grammar'.

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