Monday, 2 April 2012

Legion: Secret Origin #6 review

It's the final issue of this expanded look at the origins of the Legion of Super-Heroes and it's confirmed that the figure behind the attacks on team benefactor RJ Brande is the Time Trapper. This issue starts with him influencing United Planets Security Directorate member Mycroft to take out Brande, but it turns out Brande isn't alone - Chameleon Boy has been on hand, disguised as a bug. Soon Cham has the upper hand - or rather, tentacle.

Out in space, the rest of the Legion prepares for the next, inevitable attack by the armada that's been making attempts to get out of a wormhole and into UP space. Pondering Phantom Girl's extra-dimensional origins, Brainiac 5 comes up with the idea of using the chronal energy of a damaged Time Bubble to destroy the portal once and for all. Brainy's up for the dangerous mission of delivering the craft to the splinter in space, Ultra Boy seems ready to take the job on, but finally, Phantom Girl  insists she'll do the deed, returning to her homeworld of Bgztl in the process.

Back on Earth, Cham is confronted by the Time Trapper, the twisted personification of Entropy. He's able to switch off Cham's transmuting abilities and the Durlan teen looks set to become the first Legionnaire to fall when the Trapper is pulled apart, or at least, away ... Phantom Girl's errand was a success; the wormhole is gone, and with it, the Trapper's connection to the 31st century.

And Phantom Girl's decided not to return home after all - she kinda likes these Legion guys. The story ends with a delicious spread of the founding Legionnaires, and the promise of more members to come.

And that's it, six issues of breezy teen superheroics, giving us our first detailed look at what happened in between the first meeting of Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy, and their recruiting of Superboy. It's quite funny to see here just how obsessed Saturn Girl is with getting the legendary Kryptonian on board - if I didn't know better I'd say she had quite the crush. One crush there's no doubt about is Ultra Boy's for Phantom Girl, whose beginnings we see here in a priceless panel involving a blushing Brainy.

Given his status as the Legion's greatest foe, it's rather good to see the Time Trapper actually began bedeviling the team earlier than we knew. It fits, given that the first time he/sometimes she was mentioned in Adventure Comics, he was already known to the 'Super-Hero Club'.

Then again ...

Given his status as the Legion's greatest foe, it's rather a shame that  the Time Trapper's not more of a problem for the team over the course of this mini-series. Powerful on a cosmic scale, all he's really done is send minions to (not) kill Brande, in the hope this would nip the Legion's legend in the bud. I guess that simply wiping the members off the face of reality would be too big a risk, for some reason, but still, he should be a lot more impressive than he's come across as. There's never been much sense of danger in this origin event - the aliens attack, the Legion knocks 'em back; Brande is targeted, Brande is saved. It's all been just a little bit too cosy, with the Legionnaires given little chance to truly impress.

Nevertheless, this has been an enjoyable romp, as newly revealed episodes instantly hit the nostalgia buttons. Writer Paul Levitz made the members likeable, feeling no need to dollop on the interpersonal conflict that today passes for deep characterisation. Legion: Secret Origin is a tribute to a more innocent time and, as such, it has many more merits than flaws.

One such merit is the art by penciller Chris Batista and inker Mark Deering. The characters look heroic, they're fluid on the page and the feel evoked is that of a classic Silver Age comic. I'm still not keen on the updated costumes, the odd moments of super-skinniness, Tinya grinning like a loon and the Time Trapper's wonderfully corny purple robes being swapped for a shadow-man effect. And it's not terribly clear where Cham comes from before rescuing Brande - that's one tiny bug. But what the heck, I'd be happy to see Batista and Deering back on the Legion anytime.

I hope this series sold well enough to greenlight other Legion projects outside the main Legion of Super-Heroes and Legion Lost titles - if  not more mini-series, then at least the odd annual or special. Perhaps even more untold tales. Hopefully, though, more intense ones.

6 comments:

  1. Hoping they decide to collect this in a trade paperback. Even with the flaws it ought to be a good read...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The collection is due in October, at under $15!

      Delete
  2. Ultimately, this felt a little too lightweight for me to get really enthused about it. But I'd certainly welcome more work from Batista!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lightweight...yes, and insubstantial also, I would unfortunately venture to say. This book wasnt as bad as some have judged it to be but it wasnt as good either; Im afraid it simply took too long to get going and there was too much time wasted on peripherals. Who am I talking of? The Security Directorate and their endless watching and commenting, which took me out of the action. We didnt need them and neither did the story in my opinion. Unless Levitz plans on including them in a future LSH tale then their [hopefully] one-off appearance served little purpose except to have one of them taken over by the Trapper.
    As for the great Purple Man himself, I was always given to assume he had few power capabilities outside his own realm so needed the wormhole and the taking-over to do the necessary - just pity we had to wait six issues before he got round to it. I see him as having less power in this early appearance so it fits in with his shadowy, unknown presence in early Adventure tales where the team were forever trying ot break thru the time-barrier and failing.
    The LSH themselves...how I love them!!!! And they werent too bad here. Cos reliable as ever, Lightning Lad dynamic as ever, Ultra Boy and Collossal Boy showing real effective power and theres the lovely Tinya [everyone loves Tinya!] who had real purpose in this story and had good interactions with Brainy, who was channeling that guy from The Big Bang Theory at times. Mind, Tinya did smile a bit too much; got on my nerves tho I do adore her.
    All the LSHers gave good accounts of themselves even if their action sequences were nothing but endlessly protecting Brande from his mysterious assassins.
    Batista's art? Too skinny, and reminiscient of the 90s reboot an dhow skinny everyone looked. I did admire how he made the 31st [or was it still the 30th when they all got together?!?!?] look, very slick and sleek indeedy. And if my promotion next July dosent happen [it will] then please tell Arcadia Senius I want to go work at the Time Institute, it looks great!
    All in all, I did like the series but my main gripe was not seeing the LSH in their ORIGINAL COSTUMES. I didnt like these updated versions of the 90s reboot costumes and their segmented look - I wanted to see the old cossies they wore in Adventure, as it wouldve fitted into continuity better. I mean, why would they ditch these costumes they wear here in this book for the simpler costumes they originally wore, it makes no sense.
    Oh, Im too fussy, but the original ones wouldve tied this book into continuity so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hiya Karl, your comments about the Trapper having few powers outside his own realm ring a bell ... in which case, why not stay in his realm and wreak havoc from there? Oh well, New 52, new rules, I guess.

      Good luck with the promotion, and I don't think you're too fussy at all.

      Delete