Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Legion of Super-Heroes #8 review

It's old home week as Steve Lightle, much-loved penciller for a tremendous run of Eighties Legion of Super-Heroes stories, returns for one issue. Not the whole issue, mind - another former artist, but much more recent, also stops by for a done-in-one short, Yildiray Cinar. It's safe to say the issue is in fine artistic hands, with both craftsmen reminding us how very, very good they are.

Lightle draws Paul Levitz's script 1 of 5, in which Invisible Kid encounters a gang stealing something from the hospital where his sister's been looked after for years. A combination of invisibility and Shadow Lass-taught martial moves sees him capture most of the motley crew, but one gets away with their prize. As it turns out, the item stolen wasn't the 'Computo circuit' which once turned Danielle Foccart into a menace, but a gold chip used to power longtime Legion foe Tharok. After Ultra Boy and Mon-El's bid to recapture the chip fails, Brainiac 5 delivers his doom-laden supposition - someone is trying to recreate the Fatal Five.

The script is typically efficient, with plot and character melding nicely, but unmemorable baddies. This book sorely needs villains as powerful and charismatic as the Fatal 5, so let's hope Brainy's correct. I was surprised by Jacques' reference to his sister still being in hospital, as I recall Brainy exorcising Computo from Danielle. Either I'm forgetting something (hugely likely!) or a bit of continuity has been tweaked, for story purposes down the road.

The art is a total treat, with nostalgia not necessary to get a kick out of it - history or no history, Lightle is a master. His Legionnaires sit firmly between godlike and all-too human, while his layouts are stunning - the fight scene starring the sorely underused Invisible Kid features minimal narration but is easy to follow. In the old days he used inkers, here Lightle's work looks crisp and bright with 'only' the aid of colour artist Javier Mena.

Mena also tones the second story, Founders' Night, which sees Levitz gift Turkey's own Yildiray Cinar a sequence set in 31st-century Istanbul (not Constantinople). I think I spotted Sultan Ahmet Mosque, but obviously, architecture has moved on, meaning the cityscape is barely recognisable. The vibrant city is the perfect spot for a night out as retired Legionnaires Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad drop by - at Brainy's request - to force team leader and fellow founder Cosmic Boy to take a much-needed break. It turns out they're not the only Legionnaires there, with Academy teacher Night Girl lying in wait for Cosmic Boy - her former flame. Sneaky old Imra and Garth were apparently as confused as readers by the revelation that Rokk and Lydda had broken up off panel, and decided to get them back together. They're certainly having a great time as Garth flies off to sort out a problem with the local weather patterns, allowing Cinar and ever-superb inker Dan Green to show Lightning Lad versus lightning storm across two pages.

Where the previous story is setting up an arc, this is a much-needed catch-up between old friends - the founders and the readers. The action sequence is obviously tacked on, but it's flashy fun and shows a hero cutting loose, something I always enjoy.

Lightle's cover is de-Lightle-ful (I know, there's really no excuse), though I wish it were split between the two stories, with room for Cinar to strut his stuff too. Still, this is a great breather issue, a callback to the Legion's storied past and a hint at what the future holds ... and isn't that what a Legion book should be?

8 comments:

  1. Not only was Danielle Foccart cured by Brainy, she actually was a member of the SW6 Legion (code name "Computo"(!)), back in the 90s when there were two sets of Legionnaires running around in the same continuity--one set were clones, and the others were the originals, although which was which changed a couple of times, as I recall.

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    1. Yeah, she had a cute character design, but I wasn't sure if she counted in current continuity, as DC have avoided the Five Years Later Legion.

      Er, I think ...

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  2. I had never read a Legion book before but had heard good things about it, I decided to pick up both titles after the re-boot as it seemed as good a time as any to give it a shot. I am absolutely loving these books with the Legion just shading it over Legion Lost, I am enjoying it that much that I have started to dig out the trades of the old story's to get some history with the characters.
    This has been one of the wins in the new 52 for me(can we still call it that, and to finally add a fantastic blog as always Martin.

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    1. It's heartening to find that that old chestnut about the LSH being too complicated to get into is rubbish. Spread the word, Rob!

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  3. This was a enjoyable if middling issue for me; as you say not much going on tho Levitz still employs the habit of setting us up future storylines, and this 'mid' issue fits that bill perfectly. One of the joys of this team is that even when nothing seems to be happening there always is something happening. Invisible Kid proved himself very capable and I like how he takes his martial arts views from Shady, as Karate kid was often the one who taught them it in the past, but hed left around the time Jacques joined.
    Anyway, lots of cute plot-points; the possible emergence of a new Fatal Five [this series desperately needs a serious super-villain or two to give the LSH a thorough fight] tho with Tharok dismantled and the Empress long dead [not to mention Validus...er, re-aged as one of the Ranzz twins] out of it, who could the new team be? I hope Saturn Queen as she's delightfully nutty! I could imagine her and a new Tharok stirring it up.
    Ultra Boy needs a haircut here; its rather long, even for him [cant believe I compared him to Grant Show from 'Melrose Place' in my recent APA contribution 'Tales of a Silver Age Snob'] and Mon-El looks in need of a good dinner [and a sense of humor bypass] but the real treat was seeing the founders in Istanbul. Again, another highly-detailed cityscape scene and it was lovely. Imra and Garth; are they back full-time in the LSH? I did admire that action sequence with Garth.
    Overall an issue that was reasonable all round.

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    1. Oh, love the Saturn Queen idea, Karl, she's certainly witch enough to replace the Emerald Empress.

      I love the haircut for Ultra Boy idea even more, he's like a space hippie!

      Sadly, the Ranzzes are just visiting. But they were wearing their LSH costumes, I know they'll be back We just have to wait ...

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  4. Oh, forgot to add I think Danielle has always been monitored [occasionally, behind the scenes] because Brainy saw her walk thru that door in the old LSH annual when the door went 'fffzzzzz'. That may explain why she hasnt been seen much - regular hospital monitoring to ensure the Computo virus dosent return. Actually I hope Jacques lil' sis does return, newly grown-up and the ever-present threat of Computo just waiting to re-emerge; Levitz has been known to never waste a sub-plot - maybe this plotline is just waiting to happen.

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