Friday, 22 June 2012

Legion of Super-Heroes #10 review

Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl have been kidnapped by the Dominators and locked up on the planet Panoptes. They want to add the Legion genius' DNA to their gene pool, and are considering a new caste with Naltorian-style precognition. On Earth, the United Planets has banned the Legion from mounting a rescue mission because there's no strong evidence that the Dominators are behind the vanished pair. Leader Cosmic Boy sneaks into the Dominator embassy in 31st-century Metropolis to find the evidence that will untie his hands.

Not all Legionnaires are willing to sit back and wait for the UP's go-ahead. Dream Girl's partner, Star Boy, resigns and organises a team of non-serving heroes comprising Legion Academy instructors Duplicate Damsel and Bouncing Boy, and students Mwindaji and Otaki.

Dream Girl nods off in the hope of receiving a helpful prophecy, and finds good news and very, very bad. Then she and Brainy are attacked over a most unappetising lunch.

And on a Legion cruiser, we see that the rescue team has a secret weapon ...

What is the sound of one hand typing? Because my other one is clapping right now, applauding writer Paul Levitz for his best Legion script in years. With each issue, he finds more of the old magic and this chapter is as good a Legion story as I could wish for.

There are surprises in the form of stodgy old Cosmic Boy turning spy, and the membership of the rescue team. Action as Dream Girl and Brainiac fight off deceptively cute Dominator drones. Characterisation with married Legionnaires Duplicate Damsel and Bouncing Boy reminding Cosmic Boy that Legionnaires don't bow down to politicians when their own are in peril. And new faces in the form of tracker Mwindaji and telepath Otaki.

And while there are nods to Legion history as Duplicate Damsel discusses her deaths, and Brainy and Dream Girl recall previous imprisonments, they're so brief in the former case, and subtle in the latter, that any new readers won't be put off. With luck, they'll be pulled in by a clearly told, pacy story showing how Legionnaires react under different types of pressure, whether it be political or life-threatening.

I've a couple of favourite moments: Dream Girl's reaction to news that the Dominators have ranked the Legion members according to how dangerous they're considered; and Duplicate Damsel's response to Bouncing Boy's fretting about their endangering students (click on image to enlarge).
Both scenes speak to character and history, while moving the story along - Levitz really does know what he's doing.

As does artist Francis Portela, who pencils and inks 'only' half the Javier Mena-coloured issue this time, but does so beautifully. His clean lines define the current Legion, whether delineating striking heroes, creepy villains, future scenery or weird science tech (anybody else lusting after a 'data-vampire'?). Cosmic Boy, in stealth suit, ripping his way into the embassy with magnetism makes for a cool splash page, while Dream Girl and Brainy's tussle with Dominator cannon fodder is ickily intense.

Handling the rest of the pencils is Andres Guinaldo, a new name to me, but hopefully one I'll be seeing across the DC Universe. Because his work on the rescue team scenes, inked by the ever-excellent Dan Green, is just splendid - first he gives us steely determination as the renegade Legionnaires tell Cosmic Boy they're leaving, then their doubts as the reality of the challenge hits home. His Metropolis has a real buzz to it, full of fantastic buildings and aircraft. Plus, he draws an adorable Comet Queen.

Oh yes, the most enthusiastic Legionnaire of all is here, alongside her idol, Bouncing Boy, and when he brushes her off there's a foreboding-filled panel of Comet Queen alone, in shadow. Oh dear, please don't let another Legion death be coming. I realise it's a tradition, but there's another, better tradition about to make a comeback, if Dream Girl's prophecy isn't skewed.

If the nigh-edible cover by artist Steve Lightle and colourist Guy Major is likewise a taste of things to come, the Dominators are going to get their hands on the rescue squad. I'll certainly be getting my hands on next issue to find out for sure.

21 comments:

  1. Phrasing it kindly, if Comet Queen is killed or turns traitor, this run is dead to me. The Legion was the last place I'd expect the "pure fun" characters to have bullseyes on their heads and doing so would strike me as a betrayal.

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    1. I'd be incredibly irked, Mela, it finally feels like CQ is getting her due and I'd hate her reduced to lovesick puppy who betrays the team in a moment of weakness, then sacrifices herself to make up. I think Paul Levitz may be having us on.

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  2. Hmmm... is Rokk acting out of character though, going rogue like that?

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  3. I'm so glad I started reading this series!

    When the New 52 started, I did not have it on my list. (I read the Legion for a long time, in the 1980s and 1990s, but I lost interest a long time ago.)

    However, I had trouble getting the New 52 comics when they started. (Long story. Let's just say the comic book establishments I was finding in my evil California desert community leave a lot to be desired. I finally found a new shop that stresses customer service.) The shop I was going to at first is mostly a gaming shop and they under-ordered all the New 52, so, for three weeks straight, I would go in and not get any of the New 52 comics I wanted. None!

    I didn't want it to be a total waste of time, so I would pick up whichever comic looked best out of what was left. And one week, I picked up The Legion of Super-Heroes.

    No regrets. It's been a lot of fun, the series uses some of my favorites, the art is great, the writing is properly pulpy.

    It's got everything I want in a Legion comic book.

    And, as if it needed anything else to get extra points from me: Bouncing Boy and Duplicate Damsel!

    Woo-hoo!

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    1. Thanks Hoosier, it's good to hear that not only did you find your way back to the Legion, you found them in good shape. And I'm right with you as regards Chuck and Luornu, I love this pair, they simply embody the Legion spirit by using their relatively weak powers with amazing skill, and never, ever giving up.

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  4. Great review, Mart. This is my favorite issue of the new run to date, too -- it has Chuck and Luorna stepping up (with Star Boy, who's also spend a fair amount of time not on the roster), and a great opener with Rokk, showing him to not be the bureaucratic stick-in-the-mud he's often portrayed as. (I don't think this is out of character for him at all, Novelty; he really wants to help his friends, but he also doesn't want the Legion involved in an interplanetary incident... so since he can't ask anyone to help, he goes and does it himself.)

    Plus, I love Bouncing Boy's jacket! I know jackets are "so 90s," but I'm feeling nostalgic for the grey Legion jackets worn in the TMK era. I loved those!

    I like the new kids, and I want to see what happens with Comet Queen... a character I was never crazy about, but have a certain amount of affection for nonetheless. I think it's great that it looks like she'll be featured in her first MAJOR storyline -- most of the other stuff she's done has felt like sidebar fluff.

    And as good as Portela is... I have to say I might like Andres Guinaldo's art even more!

    So yeah, I agree -- this was one heck of a great issue!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Rob. I rather enjoyed the jacket look sported by the team at the end of the Baxter run. Wasn't it before the jacket thing became a cliche, over at Marvel?

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    2. Yeah, I think the history of superhero jackets goes as follows: Gambit, Animal Man, Legion, Avengers... and then everybody.

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    3. It's a close run thing, with Animal Man and the Legion, with both of them getting jackets in 1988. I wonder if someone turned up at DC one day looking snazzy in a new leather coat.

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  5. Another splendid issue! The series is really kicking into high gear now - must admit even tho I knew the Dominators were making their own designer 'super-army' realising here that taking Dreamy's pre-cog powers is syepping it up a motch and then some.
    Cosmic Boy finally getting up off his whining ass and undergoing a solo mission - anyone channelling Tom Cruise in his Mission Impossible films here?!? Half expected him to float down on a high wire. He should keep that stealth suit at least.
    That rescue team isnt half random - not exactly the major power players, are they? Mon-El and Ultra Boy should be leading the charge, U.P. ve dammed. Mwindaji and Odaki seem like replacements for Danwstar and Tellus in the power stakes.
    And speaking of said U.P....its about time the LSH stopped sitting on their collective flight rings and reminded them that a] of course the Dominators are behind this, who else could it be and more importantly b] this is what the Legion do! Going into action, not sitting around like bureucrats waiiting for the next big strike.
    Liking Chuck's grey jacket...breaks up the blue colour [and the fat].
    Llournu has never been written better here. With her improved powers she should be back in the team full-time.
    Dont want Comet Queen to die [shes only just joined] but something tells me Star Boy will die, and I dont want that either!
    Beautiful artwork as ever - the most attractive book on the market as far as Im concerned. And I could happily drown in those divine colours.
    Very pleased indeed with this issue.

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  6. Maybe Star Boy will die just as Dreamy begins having feelings for Brainy? Oh, the angst!

    I agree, Rokk and co should be telling the UP where to stick their politics, and I think they will eventually. For now, it seems that Rokk is playing the politician.

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  7. seems interesting things are happening, also this guinaldo guy is going to be working on the hypernaturals on art along with brad walker, maybe doing flashback sequences.

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    1. Good to hear. I'm guessing TMK stands for Tom, Mary, Keith as in the Five Years Later Legion written by Tom and Mary Bierbaum and Keith Giffen aka the Five Years Later Legion (I still call it the Five Year Gap Legion, but people get annoyed at that, protesting that the series wasn't set in the five year gap between the end of the Baxter Legion and the TMK era, to which I say, obviously!)

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    2. Yep, it's Tom, Mary, Keith! I use it mostly because it's quick to type. (Sometimes I use 5YL for "five years later," but mostly I go with TMK.)

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  8. What does TMK stand for anyway

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  9. Interesting comment about the cover at the end there -- do you think it was comissioned for next issue and arrived a month early?

    I did look at the cover for a long time before reading the issue, thinking, "That looks like Luornu's costume, but she wasn't the one kidnapped."

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    1. You could well be right about a cover mix-up!

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    2. Looking at the upcoming covers, it looks like Lightle was given a number of story beats, and hit them with the covers -- but "rescue team captured" and "Comet Queen stands alone" are basically the same moment in the story. It's also likely that, since covers are drawn for the solicitation, that Levitz might have thought he'd be to the moment depicted sometime in issue 10 -- but then took longer for one reason or another.

      Regardless, that's a fantastic cover!

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  10. good news mart the first issue of the hypernaturals comes out wednesday, cbr even has a preview of it and is it ever interesting

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