Saturday, 18 August 2012

Legion of Super-Heroes #12 review

The Legion are invited to dinner - and guess who's on the menu?

One look at Dominator chief Primus Dom - acres of fat and massive, sharp teeth - and most of us would be terrified. Not the Legion, though.

First to turn defiance into action is Dream Girl, who bypasses the 'junky locks' to attack her captors. Soon, other members are free and full-on battle has commenced. The Dominators release their latest genetic experiment, a creature combining Daxamite characteristics with their own (read: sharp teeth), and while he's scary, he's just one newborn clone. The Legion are a team.

More, they're a family; they know one another's strengths and weaknesses. Brainiac 5 comes up with a plan that needs Star Boy to push himself beyond known limits. And he's already ill. But Dream Girl, his partner, helps Star Boy marshal his strength long enough to down the clone.

Still, dozens of troops surround the three, along with fellow heroes Duplicate Damsel, Bouncing Boy, Otaki and Mwindaji. The Legionnaires will fight on, but things look bad.

Happily, reinforcements arrive, and the Dominators are no match for a team boasting Mon-El and Ultra Boy. Soon, the Legion members are heading home, with one big question remaining - what made one of their own, Comet Queen, betray them to the Dominators?

Wrapping up the Dominator storyline, Paul Levitz shows that while not all Legionnaires have equal power, they share one powerful trait - the ability to work as a team. The Brainy/Dream Girl/Star Boy sequence is classic Legion. Duplicate Damsel prompts husband Bouncing Boy to take down a second monstrous Dominator creation. And drafted-in Legion Academy kids Otaki and Mwindaji are spurred on to do their part by their more experienced colleagues.

I love that Dream Girl demonstrates what idiots the Dominators were to underestimate her - we aren't shown just how she gets out of her restraints (manipulating them with her flight ring was my first guess, but if memory serves, the Dominators stole them), but I suspect she picked up some escapology tricks from former member Karate Kid. Then again, she's a science whiz, it could be she just worked it out.

It's a treat to get a cameo from Legion reservist Sensor Girl, as she shows EarthGov that, yes, the Dominators have kidnapped Legion members. I hope she rejoins the team soon, pausing only to change out of the hideous version of her classic costume.

The reactions of Otaki and Mwindaji to their first look at Mon-El and Ultra Boy in action is a pleasant reminder of just how awesome these guys are, with their immense power and extensive combat experience. And then there are Duplicate Damsel's reactions to their reactions - wonderful stuff.

While the DomDax clone is speedily taken out, I see potential for him to be a recurring nuisance once he develops - he may have Dream Girl's precognition and Brainy's intellect. As for the other Dominator creation, a massive walking tree bearing more clones in cocoons, I love that Bouncing Boy - seen by non-Legion fans as a joke - is the hero to end its threat.

The only off-note in an issue that combines moments of blistering action and pleasing gobbets of characterisation is Cosmic Boy's railing at Mon-El - after last issue's chat I'd have expected the former to can the hysteria.

What loose ends there are - the fate of Primus Dom, primarily - can be tied up in time. My immediate interest is focused on why Comet Queen betrayed her teammates last month (the smart money is on mind meddling by the evil Saturn Queen awhile back).

Steve Lightle's cover is crowded without being cluttered, a tremendous action set-piece. Behind it, there's the usual excellent stripwork from Francis Portela. I reckon he's going to miss drawing those dastardly Dominators, there's obvious joy in their leering portrayal. And hopefully Levitz will notice how well he depicts Mr and Mrs Legion, Bouncing Boy and Duplicate Damsel, and make them active members again - I adore this pair's unsentimental romance. And no one who sees them in battle would call them 'weak'.

Stepping in to help out for a few pages is Tom Derenick. His Earthbound scenes are fine, but he excels on the final two pages - Ultra Boy and Mon-El mopping up Dominators, and Duo Damsel's post-fight chat with the new recruits. Colourist Javier Mena makes the transition smooth, continuing the pink tones that characterise the Dominator homeworld.

The Legion of Super-Heroes is one of my most-anticipated comics each month - this issue amply demonstrates why.

6 comments:

  1. For me, the gorgeous Lightle cover alone with its intricate detail was pretty much worth the purchase price.

    The issue was good, but to me felt like a slightly anticlimactic finale to the Dominator saga. So essentially the whole fuss could have been avoided if Mon-El had just remembered earlier on that Sensor Girl can see across the universe. Oh well.

    And I felt that Dreamy's escape from the Dominators' shackles felt a little too deus ex machina for me. Perhaps Levitz could have included a quick comment from her along the lines of 'I foresaw us being captured so I did blah blah blah' rather than just having her wake up and throw the shackles off without any explanation.

    But the art is gorgeous - I'm going to miss Portela when he departs the book. When I first saw his work (was it the LSV one-off?) I wasn't convinced by it. However, I feel that his style has matured and the level of detail he adds in as well as the young but expressive faces he gives the Legionnaires has made him a great, great artist on the book.

    Oh, and keep up the good work Martin. I happily read most of your reviews now just to keep abreast of general developments in the comicverses.

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    1. I wonder if Mon would've had his bright idea about Jeckie earlier had Rokk not been so in his face, Rob - it must be distracting!

      Yup as regards Dreamy - some internal dialogue would've been nice.

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  2. Hmmm... Facebook didn't notify me of this update, but not matter. You always have the lowdown as usual. BTW, they did in fact show how dreamy opened the lock - she used her own fingers! The art does show it rather clearly, although it should have had a "sound effect" of some sort.

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    1. A sound effect, that's a good idea, Novelty - maybe a spare sproing!

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  3. What a great issue....it just gets better and better. No criticism at all from me. Its a pleasure to read this book every month, a genuine pleasure.

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