Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Justice League United #10 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Brainiac 5 comes up with a pretty good plan to save Thanagar; he rigs up a way to teleport it to Rann's orbit. That works, and the Legion goes home.

Review:

So this issue turns out to be more of a denouement than a conclusion; the important issues were all wrapped up last month, and this is just cleaning up details. Which I guess is okay.

Brainiac 5's solution to the black hole threatening Thanagar was very well done by Lemire. He wasn't just retegulating the framistat; the zeta beam has been a factor all through this story and its properties are well established. Lemire didn't pull a rabbit out of a hat. He pulled a rabbit out of plain sight.

(Why send it to Rann's orbit, of all places, by the way? Just because DC, that's why?)

(Note: the White Witch's spell to amplify the effect of the zeta beams to work on the whole planet is reminiscent of the spell she cast in the Great Darkness Saga to switch the people from... was it the Sorcerer's World?... to Apokolips and vice versa. I'm sure this was intentional.)

The whole sequence where the Legion shifts from evacuating Thanagar to teleporting Thanagar underlines the tremendous advantage the Legion has in many situations because some of their members are just so useful. They get invaluable information that's just not available to a group like the Legion of Substitute Heroes from Saturn Girl and Dream Girl. R.J. Brande is another huge advantage. Brainiac 5 is a tremendous advantage. Element Lad and the White Witch, to a lesser extent. Dawnstar can be a huge advantage when the writer permits it. Mon-El, obviously.

If my summary above is a little brief, it's because there's a lot of this comic book that's been turned over to Justice League character stuff, which is certainly welcome, but not of primary interest to me with my Legion-centric perspective.

So how was The Infinitus Saga as a story? I don't think it was anything much. There were a lot of superheroes. There was some fighting. A couple of nice touches. Not something that's going to have me rereading it much. Certainly it was stretched out beyond its natural length, which I loathe. It was okay and now it's over and I'm looking forward to the next thing.

Tell you the truth, I had a notion that DC was going to use this series to kill off the Legion. Not forever. Just to clear the decks for whatever the next version of the team was going to turn out to be. (Probably some retro Legion from this Convergence stuff.) Not sure how I would have felt about if they did. But they didn't, so that's fine.

Anyway. See you next month for the Legion-related issues of Convergence. Hope there's more to come after that. But I have another blogpost brewing anyway that I hope it won't take me too long to finish.

Art:

I like the black hole effect. I like how the colorist got White Witch right. Some impressive forced perspective on Colossal Boy on the splash page.

The layout faked me out a couple of times, making me think it was a double-page spread when it wasn't, or vice versa. The panel arrangements were creative, but I couldn't tell what end was being served by having done the way they were. Just thought it looked good, I guess.

I was pleased with how the characters were rendered, for the most part. Brainiac 5 was done well. Also the Martian Manhunter. Not sure if I can say the same about Animal-Man.

I dunno. I've seen a lot worse art than this on Legion comics. I'm not complaining. But it does seem to add up to less than the sum of its parts.

Membership Notes:

The Lost Legionnaires return to the future with everybody else, and we also see a few of the SW6 and reboot Legionnaires again, so, you know, whatever. The Legion also takes Ultra with them, but I don't think we can really call him a Legionnaire.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Justice League United #9 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The heroes fight back against Infinitus and his forces. Supergirl takes on Byth, who transforms into some kind of octopus tentacle creature. The Martian Manhunter breaks the brainwashing on Hawkman. A group of heroes shows up in time to break the deadlock between Supergirl and Byth, and the Martian Manhunter telepathically turns Infinitus back into Ultra. So that should solve everything, except that Brainiac 5 built some kind of black-hole bomb to stop Infinitus, and activated it, and now that there's no Infinitus to use it on it's going to destroy everything.

Review:

For some reason I don't feel like reviewing this comic. Why don't I? It's actually pretty decent.

Stuff happens in it, for one thing; it doesn't feel like just more killing time on the way from the first issue of the arc to the sixth.

There's still a problem with characterization, but it's mostly an effect of limited space on stage. There are a lot of Justice Leaguers and Legionnaires to feature, and some of them get to express themselves a bit, but it's a very crowded comic book. So I give it a pass on that... but the villain still doesn't have any personality, and there's really no way to excuse that away.

I'm not sure about the choice of having Infinitus defeated only to have the black-hole bomb become the new threat. Let's list the pros and cons:
Pro:
- Didn't see it coming!
- Nice to have something a little different happening.
Con:
- Oh cripes not another rift.
- Stakes are lower: Infinitus threatened all of existence, but this bomb seems like a much more local and limited problem.

One thing about the way the story played out: it put the Justice League in the position of doing the key things to save the day. Freeing Hawkman, leading the reinforcements to Byth, overcoming Ultra's mind... For that matter, the black-hole bomb, our new adversary, is Brainiac 5's contribution, which fits given the Legion's role as foils or secondary antagonists in this story. Anyway, the title on the cover is Justice League Unlimited, so that's the right way of doing it.

Unacceptable editing mistake: "Get you're damn hands off me, Martian!" Anybody could write it down like that; it should not be allowed to get through.

Okay, so, the story wraps up next month, and then on to... what's it called? Convergence? More nostalgia, anyway.

Art:

One of my least favourite things about comic-book art is when artists save time by not providing backgrounds. That doesn't happen in this issue. The characters are all well-rendered, and I like the trick on the bottom of page 4 with the checkerboardy-type background; is that supposed to be reality reacting to Supergirl's punch? It's a very nice-looking issue.

Pages 8 and 9 are a problem; the backgrounds and action is so similar from page to page that the order of panels isn't really clear, which sort of takes away from Bouncing Boy's big moment.

My copy of the comic book has the Harley Quinn variant cover. Why the flip does this comic have a Harley Quinn variant cover in the first place? Dash Harley Quinn.

Membership Notes:

The SW6-era and Reboot-era Legionnaires we saw last issue aren't in evidence this time around, unless I missed them. (Well, Matter-Eater Lad in his SW6 costume is there, if you want to count that.) Maybe it was just a one-time thing. Also, Mon-El mentions something about the Legion's "Planetary Defense Squad", consisting of Wildfire, the White Witch, Bouncing Boy, Lightning Lad, and Element Lad. I don't get how and why they're a planetary defense squad, but maybe there's a way that it makes sense.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Important, If True

A Legion movie, maybe?

I mean, they'd probably mess it up. But how much would that matter?

Labels: ,

Monday, February 02, 2015

Decadent

So as of today I've been doing this blog for ten years. That's pretty good, right? I think I'll keep doing it.

Thanks to everyone who's taken the trouble to read anything I've written, and thanks to DC Comics for creating stuff for me to write about.

Labels:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Justice League United #8 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

In the future, Infinitus's "infinity wraiths" attack Earth. The Legionnaires there evacuate everyone they can, but Dream Girl decides that it's hopeless and their efforts would be better spent going back to the past to help Brainiac 5's team. So they do that, and get back just in time to witness Ultra (and Supergirl) go through a rift, which leads to Infinitus coming back out of the rift. Two issues to go on this, so I guess Infinitus is going to do a lot of dominating next issue.

Review:

Over half the comic book is devoted to the Legion, so I like that. But it's the same complaint I had about the "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" story: it's stretched out over way too many issues. I think you put an editor on this with a strong will and a belief in brevity, this story would be two or three issues long and would really pop.

It's a Justice League comic in which we get very little going on with the Justice League. J'onn is trying to get Ultra out from under Byth's sway, and Supergirl is obviously trying to do what she can, but the other Leaguers are just sort of there and hardly even have speaking parts. How many characters in the whole comic would we say show any personality at all? Dream Girl, J'onn, Ultra, Byth, Supergirl... maybe Brainy? And I'm being very generous here.

Well, if you're not developing the plot, and you're not developing the characters, what are you doing? You're showing a lot of fighting and posing is what you're doing.

Along those lines, is it just me or is Infinitus a very boring villain? He hasn't even said anything yet, unless I missed it. What does he want? Why does he want it? What's his deal? We've had four issues of this stuff and all I know about the guy (as distinct from Ultra!) is his name and that he's superpowerful.

Underwhelming.

Art:

I was pleased to see that I got the Karl Kerschl retro cover with Adam Strange and the Flash. Doesn't have anything to do with the story but it's cool.

Recently I ran into a challenge on Twitter for people who review comics to not just talk about the drawings and colour, but also the diction, cadence, and rhythm. And, presumably, other stuff was implied in that but I'm not knowledgeable enough to know what it is. But I understood the point: the way the characters and stuff are rendered is nowhere near everything that the art of a comic book is about. I knew this, of course, but I don't feel on firm ground with it. But I want to try.

So here are some things I can think of to say about the art of this issue that I hope are smart things.

1. The composition of pages 2-3 does not work for me. Three panels of lots of people fighting, with backgrounds that don't contrast with each other, and the panels on the one page blending in with the panel on the other page. It's messy is what it is.

2. I do think it's cool the way page 1 and page 12 have parallel panel patterns based on Dream Girl's eyes. Similar parallelism on pages 8-9 and 22, to what I consider lesser effect. After all, the appearance of Infinitus in the present day is the thing we're supposed to be dreading; it takes some of the impact out of it if we already saw it thirteen pages ago.

3. The lack of background detail continues to not impress me.

4. Dream Girl is the central figure in most of the panels she's in. I was coming up with some theory about how she's the only one who's allowed to overlap out of the panel boundaries, but in fact Infinitus, Hawkman, and Bouncing Boy also do, so never mind that.

5. Symmetry on pages 16-17, almost making a face: blue bursts for eyes, Ultra for a nose, Byth's smile for a mouth. Also, J'onn J'onzz and Byth mirroring each other, to show how Ultra's torn between their influences. And all three are standing in the same stance! Plus, J'onn's cape directs our attention up so we read the bottom panel last, instead of between page 16 and 17. That's what it's doing, right? I'm new at figuring this out.

Membership Notes:

Biggest surprise of the issue was the bunch of Legionnaires who came back to the past with Dream Girl. It's not clear whether this is normal for this version of the Legion or because, as the Time Institute guy says, "Brainiac 5 and the others are changing things!... The past is in flux!" Anyway, we can see Dreamy, Star Boy, Blok, Lightning Lass, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Ultra Boy, Colossal Boy (listed as "Colossal Lad"! Come on!), the White Witch, Bouncing Boy, Element Lad, Invisible Kid, Matter-Eater Lad, Shrinking Violet, and what I'm going to call Duplicate Damsel, all of which is within normal parameters. But also there's (and I admit that for some of this I'm guessing) Andromeda, Magno, Dragonmage, Computo, Kid Quantum (Jazmin, not James), Ferro, Kinetix, XS, reboot Karate Kid, and Monstress. Plus Quislet gets shown in the little roll-call band on the title page. (Why is he there but not in the story? And why are the others in the story but not there? Because Colossal Lad, that's why.) And, Shadow Lass? Just a second; it also says in this issue that Shadow Lass has been medically evacuated to Mars. But there she is in the double-page spread arriving in the 21st century. Or is it Umbra? Are we distinguishing between the two of them? Mysterious.

Well, it's certainly nice to see the boys and girls again, and I'm glad to experience the sensation of not having any idea what Lemire is up to with this, but I don't want it to distract me from the fact that this story is a lot of feathers and not much chicken.

Labels: ,