Thursday, April 23, 2015

Convergence: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #1 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

30th-century Metropolis is trapped in a dome and the Legionnaires who are there don't have any powers. They're trying to hold it together. Brainiac 5 is trying to figure out exactly where the dome is but isn't getting far. Then Telos, the villain of Convergence, announces that the heroes of the various trapped cities are going to have to fight each other. The Legionnaires aren't nuts about this, but prepare, and the Atomic Knights show up.

Review:

The Convergence premise sounds like a pretty stupid idea in the first place, and I don't see what else there is to be said about that.

The writer and artist on this comic, Stuart Moore and Gus Storms, are the creative team on the EGOs comic published by Image. EGOs, like LSH, is about superheroes in the future. So that's interesting.

I've been collecting and reading EGOs, incidentally, but it hasn't captured my imagination the way The Hypernaturals did, to bring up the other obvious comparison. I'm going to have to go back and reread it and see if I can get a better impression of it because it really hasn't stayed with me so far. It sounds like I'm criticizing the thing but honestly I'm not; it might be really good and I just haven't clicked with it yet. Give it a shot; it's if nothing else more than just the same old thing.

But anyway it's cool to see Moore's and Storms's take on the Legion, given all this. I'll deal with Storms below. Much of Moore's story is wished on him by Convergence; I imagine that his only choice was to have the Atomic Knights show up a bit earlier or a bit later. (If that.) So all we really see him do is character work.

And there are some odd character choices. Superboy having self-doubt and needing someone to talk him out of it? Superboy and Lightning Lass attracted to each other? I'm not sure I agree with you a hunnert percent on your police work, there, Lou.

But, you know, it's only for two issues, so what the hey. (It is only for two issues, right? Right?)

One of the first things Superboy says in this issue is that they've been in this dome for more than three hundred days. But a lot of the dialogue sounds like the characters are discussing some of these points for the first time. Nobody said exposition would be easy, but you've got to do better than this...

Anybody notice on page 1 they used the logo from the threeboot Legion? Hey, threeboot logo. Long time no.

One of the differences between me and whoever makes the Legion decisions for DC is that I am impatient with middle ground and half measures and would like choices between two alternatives to be resolved in favour of one of the alternatives and not the other, while DC seems to want to eat its cake and have it too.

So, for instance, when it comes to the notion of bringing back the Baxter-era Legion, I would either a) do exactly that, or b) not do it at all. DC, frustratingly to me, sorta brings them back. And has done so more than once: the Legion in this story is a variant on the Baxter Legion about as much as the retroboot Legion and the Infinitus Saga Legion. And each writer who does this ends up putting their own spin on the team. Which, good for them! But I don't know if that's what the nostalgist faction is looking for.

Anyway, that's really the only attraction here, I think: Moore's take on the characters. The story certainly isn't of any interest. And, while we're at it: the next-issue blurb says "Down in the Bunker". So... is issue #2 an introduction to the Atomic Knights side of this story? If so, when does the big fight get resolved? If at all?

I dunno. Convergence. Cripes, man. Oh well, any port in a storm.

Art:

Gus Storms has a loose, open kind of style that I am trying real hard to come to terms with in a Legion comic. I most definitely do not prefer it, but I am trying to meet it halfway. Storms takes the very familiar Levitz-Giffen Legion and draws them like reference sheets are things that happen to other people. He changes facial types, sizes, body types... It's hard to get used to, for a longtime Legion fan, but it's absolutely the right thing to do. The Legionnaires all look like different people. Imagine! This doesn't look like any other Legion comic I've ever read, and there should be a lot more Legion comics that don't look like any other Legion comics I've ever read.

So that's fine. Really the art goes along with the story in that sense: it's very different from what we're used to, and may not in fact be a good fit for the Legion at all, but at least it's something sorta new.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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