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.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

This Just In

I read tonight that comedian and actor Taylor Negron just died. He's been memorable in a lot of roles but the one I recall best, and the reason I'm posting this here, is his portrayal of Starfinger in the Legion cartoon a few years ago. Most fun version of Starfinger ever. RIP.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Justice League United #7 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About: There's more fighting. Byth is still trying to turn Ultra into Infinitus.

Review: More of the same.

Honestly, if collecting Legion comics and blogging about 'em wasn't like my official hobby, I'd stop reading this story. It's not interesting and it's not interestingly done. Among the things that don't impress me:
- the Timber Wolf/Animal-Man mutual admiration society; very clunky
- editing misstep in which there's some confusion about whether Stargirl or Animal-Man said something
- if I never read another Legion story in which they have to cope with a rift in space it'll be too soon
- another off-the-shelf debate about whether superheroes should kill if the situation is scary enough

Ho hum.

Well, I dunno; maybe Lemire has something interesting saved up for us at the end of the story.

Art: I actually like the art better this issue; there were a few panels that caught my attention as being quite good. Same penciler; I wonder if Keith Champagne doing some inking makes a difference. (I mind me of Champagne's work on an issue of [i]The Legion[/i] about ten years back. That was a good comic book.)

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Could Have Sworn

So as part of next spring's "Convergence" event, apparently DC is going to have a two-issue miniseries called Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, featuring what I've seen described as "the pre-Crisis Legion".

Well, good!

If there's one thing we, as Legion fans, need, it's another Legion comic that tries to recapture the glories of the past! It just hasn't been tried often enough! Keep at it, DC, 1983 is bound to come around again if you wish hard enough!

I mean, I believe, I may be wrong about this but I believe, I could have sworn, that DC has actually published some good Legion comics since the 1980s. Comics with characters and stories worth revisiting, assuming for the sake of argument that we wanted to revisit old characters and stories in the first place.

Furthermore, I could have sworn that, in the Legion of Super-Heroes, DC had a mechanism by which they could explore the future. Let's have a comic like that. Because 1983? Wasn't that great. I was there. I don't need to go back.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Justice League United #6 Review

This review is a few days later than I'd like it. Oh well.

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The JLU and the Legion polish off the Cadre, but before they can take a victory lap, Black Mass finds Ultra and teleports him out to where Byth is in space. Byth does a ceremony or something to turn Ultra into Infinitus. I guess. The JLU starts to head out there, but Brainiac 5 says that he's already dispatched a Legion team to the area.

Review:

Second-issue syndrome: the energy of the setup in the Annual has run out, and now we just have some fighting. The plot advances in what I suppose is a timely enough fashion, as Byth gets his hands on Ultra. With three issues to go, I hope that there's room for something unexpected in the rest of the story, now that we've got the expected development out of the way.

The Legionnaires don't distinguish themselves in this issue. The only point of interest is the return of the Lost Legionnaires on the last page as Brainy's ace-in-the-hole, prompting a reaction on my part of, "Oh, is that what they're doing".

I dunno. Am I spoiled? Do I expect too much? Is this really a decent comic and I'm just too much of a grownup to appreciate it? I mean, it's not a bad comic. It's just sorta there. (At that, it's ahead of much of Paul Levitz's third run.)

I think if this thing came out in the 1970s it would be remembered fondly. As it happens, it's 2014, and I wish we'd never seen Dawnstar's arm in JSA #1, because this is just more retroboot slog. It's not Bad LSH; it's Caretaker LSH. Stupid retroboot. Remember when Legion comics were interesting, and not just a sop thrown to a bunch of complainypantses who can't let go of 1983?

Art:

Pretty much the same as in the Annual; sometimes the characters look good (Brainy, page 21) and sometimes not so much (Phantom Girl, page 3). Skimpy backgrounds. I've certainly seen a lot worse.

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