Thursday, November 29, 2007

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #36 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Supergirl beat Evolvo Lad and discover the time machine he's got hidden below. Saturn Girl coerces some answers out of him (and, later, Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl) and finds that this was all a setup by Brainy and Evolvo Lad to send Supergirl home. Supergirl goes home on her own, leaving Lightning Lad as Legion leader. Turns out that Dream Girl's prediction for Brainy was just that Cosmic Boy would come home on his own and don't chase him... but Brainy took the opportunity to do a bit of housekeeping, rigging the three missions to get rid of the Wanderers, clear Cosmic Boy's name, improve things on Lallor, make amends with Wildfire... the whole thing.

Review:

We bid a fond adieu to Tony Bedard and Dennis Calero with this issue. Their six-issue run turns out to be a very compact little story, with all the simultaneous action. There are still points of confusion (was that other Coluan really responsible for that jiggery pokery on Winath? Does the Legion know about Dream Girl or not?), and a lot of the events seemed editorially mandated (Supergirl going home, obviously, but also the additions of Wildfire and Tenzil Kem), but overall Bedard got a lot done in a little time, and with some elegance. I would have liked to see what these two could do if DC handed the title to them and said, "This is your chance; go nuts."

I continue to think highly of Dennis Calero's art. Looking back, his first Legion issue may have been his strongest, but there's nothing wrong with his performance here. Calero draws an awesome Star Boy.

Saturn Girl characterizes Lightning Lad for us in this issue: he can seem stupid, but in combat ("where it really counts") he's really smart. I'm not sure what I think of that. I suppose it's consistent with how he's been shown so far in this series, and it ought to make him an entertainingly bad Legion leader.

The main Legion title continues to be the place where the interesting experiments are happening. The animated-series title does some cute tricks in its snappy done-in-one issues, but it's constrained by its audience and by its source material. Action Comics is quite readable but basically it's just giving us an old-style story with old-style characters. But this title is the place you have to go if you want to see these characters do something new. Anybody know what Shooter and Manapul are going to put the Legion through? Me neither!

So, no more Supergirl on this title. Hmm. Well, it's okay with me; I like Kara but I don't insist on her. I just hope that there isn't going to be a mass exodus of Supergirl fans from the sales numbers. How many new readers is Jim Shooter going to bring in? I'll be interested to see.

There ought to be a way for Dream Girl to manifest herself outside of people's minds. She could be like a hologram. Why not? Oh, sure; it's cool this way because her name's 'Dream Girl' and she actually is a dream. But I think that's exactly the sort of thing 31st-century science could handle.

Points:
- the ghost of a smile on Brainy's face on page 19, Lightning Lad's slouchy wave on page 21
- haven't seen any of those typos and colouring errors I mentioned back in the... was it the #31 review?... in a while
- in last issue's review I listed characters who I wondered if Shooter would be using. Another one: Theena. Also: the Knights Tempus
- whose stint as Legion leader was effectively shorter: Supergirl's or Shrinking Violet's back in the reboot?
- throwaway line that might not have been a throwaway: in #31, Evolvo Lad said, of the approaching Legionnaires, that he'd miss them all when they were gone. Well, where are they going? Supergirl's gone, but what of the rest of them? They're still there!
- Saturn Girl seems pretty confident in her knowledge of what people are going to look like in a billion years

Membership Notes: Supergirl leaves in this issue. The notion is floated of Tenzil Kem, in addition to Wildfire, becoming a Legionnaire, but nothing official yet. Brainy speaks of Evolvo Lad in such a way that suggests his membership, but he could just be a friend of Brainy's. Sort of the way Brainy had Brin running errands for him before he officially joined.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Luke said...

I would have liked to see what these two could do if DC handed the title to them and said, "This is your chance; go nuts."

Me too. Same as I wanted to see Bedard do his thing on Batman and The Outsiders. Alas, it appears that DC has other plans for this crew.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Adam Star said...

I don't read any of the Legion current Legion titles, I read your blog to keep up to date, as I do care about what happens with the characters and the title. I had not realized that Jim Shooter is going to be writing the Legion again. This should be an interesting experiment, returning to a title some 40 years later (not counting the not so memorable stint in Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes).

9:18 PM  
Anonymous ben said...

I'm looking forward to the next trade coming out -- for some reason, I feel compelled to read Legion in the trade form over the floppy, though I did a stint of that somewhere just before Supergirl came on the scene.

Theena...is a great character and she perfectly exemplifies the new Legion's raison d'etre, being a Legionnaire without necessarily having the ring or the funky codename.

I'm curious if non-roster Legionnaires gimmick up makeshift flight rings or jetpacks. Might make for an interesting story -- I like the main crew but I'd like more of the greater Legion. Or more stories about how the two bodies interact with each other.

Dream Girl...I like as a dream. With Mysa not really a player as much (yet?), Nura's new position makes her ideally mystical, something the new Legion needs a little of.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Luke: Either that or they like using Bedard as their utility guy.

Adam: 'Interesting experiment' is exactly right. There's almost nothing that could come out of Shooter's run that would surprise me--if it was great, if it was terrible, if it was mediocre.

Ben: Yeah, I'm curious to see what, if anything, Shooter does with that. On the one hand, he has a lot of complimentary things to say about Mark Waid's run; on the other, what's to stop him from writing the comic book like it was still 1967?

1:21 AM  
Blogger Bryan-Mitchell said...

I enjoyed this storyline even if I'm not clear why Brainy couldn't just say, "Hey Supergirl, we found a way to get you home" instead of the subterfuge.
I'm also curious as to whether or not the Cosmic Boy thing will be covered by Shooter or not. It seems odd that a story that is supposed to be the Search for Cosmic Boy doesn't actually end with Cosmic Boy being found.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I guess he figured Supergirl might not want to go. And if she doesn't want to go, it's hard to make her.

As for Cosmic Boy... well, someone's going to bring him back someday, because a) he's Cosmic Boy, and b) it's too tasty an idea not to revisit.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Why not just tell Supergirl there was a way home? Because this is Brainy. With his 12-track mind (or however they are playing it this time around; I thought that idea had been nicely effective in the reboot), Brainy can't do things the simple way. 1 problem, 1 solution is primitive. Some people would kill 2 birds with 1 stone, but Brainy would rather take 10 minutes to scheme up a way to kill 16 birds with 1 stone and an appropriately placed paring knife. (Don't ask, just watch it unfold.)

That's what he did here: he sent Supergirl home, he maneuvered Lightning Lad into the leader position (where he can still remain a power behind the throne), he freed Wildfire from his brother and saved him, he got Atom Girl a boyfriend, he amped up Timber Wolf, he cured the problem with Tenzil, he... you get the picture. With Brainy, every one of those outcomes was planned and manipulated into happening.

Brainiac 5: able to take psychohistory down to the level of small groups, and with Dream Girl's help, to the individual level.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That might fit Brainy's personality okay, but to me it fails at the level of common sense. Sometimes the simplest thing to do really is the smartest thing to do, and Brainy's smart enough to realize that.

Having said that, I don't entirely trust the previous sentence, because it fits my own personal habits of thought so well that I'm afraid it might not be an unbiased statement.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

That sort of misses my point. "Easiest is best" (simplest is smartest) may be a greater strategy for us primitive 7th-level intelligences, but Brainy is 12th level. Make up the scale you like there: he's 2^5 (32) times smarter than us, 10^5 (100,000) times smarter, or whatever. (I think the first is what is most likely intended.)

For Brainy, "easiest is best" only applies when he's trying to explain things to others. (It's no wonder he always sounds like he's talking down to others.) We quite literally can barely fathom what "easiest" and "best" are to someone with an IQ of 1000 or more, and thus can barely fathom his actions and motives, because they are decided and wrapped in levels of consideration beyond us.

12:40 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Again, I may just be displaying my own blinders here, but to me that's like saying that Brainy's so smart that he realizes that the Earth is actually tetrahedral rather than almost-spherical.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

I think Brainy would say "Exactly", and mean it in 7 different ways, 2 which neither of us can understand and at least one we can't even imagine.

It's one of the eternal problems writing Brainiac 5, or any other character who is smarter than the writer. Write Brainy too smart and he becomes too arrogant,or too removed, or too obscure for the readers (and the other characters) to relate to. So they simplify him to make him viable, at the expense of not writing him as smart enough for us to believe that he's really *that* smart.

Returning to the immediate review, why not just tell Supergirl there was a way home? Wouldn't that be easiest/most efficient/least risky/best? To us, with our limited abilities to see the big big picture -- and to manipulate it -- yes. There's no way we could have rigged all the pieces together like Brainy did, so to us, his scheme looks like Rube Goldberg cartoon, nonsensical and roundabout and doing things that don't need to be done to achieve the goal. To achieve all that Brainy managed, we'd have to have a dozen schemes occurring sequentially.

But for Brainy, though, he cansee and manage all that, and do it in parallel. What would be 12 times the effort for us -- due to repeated overhead in getting pieces in place and making things go and correcting errors along the way -- he can do in only twice the effort and get massively more bang for the buck.

And thus just telling Supergirl that there's a way home is massively inefficient, for him. He could be doing so much more with the time and energy. And so he does. Or did. Or might will have been doing, depending on the time travel tense you want to use.

1:16 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

You may have a point. At least we've both made ourselves understood.

5:35 PM  

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