Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Legion of Super-Heroes #40 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

As we saw suggested last issue, Brainy retrieves Shadow Lass from Talok; the two of them have to team up to fight another one of those burly monsters. Some things come to a head at a meeting later: Brainy reveals that the 'alien destroyers' are teleporting in from way out at the edge of the universe; he sends Legionnaires out to try to recover any of their bodies for analysis but they all self-destructed except for one, and the Science Police have that. Projectra's legal troubles continue, and may or may not have pushed her too far by the end of the issue. Timber Wolf and Saturn Girl get called on the carpet for misuse of their powers. We're still not done with Giselle.

Review:

I wonder if Francis Manapul was in a rush this issue.There were a few panels that made me wonder if Sharpe or DeKraker were back.

One of the complaints I've seen about the threeboot, as opposed to the reboot Legion it replaced, is that too many interesting details were lost. For instance, the reboot Legion used Threshold technology to teleport around. It was based on the Kwai's pathfinding power, and grew organically out of the Legion's relationship with Shikari and her people in Legion Lost. The threeboot Legion used standard boring 'transmatter gates'; ho hum. Well, now we've got a replacement for the transmatter gates: Brainy's new wormhole-conduit teleporter. It's amusing feature is that whenever you travel that way you throw up. Does that count as an 'interesting detail'?

One of the reasons why Saturn Girl is such a great character is that she really does go too far a lot of the time. She abuses her superpowers. Always has. And now, Timber Wolf and Lightning Lad (and others) have called her on it... but talk is cheap. I wonder where this is going to go. Because I really doubt she can resist the temptation...

The thing that ticks me off about this issue is that, once again, nothing ends. Nothing is resolved. Look, I don't mind having story elements that extend over a long time. And I agree that it's interesting to explore the implications of events rather than just let them lapse into the background. And there's some good characterization going on here, and the action is fine. But it feels like we aren't getting anywhere. Every wheel is spinning. Can't we stop one before we start another one? Stupid sixteen-issue mega-arc.

Also. The question about whether Legionnaires kill or not has been much debated in this version. I thought Bedard had finally put the issue to rest with his second Lallor issue during his minirun, but I guess not; Jim Shooter has the Legionnaires butchering these big brawny motorscooters all over the place. Now, I know that this is a science-fiction comic as well as being a superhero comic, so I'll cut the writers some slack on this point. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Unless it's specifically said that Legionnaires do kill at times, I'm going to assume that they don't. I'm going to assume that these monsters are just constructs and that cutting them in half is no worse than cutting mannequins in half. But it'd be nice, if they are constructs, for that to be established. Because I do prefer it that the superheroes I read about don't kill.

But sleeping around is okay. Especially in the future. I expect there to be some criticism of Light Lass's behaviour in this storyline: she goes to bed with Karate Kid, and then says afterward that it was great but they're just friends. This is of a piece with what we already know about her: she's had quite a few boyfriends among the Legionnaires. I've seen several references to Ayla being a slut because of all this. But I say that the critics can pack it, because a) contraception and disease prevention ought to be pretty reliable and unobtrusive by the 31st century, b) Ayla's behaviour is pretty consistent with that of many perfectly nice young women of today, never mind after a thousand more years of social progress, and c) what's wrong with it anyway? Light Lass has become one of my favourite characters in this version of the Legion, because of a couple of her personal qualities that both Waid and Shooter took care to portray: she's the warmest and most affectionate person on the team. This showed in her dealings with Supergirl, with Lightning Lad, in the lettercol that she and Star Boy hosted, and now it's showing in a different way, in her friendship with Karate Kid. Her depiction in this series has my full approval.

Notes:
- "Legionnaires have been expelled for less." Really? I'd like to hear that story
- I wonder if Projectra was telling the truth about that bracelet having been hers before
- Remember when we thought Tony Bedard was setting stuff up for Shooter? Wrong again. I don't think Shooter has used a single one of his plot developments
- I like the way Shooter is setting this story in our solar system. It's not always necessary to make up exotic planets orbiting distant stars; there's some cool stuff much closer to home

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7 Comments:

Anonymous ben said...

I thought the bracelet was pretty explicitly her little "grab" from the previous issue.

This version of Ayla -is- really awesome. Her relationship with Garth feels more nuanced than a lot of the relationships we've seen between Legionnaires, and not just because of the family connection. I've noticed that I often find some of the interpersonal scenes just don't really feel genuine enough, but the two of them come across quite strongly.

I worry a little about Imra ending up in the Jean Grey School for Escalating Morally Ambiguous Telepaths, but this would be a wonderful opportunity to look at Titanese society and social customs therein. Is what she's done somewhat normal, or is abnormal and atypical by virtual of her particular level of power in comparison to other telepaths? What are the rules for Titanese psychic conduct? I'm hoping Shooter follows it up.

I actually liked Manapul's artwork a bit more than previously.

Giselle could be interesting, though I'm holding judgement on how she develops. It would be nice to have a genuinely new ringed Legionnaire.

3:40 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, I know it's the same bracelet from #39. I'm just wondering if it was really one of her previous possessions or if she just thought it looked pretty.

After I wrote the review I started wondering if maybe the thing at the end where Brin tells Imra to come quick because Jeckie may have killed someone was a setup. Maybe he's going to get her to cross the line and get kicked out of the Legion. Maybe he's going to ambush her. Maybe it's on the level and she's going to cross the line anyway.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Bryan-Mitchell said...

While I liked the stuff with Imra and the obvious foreshadowing that she probably will mess with someone's mind again (although since she only communicates through telepathy isn't she in everyone's head to some degree?), I still hate the Timber Wolf as Wolverine thing (especially since we all know who came first!). Sure he occasionally had a temper in the classic Levitz era but I've always hated all the furball Timber Wolf stuff and I hate to see it come up again.

3:52 PM  
Blogger grkgrl88 said...

Hi,

I wasn't sure if you still checked your other blog, so I thought it'd be better to comment here. I just finished reading through Sliced Bread 2, start to finish, for the second time. I enjoyed it just as much as the first time, and maybe a little more because I knew where Dennis was headed. Thank you again for a wonderful, well-written story.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Bryan: No, I don't like the feral stuff either for Brin, but that's not all that's going on here. His disdain for Phantom Girl's and Invisible Kid's powers--that says a lot about him. Did you catch him kissing Jeckie's hand in this issue? I don't think he's that much like Wolverine.

grkgirl88: Thanks very much. No, I only check it rarely these days. Although I do want to go back and post a table-of-contents kind of thing to make it easier for people to read, in case they want to. If I do, I'll put it up both here and there.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

I find the lack of mention about "killing" these creatures quite troublesome, especially given how willing Tasmia was to chop one in half. Self-defense is only a fallback if it's the only solution; there needs to be at least internal dialogue to support it.

I'm assuming the reverse about Imra invading people's heads: rather than that she won't be able to help herself (and will get booted as a result), but instead she'll hold to her absolute promise (*never* do it again to *any* Legionnaire, for *any* reason) and that will backfire. It was a pretty limiting promise, just made for story purposes. A Legionnaire cannot even ask her to do it to yo (unless they resign first). This promise will dovetail into either Jeckie or Giselle, that's my prediction.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm kind of keeping my blinders on when it comes to the killing. I'll face the issue when I'm forced to but not until then.

I don't think Imra's going to go out of control. She doesn't do that. What she does do, consciously and subconsciously, is assume that she knows better than everyone else. Sometimes she's right; sometimes not. And that's what's going to trip her up when it comes to abusing her telepathy.

6:36 PM  

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