Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Legion of Super-Heroes #45 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

President Kieselbach of the U.P. asks them for help dealing with the giant planet that has just shown up in the middle of the solar system and is throwing off all the orbits. M'rissey takes this opportunity to squeeze a few more concessions out of the U.P. before the Legion agrees to help out. Brainy, Star Boy and Light Lass head off to the U.P.'s Gravity Office on Earth, where Brainy funnels Thom and Ayla's powers through the instruments there to stabilize things. It doesn't work until Brainy insults them enough to get them trying extra hard to push their powers, but eventually they get it done. A message from the planet suggests that it's peaceful.

One of the things M'rissey accomplishes is to get Projectra released from the clink. Doesn't seem like she's learned her lesson, though. Atom Girl is having trouble coping with losing a fight back on Rimbor. And Invisible Kid discovers Ultra Boy and Saturn Girl getting it on in the pantry.

Review:

This was almost like a done-in-one issue. You know, if I didn't know that we didn't have those anymore. It's a cosmic menace that stretches the abilities of the spotlighted Legionnaires (in this case, Brainy, Star Boy and Light Lass) to their utmost. Ideally there'd be some kind of moral issue to test them, but we get bits of that elsewhere in the comic book.

The one I like best is the situation Invisible Kid finds himself in. Obviously it's a problem if Jo and Imra are keeping company, because Lightning Lad's going to be ticked. And if he is, that's bad for two reasons: first, he's the leader and if he's upset it destabilizes the Legion. Second, if there are any Legionnaires likely to lose their tempers and do something stupid in a tense moment, Lightning Lad and Ultra Boy are two of them. Therefore Invisible Kid knows he ought to do something about it. But what? He can't tell Saturn Girl and Ultra Boy to knock it off or to come clean with Lightning Lad; they're not going to listen to him. He can't tell Lightning Lad, because that'll cause the trouble he wants to stop. Plus he doesn't want to be the sneaky spy guy they can't trust. So what does he do? Tune in next month.

Strong art from Manapul this month. check out the bottom of page 9, with Lightning Lad and Element Lad flying to meet the president. It's just very nice work all around.

One of the concessions M'rissey got from the U.P. is that the Legion is now officially an "interplanetary conservator organization," which carries diplomatic immunity with it. Even without the immunity that sounds damn useful. You must get all kinds of authority with that.

The characterization of Saturn Girl in this issue... I won't say that it's bad. Ultra Boy says that she has low self-esteem, and she must agree, since she joins the Pantry Club with him after some pretty cheesy advances. She's certainly not the same girl as original or reboot Saturn Girl. I prefer Saturn Girl as relentlessly formidable, formidable even when she shouldn't be, so I'm not frightfully keen on seeing her with feet of clay of this kind. But we'll see how it works out; Shooter may have some kind of cool story in mind for her.

We see some more people trying out for the UPYH in this issue. Now that the Legion's just about its own sovereign galaxy, I wonder what the UPYH's role will be. I mean, the UP can't exactly hold them over the Legion's heads anymore. Maybe M'rissey will wangle them into becoming the new Legion Academy--Shooter did say one was coming, after all, and I spotted Night Girl and the other three new Legionnaires mentioned in the most recent solicit in that tryout crowd scene.

Quite a strong issue. Might be my favourite from Shooter and Manapul so far.

Notes:
- what with the Scattered Disk in #37 and the Lyapunov Terminus in this issue, I'm learning a lot about astronomy from Jim Shooter. Comic books!
- although 31st-century astronomers seem to have backtracked on whether Pluto's a planet
- check out Element Lad's costume--he's got an Interlac E as the clasp for his cloak
- "El"?
- M'rissey really took Kieselbach to the cleaners. I wonder if he got her wallet too
- "Mister Five" is actually a pretty cool name

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20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...the things a costume change can do. When she had the awesome mini-cape in issues 37-40, she seemed like one of the strongest characters on the team. She was AMAZING. Then she puts on the slightly more sexy one and now she's Ultra Boy's Barbie doll?!
NOOOOO!!!!

11:55 PM  
OpenID mq1986 said...

My opinion is that Saturn Girl is, battle-wise, as formidable as ever. However, I think her insecurity comes from the fact that she feels as if that's all she's good for. After all, in the Legion, she's only ever been Lightning Lad's girlfriend, and whereas all the other female Legionnaires get plenty of attraction and attention, she's kind of still known as "Lightning Lad's girl." And lately, Lightning Lad has been treating her not really as a girlfriend so much as any other Legionnaire with useful powers. So her reaction with Ultra Boy, in my opinion, is pretty realistic. Real-life teenagers have cheated on each other for worse reasons.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

anonymous: Hmm. Yet there was no sign of it back when she was wearing the pink bikini.

mg1986: You're probably right. I'm not saying all this doesn't work from a story point of view; I just don't like seeing her portrayed as insecure in the first place.

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ultra Boy's hit on a lot of girls in the Legion in threeboot... Before they left on their mission he took look at "Curves" (A.K.A Light Lass) but was rejected (and sent to the ceiling) before he could say any other remark at her. At one during Supergirl's stay Shadow Lass was giving a peek at what kind of guy he is curtisy of Karate Kid's admittance that he wasn't the kind of guy that suited her.

My guess with Saturn girl is just that she felt really secure when things were just her and Lightning Lad. Relationships work when the couple feel comfortable with each other. Now Lightning Lad has less attention for her she is left twiddling her thumbs and doesn't know what to do with herself since Lightning Lad's call of duty means they keep getting torn apart for one reason or another.

Nice to see M'Rissey is certainly making himself at home. No sooner has he pulled away from his busy routine then has he set his sights on other Legion benefits. But dam... He certainly rattled cages in this issue.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, there's no problem with Ultra Boy. I don't even have much of a problem with Saturn Girl being interested in him. My problem is with why she seems to be interested in him.

I'm still curious about whether M'rissey has any actual powers or if he's just really smart.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah. I've heard of the pink bikini, but it was before my time (in both birth and readership).
I really, really, really, really like this issue though. I like the threeboot as a whole. It just keeps getting better (minus a few burps, but that's just natural).

11:52 AM  
Anonymous ben said...

Good, good issue -- I especially liked the "music of the spheres" stuff.

EL -- enh. I'm hoping they maybe start using each other's given names instead of shorthand codenames soon, because it always reads awkwardly and the lack of actual secret identities makes it feel awkward to always be calling each other by codenames.

Somebody needs to stop Shooter from using so much faux-cussing. I don't think anything has pulled me out of the narrative quite as quickly. I really liked this issue, but at the same time it seemed to delve even deeper into the poorly constructed made-up swear words well.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

anonymous: I like the threeboot too. I think it had a lot of unrealized potential under Waid; I wish he had stuck with it.

Ben: Still not as bad as when... was it Gerry Conway?... had the Legionnaires calling Phantom Girl "Phanty".

As for the pretend swears... I didn't mention it this issue because at least 'scut' and 'wipe' are actual words with relevant meanings.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous ben said...

Maybe, but I still think the pretend swear levels jumped something fierce in this issue, which is too bad.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh? I didn't get that impression. Anyway, it's certainly not worth our time to go back and count.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The art was fairly good despite the minor error of that white patch on B5's face switching sides from right to left on page 19. I liked this over the last one!

3:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, it did seem to disappear in that one panel. Huh.

4:31 PM  
Blogger RAB said...

I hear what you're saying about Imra -- it's not that there's anything wrong with a character being written this way, it's that seeing this character named Imra Ardeen being written this way feels wrong. It's a poor tribute to the Saturn Girl of Jerry Siegel and Edmond Hamilton, who was years ahead of her time as a protofeminist icon. To be honest, Jim Shooter never wrote the original Imra as distinctively or affectionately as his two predecessors had either...but this issue makes it clear this is a very different character who just has the same name. I don't mind this character at all, and that scene with Ultra Grunge Boy was well-written, but I'd have preferred seeing this incarnation be more true to her heritage.

2:04 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

And under these particular circumstances it may not even make any difference, because we've got two other typically-strong Saturn Girls in Johns's Legion and the reboot Legion. And who knows what next year will bring?

8:28 AM  
Blogger orange-ade said...

In every other way, I love what Shooter is doing with the legion. But his portrayl of Saturn Girl is DEAD WRONG. It's not the affair so much (I remember the ice planetoid with Timberwolf)it's the insecurity. There was never any doubt as to who wore the pants in the Saturn Girl/Lightning Lad relationship. Shooter has her begging Garth to treat her like the dirty girl she is. Then has her almost get the team killed while waiting for orders.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Then has her almost get the team killed while waiting for orders.

No, that part I like. Look, throughout all versions of the Legion, Saturn Girl is famous for misusing her powers, and for crossing the line with her use of them. Shooter has written a story where she finally gets called on it, and now she has to adjust.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

The use of "El" as a nickname echoes back to Shooter's second run on the Legion, I think. The more egregious shorthand nickname from that era was "Tim" (for Timber Wolf).

I really liked the attempt to show Brainy using his powers (if you can call them that), being able to vastly outdo the state of the art computers with just his own mind. On the other hand, I really, really despise that the characterization they have to apply to his is "asshole". It's an obvious step up from "arrogant", but it's a distasteful one. Brainy should be smart enough to know the effects that such a persistent attitude has on team dynamics. He shouldn't rely on M'rrisey to get rid of the roadblocks for him forever.

(I'm also going to predict now that M'rrisey is the traitor rather than any of the four candidates coming in a couple issues.)

4:35 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I dunno... in some ways I think Brainy has become a little nicer since Shooter took over. With Star Boy and Light Lass, though, he had to motivate them really strongly in a really short period of time, so he had to cross a line or two.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought I would never stop reading the Legion of Super-Heroes, whatever its incarnation, but this portrayal of Saturn Girl had me seriously pondering if I really wanted to continue.

It's one thing to have her be with someone other than Garth. (I tolerated the Cosmic Boy relationship post-ZH, and her Timber Wolf near-miss in the Levitz era was understandable.) I also can deal with the character harboring hidden insecurity. I cannot deal with her jumping into a pantry closet with Ultra Boy after only those horribly cheesy lines as motivation.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, for me, the question is not whether I like this development so much as it is where it's all going. I don't mind a story development that I don't like, as long as it makes a good story. (That's how I got through some of the 5YL stuff.)

3:09 PM  

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