Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adventure Comics #516 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About: R.J. Brande's will is read. The will includes the story of Brande's early years and how he came to start the Legion. Nothing radically different from what we already knew.

Review:

Look, are we just supposed to be grateful to have a comic called Adventure Comics? Is that it? I haven't read every issue (I spared myself one or two of the Superboy-Prime-centric ones that had no Legion content), but the ones I did get have been pretty light on content. It's the fluffiest damn comic I know of. Of all things, I was not expecting this from Paul Levitz.

Still Kevin Sharpe on art. Is he improving? He might be. The story looked pretty good at times. There was still the odd panel that made me wince, but Sharpe may be finding the range. Panel Count: 97 panels / 20 pages = 4.9 panels/page. One 1-panel page.

I have to assume that the point of this story is to introduce the Legion's origins to new readers. It's a worthwhile goal. I think the story has been told better than it is here, but then I've read it so many different times in so many different versions that I could just be jaded.

There were a couple of interesting hints of things here... for one thing, Brainy seems to have a preoccupation with trying to kill roaches. Ever since Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, roaches have been a symbol of the Time Trapper. So that's intriguing. (Although Circadia Senius is also compared to a cockroach in this issue. I'm inclined to view that as a coincidence.)

(Of course, Levitz has also said in a recent interview that almost nothing DC has published about the Legion since the Magic Wars is in continuity as far as he's concerned. Including not all of Geoff Johns's stuff--possibly including FC:L3W! It's like another little reboot that got sneaked in there. A ghostboot.)

Another pair of details that caught my notice, and I can't help but wonder if they're connected. First, Pheebes, Brande's private secretary, with his four arms and his French accent. Pheebes is a little too well-detailed to be a throwaway character; I imagine we'll be seeing more of him. Second, Brande's new accent. In Levitz's run back in the '80s, Brande had a kind of old-school Irish (or maybe German?) tone to his English, but he was much more proficient in the language. Now, his English is much more broken. I don't know why Levitz would have made this change, but I have a suspicion that Pheebes is Brande in disguise. Brande recovers his Durlan powers sometime during the lost years, fakes his death at McCauley's hands, drops one false accent and puts on another, and shapechanges into Pheebes' form. That works, right?

I should say that it threw me a bit to see the contemporary-future Legionnaires going back in time to bring young-Superman Superboy to this meeting. But it was just that somebody thought Superboy, not Superman, should be at the will reading.

I am not looking forward to the next issue. Saturn Girl and the eternal triangle? Pfui. I had more of that stuff than I wanted in the reboot.

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16 Comments:

Blogger taichara said...

(Of course, Levitz has also said in a recent interview that almost nothing DC has published about the Legion since the Magic Wars is in continuity as far as he's concerned. Including not all of Geoff Johns's stuff--possibly including FC:L3W! It's like another little reboot that got sneaked in there. A ghostboot.)

What.

No seriously, what.

That's it. I give up. I give up and seriously there is no bloody redemption for L* and I don't care who's writing it.

Arrrgghhhh *facedesks*

11:19 PM  
Blogger RAB said...

"Ever since Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, roaches have been a symbol of the Time Trapper. So that's intriguing. (Although Circadia Senius is also compared to a cockroach in this issue. I'm inclined to view that as a coincidence.)"

Really? It strikes me as totally not a coincidence, in fact awfully heavy-handed in its obvious foreshadowing. Though in fairness, I haven't read this issue.

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feh indeed.Always scan through a comic before purchase,lest you contract buyer's remorse.The maybe not-bad Atom co-feature may lessen the sting,but still,lesson learned.
There were points of interest.If RJ's accent is new,why is he using it during the flashbacks?Why doesn't Cham use a similar patois? Maybe Levitz has a plan here,but as of now it seems sloppy.
Your theory about Pheebes is sound.Here's another:RJ is posing as the hologram.Witness the image's manhandling of Pheebes;pretty tactile even for a hologram of the future.Witness also RJ's leave-taking of Durla(how he actually got off-planet is an untold story itself)Submitted as evidence.
Interesting having Superboy with the Legion of now.A lot like those early tales where he met an Adult Legion or second-generation Legionnaires.Maybe part of a plan,maybe not.Also liked Irma's thumping of Brainy.God knows he invites it.
Next Issue:The eternal triangle.I liked the founder's triangle;one of the few good ideas the Bierbaums had.But that idea ran its course some time ago.Maybe Levitz has something else planned for next issue.Whatever it is,I intend to read before buying.Fool me once...

4:53 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That's it. I give up.

Aah, well, think about it like this: continuity doesn't really matter. What matters is, are the stories any good. To me, if they're Legion stories, and they're good, then I'm happy. DC and its people can say whatever they want about what counts and what doesn't, but a comic book in my hand has just as many pages no matter what they say, so I'm just going to enjoy the ride.

It strikes me as totally not a coincidence, in fact awfully heavy-handed in its obvious foreshadowing.

Well, it could be setting up some kind of character moment between Brainy and Circadia. That's possible. But I refuse to believe that Circadia is going to turn out to be the Time Trapper or anything. He's one of the good guys!

Feh indeed.Always scan through a comic before purchase,lest you contract buyer's remorse.

[Shrug.] I would have bought it anyway. If I was just a reader, I might not have, but at this point I'm not: my hobby is to collect Legion comics and blog about them. If some of these comics aren't that great, well, that doesn't mean there's nothing interesting to say about them. How many bad movies has Roger Ebert seen? How many of them did he know were going to be bad ahead of time? So I'm not complaining about owning the comic.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Going out on a limb: Brande is not dead, and Proty II is impersonating him (rather poorly, speech pattern-wise) for some as yet unknown reason, as a favor for all of Brande's support for Proteans eventually attaining level 1 sentience. Proty II has a similar speaking style.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That's interesting. I don't know if I buy the part about the accent; I don't think the Legionnaires would be fooled. But I wouldn't be surprised if the rest was right.

9:33 AM  
Blogger rdj said...

I always had the impression that the Brande accent was an homage to the Nicholas Van Rijn character in Poul Anderson's Polesotechnic League stories. Brande and Van Rijn appear to be similar characters, both older, overweight entrepreneurs in a future setting. Van Rijn spoke in a colorful broken English to his employees, a starship crew who are the real protagonists of the stories.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Paul Newell said...

The will includes the story of Brande's early years and how he came to start the Legion. Nothing radically different from what we already knew.
Some of the detail was quite a departure....Doyle not existing and merely a cover for the assassins being Durlan. Brande being inspired by Superman and funding time travel experimentation solely to bring Superman to the future.

pretty big departures there.

3:20 AM  
Blogger RAB said...

@rdj: yeah, I always thought so too!

(And I always found it too cutesy when Anderson did it, and I liked it even less when Levitz imitated it. It's adding a quirk to a character in an effort to make him more "interesting.")

3:34 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Kayak said...

those first "adventure comics" issues written by paul levitz didn't impress me as well.
in a way, they reminded me of those old superboy comics from the 70s and the 80s, light stories which only pretented to entertain readers for a few minutes. i'm good with that, but i don't see how possible new readers should be fascinated by that kind of old school stories.

still, i believe the real fault of "adventure comics" right now is the artist. i really feel uncomfortable judging levitz' stories because they were drawn so bad they easlily looked worse than they were.
the problem with this kevin sharpe guy is not only that he doesn't know anatomy and proportions, and that he doesn't know how to draw backgrounds (or he doesn't have enough time to work on them properly, i don't know). i think the problem here is that the storytelling is all wrong.

take for example brainy and imra's gag at page 4 of issue 516. that scene should be supposed to be fun, but the visual scansion of the comic sketch here just doesn't work. apply that principle to the whole book and you'll see what i mean. it's like a movie shoot by an incompetent director and played by bad actors.

i really do hope DC replaces this artist with a better one asap!

p.s. i don't think L3W is out of continuity at all. didn't a legionnaire even talk about the "three worlds crisis" in LSH #2?

7:08 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I always had the impression that the Brande accent was an homage to the Nicholas Van Rijn character in Poul Anderson's Polesotechnic League stories.

Not familiar with those stories, but it sounds like the kind of thing Levitz would do. Is this the old accent or the new accent we're talking about?

Some of the detail was quite a departure...

You can look at it that way. To me, it's just another integration of a couple of Geoff Johns's pillars of the retroboot (xenophobia and Superman) into Legion history. Doesn't give us anything we didn't already have.

i really do hope DC replaces this artist with a better one asap!

I think Sharpe's on there for the foreseeable future.

9:07 AM  
Blogger rdj said...

Not familiar with those stories, but it sounds like the kind of thing Levitz would do. Is this the old accent or the new accent we're talking about?

Both. It's been a while since I've read the Anderson stories, and I've lost track of when Brande has had an accent and when he hasn't through the reboots. And I think the degree to which the accent was quite so flagrant an homage has varied.

Love your blog, by the way. A regular stop for me after any new Legion issue is published.

6:30 PM  
Blogger rdj said...

To RAB:

I always thought the accent was an obvious reference to Van Rijn... but I just saw a post at Legion World suggesting that Levitz confirmed it in a recent interview.

It's a quirk I like, but I like the Anderson character. I always guessed that Levitz saw the similarity between the characters and decided to make something more of it. If I'm recalling correctly, Levitz made more use of Brande than any other writer, didn't he? At least until the first reboot?

6:35 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks very much. That's exactly what I'm trying to be.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

* Why did they have Superboy (who doesn't know Brande dies) present with Legionnaires ten years his senior, instead of Superman (who does know Brande died)? I could buy it if there were in-story evidence that they needed Kal-El's presence but had to hide something from the adult Superman, but there's isn't. (Unless the adult Superman would recognize Pheebes or the hologram or historical inaccuracies that his younger self would not?)

* How did the hologram physically move Pheebes? (I like the "Brande as Pheebes" or even "Brande as the hologram" ideas.) But wouldn't Imra be identifying the number of minds present?

* I don't have a lot of problem with the Brande history revisions, with the exception of tying the Six-Minute War to the hooded/tentacled body form, since that form has been abundantly seen in the 21st and 20th centuries. (Then again, with a historical record damaged by war, maybe that's okay, too.)

* I would have less trouble with Brande's accent change if it didn't keep changing throughout the issue. Which may give pointers to the fake nature, although as noted, no Legionnaires mentioned anything amiss.

I don't want to think of Levitz as making these sorts of seeming gaffes by accident. You forgive one, but not several at once.

Meanwhile, taking of origins never known before, has no one noted that over in REBELS, Brainiac 3 created both Pulsar Stargrave and Solaris the Tyrant Sun?

5:58 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

In order:

- Yeah, I don't get it either.
- Science!
- Details.
- Oh well; Levitz is still finding the range with it.

I was getting REBELS for a while but it just wasn't keeping my attention.

6:52 PM  

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