Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Adventure Comics #528 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Graduation day for the previous class of Academy students, and they all get assigned to the Science Police, which nobody is happy about.

Meanwhile, Cosmic King, on a mission for Saturn Queen, raids the empty Legion HQ. Bouncing Boy, Duplicate Girl, and Night Girl show up to stop him and he makes short work of them, but some of the current Academy students are right behind them.

Review:

For some reason this one didn't seem short to me. I don't know why. The panel count wasn't that high and it was still only twenty pages. But it seemed like (the first half of) a substantial story.

Levitz has shuffled Jed Rikane, Lamprey, Nightwind, and Crystal Kid off to the Science Police. I wonder if that's because he doesn't have much use for the characters or because he has plans for them in their new roles. I dunno. In general I'm not a big fan of any of 'em either, but I can see a couple of useful features in Nightwind. No big deal, though.

The basic idea here, that nobody's happy about the graduates joining the SPs, is a natural one, and one that's developed in multiple sensible ways, which is nicely characteristic of Levitz's writing. A single event that spins out implications in all directions, like the destruction of Titan. We must never forget that Levitz does actually know what he's doing.

Next issue's fight could be an interesting one. There's no reason to expect that Cosmic King knows anything about the students' powers, so they may have an advantage there. Plus there could be spare Luornus kicking around who can coordinate. I don't see Dragonwing's powers as much of a difference-maker in this fight, and Comet Queen could be worse than useless: a Venusian might be right at home in amongst the comet gases. But Chemical Kid could be just the thing. Are Cosmic King's transmutation powers chemical changes, or controlled by a chemical process in his body? If so, he's in trouble.

I'm curious about Cosmic King's mission here at Legion HQ. Was he specifically trying to take the reservists off the board, or was that just something he was doing so that he could do what he really wanted to do?

Final issue coming up. I'm about ready to move on to the next thing anyway. The Academy students aren't that interesting, yet anyway, and the Adventure title has been pretty much a dog's breakfast all the way through, despite some very good work from time to time. So let's put it to bed with thanks to all concerned and bring on Legion Lost.

Notes:
- we finally get details on Jed's new powers. Personal density control, huh? Like Kono, I guess?
- confirmation that Jed and Gravity Kid are a couple. Fairly unambiguous, too; we probably can't hope for anything more definitive out of Levitz
- who exactly was that presiding over convocation?
- nice touch on Cosmic King: he doesn't like sunshine! Of course he doesn't
- the lettercol this issue contains a missive from MaGnUs, one of my co-authors on Teenagers from the Future
- I really don't like Gravity Kid's looks. I don't know why anyone would make their head look like that. It's profoundly unappealing. It's like if Friar Tuck was a speedskater

Art: 89 panels/20 pages = 4.5 panels/page. 1 single-panel page.

The art this time was split between, and I'm assuming that the inking was split the same way the pencilling was, Borges and Alquiza for some of it and Getty and Hunter for the rest. They don't tell us who did which pages but it's easy to spot the difference in styles. (And jarring.) Occasionally it was kind of underdetailed, although more effectively so than I remember getting from Kevin Sharpe. One thing I particularly liked was the panel arrangement on page 5, with Dragonwing's breath. Sometimes the features were a little exaggerated, like Duplicate Girl on pages 16 and 17... but I kind of liked that anyway. I don't think the blending of the two styles was handled as well here as it was in that Supergirl Annual, but the quality of the work is still pretty high. Oh: the way Cosmic King's powers were rendered was also pretty cool.

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18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dog's breakfast?" Ergh. Some people(like me)are eating while reading your blog. Might I suggest the word potpourri would have been just as descriptive? Certainly more elegant.
But you're right,the Legion run in Adventure has been a grab-bag;some retellings of the team's early days that shed little new light on those days(save that big one that seems to have been swept under the rug),some spillover from the main book,and this wrap-up with the less than compelling Academy cadets.Don't think I'll be rereading this batch of comics much in the years to come.
Something like "The New 52" had to have been in the works for awhile. That may explain Levitz's lackadaisical storytelling so far.You can go through the retroboot and try to pinpoint the moment Levitz learned about the relaunches and decided to hold back until the dust settled.Rather read a Legion comic for a Legion story,but so far all we've gotten is some pretty weak tea.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think what I'm going to do, later this summer, is to sit down and reread the whole thing, the whole Levitz part of the retroboot, and see how it holds up. I will be somewhat surprised if I don't come away from it kind of impressed.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Matthew, I did that recently (reread all the PL issues in one sitting) and it's surprising how much actually happens. Comparatively, 20-page doses are barely a patch of wet mud for us thirsty long-time readers!

6:29 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It's not just how many pages, though; it's also how the story flows without sharp bursts. Levitz isn't a sprinter; he's a marathon man.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Chris Cottingham said...

Nice review as always, thanks Matt!

I was really angry at the end of this issue, and I'm not sure why. I felt it belittled the old-time cadets and Chuck, Luornu, and Lydda. Building up the new kids ought not to rely on calling the old characters useless second stringers. The LSH has always been a place where second stringers with heart and teamwork could accomplish great things. Jed, Lydda, Chuck and Luornu have tons of heart.

What is the point of enhancing Jed's powers if you're still shuffling him off to nowhere?

And while it makes sense that the SPs would want powered cops on Takron-Galtos, I can't help thinking these kids deserve better than a lifetime as prison guards on a prison planet. What kind of personal lives are they gonna have? Let 'em set up shop as heroes on their own, or join Fleet Intelligence like Colossal Boy's dad suggested for him, or join the ICC like Dev-Em. Prison guard for life? Ugh.

I was annoyed by the fight, where it's again a little tough to tell what's happening. And I'm annoyed by the continued inconsistency with Lydda, who used to be able to use her strength just fine in artificial light. It was only sunlight that weakened her.

I did like the thought captions for Cosmic King, and him questioning why he's following Saturn Queen. I've been wondering that too, so this was good.

By the way, my read on Kono was that she shifted mass around - so it was *not* personal density control. She could affect herself or others. Jed's new powers I read as similar to Marvel's Vision. He can increase his density, making him tough and strong, or decrease it, making him immaterial. Kono couldn't get super-strength, but she could make things super-heavy. She was more a mix of Phantom Girl and Star Boy, Jed is more Phantom Girl and Blok.

That's my take, anyway.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

As far as Chuck, Luornu, and Lydda are concerned, I wouldn't count them out yet. I predict that there are a couple of Luornus around that Cosmic King didn't get to.

But the other Academy cadets are useless second-stringers. They don't have to be, of course, but that's what we've seen from them.

I certainly hope that, by the 31st century, Science Police cops have pretty good benefits, including lots of rotating leaves from duties like Takron-Galtos. I don't think it'll be too rotten a life for them.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Chris Cottingham said...

There *better* still be some Luornu's around. :)

But the other Academy cadets are useless second-stringers. They don't have to be, of course, but that's what we've seen from them.

Ok, but in Levitz's last run Jed was a dumb jock with no other application for his power but strength. He was a useless 2nd stringer. In this run he's been shown a little smarter, a little more careful, and with much more impressive powers. Apparently, this whole Academy thing has been good for him. Just seems like there ought to be a better payoff.

Really, as much as I like Levitz's Saturn Girl, and as much as she and Lightning Lad are icons, I liked that they retired in his last run, and that they were really REALLY retired in the 5YL storyline. If DC wants to youthen the Legion, I say let some folks retire or move on and new Legionnaires get trained up. All the old guard wouldn't leave, but some realistically should, even if they stayed reservists.

And leave from Takron-Galtos is fine, but are they going to commute there, too? Cuz otherwise I don't see getting married and raising a family there...

7:38 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I don't see Garth and Imra (for instance) leaving the Legion anytime soon, just because DC is trying to present the most "iconic" version of all its properties, and to DC, that means that the Legion should look a lot like they think it did in the Silver Age.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the retroboot,I'm reminded of the time Dashiell Hammett was reading Lillian Hellman's new play.When finished, Hammett threw the play down in anger. Hellman asked if he thought the play was bad,and he replied,"Worse!It's almost good!" That's my feeling about Levitz's return to the Legion:Almost-but-not-quite-good.
I didn't set my hopes too high.I didn't expect another Great Darkness Saga right out of the gate.But,by my count,only 3 of the storylines begun since LSH #1 have been resolved,and none of them were worth the wait.All the others are still circling in the air, waiting to land.I expected more of Levitz than this.
You may say that all the delay adds depth and complexity to the storylines.I don't see it.You can claim Levitz is expert at playing the long game.Not any more.His story-telling is not only slower, it's gotten sloppier.Plot threads have been suddenly dropped over the past year and a bit.Off the top of my head,I can cite two;The mystery of the falling rubble at the end of LSH #10,and the mysterious duplicate Shagrek in ADVENTURE #524.I'm sure there's others.Maybe miscommunication with the artists is the problem,but it results in the Levitz Legion looking lost.
Maybe the new LSH #1,and the competition from Nicieza,will get Levitz to sharpen his focus on the Legion,but given his work so far, I'm not getting my hopes up very high.

1:36 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Off the top of my head,I can cite two;The mystery of the falling rubble at the end of LSH #10,and the mysterious duplicate Shagrek in ADVENTURE #524.

I'll go back and check those out but off the top of my head I wouldn't classify either of those as dropped threads.

Levitz's current stuff hasn't overwhelmed me either but I think he's very easy to underestimate and I'm not going to fall into that trap.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

The comments about re-reading the entire new Levitz stuff reminds me of the Team 20 stories in the 90s Reboot: individually, the issues were seen as inferior to the 30th century issues and often reviled, but when I read 8 or 10 of them in rapid sequence, they flowed far better than as single issues.

It's a bit different then writing for the TPB, where there's a set end a short way out with everything largely resetting itself at the end; instead, it's more novelistic open-ended writing (as pioneered especially by Levitz and Claremont). Not saying that Peyer did it supremely well, just that he was writing in that mode and people complaining about it mostly weren't looking for/wanting that type of writing.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think I agree. It may be contradictory of me, because I also strongly believe that each individual comic book should be able to stand on its own. But it's probably undeniable that Levitz (for one) has often achieved a more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts effect.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Brainy Pirate said...

DiDio just announced on Facebook that the timestream is closed post-Flashpoint. Is this partly why the lost Legionnaires can't return? And does this mean the Legion never met any of the Supers?

1:42 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

He can say it all he wants; they'll never stick to it. But I don't think it means either of those things.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Brainy Pirate said...

Could be that I'm misunderstanding the implications of a closed timestream.

One of the things that I can't get my mind around is that if the Lost series is a success, these 7 characters will never return to the main series. I keep assuming that it's only a mini-series concept, not a potentially forever concept.

(I also assume that it will be canceled and that the characters will return to the future when it is. Am I hoping for that???)

11:21 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, just because the timestream is closed now doesn't mean it always was. I expect the Legion's history with Superman to remain intact.

As for Legion Lost, yeah, eventually it'll come to an end. I wonder when--one year, two years? I'd be surprised if it was much longer than that. Even if it's good.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Brainy Pirate said...

You're correct--they did just confirm that young Clark did interact with the Legion and that the Legion would be mentioned in Action #1. Whew! What a relief!

(And I'm not even that big a fan of Superboy--I like him more as the inspiration than as an actual member, although I really like the idea that it's the Legion who teaches him how to be the hero that inspired them in the first place.)

2:58 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

If you think about it, though, they just spent a whole lot of time and effort recreating Superman's relationship with the Legion. And nothing's happened to make them think that that was anything other than an excellent decision. And the guy who spearheaded it, Geoff Johns, is the guy in charge of all DC's creative stuff. So why would they go back on it so abruptly? They already rejected their earlier decision to separate Superman and the Legion; no point in doing it again.

4:50 PM  

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