Friday, November 18, 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes #3 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Legion reinforcements arrive on Panoptes in time to help Mon-El and Ultra Boy beat the Renegade while the others fight off a Dominator fleet and still more investigate on Daxam. Brainiac 5 is still testing Glorith's powers.

Review:

I thought this was quite a good issue of the comic book right up until the end, and then I had a big problem. And my big problem is, what happened? I had to read it over and over and I'm still not sure that I get it. First, how'd Mon and Jo beat the Renegade? Just keep punching it out with him? That's fine, and we don't necessarily need to see it, because we've seen punching before. But what happened to Shady? Since when does she faint from using her powers? Or what?

I'd have to go back and check, but I think that might be a habit Levitz is falling into in this run: not showing us the ends of fights. I can think of another couple of scenes like this, where we see the start of a fight but not how it's resolved, and it's not clear enough to let us be sure that we haven't missed anything. I mean, I don't need everything spelled out for me, but in this case I think the stepping stones are too far apart on those last two pages.

Other than that. What we got a lot of, a lot of, in this issue, was Legionnaires using their powers effectively and interestingly in ways that is appropriate to their personalities. And that's the basic currency of superhero comics. Whatever new readers this series has, they got a bonanza this month in terms of being introduced to these characters. Let's do a count: how many Legionnaires get a moment here where we find out not just what they can do, but what they're likely to do? Phantom Girl, Brainiac 5, Glorith, Chemical Kid, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Shadow Lass, Sun Boy, Comet Queen, Polar Boy, Chameleon Boy, and Element Lad. That's pretty good for 20 pages.

It's unlike some of the issues in the LSV arc of LSHv6, too, in that there's some plot advancement: the Dominators are not just bumbling around, but are Up To Something; they have a Mysterious Ingredient for the anti-lead serum; they have a Secret Weapon waiting for any Legionnaires stupid enough to follow them. These are things I want to know about.

I had been, for quite a while, vaguely disappointed by Paul Levitz's return. I'm much less so now. This series is operating with more authority now and I hope it continues like that.

Notes:
- there seem to be a few missing people on Daxam; wonder if that's just there for verisimilitude or if they're important
- why is it that the Legionnaires have belt buckles but no belts these days
- the Dominion uses Interlac? I find that hard to believe

Art: 90 panels/20 pages = 4.5 panels/page. 2 single-page panels.

Portela's art is getting a bit more stylized; look at the Legionnaires on the first page for an example. On the one hand it looks kind of weird; on the other hand it's certainly not bad, and if Portela's in the process of becoming more like himself then I'm all for it. The thing I really like in this issue is the panel boundaries and arrangements: check out how he handles them on pages 11, 14, and 16. I hope Portela stays on this title for a good long time, like fifty issues or something. Notice how the really good artists don't stay long enough?

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18 Comments:

Anonymous AJay said...

This might be my favourite issue in a long while. It was jam packed. Tinya getting to show us that she's a force to be reckoned with. Good use of Brek for a change. Jan using the subtler aspects of his power. Brainy was pitch perfect.
Shrinking Violet is still black, proving in a small way that there is something of a re-boot thing going on even if continuity doesn't seem to be effected. This is the future after all and the consequences of Flashpoint might be somewhat diluted.
You don't think Tas is pregnant, do you?

10:44 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Shrinking Violet is still black

Sorry, what?

You don't think Tas is pregnant, do you?

...well, now I do! Cripes. I understand why that could be a good story. Do I ever! Imagine Lady Memory's response to a blue-Talokian shadow-champion baby with Earth-Man's powers. But I don't know if I want to read it.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Meerkatdon said...

I don't get Salu being black. There's a vast range of skin tones...look at Chemical Kid (who has been presented as caucasian) and Glorith (who I always assumed was black).

Actually, Salu and Rokk have very similar skin tones and haircuts.

I think some of the effect is supposed to be shadow (Brek seems much darker in his big scene than on other pages). And part of it might be recognition that by the 31st century, multiracial is the norm.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I was actually looking at Violet in this issue and she didn't look black to me.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous AJay said...

Maybe I'm just missing Jazmin...(sigh)

2:04 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

There's got to be a way of getting some of those characters back. Jazmin, Gear, Shikari, Laurel Gand, Kono, Kent Shakespeare, Danielle, Theena, Gazelle, Flederweb...

2:25 PM  
Blogger James Purcell said...

I'd really love it if Levitz introduced a Retroboot Jazmin. The character has such potential, and its sad that she sits in limbo because her original incarnation got wiped out in a Crisis. If I was writing LoSH, her reintroduction would be tied into my first story arc.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

And, you know, her original incarnation wasn't even wiped out. She was still in continuity as of her last appearance, in FC:L3W #5. Absolutely no reason to believe she doesn't exist.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best way to bring Legionnaires back is to just bring them back.No multiverse change of address forms required.

As intriguing as it would be to have Shady carrying Earth-Man's baby,let's hope that's not the case.Superheroes shouldn't have children.Such kids serve little purpose aside from being perpetual hostages,as shown by the recent kidnapping of the Ranzz twins.Or else they end up being killed, which is not a story I want to read.

2:37 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh well; if there's any book that can absorb a baby it's the Legion. It's happened before.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Madman2001 said...

I too was confused by the end of the issue. The fights that are quickly resolved by seeming slight of hand of a deus ex machina are very unsatisfying. Paul, are you listening?

11:41 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The fights that are quickly resolved by seeming slight of hand of a deus ex machina are very unsatisfying.

I wouldn't even mind that, necessarily, as much, as long as it was made clear to me just what had happened. Just show me. It's a comic book; you don't have to worry about blowing the special effects budget.

9:07 AM  
Blogger karl said...

Another very enjoyable issue, and this latest series is now starting ot find its feet for me. My highlight was how professional the LSH were in their fight scenes; so many times in other team books we see heroes tripping over each other or making mistakes, but this issue we saw a dedicated team thats trained really well. I cant help but be impressed.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

By now they ought to be; these guys have been at this for a while. Except for the rookies, of course, and I think Levitz is going to be playing up that difference.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Matthew: Technically, if there's a book that can absorb a baby, that book would be X-Factor. (Hopefully some of you read that title.)

I hadn't considered Shady being pregnant, but yes, in a supers-soap, "woman collapses" means sick, pregnant, or over-extended powers. I was thinking it was the third, poorly rendered like the end of the fight was (that is, she had to work hard to keep Renegade in the shadow), but now I know it's got to be pregnancy.

The Dominion's use of Interlac -- translated for our (in)convenience? Explained away via telepathic ear plugs?

Despite the hidden end of the fight, I did like the note that Mon (and by extension, Jo and other Legionnaires) has extensive experience in Tasmia's shadows. That's the sort of subtle world building that I really like, something dead obvious although never really shown as a training thing in the past.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The Dominion's use of Interlac -- translated for our (in)convenience? Explained away via telepathic ear plugs?

Well, it couldn't be the earplugs; the Interlac I mean is on their consoles and stuff.

1:50 PM  
Blogger karl said...

From what I gather from when we saw into the Dominators ship, I think the missing Daxamites are being designed by the Dominators to be their new 'secret army' to take on the LSH.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Fits.

2:38 PM  

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