Saturday, March 24, 2012

Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #6 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

In the semi-future, Vandal Savage is torturing Kirk, Chameleon Boy, and Lightning Lad to get their time-traveler secrets from them. They resist, and get into an argument with Savage. In the distant past, Vandar Adg and his tribesmen come upon the Enterprisers and Legionnaires trying to release Q. The ST/LSHers subdue their enemies and Brainiac 5 and Spock figure out how to free Q, which basically undoes all the events of the series.


Across the first five issues of this series, I've been pretty rough on it. These comic books have been fluffed out beyond tolerances and have shown more interest in the trivial correspondences of the crossover than in the more substantial possibilities. Some have suggested that I just have to wait and the good stuff will show up toward the end of the series.

That turned out to be absolutely true.

Chris Roberson's central idea for this series, that Vandal Savage (in one universe, at least) learned about the possibilities of the future from the Enterprisers and Legionnaires and was inspired to become Flint, is great for three reasons:

1. It makes the series centre on, not details like the similarities of Coluans and Vulcans, but on the basic themes of what makes the Legion and Star Trek so great in the first place
2. You couldn't have done a story like this without a crossover between two great franchises; there just wouldn't be any way of doing it. To take a superhero comic book character and make him be the secret origin of a science-fiction TV character from the other, because of the basic premises of the two series, is not something that's possible without the special circumstances of the crossover
3. It makes this series an actual story, one you can even take as canonical if you really want to, a story about the redemption of an immortal.

I was looking forward to seeing what Roberson could come up with for this series from the moment I heard about it; I couldn't imagine a better candidate to write the Legion than Roberson. But at my most optimistic I didn't imagine he'd conceive of anything as brilliant as this. I'm just very very impressed.

In fact, if this series had been one or two issues long, I'd be ready to nominate it as one of the great Legion comics.

At six issues, it's seriously flawed. Overall I'd still rate the series as more good than bad, but it would have been so easy for it not to be that close.

Oh well.

I wonder whose fault it was that it's like this. Did the Moys say that they couldn't fit any more story than that into 132 pages? Was Roberson unable to come up with any more content to fill the six TPB-mandated issues of the series? Did IDW editorial tell them how they had to do it? Did the DC people and the Star Trek people put some kind of constraints on the project that made it work out this way? Whoever it was, they did the readers no favour. Damn it, this thing had a component of greatness in it and all they could think of to do was surround it with as much air as they could.

One of the things I thought of complaining about was that the key to defeating Vandal Savage turned out to be more of a logic puzzle than an action scene. But that's actually okay; it wouldn't be the recommended way of resolving a superhero story, but there's nothing wrong with it at all for a Star Trek story, which after all it also is.

I'm glad the series ended as well as it did. I won't miss it; the thing has been annoying me for half a year. But on one level at least, Roberson has more than justified everything I hoped for from him.

Art: 86 panels/22 pages = 3.9 panels/page. 1 splash page. Neither the best nor the worst job the Moys have done on this series. In the end I can't say that their art was much of a plus. Only in patches did it have the kind of polish that it did when they were drawing the reboot Legion; mostly it was all right but not noteworthy. Say this for them, at least: they were not the biggest problem this series had, and they did do some good work.

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm of two minds about this series.For my inner fanboy,this was bliss:2 of my favorite things together.Each was depicted true to form.It was great seeing the Moys again.But the outer me,the guy who had to buy this padded,overpriced series,was left feeling rooked.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Definitely. There turned out to be some real chicken in there, but the layer of feathers was four feet thick.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Dylan said...

I just want to say that I really loved Kirk's speech to Vandal. Perfect Star Trek moment and works just as well here with the Legion.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Me too. At first I thought it wasn't just Kirk, that he and Lightning Lad were tagteaming him in that speech, but now I look at it again I can see where I got that wrong. It's a great speech.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Distill each issue down to a single sentence or idea -- the major story beat -- and you can see why this was thin. Here they are (from memory):

* Set up the characters and get them into the alternate timeline
* Explore the timeline a bit and have them meet
* Have them fight
* Realize they are on the same side and team-up
* Split the teams up and find the foe
* Defeat the foe and restore the separate timelines

This is a combo of two standard comics story techniques: meet/fight/team-up and split into smaller teams to tackle the pieces. You really do want to have both happen in a team-up of teams; you see the same thing in stuff like Avengers/JLA and Teen Titans/X-Men. And the third comics story technique in there, alternate timeline, also needs space to breathe, to not convince readers that it's just a fake Western town backdrop.

There probably wasn't quit enough story meat to hang between these bones, though, and the tendency is to keep things loose so the artists don't have to cram stuff in.

I think things would have been "better" if it were five issues rather than six, squishing issues 3-5 into 2 issues. The problem with this is that you lose having the story beat being the last-page climax of the issue; you end up having to have two lesser beat points in each issue, which may make them each feel a little less pointed (but more dense).

3:16 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I realize that given current comics-making techniques it wouldn't be possible, but, of the six points you break it down into, I'd like to see the first four, four-and-a-half covered in the first issue. Then once you had all the setup out of the way you could cover the rest in two more issues, if you wanted. Or even one.

3:32 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home