Friday, February 22, 2013

Legion of Super-Heroes #17 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About: A Legion cruiser crashes on a planet populated by some weird shouty little guys. Sun Boy is killed in the crash, and the survivors, Phantom Girl, Invisible Kid, and Polar Boy, look around a bit. Their tech doesn't work, but they do find something called a Promethean Giant, which was supposed to be a myth. While they're doing this, the shouty little guys cook and eat Sun Boy.

Meanwhile, a Legion team on Rimbor is having similar problems with their tech, which Chameleon Boy thinks is Tharok's doing.

We also see Tharok recruiting the Persuader, having already dispatched Validus on some destructive mission or other. Tharok's plan is apparently to disrupt so much technology around the United Planets that the whole thing falls apart and takes the Legionnaires with it.

Review: Doesn't even really feel like a Paul Levitz story, does it? This whole thing with Giffen is weird and I don't know what to make of it. Is he really off the title after two issues? Was that always the plan? Is he going to come back? Because look: this whole issue had the same throw-you-off-the-dock, explain-nothing unstructuredness that the 5YL era had. The 5YL comics never had much of a status quo that the characters could return to between story arcs. And it looks like that's what we're getting here, the same kind of chaos. But is Paul Levitz the guy to write those comics? Because he's never written the Legion that way before. I mean, I hope so, I guess, but I just don't know if it'll work.

Before I go any further, I don't support Sun Boy's corpse being cooked and eaten. That's not cool. I don't want to read about that.

Good start to this arc, though. Fatal Five, Promethean Giants, the U.P. falling apart, still don't know where half the characters are... Could be very good. I was more involved in this comic than in any other Legion comic since I don't even know when. Legion of 3 Worlds, maybe. Man, I hope they can keep it up.

Can I take this opportunity to share what I think is an uncomfortable truth? I think this title's going to be cancelled. The sales figures are not good at all, and I think DC is strongly focused on the bottom line here. And, in the New 52, having a long history is not going to help, because nobody has a long history anymore. I think it'll be cancelled, and it will be a long long time before they bring it back. Which they will eventually, somehow, sometime. But the audience for the Legion of Super-Heroes may have permanently shrunk to the point where these characters just can't support their own title anymore.

Now I know that it can be made to work. Look at Green Lantern: one of DC's most popular comics over the past decade or whatever, and who would have thought of that back in the '80s and '90s? If GL can become more popular than he was, so can any other character. How do you do it, is the problem. So, it's not that there's no hope; I just think that things are going to get worse before they get better, and there's no guarantee that they'll get better. Especially considering the obnoxiously dumb things DC is doing these days.

The first thing they have to do is make the comic book really good. I don't know if Paul Levitz is the guy to do that, but I do know this: he's had more than three years worth of comics to try it, and he hasn't pulled it off. So who then? I don't know. This issue is a good start, though, I'll say that. This is a good comic book and you could tell some totally worthy superhero stories off this foundation. And then we'll take our chances.

You'd best believe I'm looking forward to next month. And I should have some more content for you real soon: lots more stuff to review!

Art: 77 panels/20 pages = 3.9 panels/page. 2 splash pages, 1 double-page spread.

Giffen's using the same kind of style here that he used in the annual, although it seems to be working better for me here. I wonder if that's Koblish's influence? There's a strong adherence to a six-panel grid format, too; not all the pages are six panels, but even if they're not they still fit the pattern. It's definitely a 5YL-type of vibe coming across, and I wonder what that's going to be like in a couple of issues. Because much as I love Francis Portela's art, he's not the guy to do a 5YL kind of story. Giffen is. Giffen can do makeshift and grubby; Portela is better at exotic and pretty.

Membership Notes: Sun Boy dies, taking the membership down to 19. Sun Boy seems to get it in the shorts a lot, doesn't he? He dies and his corpse suffers indignities. I nevertheless suspect we haven't seen the last of Sun Boy.

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41 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with your gut feeling that the Legion will be cancelled soon, probably by September to make room for the next round of new titles. I love the Legion, and the stories and artwork haven't been that bad, just not earth shaking. If the Legion does get cancelled, then I'm done...done collecting new comics. The Legion is the only title on my pull list and will remain that way.

I just hope that the Legion Lost crew can make it back home before the last issue so the whole Legion can be back together again. Perhaps DC will give Levitz enough time to wrap things up. Better yet, perhaps they'll let Levitz kill off the whole team in some valiant effort to save the universe. That way no one can reboot the Legion again and we readers can have a completed saga. I think I'd like that if the title gets cancelled.

In the meantime, this was an interesting issue, proving that even the mighty Legion is vulnerable. Accidents happen. Death is a part of life. At least Sun Boy died saving his friends. I'm not horrified that he got eaten. A lot of bodies are desecrated in the real world. Fried Sun Boy just drives home how real world the next few issues are going to be.

Speaking of real, I expect another Legionnaire to die in the next issue or so. Giffen promised that no one was safe. I think next issue with the cover showing Legion headquarters getting destroyed will showcase at least one more death to shock us readers.

I have to disagree with you about Portela. I think he can draw some amazing comics as long as Levitz gives him an epic adventure to pencil. If the Legion is being cancelled, I hope it goes out with a bang!

1:17 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

If the title is cancelled, I don't think it makes much difference whether the Lost Legionnaires make it back or not.

And don't get me wrong about Portela: I think he's awesome. He's become one of my favourite Legion artists. I just don't think that this kind of story is in his wheelhouse, that's all. Really he should be doing something like Aquaman or Amethyst.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

Lordy, I hope the LSH title survives, I loved the latest issue. More of that intensity, though not of many deaths please!

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Levitz&Giffen both seem to hate Sun Boy,don't they? Levitz often portrayed him as a sleazy womanizer,and Giffen made him a collaborator to alien invaders.But I don't think all is as it seems here.He's not dead or devoured; we'll see him blazing back.
Giffen's still in faux-Kirby mode,but it looks better here than the Annual.Hope this means Giffen has healed from his eye trouble.
The Promethean Giant is a swipe from Kirby's New Gods.Hope this doesn't mean any more hints of Darkseid--Levitz&Giffen should stop trying to catch lighting in a bottle twice.
This was a pretty good comic,even if it was only a prelude to an upcoming epic story:Every LSH comic anymore feels like a prelude to an upcoming story that never seems to arrive.
Maybe having the LSH cancelled wouldn't be worst thing to happen.Sometimes,things just need a rest.Look at TV's Dr. Who;it was axed after 26 seasons.Fans debate the cancellation,but I think the show was just worn out.Mark Twain spoke of setting aside a manuscript when writers block hit and waiting until the "well of ideas" filled back up.That's what seemed to happen with Dr. Who,and it's definitely worked;the show's bigger than ever since its return.Perhaps this type of lighting can strike twice with the LSH.
Of course,if it turns out Sun Boy really was killed and cannibalized,then this comic should be cancelled and Levitz&Giffen should never be let on a LSH comic again.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know, I wish you guys weren't so pessimistic, the Legion has been here 50 or 60 years, and I'm hoping for more to come. I think one way for the title to gain more attention is for it to have a top notch writer (koff Grant Morrison) and, I hate myself for writing this, have Batman be a member of the LSH. Not present day Batman, but the Batman of the 31st Century. In issue #700 of Batman there's a few panels of a futuristic city and a Batman walking through, what, a trophy room? Anyway I don't know what the city was called but it was the same city the most recent LSH are from in Action Comics #16 and #17. So oh my gosh there's actually a Batman in the same time and space with the Legion. DC needs to utilize this!!

2:07 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Martin: I hope it flourishes.

Anon 1: A new writer's as good a rest. But if the audience just won't bite...

Anon 2: I won't say that that wouldn't work, but there are so many ways for DC to mess it up.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it, I would love to see a "Whatever Happened to The Legion of Super-Heroes?" or "Legion of Super-Heroes: The End" or something to that nature. Obviously the writer would have to be Paul Levitz, but I would like him to collaborate with Jim Shooter or Geoff Johns or maybe DnA. I'm not too sure about artist, Keith Giffen or Steve Lightle, anyone who's a fan of the Legion.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That might work.

Of course, it'd probably get clanked up with all the Adult Legion stuff that they can't seem to let go of...

7:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Burkert said...

What are the sales numbers on the Legion? I thought they were still well above the cancellation level. I know I saw an article on this recently and I don't remember being listed as one of the titles in danger.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

According to the comichron.com website, LSH is down around 16K. That ain't good.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous AJay said...

Uh, how do you cook Sun Boy? Isn't he fire-proof, heat resistant...and how do we know that it's him. I still think that Sensor Girl is behind a lot of this.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think you might be right about Sensor Girl. But I'll go you one step further. How exactly does Tharok get Jeckie to go over to his side? Because if there's one Legionnaire who should be immune to any kind of temptation, it's her.

However, she does have one weakness: she wants Karate Kid back. And the Emerald Eye may have promised her just that, and gotten her under its sway that way. How's that for a Fatal Five?

-Tharok
-the Persuader
-Validus
-Empress Projectra
-an undead Karate Kid construct, whose hands have the power to destroy

You heard it here first.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Karate Kid and Mano even have the same upraised-hand symbol.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

Jeckie, tempted towards evil? I don’t see it, when has she been shown to be so needy as to want Val back whatever the cost? She executed Nemesis Kid and moved onto another stage of her life.

Coming from a world of seers, I could see Val’s spirit telling her to back off were she to be even vaguely tempted by Fatal Five lies.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

Er, I seem to have misspelled 'spiritualist' as 'seer'.

Never saw that coming.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I guess that means you're not a seer.

But don't you remember that scene of Jeckie cuddling up with Val's burned costume, sometime in the retroboot run? Clearly she's not over it.

Plus, the "new Karate Kid" thing has been hanging over our heads ever since Geoff Johns stuck his oar in, and this would be a way of fulfilling that without really fulfilling it.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Plus, no, she wouldn't be tempted toward evil, but she might be tempted to working with the Emerald Eye for what she thinks is a good purpose, and then once the Eye has a foot in the door (so to speak) it takes her over.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

That would certainly fit in with the Eye's MO.

Matthew, you're scaring me!

9:38 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Hey, I'm not the one picking shreds of Morgna from between his teeth.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous AJay said...

I'm thinking that Giffen will not be able to resist the urge to resurrect Val so that he can kill him again.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I thought of that. But I also thought if I was writing the current Legion comic, and Giffen was coming on-board for a while, I'd say to him, "Keith, how about you come up with a new Karate Kid character that you would be happy with leaving alive?"

2:12 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Can a book be canceled on the guy who ran DC for decades and knows where bodies are buried that we know nothing about without him wanting it canceled?

7:51 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, I wonder. I have this image in my head of Paul Levitz saying, here's the deal: I step down, and I write Legion of Super-Heroes for as long as I want to. That'd be, uh... have you seen this?

8:20 AM  
Blogger Don L said...

I am surprised Polar Boy was not eaten after Sun Boy. After all, a nice frosty dessert is a perfect follow-up to a hot meal.

Seriously, I am disappointed by both Sun Boy's death and the decision to have his corpse eaten as part of the story. What was the point? To show how random life is and how often it is unfair? I get enough of that in the real world, thanks.

Sun Boy was portrayed as a womanizer but he had a sense of justice and he cared about people. When it was time to fight, he was a hero.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, I don't think much of it either. I guess this is what Giffen meant when he said he wanted to do a comic that didn't feel like the same old kind of Legion comic.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous DavidS said...

"Sun Boy was portrayed as a womanizer but he had a sense of justice and he cared about people. When it was time to fight, he was a hero."

Actually, when the time came to fight, the Sun Boy I remember shacked up with a Cosplaying prostitute and sold out to the Dominators.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, but you can't pin that on this Sun Boy.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think what we think we saw with Sun Boy was for real.It would be too crass a move even for Giffen and Levitz would never let Giffen get away with it.
What we should be asking L&G is why they're so down on Dirk.What is it in Sun Boy's history that lets them stick it to him all the time?

1:45 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

So which stage of grief is this: denial or anger?

8:30 AM  
Anonymous AJay said...

Not to stir the soup, as the saying goes, but didn't Geoff Johns say that Sun Boy was his favorite legionnaire?

3:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I don't recall that. Maybe. Oh well; I'm not sure the Legion is on Johns's radar at all these days.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Ostensibly Giffen left after two issues because he added the new Larfleeze book to his schedule and something had to give. The way DC is these days, I accept but don't fully believe that answer; as likely is someone vetoing Giffen when he said "I want to kill one Legionnaire each issue". (Although I see the next one is just partially Giffen, meaning either he ran out of time or he walked.)

Why do you think Sun Boy's corpse was eaten? Just because Polar Boy jumped to that conclusion? I saw no human arm with Sun Boy's glove on it.

When did Polar Boy get his human arm back? I noticed that when he said he was counting his body parts. Am I forgetting, or maybe this is a clue?

What does it mean to die on something embedded in a chunk of the Source Wall? (What does it mean for a culture to live there?) That can make for an easy handwave resurrection.

Giffen's art worked a lot better here than in the annual because he's got that heavy Kirby influence, which works a lot better on humongous monsters than on what should be seductive villainesses. (Who ever thought that Kirby's Sue Storm was beautiful?)

2:57 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

- I tend to treat Polar Boy as a reliable witness.
- I think he got it grown back early in v6. Didn't Mon-El visit him... someplace, while this was happening?
- These are Legionnaires, after all; they tend to stay dead when they die, more often than not.
- Yeah... although Kirby can certainly suggest beauty. You can tell who's supposed to be pretty, and it's not so much that they're not as nobody else draws pretty to look like that.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Ric G said...

Legion 19 is out and I'm still trying to process this one.

Apart from the hyper-kinetic art, which I loved, I can't say I enjoyed it.
The death certainly throws you into the story, but there's so little context to work with and Levitz's script leaves so many questions unanswered (and not 'where will the story go next' ones, but 'what exactly is happening on this page now' ones, like how did PG's cruiser get there) that I found it near impenetrable even with decades of Legion reading. The transitions to Rimbor were unclear and disrupted the story flow the first few reads.
And I think poor Javier Mena must've been near an anyuerism trying to seperately colour every tiny section of Giffen's art as well as adding his own trademark highlighting.

Given all that this is not a comic for the casual reader and it is in no way a jumping on point for new ones. Not necessarily a bad thing but that leads us to the shock-horror death and desecration of Dirk.

It's hard not to see this as a big two fingers up at the fans for caring. I tired of the 'no heroic deaths' run pretty early into the 5YG and seeing it again here didn't change my dislike.

Then again there's a winking quality to it, and a couple of story points placed way back in #7 of this run, that hint it may not be that permanent.

Then again that exact same device was used in Legion Lost not so long ago and it didn't go over so well there.

So. Still processing and likely to be until the whole storyline is done, dusted and commited to trade.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

LSH #19 review coming soon, I promise. Also Action Comics.

I don't agree at all that this issue was scornful towards the fans. I think they were just trying as hard as they could to jump out of a rut.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Ric G said...

I see that, but gruesome death in a dc book doesn't do that any more. If anything it makes me question the creators' skills and wonder when the next reboot is due.

Your comments on cancellation aren't misplaced but they reflect a disappointment all around with the difference between the potential the Legion has and what dc actually provides.

Obe question; do you remember seeing a preview solicitation saying an issue around this time was going to deal with Comet Queen's rehabilitation? I seem to remember one and am wondering if it was meant to fill an issue and they just abandoned or delayed it.

(and that wasn't meant to be a jibe about reviewing 19, I appreciate anyone spending their time providing quality LSH comment like yours. I just really don't know what to think of this issue even now.)

1:44 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Now that you mention it, yeah: there was supposed to be something with Comet Queen. I wonder what's going to end up happening with her.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Nothing in the solicits for #17 and beyond with COmet Queen:
http://soundskinky.com/Legion/upcoming.html

One thing I noted was that the two deaths ("deaths") we have had, beyond being characters that Giffen apparently dislikes (and has tortured or killed before), they are also two of the ones that Johns screwed over the most. (Polar Boy being the third, but Levitz rolled with that one just fine.) Maybe there is a "cleansing" going on for Levitz.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

No, I think the Comet Queen thing was from before. "The final fate of Comet Queen", or something, despite the fact we haven't had any such thing.

That's a neat website, by the way; I never saw that before. Everybody been holding out on me?

1:21 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Other than updating the archive of new releases and online stories, I haven't done anything with it in several years (since the start or the three-boot, in fact).

1:20 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, it's yours! See, I didn't even pick up on that.

1:30 PM  

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