Sunday, March 24, 2013

Legion of Super-Heroes #18 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

In this issue we get looks in at different groups of Legionnaires around the galaxy, as everything stops working, falls apart, and sometimes explodes:
- Harmonia and Dragonwing confront a riot of frightened Earthlings outside a crumbling Legion HQ
- Mon-El, Cosmic Boy, Shadow Lass, Lightning Lass, and Shrinking Violet decide to investigate Weber's World
- Ultra Boy, Glorith, and Chameleon Boy try opening a mystical gate to the Sorcerer's World to see what the Black Witch can do to help the situation
- inside Legion HQ, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Dream Girl, Chemical Kid, and Star Boy build a cruiser out of bottle caps and shoelaces to try to go after Tharok, but a combination of riots and explosions causes Star Boy to be left behind; his fate is uncertain
- Polar Boy, Phantom Girl, and Invisible Kid, stranded on the Promethean Giant, are in danger of being scratched off like fleas

And it turns out Tharok is controlling that Promethean giant.

Review:

Middle-volume syndrome; lots of activity this issue but it seems less substantial than #17 because #17 is the one with the beginning of the story. I wish the art was better but it still seems like it ought to be a strong story. I like how all the available Legionnaires are involved, and all groups are simultaneously taking sensible independent action. (More or less.)

It really does seem like the 31st century will be very different after all this is over. Certainly Paul Levitz aspires to living with the changes that he makes (as he did with the destruction of Titan) and exploring their impacts, and certainly he and Giffen seemed to be trying to shake the rust off with this storyline. But without Giffen, how well will he be able to keep things shaken up on his own? Because Levitz has always been a very status-quo kind of writer. His 30th/31st century generally always seems to drift back to, oh, let's say LSHv3 #12.

Something about the way the different teams are on the different missions reminds me of the Earthwar story. I wonder if Levitz has had that thought too. Now that I think of it, the use of Weber's World and the change in artists also fits into that.

I also wonder how long this story is going to be. The solicits have it continuing past issue #21 at least. Is this a trade thing? The first trade collected #1-7. The next one, presumably, is going to be... #8 up to something-or-other, plus #0. Could they put #8-16+0 all in one collection, and then have #17-22 (or whatever the end issue of this story is) in the one after that? Anyway. As you know, I'm not such a one for long stories. Keep 'em short and sweet is what I say. (There are exceptions.) Well, anyway, it looks like it could be a good story, perhaps the best one since Legion of 3 Worlds, and you can take that however you like.

Notes:
- Harmonia is the deputy leader. I wonder if that's by Levitz's fiat or reader vote
- At first I thought that "It's hideous, Thom. Hold me." was unusually clumsy writing by Levitz, but now I wonder if Dreamy had a sudden vision and was saying goodbye
- How come Brainy and his group made no attempt to pick up Harmonia and Dragonwing on their way offplanet?
- And what's going on with Comet Queen anyway?
- Man, Dreamy's got some long fingers on that front cover

Art: 73 panels/20 pages = 3.7 panels/page. 3 splash pages.

Scott Kolins returns to do the art on this issue, which disappoints me. There are times when he does okay (Harmonia on page 2, Mon-El on page 5) and times when he doesn't (Phantom Girl on page 10). Plus he varies the borders of his panels in different ways, which is fine, except there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for which pages get which border style. I don't get it. I wonder if we're going to get any more Giffen at all on this series for a while.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous AJay said...

Dirk, Thom, who wants to bet that Jan is next?

1:55 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

No bet either way. Of course, I'm not really convinced Star Boy is dead in the first place.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

Wow. The art on that was ... rough. I realize just about anyone would be a step down from Giffen (who really was on top of his game in #17), but this was considerably shakier than the Kolins we got a few issues back. It's a disappointing turn, because, as you say, the story is pretty strong -- certainly more interesting than anything that has happened in this title for the last year and half.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh well. Portela will be back soon. Which is good and bad: good because it's Portela and he's great, bad because I think his art is too pretty to portray all the destruction and carnage we're dealing with in this story.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Ric G said...

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get Portela figure-work over Giffen backgrounds.

But this issue is all over the place story and artwise. The 'only the Legion could be powerful enough to destroy the UP' line was just bizarre and the burning HQ & city is in one page ascribed to failing tech and the next to attacking rioters. I think. The reveal that everything is controlled by quark tech that has failed seems to come completely out of left field. This couldn't have been mentioned in the book at some time before or origin mini?
I don't know if Harmonia & DW are going to show up on board next issue, but the whole 'we've got to leave RIGHT NOW' sequence was disjointed at best.

Unless Saturn Girl and CQ are also shown on board next issue I'm going to have to guess the panel from #16 showed them at a different location & will be out of the story.

While Phantom Girl is not a favourite character I'm really not enjoying the way she's been written. Hopefully the hysteria won't last the entire arc.

There's a particularly bad drawing of Cham on page 7 but none of the artwork gelled with the story. A rush job covering Giffen's surprise exit maybe?

Interesting continuity point; Polar Boy makes an oblique reference to his time as leader but Brainy specifically states the galaxy hasn't seen a disaster of this magnitude since the Great Darkness. This implies the magic wars didn't happen, as well as the continued existence of the Sorcerer's World. We also know Pol died but now the circumstances are even more unclear.

I'm really hoping this story will reach some coherence after the Fatal Five start facing the Legion.


9:32 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Continuity's the least of my worries here. Sales on the title are slipping, we still don't know what's going to happen to the Legion Lost crew, and there's a rumour out there that the Legion's going to be turned into Justice League Future. The Magic Wars are just a detail.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Ric G said...

All true points.

For me the continuity detail wasn't so much for the trainspotting aspect but how difficult it is to get into a story that doesn't reconcile with itself.

Earlier in the run we got shown how Cos had a lot of unresolved guilt for the death of his brother. As it's not explained in the book you have to go by the history, which tells you one thing but has already been contradicted.

Not to give that one example to much weight, but it's the fact there are so many of these that are, IMHO, rendering the book as impenetrable to new readers (I've yet to see a mainstream review of a single issue that doesn't bring up this BS point, but it's a self fulfilling prophecy).
The book can't rely on familiarity with the characters and yet explain that everything is different without explaining why.

It's not like Batman where you have a small core cast of concept characters and can retell the origin again and again. With the LSH most of the interesting stuff comes from a large cast interacting. Not to mention the problems with things like racial diversity which both the reboots dealt with differently, but both of which need at least some explanation.

If the PTB can't identify why sales are slipping then they can't turn it around and another reboot and year(s) of establishing origin stories are probably the least effective way to do this.

I've heard the rumours of the JLFuture being either a redirection of this series or a full on Batman in space version. The latter does make me cringe.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I have to throw up my hands when I think about the problems faced by a Legion comic. When the threeboot title was struggling, I could say, "Well, they need to somehow use all versions of the Legion, to accommodate all the readers who may have been alienated by the reboots." But now we've got Paul Levitz on the original-ish Legion, and nobody cares. Would they care if the comic book was better? Not sure they would. So what do you do? I can't think of anything. I'm certainly not going to sit here and say, "Well, all they have to do is bring back the reboot and threeboot Legions; that's guaranteed to increase popularity." (I'd like it, of course, but...)

11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also like to see the other Legions as well, still waiting for a relaunch of Adventure Comics or maybe after Mr. Levitz and Giffen are done with their latest arc, we'll see a new creative team doing the reboot or threeboot LSH. Would love if Grant Morrison and Brad Walker to do the recent LSH seen in recent issues of Action Comics. If anything else, I would love to see The New 52 Superman with the Legion (any incarnation of the Legion). Especially with Man of Steel coming up.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I would also be enthusiastic about any of those things but I believe that the chances of them happening are basically zero.

7:20 PM  

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