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.