Legion of Super-Heroes #20 Review
What Happened That You Have to Know About:
On the Promethean Giant, Phantom Girl gives up and goes back to Bgtzl; Invisible Kid used his mysterious teleportation/dimensional travel powers to save he and Polar Boy by going to the Dimension of Dead Legionnaires he visited once before; Tharok gloats but reveals that Phantom Girl was the one he was most worried about.
Among the ruins of Weber's World, the largest group of Legionnaires is trying to figure out what happens next.
On the Sorcerer's World, Ultra Boy, Glorith, Chameleon Boy, Blok, and the Black Witch fight Validus in the planet's core; he's trying to destroy something important. The Witch and Glorith fight him off by removing the Sorcerer's World from the universe, leaving Validus floating helpless in space and Ultra Boy and Cham teleported back to Earth, where they find Legion HQ in ruins and the Persuader having left Triplicate Girl in seriously bad shape.
This is a good issue. All the storylines are advanced in interesting ways, the art is fantastic, and I want to read what happens next. If Paul Levitz had been able to turn in this kind of a performance from the start of this his third run on the Legion, they wouldn't even be considering cancelling it.
One point I want to make about Invisible Kid taking himself and Polar Boy to the Happy Frunting Grounds, or Dimen-Shanghalla, or whatever you want to call it: commenter ampm1789 totally nailed it in the comments to last issue; nice one. It is true that, in original continuity, there weren't really dead Legionnaires there; there was a demon who tricked Jacques into thinking he was Lyle Norg, but wasn't. No matter; Levitz wants to do it differently this time.
I'm not much on this business of the Black Witch calling Cham "man of Durla". She knows him! She would absolutely call him "Chameleon Boy"! As established by Levitz himself! I mean, yes, okay, he's doing it differently this time, but why change that?
Many fans are unhappy about how Phantom Girl is being portrayed in this story. I'm one of them. A Legionnaire surrendering to despair and running away? It isn't pleasant reading. Having said that, though, I don't say that the story is bad for that reason. Anybody remember how Sun Boy was portrayed in the Five Years Later run? Similar kind of thing, but it made for some extremely powerful comic books. That was a run that made me care about it by taking me out of my comfort zone and giving me storylines that I really wanted to turn out differently. And Levitz is doing the same here, and it's working. Plus, of course, Tharok's comment here makes it somewhat likely that she's going to come to the rescue by the end of the story, which of course would be satisfying. Let's see how it plays out before we pronounce judgment; let's see how it rereads.
Let's take note of the fact that the Legion has actually been kind of effective so far. Validus and the Emerald Empress have been taken out of commission, leaving only Tharok and the Persuader (plus whatever Fatal Fifth we haven't learned about yet). (Although the Empress is on the cover of #21, or so says the solicit I could find.) And they're supposed to wrap this up by #22 (leaving #23 for the aftermath). That seems doable.
Remember when LSHv5 was coming to an end? Shooter and Manapul? And then eventually Thyme and Bachs? The last few issues of that series seemed like a death march. So did "End of an Era", actually. And "The Magic Wars" wasn't that hot either. This isn't like that; this is damn good work. (Except for the revolving artists.) This is like "For No Better Reason" or "Widening Rifts". This is going to be a shame to say goodbye to.
Art: 85 panels/20 pages = 4.3 panels/page. 3 splash pages.
Man, it's good to have Portela back on art. The pages look better. Look at them! There's a unity to the panel layout; the whole story seems in good hands in a way that it hasn't since, well, Giffen's issue, but in a different way. And of course the whole thing is very pretty. It's not a pretty story, but at the moment I don't care.