Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #19 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

Chameleon's Science Police disguise is blown as the fake SP the Legion caught back in issue #16 gets killed while in custody, and Cham solves the case. It's all related to this robot-underworld-rebellion which seems to have somehow become the main plot while we weren't watching. This issue, the robots came up with a giant leader robot who looks a lot like Cliff Steele from Doom Patrol. Anyway, Cham's out of the SP, but seems to have decided that the SP have a spy in the Legion.

Meanwhile, Supergirl is looking for Seiss, the guy from a couple of issues ago with the hypersonic digestive problems. She can't find him, and neither can Theena (whom we get some welcome backstory on)... and if Theena can't find you, apparently that Means Something.

Finally, some Legionnaires show up at Brainy's lab to try to get him to turn Dream Girl's body over to the Naltorians for interment, but Brainy, the body, and Lemnos have all disappeared. Element Lad and Light Lass were involved in this somehow, but it's not clear whether they went with Brainy or not.


The art is good, as always, and the story has a nice noir feel to it. There's nothing wrong with the events of the story--the storyline is moving along at a reasonable pace, and there's some good action, and the murder-mystery is fine in its rudimentary way. But some seams are showing.

This issue is a spotlight on Chameleon. We find out more about him in a way that isn't at all heavy-handed, and we need that: Chameleon is one of the Legionnaires that hasn't really coalesced as a character yet. I'm not criticizing when I say that; we've had less than two years of comics to find about this very large cast, and there's no way we could have a good handle on all of them yet. Some of the Legionnaires have been very vividly drawn: Cosmic Boy, Brainiac 5, Dream Girl, Triplicate Girl, Ultra Boy and Invisible Kid. Others have had less attention, but are distinct and understandable enough anyway, for now at least: Star Boy, Micro Lad, Supergirl, Projectra, Timber Wolf, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Light Lass, Karate Kid and Sun Boy. There were only a few that I can't really figure out yet, despite their screen time: Phantom Girl, Chameleon and Atom Girl. But after this issue, I don't really feel like I understand Chameleon any better than I did before. So did the issue fail? Or do we just need more time to get to know the guy?

Part of Mark Waid's writing style on this book is starting to reveal itself to me, and it's this: there are no throwaways. Everything that happens will turn out to be important later on. Some examples:

- the SP spy from issue #16 turning out to be the murder victim in this issue
- Triplicate Girl's triple date from #3 coming back to haunt her and Cosmic Boy again and again as Legionnaires accuse her of being Cos's spy
- the whole issue of whether Invisible Kid told Brainiac 5 who broke into his lab. I couldn't believe that this was a plot point. First, they blew the door off the freaking hinges; how is that a secret? Second, are we supposed to believe that Brainy doesn't have any way of keeping track of what happens in his lab? Third, who really cares if he told him or not? What difference does it make? But it kept coming up, again and again.

To extend this pattern: in this issue, Chameleon was speculating about an SP spy in the Legion. He will no doubt be proven to be absolutely right, because there's no such thing as a random notion that goes nowhere. Personally, I don't follow Cham's logic, exactly; the idea that the SPs have infiltrated the Legion is a sensible one, but why would he deduce it from his experiences of this issue specifically? I would have started suspecting it as soon as I heard that Lemnos had infiltrated the Legion with his suicide bombers; if Lemnos can, why not everybody else? I have no particular suspicions about who the spy is, except to say this: it would be easier for it to be a legionnaire than a Legionnaire; it's probably not Chameleon or one of the founding three; it's definitely not Invisible Kid, but he'll be suspected anyway.

Last thing. The Waid-Kitson version of the Legion hasn't had much in the way of decent villains yet. Lemnos was good, and Elysion was even better, but the rest of Terror Firma were non-entities, and these robots are totally boring. Maybe something cool will happen with the Dominators.

Rating: LLLl

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