Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #20 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

Lots of little things. No robots this issue--did last issue's Chameleon spotlight put an end to their activities for now?--but some of Colossal Boy's people are sneaking around (an awesome concept in itself) stealing apparently valueless things. It's possible that this is related to the group of people Seiss has fallen into; certainly the giants aren't happy about the Legion's new affiliation with Earthgov.

(While we're at it. My understanding is that the Legion is now a branch of Earthgov, roughly equivalent to the Science Police... but on their new headquarters there's a sign that says 'sponsored by the United Planets'. So what's the deal? What's the official relationship between Earthgov and the UP? Separate entities, or two parts of the same hierarchy? How's it work?)

Anyway, the Legion manages to dispose of these giants, but it's really Supergirl who does so, showing up and inserting herself into each mission, which the Legionnaires aren't really comfortable with. At the end of the issue, Cosmic Boy reveals that he thinks he's fallen in love with her.

The grand unveiling of the new Legion HQ is held, with a big flashy ad campaign that make it sound like the Legion has totally sold out--it says things like 'young people who really put the "status" back in "status quo"' and 'The Legion of Super-Heroes: civic-minded teens defending the U.P. way of life', and 'they are a [...] reminder that real rebels embrace authority!' Turns out that the thing Lightning Lad signed gives... the U.P.? Earthgov?... authority to do all the PR for the Legion. Oops.

Meanwhile, Brainy, Atom Girl, Element Lad and Light Lass have found an old L.E.G.I.O.N. spaceship and are using it as their lab to resurrect Dream Girl. Looks like they're about ready to go.

Dream Boy is still hanging around but the other Legionnaires have no time for him at all.

Items: the original Legion HQ was a jail before the Legion took it over.

- we finally get an explanation for why there are giants living on Earth (Bizarro-Brainiac!)

- there's a media personality named Raymond Luxury Yacht! How do you not like that?


Barry Kitson takes a month off, and Adam DeKraker fills in with a very respectable job. So that's fine.

This issue was full of activity, and that's what I like to see. Not a lot of fighting, but still things happening. I also like... hey, I also like about everything. I like how we know the Legionnaires well enough after nineteen issues that the U.P. propaganda could be funny to us, because we know without them having to be there to say so how abhorrent the PR was to them. I like how, for the first time I can remember, Cosmic Boy looks completely out of his depth. I certainly like how someone (turned out to be Element Lad) finally told Brainy that he was wrong for trying to bring back Dream Girl. The only thing that would make this issue better is if it was the culmination of a storyline. Or maybe if it had some suspense--even with everything that's happening, there's no real tension surrounding the Legion at the moment.

Let's Get This Out of the Way Now:

Let’s have this argument while we still can. Because in a couple of issues, we’re going to have the Brainiac 5/Dream Girl resurrection story completely resolved and everything we say will be hindsight.

We have two questions to consider, and they’re not as similar as they seem:

1. Do we want Dream Girl to come back to life?
2. Should Dream Girl come back to life?

Here are the answers, as I see them:

1. Well, yes, we do. Of all the Legionnaires reintroduced in Volume 5 of Legion of Super-Heroes, Dream Girl was the one most vividly characterized. She didn’t have a single appearance that wasn’t a lot of fun to read. To lose such a great character after only ten issues… it’s a shame. A waste.

Furthermore, there’s a lot of history behind the character that I’d hate to see come to an end. Although I suppose she could still appear in the animated series, and any comic-book spinoffs from it. And her legacy could live on in the form of Dream Boy. But I’d trade both of those things to have Nura back in this book.

On the other hand… haven’t we all had enough of superheroes coming back from the dead? I’m in favour of comic-book creators living with the decisions they make. If she’s dead, let’s leave her dead. Now, if Mark Waid’s original plan was always to bring her back, and he’s got a good story in mind for how it’ll work, and if the ramifications are handled intelligently, well, that’s a little different.

Taking it all together, yes, I’d like Dream Girl back on the right side of the grass.

2. Heck, no. (From a storytelling point of view.) I'm with Element Lad.

Look, Brainiac 5 is arrogant enough. The one thing he most needs is to learn the difference between what he can and can’t do. If he succeeds in bringing someone back from the dead, what’s to be done with him? Nobody’ll ever be able to tell him anything.

This series is (partially) about people growing up. If Brainy is growing up—and he’s one of the Legionnaires who needs to the most, him and Ultra Boy—he’s going to need to deal with his limitations a lot more realistically than he’s been doing. He’s going to need to learn, as the original-version Brainy always seemed to understand, as the reboot Brainy eventually came to realize, that the Legion is not just his entourage and he can’t be their philosopher-king. And this is the place to draw the line, right here.

My prediction is that the resurrection won’t work, or that it won’t work as advertised, anyway. Not only because I’m sure that all of the above has already occurred to Mark Waid and Barry Kitson, but also because, if Dream Girl was going to come back, what was the point of introducing Dream Boy?

Rating: LLLL

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