Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #24 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

The LSV on Rokyn (which, by the way, definitely includes Polar Boy) has defeated the Legion and is about to walk off with the Phantom Zone projector when Supergirl shows up and, even though Rokyn has a red sun, saves the day. The LSV is beaten handily but teleports away. Supergirl prepares to stay on Rokyn forever but when she finds out that she'd never see the Legion again she changes her mind and goes back to Earth with them.

Meanwhile, Lightning Lad asks Dream Boy's advice on his candidacy for Legion Leader.

Once everyone's back at Legion HQ, Brainiac 5 starts looking into releasing Saturn Girl's 'mysterious presence' from the Phantom Zone. They need safeguards, though, because after all we could be talking about a Kryptonian criminal here. Between Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl, they manage to communicate with Mon-El (it is Mon-El, of course), and he warns them about the hordes of villains swooping down on Legion HQ at that moment.


Let's start with Rokyn. This comic devoted a significant amount of space to telling us exactly why people from Rokyn never ever leave home and almost nobody is ever allowed in to visit. And why did it do that? To explain why there weren't Kryptonians all over the place in the 31st century. Because if there were Kryptonians all over the place, it'd throw off game balance for the entire universe. There'd be nothing special about Supergirl or any of the other Legionnaires. It's the same problem as with Daxam or Trom. "Yeah, it's a whole planet full of insanely powerful beings, but, um, they never ever do anything. Oh, and neither do any of these other planets full of insanely powerful beings." At least they've fixed the Trom thing by putting the 60-second limit on their powers. But in the case of Daxam (for instance)... just don't have Daxam*! If you can't use it, don't have it around! It's weak to keep coming up with excuses why these tremendously unbalancing societal elements actually don't unbalance society. Fish or get off the pot, is what I say.

I also have a problem with the LSV. That problem is this:

We don't know who they are.

Mostly. We know that Quake Lad is Seiss; we've seen Polar Boy and those other malarkeys, even if we don't have all their names. Nemesis Kid is there. Jeyra Entinn we know pretty well. We know there are some giants. But there are a lot of them on that last page we've simply never been introduced to, and we don't know their names or powers or anything. And I don't like that because:

a) this is a superhero comic. It has been the conventional wisdom for a long time--and for good reason!--that in superhero comics, the villains need to be interesting. Some would say, even more interesting than the hero. But these guys can't be interesting because, drum roll, we don't know them.

b) we've already seen the Legion fight a bunch of villains who we only knew a little about. They were called Terror Firma. Guess what? Didn't work then either.

c) I just don't like it. Introduce your characters, for God's sake. What is this, Russia?

Don't get me wrong: I'm not complaining (yet) that we don't know what these guys are up to, or what Tarik the Mute's motivation is, or anything. That's fine. That will come out. And I know it's difficult. This comic book has a large cast, all of whom need some screen time, so there isn't a lot of time to spend on the villains**. All I'm saying is that I need a name for that guy in the green, with the orange eyes, who's stepping on Shadow Lass's head. (To invent an example.)

Now some good stuff. Barry Kitson's art is at its usual high level. I was particularly intrigued by his rendition of Saturn Girl melding her mind with Phantom Girl's body as they visit the Phantom Zone. It's pretty cool.

I liked Supergirl's stunt to defeat the LSV on Rokyn. I like Cosmic Boy's bitter, deadpan sense of humour. I like Ayla's warm personality.

I sort of liked the scene where Cosmic Boy invites Supergirl to come back with the Legion instead of staying on Rokyn, but I was distracted. I couldn't help but wonder who was being manipulated here--me or Kara? Or both, I guess. I was definitely being manipulated. There goes poor lonely Supergirl. She has to stay in this little city on the edge of the universe in the 31st century for the rest of her life. But then: wait! Cosmic Boy's asking her to come back with the Legion instead! Yay! Big hug! Awwww. I mean, I liked it. It was a bit over the top, but that's okay.

But then Brainiac 5 says, "Did she really think we were going to let her keep the flight ring?" Which I'm taking to mean, did she think she was going to be able to keep the flight ring with her on Rokyn, as opposed to, does she think she still gets to keep the flight ring even now. So: she and the Legion are parting. They're saying goodbye. They turn away from each other. And she's still got her ring. Until Cosmic Boy says something, and then she leaves with them. What's going on here? If she still had the ring at that point, they must have known that she'd be coming home with them. So why let things go on that long?

Now, we can say that the Legionnaires were finding out a lot of this stuff about Rokyn for the first time. And that they just didn't happen to mention the ring thing to Kara but were going to in a minute.

Maybe, though, that little tableau at the end was staged for Kara's benefit, to make her choose the Legion over Rokyn. Depending on how shrewd you give Rokk and Brainy and Imra credit for being, maybe the whole trip to Rokyn was made with that purpose in mind: to bind Kara more tightly to the Legion. (From the Legion's point of view. From a plot-point point of view, the purpose of the trip to Rokyn was to link the Legion up with Mon-El.) So I was distracted.

The comic wasn't as action-packed as I had hoped after last issue; basically the only fighting was Supergirl's scuffle with the LSV. But it did step along nicely, and next issue looks to have a lot more conflagration in it.

*We haven't met any 31st-century Daxamites yet, but the place was mentioned in the first issue.

**or on what's happening with Sun Boy and Terror Firma. I hope it's a pretty slow countdown.

Labels: ,