Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #3 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

The Legion is holding membership tryouts on a fake planet at the edge of the solar system (for safety), and it doesn't go well; no candidates distinguish themselves. Then Infectious Lass shows up and demonstrates her powers, by cooking up a temporary disease that causes Legionnaires to switch powers and some aspects of their appearances with each other. Just as they're taking this in, the Khunds attack and easily capture the Legion. However, it works out okay, because the Khunds have prepared for this battle by creating restraints that are specific to each Legionnaire's powers. But since they don't have the right powers, they easily escape and, given time to get their bearings, defeat the Khunds.


Now that was just really good.

This issue was written by Scott Beatty, who one-upped J. Torres very nicely; I hope Mr. Torres can return the favour next issue. For that matter, I hope Tony Bedard and his eventual successor are taking note.

The power-switching thing is a time-honoured Comic Book Cheap Trick and makes for a perfect done-in-one story. Sanford Greene's art supports the premise by blending the appearances of different pairs of Legionnaires together in some oddly natural-looking ways. The whole thing is just done really well from start to finish. There's action, there's not too much exposition (but enough!), there're some nice moments where the Legionnaires have to explain how to use their powers to each other (or am I the only one who finds that stuff interesting?)... I don't know what else I'd ask for.

In this post I talked about Infectious Lass's signature moment, the one appearance of hers that exemplifies why she's a good character. But if I had to write it over again, I'd pick this issue. Because here she uses her powers for something other than just making people have a chat with Ralph and York on the great white telephone. Here, her powers are versatile, and versatility is important when it comes to superpowers.

Membership Notes:

Infectious Lass gets offered membership, but turns it down to hone her powers with the Subs. We see many other familiar faces among the rejected applicants (mostly the same ones from the tryout episodes of the cartoon), and a couple of unfamiliar ones: a blonde girl with a red outfit, and a guy named Invulnera-Boy (why's he got a 'B' on his chest? Is that for 'Boy'?). No new Legionnaires, though.

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Blogger RavenScholar said...

I liked Imra with Superman's powers. The scene of her busting out of her restraints was really cool.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When people talk of a return to the silver age,they should be referring to just the kind of high concept story ideas that this issue displays.Back then,that idea would be right on the cover.Missed a trick here.There's a reason power switching is a superhero perennial;it works.
No matter how "sophisicated" the Legion gets,if they ever drop Legion tryouts,it will be a step too far.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I don't even see why we need to return to the Silver Age. I like this age just fine, at its best.

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The present can always learn from the past.Back then,a story was often built around an eye-catching cover.Didn't always work,but it created story ideas that were a more natural fit for superheroes than the soap operatics in vogue today.I'm all for characterization but that can be overemphasized to the point where a superhero comic can seem like an episode of The Hills,which is not what a superhero comic should be like.

1:42 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm all for learning from the past. It's a good idea... but it's not the only good idea. In general I think Legion comics tend to be too much focused on the past, and I'd like to move away from that.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By looking to the past,I meant in terms of storytelling,not rehashing old ideas.Indeed,that was the MO back then,when they were aiming for a general audience.That's something they should get back to doing now.

12:24 PM  

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