Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #35 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

Despite Timber Wolf's new radiation-fueled power boost and attendant feral look, Wildfire gets past him and Shady to the Lallor president's office. Atom Girl's there, though, and she talks him out of killing anyone before she neutralizes Wildfire's brother Randall.

Meanwhile, Lightning Lad, Supergirl and Saturn Girl meet Evolvo Lad, who's been building a time machine. He takes out Lightning Lad and Supergirl quite easily, and we see that his time machine is calibrated on the time and place in 52 when Supergirl reappeared in the 21st century.


Hmm. The Lallor story probably could have been told in an issue, but instead we got an issue and a half. I guess that's not bad. Similarly, we're going to be getting about an issue and a half for the Evolvo Lad thing. That's a pace I can live with.

Another strong performance from Dennis Calero. I liked the one panel where we see Brainiac 5's jaw while Atom Girl is giving Wildfire a way out. Here's an analogy: Dennis Calero:men's mouths::Barry Kitson:line of the part in women's hair. Oh, and I like the size-changing effects on Atom Girl (and, I suppose, Micro Lad, as shown on the cover).

One aspect of this issue got me thinking about the whole aspect of turnaround time in comics. As in, once issue #34 came out, was there time to make any changes to issue #35? Because Shady and Atom Girl seemed kinda bloodthirsty in #34, and Wildfire was an assassin, and we had our doubts about Brainy from that whole mess on Winath, and a lot of people did not like this trend... and then in #35 we get reassurances all around that Atom Girl and Brainy and Wildfire would never kill anybody (I guess we caught Wildfire on his first job as an assassin). To which my reaction is twofold. First, I'm glad that Bedard and Calero thought that the point was worth making; thanks. Second, I can buy this in the cases of Atom Girl (she said, “You waste the president and whatever’s worthwhile inside you dies, too.” She said that!) and Wildfire but I still need some more details when it comes to Brainy. (Maybe part of this is that Calero's style can make his male characters look smug.)

In particular I like what gets revealed to us about Atom Girl here. It works well with what's been previously established about her. In her conversation with Invisible Kid back in #14, we found out she likes other people to think she's a badass. The scene where she subdues Randall supports this: she basically threatens to blow his head off, and he calls her bluff. She doesn't shoot him, but she has a backup plan anyway (one that involves cracking him one on the melon). Someone who projected her hard-as-nails persona out of insecurity might have panicked when Randall went for the gun, but Atom Girl didn't hesitate before reacting effectively, suggesting that hers is a calculated act. Her attraction to Wildfire is harder to figure. I guess she's brash enough to announce it like she did, even on such a short acquaintance in the shy 31st century, but why Wildfire? Guy's just energy in a containment suit; what's to be attracted to? One possible answer: maybe she's not really that interested in men, like one or two earlier versions of her character, and so she's fooling herself by glomming onto a guy who's not sexually unavailable. Works even better than the long-distance relationship with the empty suit that was Duplicate Boy.

I'm proud to say that I anticipated Atom Girl's stunt with the telephone as soon as she said, "Is that a land line?" A blast from the past. This is the kind of thing that Mark Waid's been doing in The Brave and the Bold, resurrecting forgotten signature moments. I don't think Ryan Choi's done that trick yet, so I'm glad that Atom Girl is keeping the faith. And, really? She intentionally named herself after Ray Palmer? That's dashed interesting. Ray Palmer is, of course, about as close as the present-day DCU can come to Brainiac 5... (well, okay, he's not; Vril Dox is. But still.)

Timber Wolf, on the other hand... it's interesting that he's got this resistance to radiation, if that's indeed what it is, and I'm resigned to the savage look (but why does he look like his nose is twisted to the side? He's named after a wolf, not a spoonbill), but we really didn't get to know him as much as I hoped we were going to. He basically traded a few punches with Wildfire and that was it.

Meanwhile, Supergirl, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl. So far their story is looking pretty rudimentary. They fly over the jungle and fight Evolvo Lad. I hope there's going to be more to it than that. What's he even up to?

While we're on the subject of 52... I enjoyed 52, but in a lot of ways it didn't do what it was supposed to do. One of its functions was supposed to be to fill in the gap between Infinite Crisis and 'One Year Later'... but it didn't really focus on that stuff, the connecting material, and that aspect mostly got shoved to the side. But Bedard and Calero have been given a similar mission with their six issues, to fill in the gap between Mark Waid and Jim Shooter, and they're doing it admirably. The way I understand it, Bedard and Calero were given a short list of things to set up for Shooter's run, and look what they've already done in five issues. Shooter's going to be inheriting a Legion, it looks like, that doesn't have Supergirl or Cosmic Boy, but does have Sun Boy, Wildfire and Terror Firma (maybe). The Wanderers aren't around any longer and the Legion is ready for a new leader and a new HQ, and the Legion is now prominent and respected enough that Brainy can “fast-track Lallor’s U.P. induction”. And they got some decent story out of it too (the Winath part especially). So, nice job. Bedard and Calero may be remembered as footnotes in Legion history, but I think they deserve better than that.

Anyway, that's what's being accomplished on the storytelling side. What effects are the Legion's missions having in-story? The Winath mission freed some Winathish civilians from mind-control (although it's not really clear who was controlling them), cleared Cosmic Boy's name with the U.P. and got the Wanderers to leave Earth. The Lallor mission saved the Lallorian president (although it didn't clear up the civil war that was putting him in danger in the first place) and got Wildfire out of a bad situation. And the Gobi mission is going to (I figure) return Supergirl to the past and stop Evolvo Lad from... doing whatever he's doing. So if this is all stuff that's being rigged by Brainy and/or Dream Girl, what's the point of it? To address these emergencies? To strengthen the Legion's position? Both? Something else?

So, not a self-contained issue, with the way the Lallor thing ended halfway through and switched to the Gobi thing, but a reassuring one in its pace and characterization. I suspect that those readers who wait for the trade will be happy with the Bedard-Calero volume.

Membership Notes:

It looks like Wildfire is probably going to join the team. We seem to be accumulating a long list of Legionnaires who may or may not be part of Shooter's Legion, based on solicited covers and recent events: Wildfire, Cosmic Boy, Dream Boy and the Terror Firma crowd. And that's not even counting Supergirl.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

agreed, good stuff all around/

11:52 AM  
Blogger snell said...

It may be that Vi--I mean Atom Girl--is not attracted to Wildfire at all, but is using his loneliness to get him to cooperate. Picture the cheerleader who pretends the nerd is cute so he'll help with her homework...

12:30 PM  
Blogger Luke said...

I enjoyed this issue quite a bit, but I think I am biased. Mainly because it had two of my favorites with Lightning Lad and Wildfire/E.R.G.-1 kicking around in it. I think Evolvo Lad is going to get a multi-megavolt wake-up call next time!

Hopefully Wildfire will be sticking around when Shooter comes back on board. I would like to see more of him and Atom Girl, even if Snell might be on the right track with the nerd-cheerleader thing. That's not how I read it (I saw it as Atom Girl being a rebel who was turned on by his power), but after reading the comment it dawned on me as being a totally reasonable possibility.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The one thing I hope about the Shooter run is that it's good. Unmistakably good. And then maybe we can stop worrying about it and just enjoy it.

9:47 PM  

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