Friday, December 28, 2007

Action Comics: Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes (Part 3-#860)

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

The Just Not League has discovered Superman's arrival in the future, but decides to stay the course. Superman, Colossal Boy, Wildfire and Dawnstar raid an alien holding camp, rescue some people (including Polar Boy), and trace Brainy to Colu. Colu seems to be even more xenophobic than Earth these days. Then they go to the Legion's new clubhouse, an underground-railroad kinda place where the Legionnaires use stargates to evacuate aliens from Earth. They set up a stargate trip to Colu, but then the Justice League attacks, and Superman, Wildfire, Dawnstar, and possibly Colossal Boy and Polar Boy only just get away through the stargate. They crashland on Colu where some zombielike Coluans try to eat their brains. They're brought before the new Coluan leader, who is, unsurprisingly, Brainiac 5. Brainy sentences Superman and the other Legionnaires to death.

Not Quite a Review:

I'm falling more and more out of love with Gary Frank's art with each succeeding issue. Maybe it's unsophisticated of me to dwell on this, but I just can't get past how he depicts the characters' faces. Everybody has a bad case of the Manson Lamps, everyone's an unsettling veiny mix of pale and shadowy, and even the bodies often look awkward. I think it was the full-page shot of Shady and Lydda where I finally decided that Frank just wasn't doing it for me.

I'd have to check, but is there a resemblance between the Legion's new underground-railroad clubhouse, and Nightowl's Owlcave from Watchmen? Maybe it's just me.

The story advanced only a little this issue. Really, the only thing that happened worth mentioning was that they got to Colu and met Brainy. The rest is just more of what we already had. We've already had the setup; I hope there are actually some intriguing developments to come before the final resolution. We've got three issues to go, and I don't want the next two to be wasted.

Speaking of the final resolution, I hope we haven't met the main villain yet. 'Earth-Man' doesn't cut it. Polar Boy seems to agree with me that these Justice Leaguers aren't much of an opposition. Look at how Storm Boy is characterized--he's totally insecure about his position as a 'superhero'. Calling the Legionnaires 'bullies'. I don't object to characterizing him that way, but it's not going to be satisfying to have the Legion knock over these yutzes--they need a foeman worthy of their steel.

For now, though, they're the only real villains we've got in the story, which doesn't bode well for the Legionnaires and refugees Superman and crew left behind in the underground lair (Night Girl, Shadow Lass, Lightning Lass, Timber Wolf, at least); the JLA can't lose this fight or it lets a lot of the air out of the plot. I presume Earth-Man will be adding their powers to his own in short order.

I've run into the notion that this is the best Legion story since the Robotica story early in DnA's The Legion series. I have a couple of problems with that. First, this is primarily a Superman story. That doesn't mean it can't be a Legion story, but it does mean that it might not be. We'll know more about that once it's over, anyway. The other thing is... how much of this is really new? We've seen the Earth turned against the Legion before, we've seen Legion rejects banding together for revenge before... the Superman angle is kind of cute, though. I'm certainly willing to admit it's the best extended Legion story since the Lemnos arc, anyway.

Running Legion Count: We encounter Polar Boy, Shadow Lass, Night Girl, Lightning Lass and Timber Wolf this issue, and get news about Mon-El (back in the Phantom Zone), the White Witch (prisoner of Mordru), Chameleon Boy (back on Durla), the rest of the Subs (deep underground), and, not that he was ever a Legionnaire, Double-Header (dead). I'm going to assume that Night Girl is a Legionnaire now (Colossal Boy does hand her a flight ring), although I'd like it to have been said a little more explicitly.

(New entries this week in bold)

Bouncing Boy*, Blok*, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy*, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl*, Element Lad*, Ferro Lad*, Invisible Kid I*, Invisible Kid II*, Karate Kid*, Light Lass, Lightning Lad, Matter-Eater Lad*, Mon-El*, Night Girl, Phantom Girl*, Polar Boy, Princess Projectra/Sensor Girl*, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet*, Spider Girl, Star Boy/Starman*, Storm Boy, Sun Boy*, Superman, Timber Wolf, Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel*, Ultra Boy*, Wildfire (33) (* only in brief flashback or non-speaking background appearance: 18)

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Blogger Timothy Callahan said...

I don't mind Frank's faces at all, except for the way he draws eyes. That just looks wrong--like they're all coked-up.

I think I'll probably blog about this issue at some point, and address the art in more detail, but I did like this issue quite a bit. It was a good Legion week for me.

By the way, did you ever listen to the Johns interview where he talks about this arc? He does emphasize that it's NOT a Legion story. It's a Superman story first and foremost. So, you're absolutely right about that.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, my opinion is partly based on what Johns said, so it's not like I came up with it completely on my own. But even before he said that, the way DC was describing the arc, about Superman going to his high school reunion and all that, did indicate that the focus was on Superman here. Which is only fair: this is, after all, Action Comics.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Bryan-Mitchell said...

Frank draws everyone like they are starving to death. It is just creepy.

I am not liking this storyline at all (why would Polar Boy need to put his ring on his right arm? An arm that is made of ice which could melt or shatter leaving his ring laying on the floor. Were Shadow Lass and Night Girl just hanging out in the prison? Are we really supposed to believe that Colu's tech hasn't advanced enough in the last 1000 years that Braniac is still either able to take over or at the very least influencing robot looks?)
My hope is that there will be some time travel to wipe out this continuity.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

1. I saw the ice hand not as a solid chunk of ice but as a manifestation of Polar Boy's cold-power, that he can now control to a *ridiculously precise* degree, shaped like a hand and just 'wearing' ice around it. Therefore, it can't be melted or shattered, as it'll just reform immediately.

2. I think we missed a transition where the Legion traveled to wherever Shady and Lydda were.

3. Maybe the Coluans invited Brainy to take over.

My hope is that there will be some time travel to wipe out this continuity.

Enh. I don't think it's a bad take on the Legion, or anything, and it's got time to get better, either in this story or in whatever DC gets up to with them next year.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Deq Zekker said...

My problem is with Geoff Johns' writing. Everyone seems all too chummy; even the antagonism between Wildfire and Timber Wolf feels forced. Though I guess this is part of this being a "reunion" story.

I'm hoping all the great experiments in the current Legion title won't be ignored for the over-surplus of nostalgia coming from the Action Comics arc.

12:21 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Ah, well, the Legionnaires are supposed to be friends; no objection from me on that score.

And I guess this is our opportunity to find out what Legion fans want: to go back, or to move on.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

"We've seen the Earth turned against the Legion before"

Mmm, you're right. This is the Legion on the run, they've gone traipsing through the sewers, Earth is turned against them...

Ergo, Universo is the big villain.

As for Gray Frank's faces, it's partly the too-big staring Ditko eyes, but it's also the lack of fill fat in the faces. Night Girl was what clinched it for me: she looked like a 60-year old woman after botox and four face lifts. Everything pulled and frozen and a little too tight.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Universo's the sensible choice, but my money's still on the dark horse, Dr. Regulus. At least I think he's involved somehow.

10:18 PM  

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