Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #26 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

First I'll mention that in this issue we get some backstory on the Ranzz siblings and on Mon-El. The Ranzzes have the standard lightning-beasts-of-Korbal origin, but with a few minor tweaks, and Mon-El’s origin seems to match his classic story too.

The Legion finishes busting out of their headquarters, tracks down Mekt and the Wanderers and confronts them. Mekt brings everyone up to speed with the Dominators' plot (and about how he steered the Legion toward Mon-El), which is about to hatch in Megatokyo. Supergirl, Ultra Boy, Mon-El and Brainy speed off to do some recon, and fight some robots. That goes okay until the ground erupts and a giant freaking Dominator-looking robot climbs out and starts raising hell. It's strangely flimsy, though, and Supergirl, Ultra Boy and Mon-El are making quick work of it when its insides open up and this red stuff comes out and spreads rapidly all over the world. They ask Brainy what's going on and he says, "We’ve lost."


Okay, let's see if we can look back and figure out the plot, here...

Here’s the Dominators’ plan. They want to conquer the Earth. That sort of thing is their bag, baby. So they co-opt the robot rebellion and send some... what is it, nanotech? Some kind of bio-agent? Whatever. They send the robots some kind of payload (and get some help from Supergirl and the Legion in delivering it to the ground, in #16) and the robots build a big pinata robot underneath Tokyo to disperse it properly. Of course, the robots have some other projects of their own on the go, which helps to distract the Legion from the Dominion thing in Megatokyo.

Meanwhile, Mekt wants to fight the Dominators and save the Earth. But he doesn't think much of the Legion; they're too naive and scrupulous for him, and he has issues with Lightning Lad and Light Lass anyway. So he starts recruiting his own team, the Wanderers. He even signs up Jeyra Entinn, who had previously done contract work for the robots. But he needs the Legion's help to retrieve the legendary Phantom-Zone-trapped hero Mon-El. So he gets his recruits to start committing pointless crimes, stealing random ancient artifacts. Not because he wants them; just to get the Legion used to the idea that someone's collecting old stuff. That way, when the Wanderers go to Rokyn to get the Phantom Zone projector, the Legion won't think another thing about it. The Wanderers will let the Legion win and, more importantly, let them have the projector, the Legion will release Mon-El, and Mekt will have the White Witch teleport Mon to the Wanderers when she also gets the Legionnaires he wants to recruit.

Does that make sense? It gets a little weird in a couple of places, mostly because of Supergirl. Supergirl muddies the waters in two places: when the Dominator missile was headed for Earth, and on Rokyn. If you reread #16 and #17, it’s possible now to separate the two projectiles speeding at the Earth (Supergirl and the Dominator missile) and to figure out what the Dominators had in mind. It’s trickier in #23 and #24, because it’s obviously Mekt’s plan to let the Legion have the Phantom Zone projector so Brainy can use it safely… but how did he know that the Legion would be on Rokyn at all? The only thing I can figure is that they were going to stay there until the Legion showed up to investigate (because the Wanderers’ Rokyn squad was pretending to be the Legion in the first place), and the group of Legionnaires that were there simply got there earlier than the Wanderers were expecting.

But I’m not satisfied yet. I want to know how Tarik the Mute comes into this. I want to know how that weightlifter Dominator who attacked Sun Boy and his merry band comes into this. And I want to see some meaningful fighting.

The lettering was kind of weird in this issue. There were extra spaces after every word in boldface. How is lettering done these days? Are the word balloons typed in by computer, or written in by hand? After seeing the results here, I have to imagine that it’s not by hand. Anyway, it made a lot of character speeches kind of choppy to read and I’m against it.

Mon-El seems to have adjusted to his new circumstances unusually quickly. He’s only been out of the Phantom Zone for about three minutes and he’s already taking orders from Cosmic Boy. For that matter, Cosmic Boy took forever to invite Supergirl into the Legion compared with how fast off the mark he was with Mon. Last issue, Mon-El and Supergirl were trying to kill each other; this issue they have a very friendly conversation. I don’t know; maybe Mon-El’s just going with the flow. Or maybe Mark Waid just wants to go full speed ahead with his plot and is forcing Mon-El to keep up with him. The way the Legion and Wanderers have started working together—well, almost--without much animosity is also kind of quick.

We’ve got three conflicts building in this issue: the Legion and Wanderers versus the Dominion, most obviously, but also the Legion’s methods versus the Wanderers’ methods, and, hidden under that one, a personal conflict between Garth and Ayla and Mekt. I expect there to be some confusion in the story about whether the friction between the Legion and Wanderers is to be taken at face value or if it’s just a manifestation of Mekt’s family issues.

I keep thinking there’s something missing from this issue, but there’s nothing I can put my finger on. There’s action, there’s character stuff, it’s all well done, the plot is pushed along sufficiently… I think it’s just that I’m ready for this arc to be over. We’ve been dealing with the Wanderers and Dominators and the stupid robots since #16, and this is #26. That’s too long.

Membership Notes: There are 23 silhouettes on the splash page. Hmm…

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