Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #12 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

It's National Legion Day, and there's a ceremony, which Timber Wolf ducks out of because he's in a Lone Wolf kind of mood. Instead, he goes on patrol and stops a mugging, which coincidentally leads him to a Scavengers plot to blow up the Legion at the ceremony. Timber Wolf does some investigation, catches the Scavengers, and manages to get the bomb out of there before anybody got hurt. All without the rest of the Legion knowing about it.


Ethen Beavers does the art this issue, and continues this title's tradition of consistent art from rotating artists. I can't say I'm fond of his Tasmanian-Devil-looking Timber Wolf, but I don't suppose that's his fault. One thing that caught my attention was his habit of using small panels to focus in on small details as a way of transitioning from scene to scene (and also to provide circularity from the beginning to the end of the story). I don't recall him doing that in his earlier work on this title, so maybe he was trying something. I like it when people try things. Even in this case, where I had to take a second to figure out just what he was up to.

The story itself is exactly the kind of self-contained single-issue specimen that you see less and less these days. But there's something to be said in favour of a comic book that you can pick up and read without having to read anything else before or afterwards. The detective-work part is in the best tradition of superhero comics, and Timber Wolf is always a guy who works well on his own.

It's a point I've touched on before: a superhero working on his or her own has to be able to do three things to be effective. Move, attack and defend. Legionnaires all get a break on 'move' because of their flight rings, but then there aren't many people on this team who are good at both offense and defense. It's why teamwork is so important to the Legion. Imagine Light Lass or Brainiac 5 trying to handle the events of this story--they'd have a lot of trouble. Timber Wolf is one who can cope with it, though, and that's one reason he gets to work independently so often. It's a shame DC seems to have settled on this whole feral thing for his powers and persona, though.

Internet information sources seem to have reached a consensus this week that the animated series won't last past the end of this year, which is of course a shame. My outsider's reading of the situation is that the show wasn't a failure but doesn't fit into anybody's plans anymore. Oh well; we got two seasons of it, and that's more than a lot of shows get. I wonder how long this comic title will continue once the show's gone. Not forever, I know that, but how long?

So many things are temporary.

- "National Legion Day," huh? Just what nation are we talking about here?
- Brainy doesn't have to do calculations like that out loud. He should have the answer almost before it occurs to him that he needs it
- Someone said 'sprock' in a little kids' comic?! Congress is probably going to get involved in this
- Did I miss when the Scavengers started looking like cowboys?
- There was a lot of Interlac in this issue. If only I had the inclination to translate it for myself

Membership Notes:

We get a glimpse of Chameleon Boy this issue. Have we seen him before in these pages?

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Blogger Jim Drew said...

I was annoyed by "National Legion Day", too. Should have been "Planetary" or "Worldwide" or even "Intergalactic". What, you think kids who read this and watch the show can grasp the concept of a larger society than we have today?

Brainy's calculation mumbling likewise seemed to dumb him down rather than promote his smarts.

The use of Interlac was also problematic. Some of the signs near the beginning were in faux Interlac, I think, as though the artist were aping the tech style of the letters without know what to actually draw. And then later, on the bomb countdown, it actively got in the way of figuring out how close to blowing up Brin was, since you couldn't easily read the numbers. (Numeric Interlac has also been weak.)

I continue to be annoyed at using a vertical bar before every letter of a word in all caps (STOP). The comics crews need a lessons in linguistics and syntax: the bar is not part of the glyph, it's a marker that the next word is a proper noun or a sentence starter. Used with every letter of an all-caps word like the STOP sign (or in dialogue balloons, as in the Superboy crossover in 1996 or so), the bar causes clutter and degrades the reading experience without adding value. Lettering the sign as "stop" in Interlac would have been the right way to do it.

I think the Scavengers design here came from the group who were seeking the kid in the 2nd season episode. I don't recall if those were Scavengers in that episode, though; this could have just been a confusion thing.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The writer, Matthew K. Manning, (who I think has done well in the couple of issues we've seen from him) addressed a couple of these points on Legion World. He said he wasn't able to communicate with the artist about this issue, and isn't sure where the Scavengers' look came from. (But I agree with your theory about Terra-Man's posse.) Manning did say that he thought 'National' was appropriate, as you can still have a nation that's planet-wide. Not the way I'd do it, but, you know. Details.

To me, Interlac is like the hidden message that Aragones and Evanier and co. used to hide in every issue of Groo. Fun to puzzle out for a while, but after that I just don't want to pay attention to it. I'm happy treating it as background.

10:38 PM  

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