Friday, January 02, 2009

Legion of Super-Heroes #49 Review

Countdown: Four Legion comics left.

What Happened That You Have to Know About: Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl are worried about Projectra. She sees this as a threat to her plans (which include punishing the United Planets and the Legion for allowing Orando to be destroyed), and attacks Phantom Girl, injuring her seriously. Saturn Girl catches her at it, and Projectra uses her powers to alter both of their memories and cover the whole thing up. Meanwhile, Brainy leads a team to the intruder planet to try to analyze it and find a way to fight the... enemy, let's call them. At the end of the issue, the entire United Planets is attacked by hordes of destroyers.

Review: Francis Manapul's art was up to its usual standard. I particularly liked the sequence on the intruder planet.

It's nice to see that Timber Wolf has not completely lost the plot. (I refer to how he saved Phantom Girl, whom he doesn't like or respect, after her fight with Jeckie.) It's funny, though... Brainy used to trust him, but he doesn't anymore. Yet it was, arguably, Brainy who made Brin like this. And now Jeckie doesn't trust him either? I wouldn't be surprised if Timber Wolf was the key character in the next and final issue.

Speaking of the final issue, the way I see it, there's only one way for all of this to be wrapped up in one comic book, and that's for the Projectra story and the destroyer story to be a single story. There are a couple of ways that could happen. The simplest is for Projectra to be the one behind the destroyers, which sounds stupid but could be easily made to work, given some of the groundwork that's been laid. Second simplest is for Projectra and the destroyers to beat each other. I'm not sure what's third simplest, but I will point out how ironic it is for Projectra to go around wiping Legionnaires' memories because she's mad about what happened to Orando. After all, the destruction of Orando was caused by Lemnos, who was the original memory-wiper.

Until recently I had had little experience with reading a Legion comic as it wound down to nothingness. And I find that as it happens in this title, I'm becoming impatient with aspects of it. Shooter's characterizations of the Legionnaires seem kind of rudimentary next to what Waid did, and there's no hope that they'll ever be developed any further. There was a lot of potential in this title, and we're not going to get the chance to see what can be made of it. This was actually a pretty good issue, but it's hard to keep that in mind when you consider the penultimateness of it. Is that why I don't have a lot to say about this issue? I can think of a few things I want to talk about, but they all feel like I should wait until next issue to start.

I really do want to see what happens next issue! Both Projectra and the destroyers are formidable foes, and it's really not clear what's to be done about either of them, or what might happen along the way. LSHv5 #50 could turn out to be quite a good comic book. And that's important, right? That's the object of the exercise.

- I wonder if the anti-energy of the intruder planet has anything to do with Wildfire.
- Aha! Norima! I knew it!
- Okay. Brainy says that his computers couldn't handle all the data about the intruder planet. Telling the truth? Lying?
- Likewise, I suspect Saturn Girl of faking defeat in her clash with Jeckie. It would be just like Imra to do that. Well, original Imra or reboot Imra or animated Imra, anyway.
- Saturn Girl's account of her encounter with Ultra Boy is not consistent with what I read in the comic book.
- Check out Brin's fingernails when he twists Phantom Girl's flight ring. That's some good detail right there.
- President Kieselbach's husband died in the Khund War, huh? What happened to the millennium of peace and prosperity?
- What a weird time to give Sizzle a chance for the spotlight.

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Blogger snell said...

One thought that hit me as we saw Projectra go completely over to the nutsy side is that this is the same Jim Shooter who had Hank Pym slap the Wasp around. Jeckie is the Legion's Yellowjacket. But as you point out, we're not going to be given time to properly deal with the whole issue...

12:32 AM  
Blogger plackbus said...

i think that Shooter is finally hitting his pace, and Manapul is improving with each issue. Its been a more interesting title compared to the complete cardboardness of the Waid issues. between Waid and Kitsons stiff art it was a real boring generic comic. both approaches give us a more juvenile "for kids" style, but Shooter is managing to put some life into the characters. so I disagree with your rudimentary characterization statement. all of it seems flat compared to the Levitz, Giffen and even recent Geoff Johns stuff, but i think given time Shooter could have taken it somewhere. i will miss this title. i assume Johns will have a role in the new adventure series but i worry he has to much on his plate.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

snell: Jeckie's a lot worse than that. After all, in interviews, Shooter has confirmed that she is the 'One Evil'.

I wish that Shooter's run hadn't started out with (what was intended to be) a sixteen-issue mega-arc. If we had had some smaller complete stories in the can at this stage, things might feel a lot different.

plackbus: You're never going to get me to agree with you about the Waid/Kitson run. I'm perfectly willing to admit its flaws (and have done so numerous times on this site), but I insist on its strengths too. I don't think Shooter's done a bad job at all, and he's done some things quite well, but I prefer Waid's portrayals of these Legionnaires. More nuanced.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Christopher Bird said...

It really doesn't matter how bad Shooter's run is - and at the very least it's startingly mediocre comics - because longtime Legion fans will refuse to admit that it is anything other than solid.

But, seriously: these are mediocre comics. Manapul's art is decent. Shooter's plotting is okayish with some questionable choices (and that's being generous to Shooter). Shooter's dialogue is horrible, though, and as Jeph Loeb has revealed, you can get away with shitty plot if you have dialogue the fans consider entertaining, but the other way around, not so much.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm a perpetual optimist when it comes to the comics I collect. I got every issue of the 1980s Blue Beetle series because I could see it starting to get really good any issue now. And then it was cancelled.

Shooter's run hasn't been as bad as I was afraid it was going to be. And there are some things about it I like. Most of all, I prefer it to the featureless void that is currently scheduled to follow LSHv5 #50, and I prefer it to some theoretical Geoff-Johns-penned Legion of Nostalgic-Heroes.

4:17 PM  
Blogger plackbus said...

i don't know Waids run well enough to debate him versus Shooter. but i felt like it was too perfect. I think the fact that Shooter is so flawed might be a bit exciting. i mean, who knows what that guy will do. If i think quickly about the recent runs its the artists who define them for me. i think Kitson is an uninspired artist. the costumes were boring. the colors were dull. it was a lifeless future. A sort of mediocre blend of design. Manapul brought a little life back into it, a bit more dynamic, and i am not a fan of cartoony stuff. i prefer Frank in that short Action run, even though his perfection becomes generic as well. But the costumes were alive again. and the character choice was great. i like dawnstar and wildfire way more then endless cosmic boy /lightning lad drama. but again, the high point of the legion for me was the end of the levitz/giffen run right before Giffen rebooted it as a dystopian future. Giffen redesigned some costumes right then(timber wolf,wildfire,dawnstar on the cover of a maybe late 40's early 50's issue) and they were exciting. not conservative like Kitson. i want to see some style in my Legion. its was looking like a republican convention until manapul took over. come on, these are kids(and Waid pointed that out over and over how fiercely kidlike and rebelious they were), they should show some independence from eachother. And i loved Giffens reboot. that was crazy. that was surprising. and it was still in line with history. just jumped into the future. then it got confusing as fuck but i think it could still plausibly work with continuity. but now its a mess in the classic DC "panics and changes everything" mode.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I've never been that preoccupied with the costumes, but I like both Kitson's and Manapul's takes on the Legion (and let's not forget Dennis Calero!). And I agree with you about Giffen's 5YL Legion. As for Frank... everybody tells me how great he is, and maybe he is, but I can't get past the eyes on his characters--too wild and wide.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Christopher Bird said...

Most of all, I prefer it to the featureless void that is currently scheduled to follow LSHv5 #50, and I prefer it to some theoretical Geoff-Johns-penned Legion of Nostalgic-Heroes.

Well, I mostly agree with you, as you know, but at this point I'm kind of anticipating the inevitable Geoff Johns throwback Legion just so I can dwell in the schadenfreude of watching it gradually shrink down to sales nothingness (as it will do), and watching the final nail in the Levitz triumphalists' argument get pulled out forever.

As for Shooter's work: it's just not very good. Of course, most of the superhero stuff DC is publishing now isn't very good either, so it's not distinguishably bad, at least; it's the perfect Legion for the bland, boring morass that is the DCU these days.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, you never know: when the Legion eventually resurfaces on a full-time basis, as they inevitably will, it could be with Johns as co-writer, like he was with Booster Gold. Then he leaves after two arcs and the other co-writer takes over full-time. And who knows what we'll get out of this theoretical second guy?

Plus, it's possible that Johns has something in mind besides nostalgia. There's not much evidence of it so far, but I assume he's bright enough to realize that the past is not enough. I think Rick Nelson said it best when he said, "If memories were all I sang, I'd rather drive a truck."

6:18 PM  
Blogger snell said...

Well, whatever else you can say about Johns (and I'll admit I have serious reservations about what his take on the Legion might be), his books do sell, and quite well. So I'd be surprised if his Legion "shrank down to sales nothingness." He turned perpetual second-tier sellers JSA and Green Lantern into hits (with GL now supporting 2 books!!); if he can do that for the Legion, well, it would be nice.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That's a point. I'm not too worried about Johns's ability to produce a well-crafted Legion comic. I'm just worried that it won't be interesting. I enjoyed the arc in Action Comics quite a lot, but there wasn't a single thing in it that intrigued me.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Brainy's brain has proven to be better then any computer I'm half suspecting the data went SOMEWHERE other then his computer. I'm still wondering how this will be patched up in the next issue. One issue to repair lots of loose ends.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...


9:13 PM  
Blogger Jae said...

I agree that Projectra/Destroyers have to be the same side of the coin to tie up loose ends. But, then I'm assuming a lot of loose ends will be either ignored or tied up like the anti-climactic, "Oh yeah!' reunion of the Trips in the animated series. I'm expecting a whimper of an ending based on the Brainy/Dreamy "resolution" -- Hey! We're in love! Let's get married! In my dreams!" I half expected a shotgun and the presence of an Alabama Justice of the Peace it was so fast.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I wouldn't be surprised if some loose ends were ignored, but Projectra and the destroyers aren't just loose ends; they're the two halves of the main story. Whatever happened to Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl, that's a loose end.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I finished this book, I felt sad. It wasn't because the series is nearly over. Looking back, I realized that the women were basically screwed during this run. And not always in the fun way.

- Projectra: lost planet,persecuted, became a rampaging psicho
- Phantom Girl:threatened, then brutalized
- Gazelle: despized by her own people
- Night Girl: wardrobe malfunction last issue.
- Light Lass: nearly raped
- Dream Girl: dead, surviving only in Brainiac 5's head to fawn over him.

Those are just the ones at the top of my head. I'm ommiting Saturn Girl, or the post will be too long (and whinier).
For all that it's worth, that only reminded me of how much I won't miss that run of Legion.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It's true.

But if you think about it, the male characters don't come off a lot better. Shooter's not making hardly anybody look good. Ultra Boy, maybe.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets see... Again, just the ones I can remember:
- Brainiac 5: Fiancé is a ghost; considerable risk of loosing his mind. Still, he's the one who runs the show.
- Lightnning Lad: Trouble adapting to leadership role. Heart broken by the love of his life. Nailed the President.
- Colossal Boy: Took a beating in Rimbor. Better now.
- Ultra-Boy: Wanted in his own planet by the police. Has to drive women away with a stick.
- Element Lad: Has a girlfriend now.
- Invisible Kid: Took a lot of abuse, but eventually proved himself, made ammends with his father, has crush on pretty girl.
- Chameleon Boy: Had hand chopped off. It grew back.
- Star Boy: helped save the Earth. Probably feeling tired.
- Sun Boy: Left Legion, disapointed by his own team, back in the Legion.
- Timber Wolf - Possibly the one with most reasons to complain: Exposed to radiation; loosing reason and, probably, his humanity; most likely to die by next issue. Framed by his own insane girlfriend.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Two bits that caught my interest here:

* Twisting the flight ring top sends a distress call. Wow, that goes back to, what 1972 or so?

* Brainy wasn't an asshole this issue? Brusque and blunt, maybe, but no "You couldn't pull your head out of a Venusian guinea pig if I gave you a map and pliers" insults. Refreshing!

I couldn't figure out if Tinya is supposed to die next issue or not. Will she survive the night?

4:53 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

anonymous: That kind of thing. I'd also add for Invisible Kid that all of a sudden he can't bear to be in the spotlight, which wasn't true under Waid.

Jim: At the end of the issue they said that Tinya was out of the woods. I think she'll fully recover. If I had to guess who was going to die, I'd pick Timber Wolf or Sun Boy. Or maybe Saturn Girl.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or is Cosmic Boy still gone? No one has even mentioned him in something like 20 issues. Or did I miss something?

3:22 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It's not just you. You missed nothing.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Val and Lu are missing as well, of course. I know some say they went off to Countdown and died there, but that's supported by nothing other than it was those two who went missing.

But I think your implication has merit: no better time to bring Cos back than to end the nasty plot and close down the v5 series.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Aha! But!

In FC:L3W #2, when the threeboot Legion is conjured up by Brainy and Phantom Girl and the White Witch, threeboot Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl are there with them, and Cosmic Boy isn't! And, Jeckie is there, but Sun Boy and Gazelle aren't! So it's really not clear just what's going to happen with the threeboot timeline...

2:13 PM  

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