Thursday, August 26, 2010

Legion of Super-Heroes #4 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Turns out Graym and Garridan have been kidnapped by a Darkseid cult on Avalon. The cult has some kind of sacrifice in mind. Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, and Saturn Girl raid the temple and succeed in getting the twins back.

Meanwhile, Earth-Man hasn't entirely cut all ties with the xenophobic faction on Earth, but it's unclear what exactly his plans are. Dyogene and Sodam Yat manage to take a break from feeling sorry for themselves long enough to start one more search for another Green Lantern. And Brainy still has some secrets about Earth-Man's flight ring.


From one of my comments attached to last issue's review:

I could certainly imagine the Avalonians starting up a Darkseid cult

Therefore I win.

We certainly got our money's worth this time around. Garth, Ayla, and Imra stage an old-school D&D-style dungeon crawl into Darkseid's personal Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, and the fight against Zeemith and the EHP was a nifty one. I'd like a little more insight into just why the Darkseidians had to import kids from Titan instead of sacrificing domestic twins, but maybe that'll come.

It sort of feels like Levitz was trying to clear this plot out of the way. It may seem weird for me to say that, given the way I like each issue to finish a story, but I thought this particular one would take longer to play out. (Although, given next month's solicit, maybe it hasn't been resolved.)

I had a lot more to talk about when I reviewed issue 4 of the threeboot. That's because there were a lot of questions about just what Waid and Kitson were up to--who all was in this Legion, and how did they get to be the Legion, and how did they go about being superheroes, and what have you. This isn't a complaint, but the same questions just don't exist for Paul Levitz. His take on the Legion is a more conventional and uncontroversial one, and as such there are a lot of things we just don't need to think about.

I'm curious to see how the first TPB of this series is marketed. What's the title going to be? How is the overall arc going to be described? See, I don't know if there's a lot of unity to this story, as one story. Is there one plot-thread that's going to tie it all together? The Darkseid one could have done that, maybe; the Earth-Man or the Titan one... not sure. Can't wait for issue #5, to find out!

Particularly strong art this month, although it's not as densely packed as it usually is. I like the way Cinar gives each setting a different feel; Naltor especially looked good. And check out panel 3 of page 13! That's really cool. I also find that Jeckie's new costume, while it looks bizarre and off-putting with the mask, looks excellent without the mask. So maybe she can just do that. Panel Count: 125/30 pages = 4.2 panels/page. 4 single-panel pages.

- Levitz continues to not quite get Gates's voice. He's got the attitude, but he doesn't have the politics
- those speculating about Earth-Man and Shadow Lass getting together certainly didn't see anything to change their minds in this issue
- putting the Titanians and the Time Institute on Naltor makes a lot of sense. But the possible unintended consequences make the mind reel
- Ayla's reference to breaking the Legion code on killing is, as I recall, another old Levitz standard. Anybody making a drinking game for the retroboot? This should be on it

Membership Notes:

Levitz does us a solid this issue and gives us a definitive membership count: 26. (That's after Matter-Eater Lad goes back to Bismoll.) So, best I can figure it, here are our 26 current Legionnaires:

Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Chameleon Girl, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Duplicate Damsel, Earth-Man, Element Lad, Gates, Invisible Kid, Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Mon-El, Night Girl, Phantom Girl, Polar Boy, Quislet, Saturn Girl, Sensor Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Starman, Sun Boy, Tellus, Timber Wolf, Tyroc, Ultra Boy, Wildfire, XS... okay, that's 32. Which are the extra six? Looking at the Mission Monitor Board when Cosmic Boy mentions the 26 Legionnaires, I can see 26 squares. So that must be what he's talking about. In order, starting from the top left:

unknown, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Earth-Man, Phantom Girl, is that Chameleon Girl? Or who? No, we're going alphabetically, and this is everyone who's present at HQ, so it's Quislet, Sensor Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, must be Tellus, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy. Next row, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, and a blank space that must be Gates; Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, and Saturn Girl; Mon-El and Polar Boy (I don't know why they're associated); looks like Element Lad, unknown, Tyroc, and Wildfire. The first unknown must be Brainy, because it's alphabetical and he's right there; the second one must be Invisible Kid because we know damn well he's a Legionnaire and where else could he be?

That leaves Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Girl, Duplicate Damsel, Night Girl, Starman, and XS as, apparently, not Legionnaires. Not surprised about Chuck and Luornu; Levitz likes having them be in charge of the Academy and so do I. I also prefer Yera as a supporting character. But what about Night Girl, Starman, and XS? Did they not officially join/rejoin or something? (Is Starman still in the 21st century and I missed it?)

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Blogger snell said...

"I'd like a little more insight into just why the Darkseidians had to import kids from Titan instead of sacrificing domestic twins"

On page 4, the High Priest says "I used [the stone's} power to find the children touched by our lord.." Obviously, Darkseid's monkeying with them (especially Garridan) made them valuable, either as a symbol, or perhaps as a repository of some residual power...

2:35 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Missed that, thanks.

Still a lot of trouble to go to, especially if it gets the Legion on your case.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

One gaffe I saw was that Lightning Lad refers to himself and his sister as identical twins. They're not, for at least one obvious reason.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Don't try to use your silly Earth science on Winathians.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Murray said...

I don't think that Starman is still in the 21st century so I'm assuming that he *ought* to be among the Legionnaires. Ditto XS. I mean, didn't Gates stick around on the pretext of wanting to keep Jenni company or something when he decided to jump universes in the 3 Worlds story.
As for Chameleon Girl and Night Lass, while I'd prefer that they remain background characters, I think it's been established that they are members now... so we ought to see some explanation if that's no longer the case.
Gotta admit I'm bummed about losing Tenzil, but I guess that you can't have everyone.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Night Lass? Night Lass, Murray?

Murray, Murray, Murray.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Meerkatdon said...

Night Lass. Harumph.

Don't you know that she's Nightning Lass now?

1:53 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

Ooops. Don't know what I was thinking... although Nightning Lass has a pretty cool ring to it.

I'll go sit in the corner and read the Subs Special as a way to make it up to Lydda.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Even though she's not in it.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

Well come on... do you think she wants to be in it? She's probably pretty pleased that she came out of that whole thing unscathed. :)

6:49 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

You could go for the Cosmic Boy miniseries instead; she was pretty cool in that.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

Deal. I love me some Ernie Colon art!

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we're cooking.There's a main story being set up or resolved, supported by subplots giving a sense of narrative momentum.This is how a monthly comic should be done.
No Saturn Queen this month.Missed her;Levitz has given her a real presence.Hope she makes a quick comeback,with or without the LSV.
Projectra doesn't seem to have a problem with Earth Man having a feel.What's he got in mind?
Best issue yet.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Credit where it's due: I think Geoff Johns did a lot of the important work with Saturn Queen. Couldn't tell how much Levitz was drawing on his take on her, but if he didn't I think he missed a bet.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Brainy Pirate said...

I'm hoping Tenzil comes back in some capacity (maybe he becomes a Senator???).

11:26 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think we'll see him again. I don't think Levitz wants to use him much, but he won't be completely forgotten. I'm sure Levitz isn't interested in redoing what any other writer already did.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Craigopher said...

Anyone notice what could possibly be a White Triangle flag in the scene of the xenophobic protesters?

9:16 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

No, I didn't! Is that in one of the Earth-Man scenes in #4?

9:41 PM  
Blogger Craigopher said...

Its on the second to last page, on which Jeckie is telling Rokk about her efforts to detect what anti-refugee plots are going on (just before Earth-Man enters the room). The viewscreen in the background shows protesters with placards that say "Go home" and a flag with a distinct triangle on it.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

Excellent review Matthew, I especially appreciated the go-through of the Legion monitor board symbols ... I never remember that Mon-El one.

If you've not yet read enough reviews of #1-4, feel free to click through my name!

7:44 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks very much. And nice blog.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed this issue. Bright and colourful. The cultists fight with Ayla was stunning...about time we saw a good Lightning Lass fight! I knew, just knew Shady would end upwith Earth man! Jeckie looked so cool without her mask...odd how creepy she is with it on. Hopefully this issue starts the redeeming of Earth man...I really hate the idea of a racist in my beloved LSH. And Im glad that the twins were abducted by a cult of Darkseid, not the God himself...that wouldve been too hackneyed to have him turn up. 9/10.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I don't know if Earth-Man is going to be redeemed. That might be too easy. Think about this: now that Earthgov knows they can make the Legion accept a new Legionnaire that they insist on...

...who's next?

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I personally felt #4 was the weakest of the four we've had so far.

I'm still glad there is a new LSH comic, but I'm hoping for something grander.

So far, I thought the Saturn Queen storyline across the first few issues has been the strongest. I'm glad that the Ranzzes have got their kids back because I got bored of the Darkseid idea. Let's see Sensor Girl do some cool infiltration of some dark plot on Earth or something next.

I think it would be cool if Earth-Man is gradually redeemed. A very Levitz-like thing to do would be to redeem him until we all like him, and then to sacrifice him so that we all miss him! Like I had no special feeling about the original Karate Kid/King until he died.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I dunno; to me the Saturn Queen plot seemed like more of a random encounter. I'm becoming quite taken with the idea I mentioned in my last comment, above: that Earthgov is going to slowly transform the Legion into a more political, less superheroic entity, and the existing Legionnaires will be mostly forced out, and eventually have to reclaim it somehow.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Jim Davis said...

I'm becoming quite taken with the idea I mentioned in my last comment, above: that Earthgov is going to slowly transform the Legion into a more political, less superheroic entity, and the existing Legionnaires will be mostly forced out, and eventually have to reclaim it somehow.

That sounds like what happened during the 5 year gap and then V4.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't actually read this issue yet, but I think I can answer the Mon-El/Polar Boy question...just before Saturn Queen entered the scene fully, Brainiac 5 told Mon to see if he could convice Polar Boy to get doctors on Daxam to restore his real arm because the ice arm (understandably) skeeves everyone out. So maybe they're off doing that?

I too prefer Yera as a supporting character, and I can see her membership as being a kind of 'desperate times call for desperate measures' that the Justice League plot has been dealt with, she can go back to being inactive again.

While I also like Chuck and Lu being at the Academy, I do hope that we see some kind of exploration of Lu's new abilities. I didn't really like her unimaginative and unexplained upgrade, but it happened, so I would like to see it explored.

I'm a bit sadder about losing Tenzil and Night Girl, as I think at this point they would both be interesting additions to the team.

I am hoping XS is on the roster purely because it wouldn't make sense for Gates to be there and not her, and unfortunately Johns has damaged Star Boy so much I don't really see how he can just be slotted back into the team as if nothing ever I'd be happy for him to be just support cast at the moment, for a while at least...

8:17 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The thing about Star Boy/Starman is this: we shouldn't forget that, in Levitz's last run, Thom had quit the Legion to be Xanthu's planetary champion. Maybe, as far as Levitz is concerned, that's still in effect.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That sounds like what happened during the 5 year gap and then V4.

There are differences, though: in the 5YG, Earthgov undercut and harassed the Legion until it disintegrated. In my idea, they'll keep it strong but turn it into what they want it to be, changing it into a completely different entity, and the "real" Legionnaires will just be sitting there wondering what happened.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous garion said...

why is sensor girl's/jeckie's hair blond? It should be white!

I think Shadow Lass is messing with Earthman. She's faking liking him to see what he's up to. And she'll get back with Mon after the dust settles. Mon is in on it too.

I guess the 25 member limit is gone. Which should mean that XS, Yera, etc should still be around somehow.

7:58 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

No, no; Sensor Girl's hair has always been like that. When Jeckie's wearing the Sensor Girl costume, she's a blonde; when she's not, she's, what, ash blonde? Platinum blonde? Whatever means "white". Always been like that.

I predict that Shady and Mon are apart for keeps.

I won't miss the 25-man limit (assuming it is gone; Earthgov could be preparing to bring the hammer down on the Legion by saying, hey, guys, Earth-Man makes 26, so you have to make Tellus quit to get the roster back down to 25. See my previous comments in this thread), but I'm going off of what Cosmic Boy said, and I have to conclude that XS and Yera and Starman and Chuck and Luornu and Lydda really are off the team.

For the most part this doesn't worry me, as they're still part of the cast of the book, but in XS's case I heard somewhere that she's been ganked out of this title for use in some Flash Family book. And what a waste that would be.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous garion said...

Really. IIRC, Sensor girl's Blond hair is an illusion. When Emerald Empress burned away the illusion she was wearing the costume but had her curly white hair (I think that was Baxter Legion 25).

Then once her identity was revealed she walked around the Legion headquarters in her costume but with her white hair. IIRC, there was a conversation with Brainy or someone before she was voted/acquitted of Nemesis Kid murder and she flew into the main room with all the Legion members. And in that conversation she was no mask, white hair, sensor girl costume.

I don't have access to my comics but I'm pretty sure when she's not wearing a mask but in costume she walked around with white hair. It doesn't make any sense to have blond hair. It's an illusion. Why keep an illusion while your around your peeps?

11:43 PM  
Anonymous garion said...

here's 2 links as examples. I was semi-wrong about Emerald Empress burning away the costume. It revealed her old costume and her white hair. I thought it was her Sensor Girl costume and white hair.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, I agree that it's an illusion. What else would it be?

You could be right about her having the white hair when she's not on the clock, although neither of those images definitively makes your case. Anyway, it's certainly permissible for Levitz and Cinar and the colorist to decide that the blonde hair goes with the costume, period; I'm sure it's no trouble for Jeckie to keep that level of illusion going.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

I'm good with blonde hair for the costumed look, and platinum for downtime. Just so long as we have Sensor Girl at all - even with the ugly costume tweaks - I'm happy.

XS, I never liked ... let her be just another speedster in the Flash books.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh well; I always liked XS way better than Jeckie.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

I'm not keen, Supers apart, on JLA legacies in the Legion (or Captain Marvel ones!). And something about the way XS was drawn reminded me of a Disney animal person.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm not keen, Supers apart, on JLA legacies in the Legion (or Captain Marvel ones!).

In general I agree; in the specific cases of XS and Thunder I didn't mind.

And something about the way XS was drawn reminded me of a Disney animal person.

Well, sure, but Moy drew the whole Legion that way, didn't he?

11:35 AM  
Anonymous garion said...

good pt on Moy. I think he did draw everyone like that. But I get what mart says about XS. I never dug her. Her chatter sounded like a disney character as well. She seemed very child-like.

I'm a huge fan of Sensor Girl. So I'd prefer Sensor over XS any day. I don't mind legacy characters. I still miss Laurel Kent and I hope that they bring her back.

and I agree with Mart on that Sensor Girl is suckage. It looks terrible. If they are going sexy then go sexy like Shady. But because of her full face mask it makes sense to be more covered up.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

As I said, I like the costume just fine without the mask; with the mask, I'd prefer the one from the '80s.

Laurel Kent I can do without. And weren't all the reboot Legionnaires, not just XS, innocent little chatterboxes?

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Sensor Girl rocks - one of the most complex Legionnaires with her whole "I used to be an up-myself Princess but now I've seen through the illusions and trappings of life since the death of my husband" thing.

Agree that the new costume is stupid and sexed up for no particular reason. It made more sense for her to covered up. But perhaps we could argue that Jeckie has changed the costume to make her more attractive to the general public? Nah, I don't know what I'm talking about. I think it's just an obvious tactic to please the teenage fanbois.

But anyway, she seems to be getting a good amount of coverage in the comic, so long may it continue.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

she seems to be getting a good amount of coverage in the comic

So to speak.

I like that stuff about Jeckie too, not that it seems like Levitz is using it.

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

she seems to be getting a good amount of coverage in the comic

So to speak.

Ha - indeed!

11:58 AM  
Anonymous garion said...

Does anyone know how are the new legion books doing sales wise? Compared with the Waid/Kitson Grandpa legion run?

6:49 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

There's a thread on the Legion World boards where they keep track of that stuff.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

unfortunately Johns has damaged Star Boy so much I don't really see how he can just be slotted back into the team as if nothing ever happened

If you mean the "gone slightly off the twig" loopy characterization in JSA, that's easily resolvable by comments dropped in the book at the time: he needs 31st century meds and he'll be back to normal. Cue the hyperlithium.

I like the idea that Thom and Tenzil have returned to planetary postings -- reserve status -- that they were brought in temporarily for the 21st century mission. That explanation works for Chuck and Lu, and probably Yera and Lydda as well. Jenni is the hard one to deal with; maybe she's already gone to Flashpoint?

2:17 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That's what I'm worried about. I haven't read very many Flash comics recently, so I don't know how it's handled, or whether XS is a decent character in these books... but how many speedsters do you need in one place, anyway? And I really like her as a Legionnaire.

As for Starman... really, it depends on how they want to do it. But I seem to recall there was a thing in JSA where Gog said that from now on Starman's insanity could never be cured, ever, at all. Does Levitz want to be bound by that? Who knows?

2:24 PM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

Well, the Flash comics show up so infrequently that Jenni isn't around yet. I do agree that if we must have lots of speedsters, they shouldn't be confined to a single series.

And definitely not, on the question of whether or not Paul should be bound by what was said by another writer - LSH is Tom's home book, he gets to set the rules.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

In the Legion of Substitute Podcasters interview with Levitz, he sounded like he was looking forward to using XS. So maybe he just hasn't gotten around to working her in yet.

3:05 PM  

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