Friday, September 10, 2010

Adventure Comics #518 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The Legion is in the middle of a campaign against Zaryan and his raiders. They're working effectively and win two battles, including one on Naltor. After that, Dream Girl has a vision of a Legionnaire dying (take a drink!) and sends a warning message to them. Meanwhile, ghostly voices around the Legion clubhouse are disconcerting some of the Legionnaires.


My only problem with this issue is that I know where it's all going. Believe me, if it was a new storyline, I'd be all over it. But this part of Legion history is very well-trodden ground indeed. Levitz does an excellent job of coming at it from a new angle, so it feels new, and is in general a pleasure to read, but if you think about it for two seconds you can see all the pieces falling into place.

One example: the ghostly voice. When I first read that part of the story, I really sat up and took notice. Wow, I thought, what could that possibly be? It can't be any of the Legionnaires, because none of them are dead yet. Is it Fortress Lad himself? Then I thought about it for two seconds and I was all, oh, right, of course; I know who it is. Oh well; new readers are in for a treat. There are new readers reading this, right? That's what it's for, after all.

You know one difference this story has from the original Silver Age story? In this story, Superman has a history. In the Silver Age, he didn't, really; he only had a present, a status quo. So who cares if Superboy goes into the future and learns about the past? Oh, I know, I know; can't let him know that he's going to work at the Daily Planet. That's not what I mean. I mean, then, there wasn't much about Superman's life that Superboy would react to much, learning it temporarily. Now there certainly is, and it's appropriate for Levitz to show us some of that.

Now that I think about it... the core of this arc is that Saturn Girl doesn't want anyone else to die for her. She'd rather do the dying, if anyone has to, and we know very well from Legion history how that plays out. But there's another Legionnaire death alluded to in this issue: Superman's, at the hands of Doomsday. Where was the Legion during that time? One answer is, when that story first came out, Superman had never been a Legionnaire, according to continuity. But now he has been again. So will we ever get the story on why the Legion didn't (or did!) intervene? Or did they just figure that he eventually came back to life, so they weren't needed? Or, more to the point, I wonder how Saturn Girl regards Superman's death as compared to Lightning Lad's death. I don't want to make the Superman/Doomsday thing all about the Legion, because that was never what it was all about, but Levitz is the one who brought it up, after all.

So this is the fourth of six issues in this arc? I wonder if Levitz is going to have time to colour in any Legionalia that's not related to, shall we say, Zaryan and his aftermath. I guess we'll get some hint when the solicits come out in a week or two. Next issue, apparently, the Legion goes to Smallville. Sounds major.

Panel Count: 83 panels in 20 pages = 4.2 panels/page. 2 single-panel pages. I think Sharpe is improving in his time with the Legion, to this extent: there are some beautiful panels. Look at the three pages with Dreamy and Berem, for instance. But then you get panels where you wonder if he knows what these characters are supposed to look like (compare Phantom Girl to herself on page 7, for example). Oh well; if the Legion is really being bumped out of Adventure, it'll stop being a topic of conversation.

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Blogger Murray said...

Colour me clueless... but I"m still clueless about the ghostly voice. So I should be able to figure it out, eh? Ok... back to the drawing board and I'll reread it again and see if the clues fall into place.

I agree that the art isn't as terrible as usual... and that there are moments when Sharpe makes it work. Not sure that I'd go so far as to call it beautiful. Even though we've heard that there will be another feature in Adventure next summer (after Flashpoint... which, let's face it, may not ship in a timely fashion, so we may get another year and half of stories), I'm still hoping that we get a new artist for the next storyline.

This story felt more Levitz-y to me. It felt like there were multiple storylines being juggled, like there was a focus to this story that earlier issues seemed to be missing. I'm still not seeing these first four issues as having much of a story connecting them. I suspect, they're going to read just as disjointed in trade, but I don't get trades, so it doesn't really matter to me.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm still clueless about the ghostly voice. So I should be able to figure it out, eh? Ok... back to the drawing board and I'll reread it again and see if the clues fall into place.

Oh, there's nothing in the story that'll tell you. You just have to know about the Legion and their tropes.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Murray said...

Oh, there's nothing in the story that'll tell you. You just have to know about the Legion and their tropes.
Oh snap! And I thought that I knew my Legion tropes.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, I'm sure you do. Assuming that nobody else spoils it for you, you'll probably figure it out for yourself by next issue anyway.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

Well, if I'm right, I ruined it in my review at my blog, Too Dangerous For a Girl (no prizes for spotting THAT reference!) so if you really want a guess, Murray, click on through . . .

Nice review, Matthew - I'm with you on the lack of suspense for those of us who've read the early stuff. I'm enjoying seeing how it's re-presented, though; as you say, Paul Levitz is working hard to provide a Tornado Twins-style new spin.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks. For what it's worth, we both have the same explanation for the ghostly whispers.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Given that we previously saw ghostly whispers in the reboot, it's not a stretch to deduce. If you've got 13+ years of Legion past under your flight belt, of course.

I was a bit more intrigued by this story, perhaps, because almost none of the content was every actually seen in the Adventure era; only the end of the bits was seen.

I'm thinking of this run as being like the Claremont/Bolton backups in Classic X-Men from 20 years ago.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Given that we previously saw ghostly whispers in the reboot, it's not a stretch to deduce.

Oh, it's even there in the original story, more or less. Really it's a credit to Levitz that some of us are still in the dark. He gives us a little bit of this and a little bit of that and the whole thing tastes brand new.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great news that Keith Giffen is returning to the LSH for the annual later this year. His new look Emerald Empress is seriously bad-ass! Very Kirby- like.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I like Giffen, but to me, the best news is just that there is an Annual. I've missed Annuals.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't miss Annuals-usually found them useless filler-but I'm looking forward for this one. Levitz & Giffen together again! Giffen seems to be using a more pleasing style here. Can still catch the eye when it suits him. And it features 2 Legionnaires who aren't part of the Big 4 (the founders and Brainy) They get enough exposure. But don't Annuals usually come out in the summer? Now they're stocking stuffers. Marketing has changed.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

And it is, of course, only natural to wonder if Levitz and Giffen will be taking this opportunity to rekindle the Ayla/Vi romance.

2:00 PM  

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