Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Legion of Super-Heroes #5 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The Earth Force, former allies of Earth-Man, attack the Titanian refugees; Earth-Man helps apprehend them. Then later Phantom Girl catches him and Shadow Lass sleeping together.

Dyogene shows up on Naltor and tries to foist the power ring off on Harmonia Li, but she refuses it; later, in conversation with Circadia Senius, Brainiac 5 learns that Dr. Li is a lot older than she looks.

The Durlan revenge squad assassinates Chief Zendak and replaces him with one of their own, disguised, as part of their plot to avenge R.J. Brande.


The solicit for this issue said that we'd learn the final fate of Lightning Lad's and Saturn Girl's kids. And we didn't see anything about that. Of course, last issue seemed to neatly end that subplot, so our takeaway from this incident is that solicits lie. Not that that helped us with the Shadow Lass thing; people have been guessing for months that she was going to trip the light fantastic with Earth-Man, and that's just what happened.

Is it just me or was this a short issue? It seemed like it was over in a hurry. Not that many subplots addressed, and a couple of the ones that were addressed were addressed quickly.

I'm going to miss Chief Zendak. Good supporting characters are hard to come by, and he was definitely one of the good ones. There are other good Science Police characters around, true, and I think I have an idea what Levitz has in mind.

What we've got with Earth-Man and his rehabilitation is the normalization of xenophobia. The way I figure it, Earth-Man is still a xenophobe; he's just a moderate one instead of an extreme one. And now he's a Legionnaire. That's the effect of extremists in real life, I think: they rarely get their way, but they do clear some space for the moderate versions of their views. I wouldn't be surprised if Earth-Man was shrewd enough to realize this. But anyway: we've got a Legion of Super-Heroes that now has some entrenched xenophobia in it, and they're going to be going up against a bunch of Durlans, of all people, and they'll be fighting mad because of Zendak, and it'll be real easy for the powers that be to really put the hammer down on not just these Durlans but potentially all aliens, or all Durlans at least, and there's gotta be a faction of Legionnaires who'll oppose that (Chameleon Boy and Colossal Boy for two). The Legion could split right down the middle on this, and Levitz is making it look easy. And all of that is just me thinking off the top of my head; Levitz has actually put some time into it and has likely come up with something that's like that but, you know, interesting.

The big controversy this issue is supposed to be Earth-Man and Shadow Lass, of course. At the moment I have no opinion on it because I don't know what anyone's thinking. Ask me next month. The other stuff... I wasn't impressed by the Earth Force and I don't know why it took the Legion so long to polish them off; I don't know why it's taking Dyogene so long to find a Green Lantern and I'm starting to lose what little interest I had in the question; I don't know what is the deal with Harmonia Li but I think this could be the most intriguing subplot of all. She's real old but looks young; she does time travel research; she has a beef with the Oans. What's it add up to?

Panel Count: 107/30 pages = 3.6 panels/page; 3 single-panel pages plus one 2-page panel. No wonder it seemed like a short issue! Check it out. Here's the rate of panels per page in each issue since #1:

1 4.8
2 4.5
3 4.4
4 4.2
5 3.6

The difference between this issue and the first one is 1.2 panels/page. At 30 pages, that's 36 panels, which calculates conveniently to 10 pages. Now, issue #1 was extra-long, at 39 pages, but even if it had only been 30 pages, it'd still be effectively 10 pages longer than #5. That's a lot!

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Blogger snell said...

Last issue Brainy said that one of the remaining functions of Earth Man's ring is that of "a mood ring." Perhaps the ring is what is "moderating" Neidrigh's xenophbia. The past two issues he's given a "since I've got this ring I see things differently" speech...and I wouldn't put a little unlicensed behavior modification past Querl...

11:03 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Could be, yeah. Which leads to obvious story points, like what happens when he takes it off? (Specifically, what happens to Shadow Lass when he takes it off? Nothing good, I'm sure... Is Levitz trying to set up some kind of cataclysmic Earth-Man/Mon-El fight?)

9:05 AM  
Blogger Wndola said...

Loved the look on Brainy's face when he found out about Dr. Li. You know in his head he could care less about her age but is completely freaking out about the possibility that there is someone in the universe who might know more about time travel than he does.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

...unless his expression meant that he's just made some kind of mental connection that's not available to the rest of us.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

I read the Brainy expression in the same way as Wndola - it's likely Querl's in a tizzy over her likely knowledge, and the fact that he's been surprised.

And I agree, this was a speedier read, but I enjoyed the change of pace.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, you're probably right. I was just spitballing.

8:03 PM  
Blogger snell said...

Shady was asking Brainy about Earth-Man's ring last makes me wonder, could she be testing its limits? Or is she using the opportunity to further destroy Neidrigh's credibility--so when he takes the ring off, she can publish the pictures and say, "Look, you've been sleeping with off-worlders!"

8:29 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I honestly don't know what she has in mind. It's hard to imagine. I mean... would you consider Earth-Man good-looking? Charming? Likable?

8:34 PM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

Take away the Grell sideburns and Kirky certainly has something, going by that final panel ... but most male Legionnaires have the buff body (and Telus, Gates and Quislet have lovely personalities). Perhaps Shady fancies a change from good boy Mon-El ... I like the idea that she's just human, and thinking with her, er, impulses.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Take away the Grell sideburns

...using two trips, if necessary...

8:50 PM  
Anonymous garion said...

Earth Man has bad boy charisma about him. And I think the sideburns are sexy. And of course all the Legion peeps are have hot, bodies.

I'm with you about that battle. Ok, so they took out Projectra, who could have easily confused them all. But Cosmic Boy should've been able to disrupt all their magnetic equipment and strip them of it. ALL OF THEM. Even if they downgraded his powers, he should be able to take out half of them. Tellus, should be able to make half of them fall asleep or push half of them into prison ships.

Why Brin is flipping all over the place when he has a flight ring I don't understand. His super strength is the big asset here. Why Ultra Boy didn't just stay invulnerable, don't know? Or just use his super-speed with a metal bar and knock them all unconscious. Pentra-vision too.

I feel like Levitz forgot how to make these characters work. I know he wants to showcase a lot of members but that was overkill for that situation.

Oh and in the whole Legion headquarters they only have ONE medikit? Plus, PG has no qualms about invading people's private quarters?

There are all these logic gap holes.

Nice to see Violet and that she's a little bit of a bitch. Just like she was after the whole Vi/Yera situation, when it looked like she was a lesbian.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Earth Man has bad boy charisma about him. And I think the sideburns are sexy. And of course all the Legion peeps are have hot, bodies.

In order: no he doesn't; they aren't; and that means it should be easy for her to find someone with a hot body who didn't lock her in a test tube to leech her powers and doesn't want to exterminate her from Earth.

The rest of the stuff doesn't bother me so much; it's just what Levitz did to make the story run more smoothly. For one thing, I'm sure Tinya and Shady are in and out of each other's rooms all the time.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

"Why Brin is flipping all over the place when he has a flight ring I don't understand."

Flying in one direction with a willpower-driven ring, and instinctual super-speed acrobatics are two VERY different things, I would think.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

And Brin probably takes some pride in not using the flight ring except when he wants to actually fly.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This time around,the theme of the team seems to be:the Legion of Unlikely Couplings.Rokk and Irma, now Shady and Earthy.Sure to keep fans fuming,but better they're pissed than bored.
Shady as Mata Hari?Good cover:"No, I wasn't horny,I was just..setting him up!...yes,that's it..." As for E-M,he may yet be the antonym of Nemesis Kid;an antagonist who ends up saving the team.Don't see him as a long term Legionnaire.Death awaits...
Brainy and Cos still bickering.Had enough of that in the 3boot.But Brainy shows a surprisingly boyish side with Croanarch,and his reveal about Prof.Li surprises not only Brainy but the Naltorians.Li may have worn a ring once herself, or may even be a Guardian in hiding. Very interesting...
Why all the nass about the battle? Look at it this way;Earth Force are tougher than they seem,and the Legion aren't infallible.At least they won the day without carrying the fight over into the next month.
The art was especially good this issue.All involved mesh together very well.Yet the sales aren't where they should be.Maybe a #1 on every cover and other such stunts will boost the numbers.The things that are done to get readers...

2:54 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Brainy and Cos still bickering.Had enough of that in the 3boot.

Well, Brainy's a difficult guy. When the Legion gets a new leader, you'll have Brainy and the new leader bickering. This is just how it works.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved this issue [as usual] and hey!! I guessed right about 2 things; Shady sleeping with Earth-Man and Professor Li being tipped for being the new GL.
I found the action sequences very exciting; this new series does ramp up the action levels very satisfactorily for me. Bot oh wasnt Sensor Girl a bossy boots during the fighting. Earth-Man ...surely he cant have got over his racism so quickly? It all seems so rushed...I still dont like him; would much prefer to see him reform slowly and then die a heroic death. And please someone tell me where Polar Boy and Star Boy have gone!!

5:09 PM  
Blogger Martin Gray said...

Mad thought - Harmonia Li will be the new Emerald Empress. Well, it's all green to me ...

5:16 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Polar Boy is on Tharr. It is possible that Mon-El is trying to talk him into getting his hand regrown.

Starman might be back in the 21st century (for all I know), or resuming his duties as Xanthu planetary champion, or somewhere else.

Mad thought - Harmonia Li will be the new Emerald Empress.

That rings true.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Yeah, Harmonia Li as the new Emerald Empress. Clearly by her comment that the Oans are foolish immortals implies that she thinks that some other immortals are smarter.

Don't really get the Shady and Earth Man thing. She dumps Mon-El for some reason that we don't know about and then jumps in the sack with Earth Man. I'm hoping she has some kind of Mata Hari idea in her head (as someone else suggested), otherwise it seems out of character. After all, wasn't it in the Levitz era legion that she bonded herself to Mon?

The fight was ok, except there was too much exposition. So Colossal Boy talking about the multifragment bomb that took Sensor Girl out. C'mon. In a fight you wouldn't have dialogue like that.

Hoping that issue 6 will finish off the first half-year in a spectacular fashion.

I bought #5 about 2 weeks after it came out and I was surprised to find a big stack of comics at the store, including a couple of the Jim Lee Timberwolf covers. I don't think it's selling particularly well unfortunately...

9:01 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh well; maybe the price drop will help.

I know that there are some longtime Legion fans who aren't getting the book because of things like, their Shadow Lass would never break up with Mon-El.

If this comic is cancelled I will at least have the consolation of knowing that some people are getting what they deserve.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

There's no love for Zendak? It was such an unremarkable death, and for such a long standing character. Oh well.

2:05 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I guess it's just you and me, Mark.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My gripe with all those sullen,hypercritical longtime Legion fans is centered in the phrase "their Legion".It's not their Legion. It belongs to everybody.If they can't share,they should get out of the way.
I would feel bad about Zendak if he was anything other than the gruff authority figure.Had less of a personality than Jim Gordon.If you could steer me to some good Zendak moments,I might be able to rue his passing(until he comes back).

9:50 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

If you could steer me to some good Zendak moments,I might be able to rue his passing(until he comes back).

That's a good idea. Maybe I will. Of course, that's the kind of thing I'm trying to do in the The Legionnaires articles, and I've still got dozens of Legionnaires to get through.

10:05 PM  

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