Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Legion of Super-Heroes #6 Review

Don't forget to vote for Phantom Girl!

What Happened That You Have to Know About: Not a lot, really; this is kind of a wrap-up issue for some of the stuff relating to Earth-Man and the Titanians. There are a few minor missions this issue (some Titanians who have to be told to keep off the grass; a stray xenophobe; a forest fire) but nothing to write home about. Earth-Man gets officially pardoned and remains with the Legion; he gets a regular flight ring but it turns out that whatever behaviour modification stuff Brainy put in the last one wasn't working as well as he thought it was. Colossal Boy's mom is president again; did we already know that? The last of the displaced Titanians find homes. Cosmic Boy calls an election, the new Karate Kid may be showing up, fake-Zendak and Gigi ask for the Legion's help in protecting the United Planets council against assassins.


I have to say I like the way the subplot with the Titanian refugees was handled. Usually, when a planet blows up, that's about the last we hear about it. In the first arc of this series, there were all kinds of repercussions, and it made these comics ring true.

Also I like Earth-Man's new attitude. He's not a time bomb who's going to explode once he takes Brainy's "mood ring" off, and I'm glad that we don't have that hanging over our heads. He hasn't changed unrealistically. He's just swallowed an unwelcome truth, that's all. I'd be shocked if his "relationship" with Shadow Lass was destined to last any time, though.

I am curious about all those people who were hanging out at the Legion Academy. Power Boy, Crystal Kid, Visi-Lad, the Skreeaks, Lamprey, Nightwind, Urk... why are they all there? Are they all still students? Is it alumni week? Are they instructors? I mean, I'm not surprised Comet Queen's still there; when you get a character as distinct as her, you hang on to her. Plus she's a loser, so it's quite possible that she's still at it.

The other new characters, though... Mixed, I'd say. If that really is the new Karate Kid, there's nothing about him that's captured my interest so far. Chemical Kid is a little treat for the nostalgists, and I am not a nostalgist. Gravity Kid isn't that cool of an idea. Variable Lad I do like, quite a bit; he's Dr. Gym'll's race, right? Must be. His costume eats it, but I like his powers. As for Dragonwing, I don't know if I like her, but she looks awesome with that translucent dragoncloak, and her powers are decently nonstandard, too.

With this little Academy backup (and the temporary departures of Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lass, Shrinking Violet, Mon-El, and Polar Boy), we get the return of one of Levitz's favourite Legion themes: The Legion Is Spread Too Thin! How is Cosmic Boy supposed to run the Legion when crises are erupting everywhere and he doesn't have enough personnel? Those Academy students better train fast!

When the solicit for the Annual came out, and it was learned that Ayla and Vi were going to be the main Legionnaires on the scene, it quite naturally led some of us to speculate on whether Levitz was going to revive the idea that the two of them were a couple. (Levitz was the one who thought it up in the first place, anyway.) Well, they leave Earth this issue on their way to Imsk, which sets up the Annual, and their body language (page 11, panel 3) certainly does nothing to dispel that idea. But while we're on the subject, maybe they're not the only same-sex couple Levitz has brewing for us. Just what exactly is keeping Mon-El and Polar Boy on Tharr for so long? I don't want to put too much weight on that; there are all kinds of possible answers to that question. A couple of plausible ones: Mon-El is helping Polar Boy regrow his hand with Daxamite medical science. Polar Boy is consoling Mon-El after Mon's breakup with Shady by introducing him to the sister of whoever he was in bed with in #1, maybe one of the same chickiepoos that Sun Boy couldn't get anywhere with back in Adventure #3.

On the one hand you've got Jim Shooter and on the other hand you've got Paul Levitz. Jim Shooter shows us Triton and the Scattered Disk and other exotic locales of our own solar system. Paul Levitz gives us Jewish culture and Tibetan culture and the Painted Desert. Comics!

I accept Shady's reasoning for testing out Earth-Man's absorbancy boy. I mean, she's an idiot, but it's true to her character. Which, now that I've typed that, means that I know what my take on her is going to be for the The Legionnaires article I write about her, I guess. But does she think he likes her? Does she care? I don't know. For all I know, he does like her, although I kind of doubt it.

- who's that between Lamprey and Nightwind in panel 1 of page 24? I can't recall if I've seen her before or not
- also, in the panel with the hall of dead Legionnaire statues, I can tell who everyone is, but who's that between Karate Kid and Karate Kid? Is it Mentalla?
- Cosmic Boy mentally asks his mom to forgive him for Magnetic Kid's death. Are we to believe that his mother's alive in this continuity? Or am I misinterpreting?
- this is, of course, the second time (at least!) we've seen Colossal Boy and Phantom Girl in the Himalayas (and I'm glad that Levitz has learned to spell it over the years)
- in the final confrontation with Earth-Man, Brainy only says two and a half words. I didn't think that was possible
- quote from Luornu: "I told Chuck I'd have more fun here than at his dumb reunion!" I hope she means by that that she went to both of them. She has, after all, no excuse not to

Panel Count: Let's break the three different parts down separately. Main story (Portela): 63 panels/14 pages = 4.5 panels/page; no single-panel pages. Backup (Jimenez): 94 panels/15 pages = 6.3 panels/page (very high!). Two single-panel pages and one 14-panel page! I approve of Jimenez. Election Call (Cinar): 6 panels/1 page.

Three different artists working on this one, and they all looked great. I like how Cinar treated Matter-Eater Lad's face (has Tenzil always had those fingerless gloves? Other than in panel 4, I mean), I particularly liked how Jiminez packed so much stuff into his pages, but still felt free to indulge himself on page 25, panel 5. Portela's new to me, but I like what I see so far, and took particular note of how he seems to like to arrange narrow panels beside/below each other, with one of them spilling out of its boundaries and the others not. (Although the way Shady's cloak sort of faded into dark nothingness behind her didn't really work for me.) If Jiminez is really drawing the new Academy series, it's going to be unusually good.

Membership Notes: The Legion election has thrown all my understanding of the membership into disarray. For one thing, Chameleon Girl is listed on the ballot, but she wasn't on the Mission Monitor Board a couple of issues ago. For another, the ballot didn't have Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl on it, presumably because they're on some kind of leave of absence as of this issue. But Mon-El and Polar Boy aren't? Or Lightning Lass and Violet? It is all, as Artemus Ward would have said, onsartin.

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