Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Adventure Comics #523 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About: The Legion Academy brings in a new student from the Sorcerer's World: Glorith. Glorith joins some of the other Academy students for some after-hours partying. Duplicate Damsel takes a dim view of this and puts them through a surprise training exercise against Night Girl, which Chemical Kid, the bad seed, succeeds at. They head out later for some more partying but are unexpectedly apprehended by the cops.

First item: some of the cover ink came off on my fingers. This is unacceptable. I mean, I don't really care about whether the thing is in mint condition or not, but I would like the freaking ink to stay on the paper. It's not a damn newspaper.
I like how Levitz is giving the students distinct personalities. That may sound like a strange thing to say; isn't it a standard thing for a writer to do? Characterization? But Chemical Kid is already more interesting than Chemical King ever was, and I wasn't sure that was going to happen. Comet Queen has depth all of a sudden; who would have thought that was possible?
Let's talk about Glorith, shall we? Glorith has three basic points of contact with Legion continuity. The first one was back in Adventure #338, when she was the hapless stooge of the Time Trapper. She messed up fighting the Legion and he de-aged her to protoplasm. I suspect that it's this Glorith that Levitz is using: if that protoplasm were allowed to grow up into a person again, how old would it be by now? Old enough to attend the Legion Academy?
Second point was her role in the Mordruverse/Glorithverse extravaganza that occupied so much of the 5YL era. This is out of continuity now, and Paul Levitz is notoriously not emotionally attached to this part of Legion history. If another writer had brought Glorith back, I might have suspected that there'd be some effort made to bring back some part of 5YL, but this is not something I expect from Levitz. So I don't really think that 5YL Glorith will have much similarity to how the character is shown in this story.
Third point was the cameo appearance of her corpse in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds. How can she be dead there but alive here? Three* possible answers:
1. Some kind of time-travel thing will happen in the future to make it all fit together.
2. It's not the same Glorith.
3. Shut up, that's how.
Of these answers, 2. is my least favourite. I prefer 3., but I understand that some may insist on 1., and that's okay too.
Apparently Glorith's powers in this are "magic", full stop. 5YL Glorith had had some time-manipulation abilities. Now, these aren't mutually exclusive, so it's still possible that the two versions will converge in this sense, which would make sense given Glorith's relationship to the Time Trapper. What I was thinking of, though, is what kind of superhero name she's going to have. 'Cause, see, if she did have the time-manipulation powers, she could call herself Future Girl, and the whole thing comes full circle.
The action that we saw this issue was strictly training-exercise stuff. That's fine. But we're going to need some actual superhuman conflict here, and I wonder just what the recipe is for providing it. It can be done, of course; no problem there. Look at New Mutants, or Harry Potter. But what's Levitz going to come up with?
Adventure Comics has had a ridiculous number of ups and downs in the short time since its revival. But there hasn't been an up as up as this issue, and I haven't been looking forward to any next issue as much as I am now. This was a real good start.

- Hey, there's Harlak again. Hi, Harlak.
- I like how Blok and Mysa haven't actually gone evil and still consider the Legionnaires their friends.
- How exactly does it come about that Glorith is attending the Legion Academy but doesn't understand that the idea is to maybe become a Legionnaire one day?
- Just how long of a course of study does the Academy offer that Jed and Lamprey are still students after all this time?
- Are we supposed to infer that Gravity Kid and Jed are a couple? Or Jed and Lamprey? Or does Jed just hang out with everyone with no shirt?
- Look, it's Urk. Hi, Urk.


The art is of course famously by Phil Jimenez, and it looks awesome. I mean, look: the Legion has had some great artists over the years, and I've been a fan of many of them. There are almost too many to list. But even the best and most famous of them, like Cockrum or Grell or Giffen or Kitson, have been great Legion artists partly because of their talent and partly because their style brings in something that fits with the Legion. That's not what's going on here. Jimenez is giving us some George Perez action here, where the style gives you this transparent impression of photorealism, where everything looks good not because of his take, but because it looks good. You know what I mean? The kind of style that tricks you into thinking that he doesn't have a style, he's just showing you what everything really looks like. When it works as well as it does here, it looks better than anything else. He can stay as long as he wants.

131 panels/20 pages = 6.6 panels/page. (That's a lot.) 1 single-panel page, and 4 pages with 10 or more panels. Man! Can Jimenez keep that pace up as a regular artist? It'd be great if he could.


* or maybe, just maybe, Glorith is Ben.

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Blogger Ben Rawluk said...

I *really* enjoyed this issue. Part of that is Jimenez, who feels very much like a Legion artist because he's simply able to make each panel very dense, which is how I prefer to imagine the 31st Century.

Glorith! Knocked my socks off to see her. I suspect it's either your protoplasm explanation--which I didn't remember, but it's keen--or this is young Glorith prior to everything else, whose dark destiny is to grow up to be a henchwoman of the Time Trapper and then go back in time and end up as protoplasm.

She's depicted as darker-skinned and haired, though, which doesn't jive past depictions, but that's nothing that can't be handwaved by magic/superscience/etc.

The Academy continues the tradition of its students basically fighting crime in very little clothing.

Also, Comet Queen! I do love Grava.

Variable Lad remains a complaint, because I think his powers are a giant plot-device and little else.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think what Variable Lad needs to make him work is a big restriction on how his powers operate. Like, whatever he comes up with, he can only hang onto it for a minute, or something. Or if he needs to roll dice before finding out what powers he's going to get. Something that will stop him from being a deus ex machina.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous AJay said...

What can you say about Phil Jimenez. From the opening panel of a not to be messed with Black Witch and Blok, every character has their own face and their character is written all over it.Lamprey is beautiful, Jed Rikane is the same dumb jock and Duplicate Girl's double look of disapproval is softened when her husband reassures her. This issue brought home the youth of the academy cadets and set up the story about to come. Night Girl was a real bonus too.
I've often wondered why Lydda just didn't wear an opaque transuit with night vision goggles she would just be a black silhouette with owlish eyes, only strong.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, Blok looked great in this comic. And if we were worried that he was no longer really himself, the red ball he took off the dome must have allayed our fears.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Jim Davis said...

How exactly does it come about that Glorith is attending the Legion Academy but doesn't understand that the idea is to maybe become a Legionnaire one day?

Wasn't it established at some point that very few of the academy students will become or even want to become Legionnaires? That the primary purpose is to learn to use/control/perfect their abilities?

5:22 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Or maybe Glorith is Ben.

lol! That would be too too sweet!

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

On a separate note (and apologies if people have already noticed this and written about this elsewhere) but did you know that LSH issue 1 of the new run mentions the Flashpoint event about to run across the DCU?

6:17 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Jim: Yeah, but still. You'd have to have some awareness that becoming a Legionnaire is on the menu, wouldn't you? Just from the name of the place?

Rob: If I noticed it, it's skipped my mind since; maybe I'll go back and check it out again.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I finally got my hands on this issue of Adventure Comics today. Freakin' awesome art! Jimenez is a worthy successor to the George Perez school of art (although Perez still rocks and his Lo3W was mind-blowing).

I like the fact that Night Girl seems to be a Legion Academy trainer rather than a Legionnaire. Given the limitations of her power, it doesn't make sense for her to be in the main Legion (although, Ajay, your suggestion makes perfect sense). But I'm fine with the idea that she has lots of experience - more than enough to train up the next generation.

Not sure about this young Glorith character. I guess she is our narrator, interpreting the miracles of the 31st century for us 21st century readers.

In fact, I'm not sure about most of these new trainees. Perhaps as their personalities emerge a little more over the coming issues, they will grow on me.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Dylan said...

Always happy to see Comet Queen. She's always been one of my favorite characters in the Legion and Levitz is quite wise to realize that when you have a character as unique visually and in personality as she is, you don't let her go.

And there's a little mystery to her too. Jed alludes to her having screwed up in some way and having to repeat training... but she doesn't seem to be particularly affected by it, if it were anything major.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The impression I got, partly from the comic and partly from Levitz's interview on Newsarama, is that she did something heroic and suffered some kind of mental damage from it that means she has to retrain.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Ben Rawluk said...

The Comet Queen / Bouncing Boy team-up (where BB recounts meeting her) remains a personal favourite, and I kinda hope Levitz brings some of the old humour to the Legion again, to be honest.

Oh, and I was curious if the Abstracters saw that Kent Shakespeare has returned in Superman/Batman #80 -- he's listed as the Superman of the 31st Century (alongside Brane Taylor as Batman, Elna Kent as Superwoman) and runs around in a Kon-El-esque costume.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I came across some kind of reference to it, but was hazy on the details; thanks.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimenez and the Legion forever! Knew his work would be great,but it's still nice to get what you know you'll get. Fact is,all the artists on the retroboot have been fine. Even Giffen's recent efforts were pretty okay. He has done worse by the Legion.
The characterizations given the cadets come straight from stock; the newcomer, the cocky hotshot, etc. It's still early days,so there's plenty of time to make more of them.Maybe they'll become the retro-Subs? Could be worse.
About that newcomer...of course it's the same Glorith.Why give her that name otherwise? From which part of her life she came from doesn't much matter.She's here now,a time bomb ticking away.Not thrilled by this-would've thought the character became untouchable after the 5YL years.Odds are she goes bad,and as there's a hint of a link with the Black Witch,we may end up with Dark Mysa,which is something else to be avoided.Or we could get something else---there's room for something new from these characters,which is harder to get from the more veteran Legionnaires.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Fact is,all the artists on the retroboot have been fine.

Are you including Kevin Sharpe in that?

Here's a thought about Glorith and Mysa: Glorith finds a way to steal all of Mordru's dark magics from Mysa and that's how she becomes powerful and evil, and Mysa is left to be the White Witch again. Plausible?

9:11 PM  
Anonymous AJay said...

A Dark Mysa should be avoided at all costs.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Ben Rawluk said...

I kind of like how they've been handling her so far--she has all this dark power in her, but she just guards against it's misuse. It manages to make Mordru seem weaker by comparison, and inverts the "Dark Phoenix" trope. She just stays on Zerox and trains new magicians.

Unfortunately, it takes her out of play for most of the narrative.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think Levitz wants her out of play. Makes his job easier.

This business of Mysa having a dark side now. Let's compare her with Granny Weatherwax. I think it's fruitful. The main difference, as I see it, is that Granny Weatherwax knows she will never lose control to the dark side, and Mysa knows that under some circumstances she would.

9:28 PM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

Good Lord Jimenez did beautifully in this issue. And the coloring is perfect, not to mention Levitz's writing (and there's co-plotting, from what I've heard, between Paul and Phil).

Long Live The Legion Academy!

(And yes, Power Boy just likes to run around shirtless, but I think he's supposed to be a couple with Lamprey.)

9:05 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I've actually seen complaints about the colouring. I'll have to go back to the issue and pay closer attention.

9:21 AM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

What kind of complaints? I think the coloring is future-ey enough without making it look plastic. In contrast, while I'm enjoying the LSH main book, the coloring there is sometimes a bit flat, outdated.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Basically just that it's substandard. As I say, I'll look again and see if I can at least figure out what they're talking about.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Mo Walker said...

I thought it was a solid issue all-around. It would have been better if there was a Thunderbolts/Avengers Academy twist at the end. Adventure Comics needs a stabilizing force and hopefully L.A. will be it.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

After years of Greg Land and Mike Deodata swiping lingerie and porn starlet poses, it's keen to see a character apparently drawn from a gay porn icon. (Look up Francois Sagat.)

"Gravity Kid" as a name bothers me, though. It's the hard consonant at the start of each word, I think.

I presume we'll see Berta and Bobb in future issues.

2:58 PM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

Gravity Kid is not worse than any other Legionnaire name... And the safe for work picture of Sagat in Wikipedia doesn't look much like Gravity Kid; it's just a shirtless, shaved-hair man.

With a body much, much better than mine, I have to admit.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Somehow the "K" sound in Gravity Kid doesn't work for me, compared to "Gravity Lad" for example.

Gravity Kid's hair is what reminds me of Sagat (whose
"hair" is a skullcap tattoo). Compare:

1:42 AM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

Yeah, I saw that hair/tattoo parallel ater.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Jim: Do you have the same reaction to the name "Karate Kid"? "Kid Quantum"? "Cary Grant"?

9:21 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Matthew: "Karate Kid" and "Kid Quantum" repeat the initial consonant sound, so they don't bother me at all.

"Cary Grant" does a little, but less so that "Gravity Kid". If you really concentrate on how the syllables move into each other, the "ree" pulls the "g" into the previous word, slurring almost into "cah-reeg-rant". "Kid" has a much "sharper" start to it and no paired consonant to carry (ahem) through into the next syllable, so you get "grav-vih-tee kid", with a definite separation between the words. Compare to the smoother transition with "grah-vih-tee-lad".

(OKay, I have been reading Language Log too long, but I also claim separate pronunciations for Jim, gem, and gym, not to mention Gim.)

12:59 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Fair enough, then. (I don't hear any difference between "gym" and "Jim" (although I'm one of the hard-G "Gim" people), but then again I pronounce "Mary", "marry", and "merry" the same too, and I know not everyone does.)

Verification word: dorke. Shut up, verification word.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I told Phil on facebook i hope Paul let's him bring Laurel Kent to these legionnaires and somehow recons her from being a Manhunter cause i would love to see all the things he would do the her drawing wise and writing wise.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, I think you did the right thing in asking for what you want (rule to live by: be careful what you don't ask for; you might not get it) but I for one don't see it happening. I don't think DC wants to commit themselves to Superman and Lois reproducing, and anyway I don't think Laurel Kent was all that great of a character.

I am, however, holding out hope that this Rock of Eternity thing in the LSV one-shot is going to produce a character who will combine the best features of Thunder, Supergirl, Laurel Gand, and, okay, Laurel Kent. I have no reason to believe this will happen; I just kind of thought it up.

9:53 AM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

I think the Legion is so far away in the future that DC will have no problem in showing a Superman descendant (although they might not want to for other reasons), not necessarily with Lois. :)

10:20 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Far away in the future has nothing to do with it; Legion comics cannot be allowed to constrain Superman and that's all there is to it. Or that's how I see it, anyway.

10:45 AM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

It's not constraining if they never mention how she exactly descends from Superman.

11:14 AM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

See the recent "Super Squad", where they specifically show Superman-descended members in the far, far, far, future. Further than the Legion, yes, but still.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Okay, if you say so. I don't know what "Super Squad" is. And I still think we aren't going to see Laurel Kent again.

11:27 AM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

No, it's not "if I say so", it's straight out of a comic book published in the last couple of months:

Superman #708

"The Superman Squad take Superman to their homebase, the Fortress of Solidarity, in the future. There, they explain that the Superman Squad is formed of several superpowered beings inspired by Superman's heroic acts. Some members include Superman's own descendants, either through blood-relation or adopted; beings that share his Kryptonian heritage, and unrelated beings who all decided to fight for justice. Some of them include non-human or non-Kryptonian members, such as Titano, protector of the Gorilla Galaxy; Superstar, a sentient star system, and Superego, a "good idea" who protects the realm of the collective unconscious."

So, it's obvious that, while this doesn't mean they will bring back Laurel Kent, DC management obviously has no problem in showing or referring to future Superman descendants.

11:54 AM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

And just to be clear, I don't care at all if Laurel Kent shows up again or not. I'm just commenting on the fact that there are no signs that DC management will not allow Superman descendants to be used as characters in stories set in the future, but rather evidence that they will.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Okay, okay, sorry.

And thanks for the information.

12:26 PM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

No worries at all. I try to comment on what I know, and if I'm expressing my feelings or opinions, I'll say so clearly. :)

12:34 PM  

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