Thursday, December 01, 2011

Legion: Secret Origin #2 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The Legion gets a headquarters and someone is still trying to kill R.J. Brande. Brainiac 5 and Phantom Girl fight some guy on Anotrom. Young Gim Allon seems to be considering Legion membership. The security directorate decides to try to use the Legion for its own purposes.


I constitutionally don't believe in a Paul Levitz comic in which nothing happens. This seems like one, so let's look more closely. (When I say "nothing happens", I don't mean nothing happens; I mean that the plots do not seem to be advanced.) There is much more action than in the first issue, so that's one good thing. Plus we get some progress toward the growth of the Legion as an institution: the HQ, Colossal Boy, and Brande's "search lists".

But there are also some hints about stuff we used to know about that may now be different, or about stuff we don't know anything about. There's R.J. Brande's past, for one thing. There's whatever Saturn Girl might have been reading in his mind on page 18. There's the Naltorian on the security directorate not being able to read anything off of Phantom Girl. There's whatever disaster has befallen Cargg. There are the raids on Bgtzl's colony worlds. The unique power source for Brainy's force shield belt. It's a bit of a step back from the first issue, but then, second issues usually are.

I'm enjoying the rapport between Brainy and Tinya. I don't recall the two of them interacting much in, well, in any other Legion story, but it works here. Both of them ridiculously confident in their own ways, presumably because they both know perfectly well that there's nothing around that can hurt them. And yet they're also both shy--Brainy obviously so, but Tinya too: look at how much time she spends with her arms folded. That means she's feeling the need to protect herself.

I wonder if we're going to see Superboy or Supergirl in this series.

Notice how Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy are already pretty good at fighting? It's just crooks in little spaceships, of course, but they seem to have already crested the learning curve. I might have started them off less competent, but I guess Levitz only has so much time to cover everything he wants to cover.

Anyway, it's coming along. I imagine things will pick up next issue.

- the covers continue to be my least favourite thing about this series. Sorry, Tom Feister: I am not the right reviewer for you
- but look closely at that cover! Tiny tiny writing
- have we ever really heard the story of the Quintile power crystal? Or is it just like Lord Peter Wimsey and the Attenbury Emeralds?
- sort of a shame to introduce Luornu and then not give her anything to do. Oh well; there's time
- hey, look, it's Pheebs! Hi, Pheebs
- Levitz is still playing with Brande's accent
- Myecroft seems to be Mycroft in this issue

Art: 96 panels/20 pages = 4.8 panels/page. 1 single-panel page.

Batista kind of flattens out the faces for us in this issue. It's not my favourite look and in some cases I don't think it works at all; see Luornu on page 2, panel 3. Also, the backgrounds are blank a little more than I'd like. Still, though, it's Chris Batista, so I'm just nitpicking here; the issue looks fine and the art works very well.

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Anonymous David Spofforth said...

The story of the Quintile power crystal was told in DC Super Stars 17 (the issue that also featured Levitz's origin of the Huntress). It was billed as the Legion's first case.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Jim Davis said...

...look at how much time she spends with her arms folded. That means she's feeling the need to protect herself.


I'm not a psychologist or anything but I think personal mannerisms of this sort are open to a wide variety of interpretations.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

David: Really? I've never heard that before. Thanks. I don't suppose it's been reprinted anywhere...

Jim: I was perhaps speaking more definitively than I should have. But I think there's something to it.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous David Spofforth said...

The Quintile Crystal story hasn't been reprinted yet, but it should be included in Lregion Archives 14 if and when that gets solicited!

1:36 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...


1:44 PM  
Blogger collectededitions said...

There's some ambivalence in your post, I thought, as to whether you liked this issue or not -- that worries me. I haven't read any of this series, admittedly, but I'm concerned about it. I liked the beginning of Levitz's new Legion run (The Choice), but did not at all enjoy his recent Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and this seems more in line with the latter than the former. I'm not convinced the Legion needs a "secret origin," or that there's that much that needs telling in the Legion's origin instead of focusing on forward-moving stories. Your review does not assuage my concern (as I think you intend); will be curious to hear your thoughts on the next part.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, well... I pretty much liked it, but there was some second-issue-syndrome happening here. This issue was within the tolerances.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to hear more about The Sundering and would love to read an interview where we find out how long some of these wonderful additions to the Legion's founding have been percolating in Mister Levitz's head!

4:09 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I hate to disappoint you but I think the Sundering will remain a mystery; the premise of the Legion requires a discontinuity between 21st-century society and 31st-century society. So Levitz has given it a name. But the more vague it is, the more useful it is to Levitz.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

I'm pretty sure that the story of the Quintile crystal was also told in Secret Origins of the Legion (Jimmy Janes on art and I can't remember who was scripting).

7:36 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'll check that; thanks.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

It gets hard to separate one continuity from the next, especially with Levitz doing his tweaks along the way, but Rokk has previously been a sports star, potentially Olympic calibre, so his skills don't surprise me at all. Likewise, give Garth a year or two between the joyride when he got his powers and this point and his skill level seems in the realm.

I'm somewhat annoyed by Garth's costume being the 70s-era one already (not to mention Rokk going right to lavender, skipping pink [rose!] completely).

I seem to recall some stories with Brainy treating Tinya as suitably competent, moreso than many Legionnaires. Their subplot here feeds to that, giving Brainy someone to be non-antagonistic to; that's been needed for a while.

I'm assuming that Imra knows Brande is a Durlan now, or at least something toward that.

For those objecting to the Legion needing a "secret origin" story, consider that that's exactly what this is: it's the Legion's *secret* origin, the stuff nobody else knows. The origin that isn't the official, public stuff. Whether the story will live up to that potential in the end, good question.

(Or think of it this way: it's this generation's "Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes". If the Legion's history and members and relationships are too huge for you to get into, here's the taster menu for you. And if you've got questions about the history of *this* version of the Legion, this will sort out some of those issues. We need one of these series every ten years or so; we got it from the ground-up with the reboot, we never got it with the threeboot, and we really could have used it with the TMK Legion.)

3:28 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm somewhat annoyed by Garth's costume being the 70s-era one already (not to mention Rokk going right to lavender, skipping pink [rose!] completely).

For me, this is exactly the kind of detail I'm happy to have simplified.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

I want Garth in a cape, though. It offsets the eventual robot arm so well!

(half joking)

1:19 PM  

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