Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes #9 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Brainiac 5 and Chameleon Boy go to Durla to try to get a handle on the assassins from that end. Chameleon Boy gets his costume ripped off and eventually Brainy figures something out and says they have to go back to Earth because of Cham's aunt.

The remaining assassin attacks a United Planets council meeting and Tyroc and Timber Wolf fight him off.

After Chief Cusimano puts pressure on the Legion, Tellus accesses Dawnstar's powers while she's comatose to try to find Zendak, but (unsurprisingly!) is unsuccessful.


That 20 pages really does seem shorter. I wasn't sure it would, but it did this time.

Part of Levitz's method for writing comics is that, every time he checks in on a plot or subplot, it should be advanced in some way. In this issue, it's obvious how part of that is achieved; Brainy figures out that Cham's aunt is involved with the assassins. That's fine. It's not as clear how the Dawny/Zendak line is advanced, or the fight against the assassins themselves. I guess the first one depends on how final GiGi takes Tellus's assessment that Zendak's dead, and the second one depends on just what the Durlan meant when he said, "My purpose here is served anyway."

So Cham's aunt is the mastermind here? Well, that's... easy, I guess. I mean, we haven't seen the character in forever, so we can do without her no problem. So what's the big deal, then? I guess I shouldn't complain; I was a bit worried it was going to be Yera.

The thing of it is this. The Durlans are basically personality-free. They don't have names as far as we know, and there's no telling one from another. Their power of shapeshifting is reasonably interesting but familiar enough that it isn't a big attraction. What they mostly have to sell as villains is their motivation. The isolationist Durlan mindset is strange, on the one hand, and when you combine it with their desire for revenge it makes it a pretty intriguing situation. See, we can identify with the Durlans up to a point (which is Superhero Comics 101, make your villains relatable); we, and the Legionnaires, sympathize with them for wanting revenge for Brande's murder. They're totally wrong in their choice of targets, of course; the Legionnaires already dealt with the guy responsible, and the Durlans could probably have found that out without too much trouble. But we can't just say that they're evil, they're misguided, they're crazy; it's not that easy, and that's why this story isn't boring.

I would have liked to see more of Tellus trying to find his way through Dawny's mind. As it is, we only got hints of what it's like in there, how her powers make her experience of the world different from ours, what difficulty Tellus might have in dealing with it. It could have been a whole issue on its own!

In a way it's stupid for me to review these issues. Because the strength of a Paul Levitz comic book is that you can save it up and go back and reread them all in a row a couple of years later and it'll be really good. If you review them when they first come out, though, one at a time, you get the sneaking suspicion that not a lot is happening. It's not true, but it does seem that way. Levitz sneaks up on you.

One thing I was wondering about was whether there would be any references to the stuff that happened in the Annual that we're supposed to know about by now but don't because it hasn't come out yet. I guess they're canny enough to avoid that one.

Anyway, the Durlan thing is supposed to end next month, and by then I'll have had quite enough of it.

- still Vyrga. Still not Vyraga.
- okay, good: an explanation for Brande's new dialect.
- where was Gates during the fight against the Durlan?
- I imagine Cham's use of the hummingbird form is a callback to his previous visit to Durla, mentioned in this issue. Trying to make a point to the Speaker?
- the Legionnaires sure have been having bad luck with the Cancellite.

Panel Count: 90 panels/20 pages = 4.5 panels/page. One single-panel page. (Cinar/Faucher)

The most noticeable thing about the art in this issue is the different style they switch to while Tellus is in Dawny's mind. It looks neat, like it was done with coloured pencils or something. I also like Cinar's Durla and the shot of Gates teleporting in.

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