Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rereading the Ghostboot

So I finally did what I've been saying I've been going to do, and reread the whole of LSHv6. I didn't reread all of Levitz's Adventure run, but I did read the couple of issues that were included in the storyline of LSHv6, with Saturn Queen and all that jazz, plus the LSV Special and the Annual.

And it was good! I enjoyed it more that way than I did reading the individual issues month-by-month. I'd say it wasn't as good as late-v2-early-v3-Levitz, maybe, but better than late-v3-Levitz. And it's certainly preferable to Geoff Johns's recent efforts with the team; at least Levitz is focused on the Legion themselves and not on Superman or Kon-El or Superboy-Prime.

One thing I definitely found was that some of Levitz's foreshadowing and subplot-simmering is a lot more effective when you read it this way. Harmonia Li first appeared at the start of v6, and right from the start she was emphasizing the importance of wisdom, something that wouldn't pay off for another year. Or look at Timber Wolf's mini-quest to be the guy who hunts and brings down Sun-Killer.

It's worth noting that Levitz was hampered by having to cut his stories down from 22 to 20 pages, and also by the relaunch forcing an end to the storyline with #16. We can hope that, now that the relaunch is out of the way, LSHv7 will allow him to proceed with the next storyline unimpeded, and that he's fully adjusted to the 20-page issues.

One thing I was hoping for when the comics shrunk down to 20 pages was that the stories would stay about the same length, and we'd just get more panels per page. It doesn't seem to have happened, but I suppose sometime I should sit down and run the numbers. I wonder how much harder that is for the artists, to pack more panels into a page. In one way you'd think it wouldn't make any difference, that a page's worth of art is a page's worth of art, no matter how many panels it's divided into. But then maybe there's a change in the density of detail they have to draw, and they have to take the trouble to compose the individual panels, and so on. But I do know one thing. From our point of view, the more panels there are on a page, the better, all other things being equal.

Levitz's method previously was to provide an individual story in each issue that contributed to the overall plot and also kept subplots humming along. It looks like he's still doing that, but that the individual-story aspect of it is less true than before. I wouldn't have said before that Levitz was a guy who writes for the trade, but it's always been true that he writes big long stories that just happen to be divided into smaller pieces; and that most Paul Levitz comics are connected to the next issue just as much as they were connected to the previous issue; not many dramatic climaxes. (Although, when he does do an issue that's the grand finale to a story, it's a good one.) Modern comics storytelling seems to have made enabled Levitz to continue doing some of what he's always done while deemphasizing the individual issues. Which I can't say I'm a fan of; I like done-in-one stories. (More than that: I think done-in-one stories are objectively preferable.)

I seem to be approaching a recommendation to wait for the trade on these Legion comics. I'll never do it; I like the month-by-month nature of comics and anyway a fine blog this would be if you didn't hear from me about current Legion matters but every six months. If you're not happy with the quality, though, but you're still fond of the characters, you might want to consider it.

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