Thursday, September 22, 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The Legion has a squad (Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, Dragonwing, Chemical Kid) on planet Panoptes, which is apparently a planet where the United Planets keeps an eye on the Dominion. But something weird is going on there. Turns out the place is sending signals to the Dominators, and there's some kind of renegade Daxamite involved.


I've been reading about how this issue isn't really new-reader-friendly, and I don't know about that. I mean, I'm pretty far from a new reader, but I don't get a sense of being thrown into the middle of a confusing story here. The comic is about the start of a new mission for some Legionnaires; there's some setup, some action, and ends with a cliffhanger. We see all the characters, and get to know some of them. Sure, some things are mentioned but not explained, but nothing we can't handle not knowing. Maybe not the best new-reader issue, but workable.

On the one hand it's a thoroughly acceptable setup issue for a new Legion mission, and there's all kinds of character stuff too, not just with relation to the mission and other Legion business, but also to the many losses the team has recently suffered. All stuff that should be in there, and well done too... but I would like more out of my Legion comics, and I'm not sure what more. Come on: in LSHv6, Levitz made the final storyline partly an exploration of the theme of wisdom, and was that enough for me? No, I made fun of it. So I guess there's no pleasing me.

Levitz returns to one of his favourite touches here: the Legion is overworked and understaffed. Really though things aren't that bad; they've got a membership of 22 or 23 (see below), and it's been way lower than that under Levitz. In fact, it's seldom been higher! Okay, so the new kids are still green. Surely that's offset by the decades of experience the rest of the team has. One thing I'll say, though: the Legion will live to regret inducting Comet Queen. She's not the stupidest Legionnaire ever--that would be Ferro--but she is the biggest screwup. It will not end well.

(Which is not to say that I'm against her membership!)

I was glad to see Colossal Boy recognizing how ineffective a Legionnaire he had been recently. As long as it was something Levitz had been doing on purpose, and not just out of disregard for the character. Remember how Levitz works, though: just because he's not a Legionnaire anymore doesn't mean he's not a character in the book. We have not seen the last of Gim.

Have we ever seen Paul Levitz make use of the Dominators before? I don't remember it. They're good villains but they don't stand up to overuse. I hope he's got an interesting take on them.

So! Strong issue, as a first issue should be. I liked it better than Legion Lost, I think, but I'm looking forward to both. Plus, next month: four Legion comics!

- woman in purple robes in panel 1 of page 7
- so Harmonia Li's a "natural elemental", is she? Whassat?
- I like how Glorith's using the Legion emblem as a cloak clasp
- where was Quislet this issue? I mean, I know we don't have to see everyone in every issue, but I thought there was an effort made to get everyone onscreen for this one

Art: 89 panels/20 pages = 4.5 panels/page. One two-page spread of two panels.

Is it a fairly recent development to have the page divided into a top-to-bottom stack of short wide panels? I seem to be seeing a lot of pages like that these days.

Art by Portela. We already knew he could do good work with the Legion, and this is more of it. It's a busy-looking issue, too, with lots of detail in the background. Let's keep an eye on how long he can keep that up. I can't pick a standout panel or page; it all looks similarly good. If he keeps that up it's going to make these parts of the reviews pretty hard to write. "Art by Portela. Good again."

Membership Notes:

Well, the six Legionnaires from Legion Lost aren't on the team anymore. Nor is Colossal Boy, who's quit to join the United Planets starfleet. To replace them, we have... well, Glorith, Comet Queen, Chemical Kid, and Dragonwing for sure, and maybe Harmonia Li; it's not clear. I'll put the first four on the Legion Roster page and hold off on Harmonia for now. (Not tonight. Soon.) Here's a question, though: is this Glorith the same character as in the Silver Age and 5YL? Or is she a new character with the same name? I ask because I've got a column for "created by", and I'd like to know whether to credit her to Levitz/Jimenez or to Siegel/Forte.

I was hoping for XS but no such luck.

For those who may be reading the Legion for the first time, here's the current roster of the team, as best I can tell: Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Chemical Kid, Comet Queen, Cosmic Boy, Dragonwing, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Glorith, possibly Harmonia, Invisible Kid, Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Polar Boy, Quislet, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Ultra Boy (22 or 23). (Note that Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl seem to be on a leave of absence, or extended vacation, at the moment.)

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