Monday, January 02, 2012

Legion of Super-Heroes #4 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The Legionnaires get Res-Vir under control and chase off the Dominator fleet.


I wonder what it was about the stuff that happened this issue that made Levitz pay so much attention to it. Invisible Kid finding Kryptonite on Daxam? Chemical Kid dropping Res-Vir where he stood? Chameleon Boy scouting a Dominator spaceship? Brainy discovering Glorith's powers are time-based? Dunno. None of it seems like a big enough deal to take up as much of the issue as it did. From a plot point of view, anyway.

Take the Chemical Kid scene. He doesn't seem like the same kind of cavalier jackass he did in the Legion Academy stories in Adventure; he's much more tentative. Given that, I'm not sure if this is really a good Chemical Kid scene so much as it's a good Element Lad scene. In the past, Levitz's Element Lad has been too curt with people to work with young Legionnaires this effectively, but then again that was before he was Kon-El's chemistry teacher. More to the point, it looks like Levitz has taken the time to figure out what he can do with Chemical Kid's powers, which is key to using the character well; it was Bates and Shooter's failure to do this the first time that led to Chemical King's untimely death, at least as much as the Adult Legion story.

Anyway, a scene like that doesn't advance the narrative at all. Res-Vir was already beaten and immobilized; it would have been no trouble at all for Levitz to leave him like that. But no: he wanted us to spend some time with Jan and Hadru, and that's fine.

I wonder when Dragonwing is going to get some attention. We seem to know a lot more about what makes Chemical Kid and Glorith tick than Dragonwing; it's not clear to me just what her place on the team is going to be. Maybe next issue; am I remembering the solicit right? There's something going on with Dragonwing next issue?

Here's what's so great about Brainiac 5. And also why he must be such a problem for a writer. Brainy is not satisfied with comic-book logic. Sure, okay, obviously Glorith's powers are based on magic, but how exactly? Just because you've put a name on it doesn't mean you know how. And it's important to know! Threeboot Brainy was like this too: not lazy. Brainy always wants to do the work. Most superpowers let you avoid doing the work; you can accomplish things with them that you can't understand. Not good enough for Brainiac 5. He's got the advantage that his 12th-level intelligence lets him do all the work fast and well, but he still has to do it. There are no shortcuts for Brainy. He's like Karate Kid in that sense, especially if Karate Kid had trained himself in superspeed instead of martial arts.

I guess everyone's looking forward to next issue with Walt Simonson. Walt Simonson is all very well but I hope Levitz gives him something to do.

- What's going on with Mon-El?
- And while we're at it, what's going on with anti-lead serums these days? Levitz once wrote a whole comic about how the serums need Kryptonite
- Lightning Lass's new(ish) costume. I think it works better as a superhero costume if the shorts are blue or white or even yellow. The red seems exhibitionistic
- I wonder if Hadru will ever learn to turn off Jacques's powers the way Condo did with Lyle
- Still no word on Quislet, or definitive status on Harmonia

Art: 92 panels/20 pages = 4.6 panels/page. 1 splash page.

Is Simonson going to do a better job than Portela's been doing? I think Portela's been knocking it out of the park all series long. Look at the Brainy/Dream Girl pages. Just excellent.

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Blogger Novelty said...

I have to say I preferred Portela's art on this issue to the Moys' over at the Trek crossover issues. That is a bad thing though since I'm such a huge fan of Moy's work on the Reboot.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Murray said...

I wonder if the Chemical Kid/Element Lad scene was not so much a story point as it was a character point. People who have been following the characters got to see that while Chem was an arrogant snot in Adventure, now that he's actually made the team, he's feeling a little out of his depth and nervous. He was able to talk the talk but is finding it difficult to walk the walk. I like it. It's a neat little development for him. And it was cool to see Element Lad take the kid under his wing. It's about building alliances and friendships and sub-groups within the team that Levitz can play with later on in his run.

I figure that the revelation about the Kryptonite has something to do with the lead serum. I'm not sure what or how exactly, but those little details are the ones that always skate on by me.

Dragonwing is indeed due for some exposure. If not in the Simonson issue, then the ones right after that. I'm looking forward to them. She's an interesting character.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Novelty: The Moys are certainly doing very different work on ST/LSH. Their art on the reboot was much more polished. I wasn't a particular fan of their style but I'll take it over this newer stuff.

Murray: I agree that it was a character point; I should have done a better job of saying so.

As for the Kryptonite, certainly it had to do with the lead serum; Mon-El said as much to the Dominion. Levitz established in the Baxter run that they needed Kryptonite in the serum to keep Mon from becoming immune to the serum (and I think I recall a reference even earlier than that). But is Mon trying to imply, now, that the Kryptonite would do more harm than good in Res-Vir's case? Or just that the Dominators don't know how to cook it up right?

I think Dragonwing can become an interesting character. I wouldn't call her one yet.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

I think my take on the Kryptonite thing is that before this storyline, it's use in the lead serum was fairly secret, in that only the Legionnaires and related folk knew how to create and use it. Now it appears that others have stumbled onto the secret ingredient (which, of course means... trouble).

I'm willing to give Dragonwing a bit of a pass because her character type is kinda novel in the Legion right now. We don't really have a cranky female (who's cranky just for the sake of being cranky - as opposed to Vi who certainly does have reason for her attitude). Plus there's a bit of sexy aggressiveness which can make for fun stories, and which is another character type missing in the Legion. All the current Legion ladies are attached and the only character close to being a little more sexually open is Dreamy and that largely amounts to harmless flirtation at this point.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Okay, but that doesn't make her interesting; it just makes her potentially interesting.

One thing I do like about her is that she isn't that attractive. Because who says she has to be?

2:40 PM  
Anonymous stile86 said...

"In the past, Levitz's Element Lad has been too curt with people to work with young Legionnaires this effectively, but then again that was before he was Kon-El's chemistry teacher."

Here's where the 31st/21st story conflicts come up again. Is this still true or does the New 52 and a very different Superboy mean this never happened? The new Superman story would make it difficult for the whole Kandor storyline to happen too, which was why the Legion was back there then anyway. Some writer in the future could always rework it. I guess until we are told otherwise we assume that the Legion's interactions with the 20/21st still happened somehow, at least as far as the Legion characters are concerned.

Love your comparison of Brainy to Val. That is perfect. the only two legionaires who don't get a free ride. It's a little different in that Val only has his ability with hard work, whereas Brainy only makes use of his ability with hard work, but the comparison is still excellent.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think Levitz just does what he wants. If he thinks he can use something, he does so; if not, not.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Northwest LeatherSIR 2012 said...

Of the three new academy Legionnaires, Grava and Hadru had a decent amount of previous focus. This stitched up a big dangler for Hadru, that of tempering his asshat tendency. I concur with Murray's analysis on what this accomplished and why.

Dragonwing gets major focus in #6-7, as I recall.

Brainy's cognizance with Glorith's powers plays that much more into connecting here with Pandora (the purple woman).

My assumption with the kryptonite is that, despite preboot stories, most of it has decayed to non-lethal isotopes by the 31st century. Brainy's time-travel research was partially aimed at securing green K from when it was in abundance. The presence of it in the 31st century will lead to lead serum experiments, attempts to boost it, and time travel experiments, all stuff Brainy and the UP want to quash (because they'd tried it and know the issues; anyone with less than 12th level intelligence can't wrangle it right, maybe).

I'm unsure what Mon-El's final comment referenced. My first thought was echoes of Eltro Gand (see the TMK era), but that way lies madness.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Meerkatdon said...

Kryptonite has always been the secret ingredient in Mon-El's serum...well, at least since the last time Lecitz was writing Legion, maybe even earlier.

It all goes back to Mon-El's first origin story. There's a scene where Clark exposes the sleeping Mon-El to Kryptonite in a lead box, to see if he's Kryptonian as he claims -- Mon doesn't react, so Clark knows Mon's not really his big brother.

Later, readers pointed out that Mon should have responded to the lead box, but didn't -- leading to the conclusion that Kryptonite radiation protects Daxamites from lead poisoning.

There was a time when Brainy eliminated Mon's serum by injecting him with Superboy's blood cells treated with Kryptonite. (This was in LSH v.3 #23).

In Legion of 3 Worlds the Legion rescued Mon from the Phantom Zone, where Earth-Man put him -- there, Brainy said that the Zone had reset Mon's physiology so he was again vulnerable to lead. Brainy administered the serum, and Mon was back in busness. Presumably, he's still on it.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

NWLS2012: That's pretty good with the Kryptonite; I quite like it. I have to admit I thought of Eltro Gand too, but come on, it can't be that, right? I can't see Levitz going back to the 5YL well again.

Meerkatdon: Right, all of that. Still doesn't help us with what's happening now, though.

I wonder if Chemical Kid could reproduce the effects of the serum in a Daxamite's system. Perhaps with Element Lad's help.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

I hope not (with Eltro Gand), and if it hadn't been visited in the 5YG I would have never thought of it, but the implication in his dialogue is clearly that the Mon-El we've been dealing with for some time hasn't been real/whole/etc.

I suppose I could be reading way too much into it and he's just saying that he's now past the breakup with Shady.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It's not just you; it really does sound like he's talking about something significant.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous AJay McL said...

Levitz seems to like to partner up the characters viz. Dirk/Brek and Ayla/Vi. Jan and Hadru seems like an interaction full of potential.
I have to say that I'm not fond of Dragonbreath..I mean Dragonwing. BUT, I don't think that I'm supposed to like her. She provides necessary friction unlike the narrative cannon fodder that was the very likable Variable Lad.
He's not dead, you know.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Levitz does do that, yeah, and in one way it's good but in another way it gets tiresome; in particular I got sick of Wildfire and Dawnstar always being together.

I wouldn't count on seeing Variable Lad again.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Why shouldn't we expect to see Variable Lad again? We've all read enough comics to know a "setup for return" when we see one.

That said, I don't see any *value* in his return at this point. So I would expect his return but ont *anticipate* it.

12:32 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Because I don't think he was a big enough character for anyone to bother bringing him back.

Also, because Legion characters of his type tend not to come back. See also Lad, Ferro; Mentalla.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Not sure what "type" you mean. Ferro Lad and Mentalla's deaths served as pivotal moments in their storylines, and at least for Andrew's, in Legion history. I find it real hard to argue that for Variable Lad's death.

(And of course, even from beyond the grave, Ferro Lad has come back, not to mention twice as live versions.)

The flip side of his death, though, might be the more interesting one to think about: Variable Lad and Cosmic King *both* "died" in the same event. Do you think CK will also never come back? (I sure don't. He's the least known of the LSV founders and thus the most fruitful for potential expansion.) If Cosmic King returns, undoubtedly Variable Lad will as well.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

By "type" I mean the earnest young hero who sets out to become a Legionnaire but dies untimely.

True, the Legion has never forgotten about Ferro Lad, but he hasn't really returned. He's still dead. (Ferro is a different guy.)

I don't think Cosmic King is coming back either. Let's face it: he's not that interesting.

11:47 PM  

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