Thursday, March 01, 2012

Action Comics #5-6 Review

I picked up the two Legion-featuring issues of Action Comics, curious to finally see Grant Morrison's take on the Legion. I'm not going to do a full review, because I haven't been reading Action and therefore don't know what I'm talking about, but I would like to go over the Legion stuff.

First, it's an Adult Legion story. I hope nobody at DC thinks that this means that Legion comics now have to converge on the future of the future as described herein. Paul Levitz set us free of that particular bugaboo in the mid-'80s and nobody with any sense wants it back. And it clearly hearkens back to Shooter's Adult Legion story; check out Cosmic Man's receding hairline if you have any doubts.

On first reading I was disappointed and thought that Morrison, like Geoff Johns, didn't have much thought for the Legion beyond some nostalgia. But when I read it again I saw that there was more to it than that.

The first thing I noticed that I didn't like was the choice of characters: Lightning Lad/Man, Saturn Girl/Woman, and Cosmic Boy/Man. Now, I like these characters just fine. In particular I think Saturn Girl is one of DC's best characters. But I don't necessarily enjoy them in a story more than any three other Legionnaires. For instance, if I was going to pick three Legionnaires to appear as guests in some other comic, I might go for, oh, Ultra Boy, Chameleon Boy, and Shadow Lass. But oh no: we have to get the three founders, again.

Is there any real support for the idea that Garth, Imra, and Rokk are Superman's best friends among the Legionnaires? He's known them for the longest, true... but not by that much. Plus I know of lots of Legion stories where he was closest to Brainy, or to Mon-El and Ultra Boy. Really you could make an argument for any Legionnaire who appeared in enough stories with him. He's friends with all of them. It's sort of the point.

Now that I've read it again, though, I can see what Morrison was doing. He very specifically wanted to tie this story in to the first Kal-El/Legion meeting, and to do so he needed to use the same three Legionnaires. So I'll allow it.

In particular Morrison wanted to make the point that young Clark's meeting with the Legion was a pivotal event. Saturn Woman says: "That was when he knew the universe was bigger than he ever hoped. We were the proof that Planet Earth had a future worth fighting for. Meeting us was the greatest day in his life."

I can go along with that. I mean, I'm not sure Superman needs that to be true; he could have arrived at the same place via Pa Kent or his own supersenses. But it's good. I like the idea from the cartoon that the Legionnaires taught him to use his powers effectively; this isn't that. But in some ways it's better.

Morrison also has some bright ideas about Saturn Woman: all languages are the same to her, and she's from Saturn's rebel moon of Titan. Similarly, there's something about Lightning Man where the electricity builds up and he has to discharge it before he gets mad, or something. I put this all in the category of "fine but unnecessary and I hope nobody else thinks they have to use it".

Most of this story was concerned primarily with Superman, and that's only natural. It is Action Comics, after all. Doesn't mean that Morrison thinks that the Legion are nothing more than Superman's supporting players. I'd be okay with seeing Morrison's idea of a pure Legion story.

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Blogger Dougie said...

I've never bought into the theory that the Adult Legion restricted storytelling. "Oh noes! This means all my great stories for Calamity King can't happen because he never appeared in 354!" Surely, that's the point of the memorial statues we only glimpse.

I think one has to view it from the perspective of the 13-14 year-old who wrote it; it's like the comic book equivalent of "When I Grow Up to be a Man". It makes the Legion mythic (and Brainy's pipe habit is hilarious).

As is often the case, I found Morrison's scripts barely comprehensible although his poetic turn of phrase was occasionally appealing viz. "rebel moon". I doubt if any other writer would be permitted to introduce yet another iteration of the LSH six months into the New 52.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, no, it doesn't restrict storytelling; that's the point of LSHv2 #300. The problem is that Legion writers (and readers!) often acted like it did restrict storytelling. And a mistake that was made once can be made again.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that this Legion is from a parallel universe, not the DCnU. Apparently Morrison is going to start showing some parallel universes in future issues, starting with #9. That's what the solicits say.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That's all we need.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not everything in comics needs to connect to everything else or be a building block to something else. Why can't things just exist for their own sake?

Grant Morrison is supposedly a Legion fan.His writing tends to be both imaginative and undisiplined. Don't know how a LSH script by him would turn out,but his other scripts for Superman on this title have been quite good.(These 2 issues are an interlude to the regular storyline.No idea what they're here for.)

11:56 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, Legion comics could use a bit more imagination and undiscipline these days.

12:13 PM  

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