Monday, March 26, 2012

Legion of Super-Heroes #7 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Mon-El calls a Legion election. The Dominators seem to have created a race of Daxam-Dominion hybrids and are preparing to unleash them on the galaxy.

Sun Boy, Chemical Kid, and Element Lad discover that the Fire Sea problem is being caused by some of Phoenix's men, and they stop it. Meanwhile, Phoenix takes out Chameleon Boy, but Comet Queen and Harmonia show up to help, and they help Dragonwing finish off her annoying sister and the rest of them, and turn them over to the SPs.


The planet Daxam is one of the biggest problems in all of Legion continuity. Because what do you do with the Daxamites? There's so much latent power there, and, even worse, benevolent power, that it potentially unbalances any large-scale story you want to put there. Every Legion writer has had to figure out how to handle them. In the reboot, the writers made them xenophobic homebodies; in the threeboot, Mark Waid killed them all off. Paul Levitz's strategy has been to make enemies out of them, either one at a time like Ol-Vir and the Renegade, or a whole bunch at once like in the Great Darkness Saga or the current storyline. I don't really find them all that interesting, but I do think Levitz is wise to use them every now and then. After all, the Daxamites are, sort of, Supermen, and you want to refer to Superman in Legion stories when you can. Note that Levitz's portrayal of Daxam is basically a positive one.

Of course, another major theme of Legion comics is that of the bright future. So when Harmonia, a Legionnaire, defeats Phoenix, a supervillain, I think it's a misstep to have Harmonia representing the past and Phoenix representing the future. For that matter, I'm not sure about having a Legionnaire as old as her to begin with. (Not that I dislike Harmonia. I like her, actually. I'm just not sure she's right for the Legion.) Mon-El's bad enough, but he entered the cast back when all these things were still in flux.

The Dragonwing/Phoenix story seemed to be wrapped up in a hurry. When the SPs said, "Can we take your prisoners, Legionnaires?" I halfway expected them to be fakes who were pulling something, but this was a two-issue story, not one of your big six-issue ones. Caught me off guard.

That last panel, where Cham was walking away from the rest of the team, that's the classic dejected-superhero-quitting-the-team posture right there. I know we're supposed to lose a Legionnaire soon, but Cham would not have been on my top ten list of candidates to go.

Decent issue. Like most of the rest of Levitz's third run, it hasn't really set my imagination alight, but it's perfectly respectable comics. Maybe this will improve.

- dear Paul Levitz and Chris Conroy, a horde is a swarm of warriors and a hoard is a cache of treasure. It's the first entry in the genre-storytelling style guide. Learn it, live it, love it
- what do we all think of Harmonia's costume? I'm okay with it
- can't say that Dragonwing is much more interesting to me after this story, but she does seem to have mastered the trick of fighting supervillains

Art: 78 panels/20 pages = 3.9 panels/page. Two splash pages.

That's a bit of a low panel count for Portela, isn't it? Otherwise, the issue is up to his usual high standards. Can't find any panels that stand out from the rest, but that's not at all a criticism.

The caption for next issue tells us that the art will be by "classic Legion artists" Steve Lightle and Yildiray Cinar. Can you really call Cinar a "classic" Legion artist? I mean, he was great and everything, but he only left the book about half an hour ago. Anyway, it'll be good to see both of them again; I don't mind missing Portela for a month if they're the alternative.

Membership Notes:

What with this issue's events, I think we have to count Harmonia as being a full-fledged Legionnaire as of issue #1.

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Anonymous Madman2001 said...

Good review - right on target as usual. I really did like the spotlight on Dragonwing and her determination to be and remain a Legionnaire.

What it took me several reads to understand was that "sea of fire" business. I s'pose that a lot of things happened offpage, but what happened afer the moment that Sun Boy scoured the place? What happened to the sea of fire? Where did Sun Boy and Element Lad find those two gang members? I am still thoroughly puzzled.

11:43 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks. I assume that nothing happened to the sea of fire except that, once the interference of those two guys had been taken care of, it started behaving normally and the machine that Chemical Kid fixed last issue was able to keep it under control. Not really sure exactly what Sun Boy did, but whatever it was, it resulted in the Legion being able to catch the gang members easily. I wonder if we'd have seen more of that if this comic still had 22 pages.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Mo Walker said...

I think this issue was solid, but it would have been stronger if it had additional pages. In my opinion, Levitz accomplished several objectives with this two-part story. One, readers get to know Dragonwing a bit more. Two, Chemical Kid's powerset is put on display. I think some of the newer readers may be confused about what C.K. can do. So the more C.K. is able to display his powers, the better. Three, we finally get a taste of Harmonia's powers (and a costume). Four, the Dominator's plot is advanced. Five, getting the Legion leadership monkey off Levitz's back (set next paragraph). This is a lot of plot points covered for a two-part arc. There are scores of titles that cannot get this done in a six-part arc.

I am glad that Levitz is going to address the leadership issue. Hopefully P.G. or another character Levitz has been building up will take the reins.

Matt, I think you nailed my issue with Harmonia (other than the non-costume up til now). I like Harmonia's powerset, but she is too old for the Legion. Especially since DC has placed Legion in the 'Young Justice' family of titles.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, one thing about the elections is that they're now open to DC fandom as a whole and not just Legion fans. (By which I mean, the voting was never restricted to just Legion fans, but it also wasn't promoted outside the comic book itself like it is now.) Which means that you get a lot more votes for stunt candidates like Gates and Earth-Man and also a lot more votes for characters prominent outside Legion comics, like Brainy and Mon-El.

Levitz has been hinting at Sun Boy's leadership abilities; I wonder how he's going to do in the voting this time around.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous stile86 said...

Another mention of Stonehenge although you could hardly call it advancing that subplot, except that a girl Sun Boy met may be involved.

Chemical Kid's attitude surprised me a bit, being such a departure from his arrogance back in Adventure. But then I looked back over the last 7 issues and it seems like he lost all his confidence somewhere between being captured by Res-Vir and having to take on a Dominion Fleet. Since then Element Lad seems to be mentoring him and building his confidence up to a healthy level, one based on a realistic assesment of his abilities rather than dear old dad's money.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I noticed that. I wonder if Levitz is going to have his old snotbag attitude reemerge over time, as he finds his feet.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

I like Harmonia's costume. But I'd agree that she doesn't really fit in with the team... I mean, she did blow up Titan. Granted, maybe the Legionnaires aren't aware of her role in the destruction of the moon, but surely *she* ought to feel something about it. Regret? Guilt? Crossed something off her bucket list? Anything?? That particular character doesn't make sense to me.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'd have to reread the issue, but while Harmonia was certainly a leader in the experiment that caused Titan's destruction, didn't she try to stop the specific step that triggered the disaster?

I'm sure she does regret it, but I'm also sure that you don't get to be that old without learning how not to let stuff get you down.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Murray said...

The only thing that Harmonia did was offer something of a warning saying that those who try to look at the creation of the universe are usually doomed. Now upon rereading, it doesn't look like she was the one pushing the buttons, but she was certainly one of a collection of scientists involved in the experiment. Interestingly, she is the only one of the scientists to survive the explosion.
So... perhaps she left them to their exploring and decided to leave, in which case, well, she's still nothing to write home about. Or, she stuck around and watched the experiment anyway, and still, somehow survived.
Either way, I don't trust her. But I think we're supposed to trust her. I don't think Levitz is setting her up to be some kind of Legion traitor. Although I wouldn't be opposed to that particular storyline.
But I'd be just as happy to have Levitz explore her questionable ethics. Assuming that he sees her ethics as being questionable.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, comics is full of powerful characters who start off not as superheroes, but who become superheroes when they join superhero groups. Harmonia's just the latest in a long line. One must assume.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

I guess... except that's not really the story being told here, as there's no reference to her shady past, and no reference to her trying to become a super-hero.

She is accepted and she does seem to see herself as part of the team. We missed the part of the story which saw her trying to get there.

Part of that is probably because Harmonia doesn't seem to be a person that needs to try at things. She understands who she is and is quite comfortable in her shoes so there isn't any of that questioning, "Will I ever be good enough?"

And the other half of it is that no one knows that she was involved in the Titan explosion, so the tension of "Can we trust her?" is taken away. She's just accepted.

I can't tell if Levitz is telling a long story here (where eventually the Legionnaires will learn what she did and then we'll see the consequences), or if he's changed plans and would just rather that we forgot about how she started out. Maybe it's been Flashpointed away.

It's obvious that there's a story to be told with her, I'm just not clear about where it's going.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think you might be overcomplicating things. If she has a shady past, I missed the reference to it, and certainly there was no malicious intent in her involvement with Titan's destruction. And she was helpful in dealing with the Blue Space Guy, and has powers... why would the Legion not take her at face value? Especially with their current personnel problems.

I mean, I'm sure you're right, there's a story to be told about her. I'm just not sure it's going to involve something from her past coming back to bite her.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Murray said...

But does there need to be malicious intent? Were Krona's intentions malicious when he went to look at the beginnings of the universe (yeah, they became malicious, but originally? Wasn't he just kinda curious?)

Whether she (and the band of scientists with her) meant to blow up Titan or not, the fact is... they knew what they were doing was risky, they did it anyway, and kabloom. Harmonia was there and was a part of it by either actively encouraging the exploration or passively walking away from it and letting it occur.

It's not like Levitz to leave something like the destruction of Titan off panel for so long. Generally, he likes to keep these things in the background with a panel every so often reminding us how the people are coping or whatever. Witness what he did with the Daxamites after Great Darkness.

The fact that he's kinda dropped this plot makes me think that he's changed whatever his original plans were for Harmonia, and that he would rather we forgot about her role with regards to Titan (and perhaps the big blue baby. I might be misremembering, but was the big blue baby brought about because of the exploration into the beginnings of the universe?)

2:44 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I don't know; something like that. It's not the first time he's let things slide for a while. For another example, look at Danielle Foccart and how long it took her subplot to play out after Brainy cured her.

5:20 PM  

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