Thursday, September 20, 2012

Legion of Super-Heroes #0 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Way back when, before Brainiac 5 was a Legionnaire, the Legion showed up on Colu to fight some robotic bugs. They got out of Brainiac's ancient sealed-up vault somehow, and the vault itself is behaving like a threat in some way that isn't really well specified. After some fighting and destruction, Ultra Boy throws it into space. Oh, and we learn the secret origin of Tharok; he's a thief who wants to loot Brainiac's stuff and gets, what, cybernetically possessed or something by it. Oh, and we learn that all this trouble started when Brainiac 5 opened the door to the lab.


I think DC should stop trying to get Paul Levitz to do special issues and crossovers and stuff. He doesn't seem to be able to mix into the spirit of it, and we probably would have come out ahead if he had been free to just go ahead and do a regular comic book.

Take this issue. To fit in with this zero-issue thing, it has to be set in the early days of the title character(s), and to reveal secrets and stuff. And Levitz delivers on that. But the story itself is not really that interesting; it contains one interesting detail (Tharok's origin) but is otherwise unremarkable. Brainy's secret, for one thing. In-story it's shocking enough, because of course there's a taboo with Brainiac here, but we all know that Brainy tends to stick his nose in where it doesn't belong, and get in over his head, and so on. We aren't shocked.

What else happened? There's a Coluan baby who might turn out to be important. How old would she be now... teens, I suppose. Natural to wonder if Levitz is planning on easing Brainy out of the Legion and another Coluan in.

The most interesting characterization is probably Phantom Girl and her relationships with Brainy and Ultra Boy. She's pretty flirty. I wonder how she came to end up with Jo and not Brainy. I suppose the most likely thing is that Brainy just wasn't interested enough.

Looks like some Fatal Five action coming up next month. That'll be okay, I guess.

Art: 92 panels/20 pages = 4.6 panels/page. 2 splash pages.

Art by Scott Kolins this issue, and while I can't say I'm a big fan of his style, he acquits himself decently well here. I like Ultra Boy's brawniness and Kolins's attention to the background. Oh, and I like the page borders; nice touch.

Membership Notes: A text page at the end of the issue gives a quick synopsis on just who the Legion is, and lists their membership as Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Chemical Kid, Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl, Chameleon Boy, Dragonwing, Colossal Boy, Comet Queen, Star Boy, Element Lad, and Sun Boy. This is not an accurate list of active Legionnaires. First of all, Colossal Boy quit. Second of all, what about Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Lightning Lass, Glorith, Harmonia, and Invisible Kid? Third, it's interesting that Star Boy and Comet Queen are included, since they're supposed to have quit to rescue Brainy and Dreamy.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow no comments still. I think your hiatus hurt the blog.
I for one am still enjoying levitz run on the legion. I do think there have been editorial restraints and changes to the plot that have hurt the story. But i will take levitz legion any day of the month. When does the collaboration with Giffen start? That pairing takes me back to the glory days of my youth.
What do you think it will take to get the legion more read by comics readers today?

9:05 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Honestly I don't know what's to be done. DC keeps digging themselves in deeper. How does any comic book become a hit these days? Is quality sufficient, or do you need a superstar writer and/or artist?

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm probably just projecting my own preferences,but Levitz's stories seem to have an extra zing when he's writing the early Legion of the ADVENTURE era,the LSH of his youth.Maybe part of him wishes he could do a Time Trapper and turn the clock back on the LSH,but the LSH could never survive another*shockhorror* we're told.

Noticed the Brainiac dome had the same triangular three-dot symbol Brainiac sported in the DC TV cartoons.Another example of the back and forth of how superheroes are influenced by their portrayal in other media.

2:22 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I have not experienced this zing.

I wonder if maybe DC hasn't done a complete 180 on the Legion, and now will never reboot them, no matter what else happens, even if they reboot everything else.

8:53 AM  
Blogger RicG said...

I'm not sure I'd find that too objectionable, but DC also seem determined not to make any use of the book's history either. Though the upcoming Fatal Five story may prove me wrong on both those counts if rumour is to be believed.

For years I've got the impression that writers on the book are afraid they'll be burned for delving too deep into the books' history (as in the 5YG run) , for doing anything politically controversial (as in the outrage over the US of the future not ruling the world or the draft for President), legal challenges over old characters (Superboy), outstripped by continuity changes (Superboy etc)or simply writing scifi elements that are being challenged by our changing ideas of science (Brande's star-building is no longer future tech but lost knowledge of the ancients). Doesn't leave a lot left over to play with.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I wouldn't worry about that; if there's anybody who knows how to make use of the Legion's history--which was not rebooted with Flashpoint and the New52--it's Paul Levitz. He may want to deemphasize it, which is not a bad idea, but it's there at his fingertips.

You may be right about the writers. What I say is, don't sweat the restrictions; it's the 31st century! Go nuts!

9:21 PM  
Blogger RicG said...

Gosh yes I wish they would. Part of me wishes they'd establish Earth as the staid mid-west of the 30thC and out on the fringes there are planets where 60's style space-bathing suits, Grell-pasties, Cockrum confections & Giffen's ornate court wear are day to day fashion. Where Officer Erin decides whether to come into work as Sean or Shvaughn and mad scientists are busy switching their minds into what ever wierd bodies they can come up with.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

And all of that in the first three pages!

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tinya's interactions with Brainy were establish in the Legion: Secret Origin mini, and they provide some backstory for a strong non-dating friendship between the characters (which even shows up some in the preboot books). Basically, it establishes Tinya as the one character whom Brainy will always respect and react positively toward (which could have good effects on his next madness stint, etc.).

The Coluan baby is obviously a plot point for the future. Depending on how Levitz hews to 70s continuity and projects the team ages these days, she could be anywhere from two to twenty at this point. Coluans age slowly.

I figure the screwy membership stuff is a result of it being farmed out to an assistant editor who isn't normally connected with the book. That person grabbed 2-3 issues and pulled out the characters listed there and wrote them down as the membership.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, I hadn't forgotten about Tinya and Brainy from L:SO. Puts more weight on my question, as far as I can see: how'd she end up with Jo?

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree with your basic thought: she was interested in both and over time, Jo returned affections and Querl returned… something more like friendship. At the time that Tinya was ready for romance, Brainy was not.

I don't think it needs to be any deeper than that. I am pleased to see close non-sexual cross-gender relationships; we don't get a lot of those in comics.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yes; good point.

3:44 PM  

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