Saturday, November 24, 2012

Legion of Super-Heroes #14 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About: Element Lad and Chemical Kid track down the pirates. Element Lad gets knocked out and Chemical Kid has to rise to the occasion; he revives Element Lad and they beat the Braalians, and then more Legionnaires show up to handle the annoying details.

Meanwhile, Cosmic Boy arrives at Medicus One to recover from his wounds, and Night Girl is there, concerned. Plus it's possible that Cosmic Boy doesn't have powers anymore. Also, Brainiac 5 discovers that Comet Queen's attack on him was a result of when Saturn Queen mindwiped her; big surprise. One new thing: Comet Queen's was brainwashed to specifically kill Brainy. That's kinda odd.

If that wasn't enough, Phantom Girl and Sun Boy discover that the Persuader's Atomic Axe has secretly been stolen.


The coming-of-age of Chemical Kid was well done, but... well. Here are the five Legionnaires who joined in the most recent wave:

1. Chemical Kid. Male. Formerly arrogant and lazy, until he had a moment of truth that taught him to take superheroism more seriously.
2. Comet Queen. Female. Flaky and incompetent, but with a lot of heart. Currently incapacitated.
3. Dragonwing. Female. Brash and undisciplined.
4. Glorith. Female. Shy and tentative.
5. Harmonia. Female. Mysterious and secretive, with a long history that has nothing to do with superheroism or the Legion.

So which of those do you pick for a story in which he or she has to finally stand tall as an independent Legionnaire? I could see arguments for any one of them (although you probably couldn't do it with Comet Queen just now), but I'd say Chemical Kid needs this story a bit less than the other four. But he gets it anyway. And, also, he's the only male character of the bunch.

To come at this from a different direction: Levitz seems quite taken by the interaction of Element Lad's and Chemical Kid's superpowers, and their mentor/protege relationship is something we've never quite had in the Legion before. (Plus I have the idea that Levitz wants to succeed with Chemical Kid where so many other Legion writers failed with Chemical King.) As such he wants to do a story with them, and here it is, and it's pretty good. And next issue has Chemical Kid and Dragonwing and Glorith in some kind of Spanish time-travel adventure in which Glorith seems to be the focal character, so it's not like those other Legionnaires aren't being used at all. So I guess everything's okay?

Kinda looks like Levitz is thinking about removing Cosmic Boy's powers. Not the first time this has happened, of course. The man will continue to try to evolve the Legion roster. I support this, of course; ironic that Levitz is just about the only Legion writer who'd be allowed to get away with it. (Maybe Shooter.)

Perfectly good issue again. Stay tuned for Legion election results next month!

Art: 78 panels/20 pages = 3.9 panels/page; 2 splash pages.

Scott Kolins' style continues not to do it for me. Check out Lightning Lass in the last panel of page 20; I don't like it like that. And even worse: check out page 9 panel 3 and page 10 panel 1. Looks like a direct copy to me, and that's not cool. I paid three bucks for this comic; would you mind drawing all the panels? If you were trying to get me on your side, this is not how to do it.

Oh well; at least we get Portela back next issue. Yay!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am with you on Kolins' is not as bad here as it has been in other places (his brief Avengers run was horrific), but I have never liked it. At his best, he comes across as a kind of third-rate Walt Simonson, and I don't think he's at his best very often....

Ignoring the art, I think I have enjoyed this two-parter more than anything else since the retroboot began. The story wasn't particularly epic, but it's the first one Levitz has written since he took back the reigns where it doesn't feel like he ran out of steam halfway through and just phoned in the ending.

Something that occurred to me after reading these past two issues...Levitz really does have problems developing villains, doesn't he? These guys weren't given names, the guys who fought Invisible Kid a couple of issues ago weren't really fleshed out...seems a pretty common trait.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Levitz's problem with villains is a strange one. His villains would be so much better if he'd do some really easy things, like give them names. Just give them names! Makes so much difference!

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Nate said...

I guess I'm in the minority: I prefer Kolins to Portela. The former's action sequences are crisp and easy to follow, even with characters like Hadru whose powers can be difficult to depict. I sometimes find Portela's combat scenes difficult to interpret (a recent-ish example would be the fight between Cham, Dragonwing, and Dragonwing's sister and her crew of forgettable villains). These past two issues have had some of the best super-hero combat since this volume began, and I chalk that up to Kolins' clarity.

Story-wise, I found myself actually liking Hadru. He's the first of the newbies to have any impact on me. I've enjoyed his interactions with Jan, and liked the way the difficult situation caused his mental graduation from trainee to legionnaire.

I do wonder if his prominence within the retroboot has any connection with the recent-ish publication of Archives 13, which contains the death of Chemical King. In his introduction to the volume, Levitz calls that story one of the shining moments of his first run, but also expresses regret that he wasn't a better writer when he wrote it. But if Chemical Kid is being set up to follow in Chemical Kings footsteps, I hope it's a long way off.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I wouldn't guess there's any connection to the Archive's publication, although I do think Chemical Kid is a reaction in general to what happened with Chemical King. But a reaction, not an echo: I don't see Levitz killing him off at all. I would be very surprised if that happened.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give Kolins some credit;at least his art now is better than his stuff was during the reboot era.

How would the loss of his power make Cosmic Boy more interesting? Good writing is the sure cure for dullness in a Legionnaire,not some power loss nobody believes will stick.

Was Chenical King really all that interesting to begin with?

12:05 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, it doesn't make Cosmic Boy more interesting (although, in the 5YL comics, it did: it forced our attention to what he brought to the Legion other than his powers, and it worked great). It forces him off the team, is what it does, and clears room for some more new blood. Levitz has been doing this to the Legion roster for a long time, and if it wasn't for Geoff Johns, he'd be even further along than he is now.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous DavidS said...

I'd like to see Rokk take over the vacant RJ Brande role of Legion mentor and father figure (of sorts). And if he is clearing the way for another member, how about giving XS a try? Please?

11:47 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'd be thrilled to see XS again but I don't think Levitz is the writer to do it. I think when he adds Legionnaires he likes to make them up himself.

5:39 PM  

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