Friday, March 02, 2012

Legion: Secret Origin #5 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The three founders go back in time to meet Superman... but a mysterious shadow grabs 'em and flings 'em back where they came from! The same shadow takes over Mycroft from the security directorate, who in turn corners R.J. Brande and seems to be about to try to kill him. Meanwhile, most of the Legion goes to help the UP fleet at the wormhole, and do so effectively. Plus Brainiac 5 thinks he's cracked the time-travel problem.


Well, I didn't expect that to happen!

The appearance of the shadow-whatchamacallit, and its actions, are the biggest surprise Levitz has given me since his return to the Legion. I don't know what it is (although I have my suspicions) and I sure didn't think that the famous first meeting with Superman was going to be a false alarm. And all of a sudden I have no idea how this is going to end. (Other than that the Legion will survive and prosper.)

I will say that issue #5 of a 6-issue mini-series is a bit late to provide the first surprise.

It seems like the security directorate's attitude has changed a bit from issue to issue. Unless I missed something. But at the start of the series, they were skeptical about Brande and the Legion, and now they're pessimistic and inclined to take action against them. (Even without the shadow.) I wonder if we were supposed to get that impression earlier.

Reading this so soon after the Legion's appearance in Action, a couple of things strike me. First, time travel. In this miniseries, they're trying to get it to work. In Action, it does work. In Legion Lost, apparently it'll never work again. On the one hand I'm not really sure DC's left hand knows what its right hand is doing. On the other hand I prefer not having to worry about the rules for time travel in the first place.

Second, there's been a focus on the Legion's first meeting with Superman, and while I think Superman should always be an ingredient in any Legion recipe, I don't think the Legion should be defined only in terms of Superman. This issue, with its quick substitution of Ultra Boy for Superman, gives me quite a bit of hope that that's not how Levitz is thinking. (Although, really, given his history, there's no reason to be too worried, short of some kind of editorial override from upstairs.)

One thing I would hope to see in the next issue is for Brande or Cosmic Boy or someone to try to articulate some kind of larger vision for the Legion, some hint that they don't just exist to protect R.J. Brande's life or to blow up spaceships. Levitz tends to save stuff like that for special occasions, more so than other Legion writers that come to mind. But I do think it's worth doing.

Obvious guesses for the identity of the shadow-entity are Mordru and the Time Trapper, of course, and I suppose you could make an argument for Darkseid, although I'd be surprised if it was Darkseid. Might be somebody new, though, somebody the Legion is about to encounter in LSHv7, and Levitz is taking this opportunity to set it up. He does like his setups.

This miniseries has its flaws but overall it's been a pleasant experience, and I expect the final issue to be a good one.

Art: 81 panels/20 pages = 4.1 panels/page. 1 double-page spread. Is it just me, or is Batista's art getting more stylized?

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