Or – “I’m Almost Tempted To Mark This One As A Retro Review…”

I really didn’t intend to review two Legion-related books back-to-back, but c’est la guerre, I guess.  We all know the story of how three kids from the future changed Clark Kent’s destiny be showing him that he wasn’t alone in the world.  But 52 years down the line, some of those old-school tales are feeling a bit shopworn.  At least for a while, Adventure Comics is going to fill in some of those blanks, showing us (in essence) the past of the future!  Flight rings… ACTIVATE!

Adventure Comics #12/#515
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Variant cover by LEE BERMEJO
Published by DC COMICS

Previously, on Adventure Comics:  Clark Kent’s life was apparently a lonely one, having to hide his true nature from everyone but his loving parents.  When three kids arrived from another time and offered to hang out with him and be his friend, he didn’t realize how liberating it would become.  The three became four, and the four became a Legion, and the rest, will have someday been history.  (I love trying to conjugate for time travel.)  In the new continuity, Clark only used his costume and alias while in the future, staying below the radar in his native time to avoid complications.  It’s an elegant little solution, and one that somebody could easily have come up with in 1986 to avoid the 20 years of frippery and slap-fighting amongst editorial groups that initially retconned this version of the LSH away in the FIRST place.  But, I’m not bitter, mind you… 

We start with Thomas and Martha Kent wondering where their boy has gone, finding a note on the kitchen table that simply reads “Playing hooky.”  Leaping forward 1000 years, we find Brainiac 5 and Clark on their way to Metropolis in a time sphere.  Master Kent reveals that part of the reason that he took the day off was that it’s Homecoming in Smallville, and he’d be at the top of the hazing list.  Brainiac can’t believe anybody would haze him before recalling that Clark uses a secret identity, and asks how that even works.  “Badly,” replies the Boy of Steel.  Clark is greeted with a warm hug from Saturn Girl, and they share an awkward moment wherein she reads his mind and seemingly finds him thinking impure thoughts.  (Heh…)  First up on Clark’s list is a tour of Metropolis, but his tour gets interrupted by a super-mission, when Colossal Boy (rockin’ his old green and red “Bucky Goldstein” cowboy suit) asks him to fly a shipment of vaccine to Mars.  Clark does so, leaving the atmosphere for the first time, (checking off item #2 from his list, “Test Powers”) and is a bit shocked to see that his legend has lasted into the 31st century. 

Once back home, The Legion indulges their new superstar member from the past by playing a game of baseball with him…  Well, more against him, as his list also included “Play without holding back.”  Phantom Girl promises him a kiss if he wins (!) but before the game can finish, he hears an explosion and races off to save the day.  Turns out, Brainiac 5 has blow up his multi-lab again, but quick action from the Last Son of Krypton takes care of that.  We’re then treated to a puzzling interaction between Brainiac 5 and R.J. Brande wherein Brande speaks the kind of odd pidgin English that I associate with Proty II in Legion lore.  It’s a really weird moment, leading into another awkward one, wherein Clark gets to have a party thrown in his honor.  Phantom Girl pays off her osculatory debt, causing his heat vision to flare out of control.  (Freudian much, there, Clark?)  R.J. puts in another appearance, with a different dialect, and interacts with his unknowing son Chameleon Boy for a moment.  Clark goes home after the shindig, and enjoys some pie with his mom and dad as he checks the last thing off his list:  “Be myself.”  Next issue’s blurb promises to tell us the REAL story of how the Legion was formed…

The gist of this issue is pretty clear, and Levitz does a much clearer and more focused job here than on last month’s Legion Vol. 6 #1.  The characters all get a little moment to explain what their deal is, there’s some nice interplay between young Clark and his pals, and even the hint of secrets untold for decades.  The art here is very nice as well, as Kevin Sharpe delivers work that bridges the gap between Chris Sprouse and Gary Frank ably, making it a pretty book to look at.  The downsides come in the form of excessive Clark Kent worship (all the girls want to kiss him, all the guys want to be his pal) and an excessive focus on what’s going on in his head over what’s going on with the rest of the team.  It’s the classic Mort Weisinger Legion paradigm, actually, where the future teens are pretty revolving around the Boy of Steel, a dynamic that I hope doesn’t continue for the entire run.  Another minor issue arises in the canonization of simple, hometown folk for me, but that may be my experience that a goodly portion of simple hometown folk are assclowns.  Overall, though, it’s an enjoyable issue, and I like the way the “S-Boy List” carries over from the first incarnation of this title’s stories and Conner’s adventures.  Adventure Comics #515 (aka Adventure Comics #12) earns a strong 3 out of 5 stars overall, though I hope that additional retro tales of the future will have an more breakdown of Legion versus Kryptonian.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  How do you feel about having a historical book set in the Legion’s past appearing alongside the team’s current adventures?  Does this make the continuity less confusing, or more so?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. brainypirate
    June 4, 2010 at 9:11 am — Reply

    I like how the old costumes now have a seam up the middle, so that they look like jackets instead of leotards–that works nicely (as long as they don’t over-sculpt the muscles underneath).

    I too was a bit disappointed that this was more of a Clark issue than a Legion issue. It was cute in its own way, but I wanted an actual adventure (I kept thinking something was going to happen on Mars); it is Adventure Comics, no? I enjoyed last week’s Brave & Bold story more….

  2. Bob
    June 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm — Reply

    I really liked how it definately followed the early Legion stories of girls fighting over Tom Welling. Tom’s naivetity, and the awesome cover variant. It really seemed like a 1960 comic produced in todays standards.

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