The resurgence of the Legion has it’s positives and it’s opportunities for me, not the least of which comes in the form of Earth-Man, the buzzcut neo-Nazi xenophobic schmuck who has dominated the first two issues of the series. His utilization in the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes arc of Action Comics worked well, but out of that context, he’s just an annoyance, and provides a twenty-somethingth or other member of a team that’s already full to bursting with people I might care about. Will this issue continue the trend, or can we get some Legion in our Legion?
Previously, Legion of Super-Heroes: The Legion of Super-Heroes went dark after the events known as the Crisis on Infinite Earths. (Ironically, in an Alanis Morissette sense anyway, our 20th/21st Century world interacted with TWO different alternate reality versions of the team in the interim.) When the first incarnation returned, we found that the United Planets were no longer united, that xenophobia ran rampant over Earth, and that the team was facing another universal conflagration. (Ironically again, much like rain on your wedding day, it took the assistance of BOTH the alternate reality Legions to put the nasty back in the box this time…) The Legion has reunited to try and rebuild Earth and the U.P., but they’ve been hampered by bureaucratic folderal, including being forced to take Earth-Man into their ranks. Also, the entire moon of Titan was blowed up real good…
We Shall Call Him Super-Urkel!
We open with, naturally, Earth-Man threatening to beat up another of his teammates, this time Colossal Boy. Their battle is broken up by Cosmic Boy, and the C.B. team find themselves surprised to see Earth-Man manifest a Green Lantern ring and fly away into space. Cosmic Boy sends Sun Boy and a team after Earth-man, while sending another team into space to deal with the telepathic Saturn Queen (who took mental command of Ultra Boy, Braniac 5 and Tyroc, while dispersing Wildfire.) My big problem with the issue comes when we get Brainiac’s thoughts upon being controlled, and they consist of “Bitch in my brain… Get OUT!” Really, Paul Levitz? THAT’S how the superior 12th level mind will deal? Even if we manage not to think of this as sexist, it’s kind of insulting to Brainy. We get a quick vignette of the Ranzz family (Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass and Saturn Girl) setting off on a quest for their lost children, and we’re suddenly introduced to the idea that Lightning Lad has an eidetic memory for maps and locations. I wonder if this is an intentional nod to the Silver Age storytelling wherein people would gain and forget powers, abilities, and special weapons as the plot directed?
Jettison The Main Plot!
Earth-Man flies away to planet Ozifer, suddenly able to perfectly utilize the powers of the Green Lantern ring, something that took Hal Jordan months to figure out how to do, but okay whatever, he also has to save a swamp full of lizardy tenticle creatures. This offends his sensitive human-centric mind, and he lashes out to try and kill the creatures, but his ring revolts against him. Earth-Man is nearly killed, but is saved by Legionnaire Sun Boy, who passive-aggressively tells him that if his teammates weren’t there, he’d drop Earth-Man in the swamp. Back in the ruins of Titan, Saturn Queen sets about to immolate the Legionnaires in her power, only to get punked out hard by the arrival of Phantom Girl with the cavalry (Ultra Boy, Sensor Girl and Tellus.) To beat the horrible brain manipulation of Saturn Queen, Sensor Girl… CONTROLS THEIR MINDS HERSELF? Seriously??? Tyroc and Brainiac take the Queen down, and we cut to a hive of Durlans watching the news of her capture and preparing a mysterious plot of some sort. Earth-man decides to give up ultimate power, a strange Green Lantern-powered squid-creature rises from the swamp, and the Ranzz family arrives on planet Avalon, searching for their lost little ones. They are greeted by a huge stone statue of… DARKSEID.
Why Is There So Little Legion In My Legion??
“The conclusion is inescapable, my friends. We face… FLASHBACKS.” I don’t want to tar the entire series with the brush of the first couple issues, but I’m not feeling this latest incarnation. The destrcution of Titan is still a cipher (I don’t even really remember how or why it exploded), and the ‘Darkseid stole my kids’ Lifetime Movie of the Week feels rehashed from Levitz’ Volume 3 Legion run 30 years ago. It’s interesting to see the characters in a more modern light, but some of the “quirk grafts” just aren’t taking for me. The worst sin, though, is that fact that we’ve spent the majority of the 60-odd pages of this series talking about Earth-Man, with cameos by the various Legionnaires that fans might remember WITHOUT ANY CONTEXT FOR THOSE CAMEOS. If you want your books to appeal to anyone OTHER than the people to whom your books already appeal, you need something more than the surface-level soap opera conflict that Earth-Man has been generating. The use of the little Infocaptions to identify the heroes and their planets of origin just aren’t going to be enough, we need something to sink our metaphorical teeth into. And sadly, at the core of this book are wisps of story as filling and nutritious as the lard at the heart of a Twinkie, albeit less catastrophic for your cardio-pulmonary system. Legion of Super-Heroes #3 is a series of vignettes disguised as story, with the most character development offered to the one character who is wholly unworthy of either our scorn or our fascination, and as such rates a very disappointed 1.5 out of 5 stars overall. There’s still time to pull this book out of the doldrums, but it’s going to take more than just a in-depth examination of a sociopath in sideburns to do it…
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: If they relaunch a book that you loved, but you don’t love it as much, how long will you give it before you move on to buying Hit-Monkey?