Or – “All This Fuss Over Absorbency Boy???”

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?

Legion of Super-Heroes #3
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art and cover by YILDIRAY CINAR & WAYNE FAUCHER
1:10 Variant cover by JIM LEE
Colors by Hi-Fi
Letters by Sal Cipriani
Published by DC Comics

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…

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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?

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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17 Comments

  1. adriana
    July 21, 2010 at 11:46 pm — Reply

    To save money, I banned myself from buying comics for a couple months. But it looks like I did it at a good time. I was planning on picking up the issues I missed when my money was good again, but holy crap! My precious Legion looks like it’s in more and more quicksand every day! This comic sounds drunk!

    Matthew, get on a twitter!! We all have so many questions!

    Like: Why is Darkseid a Legion villain at all? I thought all his hate was for Superman. Why does he care about the children of some friends Superman had when he was a kid that he doesn’t really even call any more? Did they prank him or something?

    • CountBackwards
      July 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm — Reply
      • adriana
        July 22, 2010 at 11:15 pm — Reply

        No, no, I mean before that? Is TGDS their first encounter with him?? Because that seems kind of …weird. “I will curse……YOU. Over there, in the background, no, to the left… yes, you!”. I would have cursed… Superman. Or Supergirl! This seems like a lot of time and effort devoted to messing with not-his-usual-time-period and not-his-usual-nemesis.

  2. Kevin Breen
    July 22, 2010 at 12:54 am — Reply

    I wonder if Titan blew up because soebody saw Vulcan blow up in STAR TREK?

    I read the first issue of EARTH-MAN … er LSH and that was enough to let me drop it with no regerts.

  3. rayj3rd
    July 22, 2010 at 3:31 am — Reply

    A few months ago, I was gearing up for the new LSH. I started browsing wikipedia for reminders of my favs and found a link to this site. I loved the site and bounced from link to link (Hero Histories, all dated several years ago). Finally, I started looking closer and realized this site is STILL ACTIVE!!!

    The first thing I did was look to see who was writing…and LO AND BEHOLD!!!…it’s still Matthew Peterson. And I thought, “Wow, isn’t he tenacious!?!!” (That’s my new LSH codename for you — Tenacious Lad). I LOVE this site.

  4. Navarre
    July 22, 2010 at 9:02 am — Reply

    There are only a couple of titles that have really mattered to me throughout my life. The Legion is one of those.

    Matthew, I know your fandom level exceeds even mine and I find myself echoing your thoughts on this new series. It is simply not very good and I can’t understand that.

    Sad.

  5. Jacin B
    July 22, 2010 at 9:55 am — Reply

    I want my Waid/Kitson Legion back.

  6. July 22, 2010 at 12:08 pm — Reply

    I’m finding myself disappointed in this run, and I really don’t want to be. Levitz has some decent ideas to work with, but he just seems to throw them out there, ignore them, and then focus on some random old-school reference that, frankly, was done well enough the first time. I don’t see the need to revisit “Great Darkness” or “The Curse”, even in passing. They were done well enough before, and Levitz should try to do something new that’s as good as these, not simply do (possibly unconscious) reminders of his old stuff.

    I’m glad “Great Darkness” is coming out this fall so that I can relive it, but I don’t need it rehashed in the current title. I want more with Durla, more with Titan’s aftermath, if anything from this Legion. But I ultimate problem is that I don’t really want THIS Legion. I never thought I’d be saying that about any Legion, but this feels like a fanfic Legion, not a real one. I’ll stick it out for now, just to see if the nostalgia-fest eases up a bit, but if it doesn’t, I’ve got to cut my all-time favorite series. That’s gonna hurt.

  7. Doctor Sleepless
    July 22, 2010 at 1:24 pm — Reply

    Depends how bad it is..Right now I’m off Legion but still monitoring it through reviews and whatnot. Normally I’m not the type to jump off at issue 2. But this just doesn’t seem to be my Legion.

  8. brainypirate
    July 22, 2010 at 1:50 pm — Reply

    As the only person in the world who doesn’t like the previous LSH Darkseid storyline–well, ANY Darkseid storyline–I did let out a “NOOOOO!” on the last page. The rest of the issue I was okay with–even the Earth-Man stuff, although I see what you’re saying about the paucity of ACTUAL Legionnaires in the issue….

    Still, I’m liking it more than the current JLA and JSAs….

  9. July 22, 2010 at 8:42 pm — Reply

    Not the strongest issue, but I think I liked it better than you did. And I think I can dispel a couple of your complaints:

    suddenly able to perfectly utilize the powers of the Green Lantern ring

    Well, no; he was having trouble. He was having trouble on a different level than Hal Jordan did, true, but then the technology may have gotten more user-friendly in a thousand years.

    Sensor Girl… CONTROLS THEIR MINDS HERSELF? Seriously???

    Saturn Queen had told Brainy and Tyroc to attack the Legion. Sensor Girl cast an illusion making them think that Saturn Queen was the Legion. That’s how I read it, anyway.

    Everybody, you’ve got to stick with it. Paul Levitz is not a sprinter; he’s a marathon man. His comics are best appreciated when they’ve had time to pile up. This has always been true.

  10. Hour Girl
    July 22, 2010 at 10:30 pm — Reply

    Matthew E, I think you hit the nail on the head. Stick with it. So many stories today are written for short story arcs to be rushed into Trades. He is slowly pacing the story along for us. The payoff will be in the end. Just enjoy that we have a Legion comic available. Whether you enjoy the new team or not, you should still support it and buy a copy. It could be worse. Bendis could be doing the dialogue!

  11. Rob
    July 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    Very, very pleased that Sensor Girl and Tellus make an appearance. But I’m not keen on Earth Man. Here’s hoping he goes away soon.

    I think the comic needs to tell a few stories that wrap up in just 2 or 3 issues. Sure, it’s great for a long-term fan like myself to see all of the characters for a couple of panels. But it’s gotta be confusing as hell for the newer readers who surely can’t be following what’s going on or who’s who.

    I would have though that a 2- or 3-issue arc featuring a core half-dozen characters would help to cement some of the readership.

  12. Damascus
    August 3, 2010 at 5:05 am — Reply

    I don’t know Matthew, if a favorite title of mine came back and it just wasn’t any good would I drop it and after how long? Depends on how long I’d been waiting on a new version of those characters. If it’s just that I’m a JLA fan and a new series starts up, I can drop it after one issue if I really don’t like it (granted that early I’d at least have to flip through some pages of the next few just to see if it was getting any better). But if it was a title like Clive Barker’s Hyperkind which I hadn’t seen in years, I’d probably stick with it for as long as it went (unless Liefeld was drawing and/or writing it). And yeah yeah, I didn’t say that I had great taste in comics, I just always like those 9 issues or so and thought the characters were interesting, or at least they could have been. Or maybe some CrossGen titles being revisited, I liked a couple of those books.

    A note to anyone else out there, if you ever see my posts on here, go ahead and count how many comma’s I use in a single post. Bet it’s in double digits. Damn dirty run-on sentences. Gotta start at least using more semi-colons.

  13. MarkW
    August 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm — Reply

    As a long time Legion fan, it’s great to have what feels like “my” Legion back…but I still can’t say I’ve really enjoyed any of three issues so far that much. But other than the Earth-Man/Green Lantern plot, it hasn’t been that bad. Hopefully Levitz has somewhere he’s going with this. Maybe the powers that be think that tying the book in with the Green Lantern mythos will make it more appealing to the broader DC reading audience?

    Ultimately, it feels like Levitz is in a no-win situation. He’s writing a version of the Legion that was brought back seemingly to appease the long-time hard-core fans, yet there’s the expectation of making the book a easy jumping on point for new fans. Oh, and he’s got about three years of sporadic Legion stories that John’s and company have spun as they reintroduced the retro-boot Legion leaving somewhat of a mess behind.

    Anyway, I imagine I’ll stick with the series for at least a full year. Levitz has certainly earned a good deal of loyalty. And since I don’t want a Levitz Legion book with plot lines that wrap up in 2-3 issues, I can’t really I can’t really reach too much of a conclusion about the quality of the series after just 3 issues.

    • Damascus
      August 17, 2010 at 3:08 am — Reply

      Hey, I thought you weren’t reading super-hero comics anymore MarkW? Huh…

  14. garion
    September 8, 2010 at 1:07 pm — Reply

    re: sensor girl. Totally what matthew said. It’s not difficult. For those who remember her as Princess Projectra. She casts illusions. She cast them on the her teammates. Thus they attacked Saturn Queen.

    I thought this issue was decent. I’m not digging Sensor Girl’s costume but glad to see her, Tellus and Invisible Kid. I do think there is something missing from Levitz’s writing that he had in the 80s Legion. But maybe it’ll take a bit to get that back.

    I do agree with the Brainy critique. It seems odd for him to say Bitch. But, I’m sure there very intelligent people who uses slang in their vernacular.

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