Or – “The Heavy Legacy Of Condo Arlik…”

Chemical Kid’s brand of ‘leadership’ has brought him and his teammates to his (hilariously named) home planet Phlon, where Chem’s illusions about home and dear old dad have been seriously tested.  Their chances of making it through the Academy are getting slimmer all the time, but even if they do make it, there’s no guarantee that the Legion won’t treat them like they do poor Power Boy (not to mention how they treat their own seasoned veterans.)  Not that I’m bitter, mind you…

Storytellers: Paul Levitz & Phil Jiminez
Artists: Geraldo Borges & Mario Alquiza
Inkers: Andy Lanning & Sean Parsons
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: John J. Hill/Sal Cipriano
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Adventure Comics: There is a strange sort of double-standard within the Legion of Super-Heroes.  The same team that inducted the like of Dream Girl, Matter-Eater Lad and Karate Kid turns up it’s collective nose at guys like Polar Boy, Crystal Kid and Night Girl.  I’m on record as highly irritated at the inelegant way that M-E Lad was moved offscreen in this latest edition of the team, and I still chafe at the state of Blok and the White Witch, leaving Wildfire and Dawnstar as pretty much the only members to have joined after the team’s ORIGINAL run in Adventure Comics.  Some of the members of the Legion Academy have been trying to get to the A-squad since the early 70’s, and STILL get no respect, so I don’t know why Chemical Kid and his partners want to get involved…

From Bad To Worse To ‘O-M-G!’

Things go bad quickly on Phlon, as Chemical Kid discovers that he’s not the only person to have gotten a genetic graft from the late Chemical King.  Before the villains can take them out, though, Glorith teleports in and mystically zorches all the bad folk with her mighty, mighty magical powers.  There’s something to be said for the fact that most of these Academy students have a tie or two to Legion continuity for the oldsters like me, but every time Glorith so much as breathes funny, I get a dangerous chill down my spine remembering what she was like after the 5-Year-Gap.  More tense moments are taking place back home, as Cosmic Boy and his former paramour Night Girl meet up to assess the state of the Legion Academy senior class, including Power Boy and Lamprey.  The kids handle a crisis quite well, but the meat of the conflict is Night Girl taking Cosmic Boy to task for his loss of focus and for the end of their relationship.  Nicely handled stuff from Levitz, here.

Meanwhile, Back On Sorcerer’s World

There’s some interesting stuff going on with Blok and Mysa, but the book is structured strangely, ending the Academy story short and treating the Black Witch’s adventure like a co-feature.  I’m not entirely sure why it was done this way, but it’s pretty abrupt and damaging to both stories.  Mysa has a mental tug of war with Mordru, takes him down, and is reunited with Blok (who looks PHENOMENAL under the pen of Borges and Alquiz) in a moment that is sweet, but the whole tale doesn’t have a lot of heft.  The fact that it mostly takes place in Mysa’s mind doesn’t help, and the conflict is a pretty talky one.  The issue suffers less from problems with the story than it does from the structuring of the issue and the stories within.

The Verdict: Interesting Happenings…

The Legion of Super-Heroes isn’t the Avengers or the JLA, a group that has to be limited in scope or membership.  One of the underlying problems that I’m having with this arc is the fact that it seems quite clear that none of the Academy cadets (some of whom have been at this for DECADES) aren’t going to make it into the team, and that the reasons given for not using interesting characters will be unsatisfying and nonsensical, much like the non-reasons for (Yes, I’m going to keep harping on this) Matter-Eater Lad’s exit.  Power Boy’s density powers and Lamprey’s electromagnetism are no more impressive than Cos’ own powers or Sun Boy’s or even Dawnstar’s.  This arc (and the concept of the Legion Academy) are designed to have characters try out for the LSH, and when most, if not all of them fail, it raises larger issues about the story being told.  That said, this book is very nice to look at, thanks to Phil Jiminez and company, and if you’re of a mind not to over-think things, it’s an enjoyable, if flawed, issue.  Adventure Comics #525 is kind of a mixed-bag, leaning towards the positive, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall, even if it does keep pressing one of my hot-button issues about the current run of the group.  And isn’t that cover amazing?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Why can’t writers avoid ‘painting themselves into a corner’, like the Senior Class subplot here?

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. MarkW
    April 17, 2011 at 9:37 am — Reply

    In addition to Wildfire and Dawnstar, Tyroc and Earth Man have also been pretty major players in this run and both of them joined the team after their original Adventure run.

    I don’t agree that the Legion isn’t a team that has to be limited in scope or membership. Even with their current membership level, the most common complaint among fans is that such and such character isn’t featured enough. But I wouldn’t say that the chances of anybody in the Academy right now have no chance at the team. Power Boy and Lamprey are fairly uninteresting characters who would either be used in place of more interesting characters or ignored or shuffled off to the side the way Blok, Mysa, and Sensor Girl have been.

    But hopefully they won’t just fade away never to be seen again. It would be nice to see join the cast of Legion supporting characters, as superpowered individuals operating outside of the scope of the Legion. It’s a big universe, and one Earth based team shouldn’t contain all of the superpowered heroes in the universe. If used right, Levitz could use characters like this to build a richer world around the Legion, while not cluttering up the Legion roster with more characters that can’t be used well in one 20 page book a month.

  2. April 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm — Reply

    Power Boy and Lamprey are fairly uninteresting characters who would either be used in place of more interesting characters or ignored or shuffled off to the side the way Blok, Mysa, and Sensor Girl have been.

    I guess that’s where we disagree. I don’t think that any character has no potential. Remember that Earth-Man was the super-boring Absorbency Boy until Johns did something radical with him.

    • MarkW
      April 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm — Reply

      I don’t think they have zero potential. I’m sure Levitz could write a cool storyline using either of those chracters or both. But it wouldn’t be my first choice to see those two as active members of the Legion. I’d rather see a 3 issue arc in Adventure of some storyline involving their new career with that SP squad Cos mentioned, with a few Legion members in supporting roles. And it would be nice to see them show up a little in the current major arc, since it appears like the Legion will need all the help it can get.

      Of the group at the school now, Chemical Kid would be my first choice for a full Legion member. More for his power than anything else, since it is a very unique power and we didn’t get to see Chemical King do much with it before they killed him off.

      Though I am curious if the Legion Academy story arc is intended to allow Levitz to add more members to the Legion, or if he has other plans for it.

      • Slappy
        April 21, 2011 at 8:43 am — Reply

        I am wondering if Levitz is using this storyline to get rid of some people that have been in the academy for decades. By mentioning the other options and giving the senior test/status, Paulie is painting himself out of the corner of what to do with the Legion academy kids. By giving this out another series may even pop up about a SP “Special” team.
        Regarding membership, I would like to see Glorith join to replace Mysa as a magic user in the Legion. This way Mysa (which was the name of my first AD&D character and a magic user) can do other things and possibly do more in the universe. All she needs to do is dump the oversized paperweight and stand strong like the woman she is. (“I am Strong! I am Invincible! I am MYSA!!!!!)

  3. tidge
    April 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm — Reply

    I’ll give the Legion credit for at least admitting the possibility of having new members join, even if they very rarely do (in practice). The conceit of the Legion Academy that bothers me is the (nearly always unfulfilled) promise of Legion membership. Of course, I have some experience with academics and graduate school, so the Legion Academy and unfulfilled promises strikes a little too close to home for me…

    The Legion isn’t the only book to suffer this problem. Aside from a glorious redirection in Giant-Sized X-Men, there really has not been a steady march of new X-men “graduating” into the main squad. It’s pretty much been a token young woman (Shadowcat, Jubilee, Pixie, Armor) or somebody being grandfathered in: Havok, Forge, Emma Frost, blah blah fishcakes…despite the efforts at new team books like New Mutants, New X-Men, etc.

    Of the classic team books, right now I think only the Teen Titans has had anything like an open-door policy for similarly minded individuals. Of course, why anyone would want to join a team with such a bad track record for member happiness I have no idea…

  4. Casaloki
    April 17, 2011 at 11:57 pm — Reply

    I don’t know, but this Academy stuff seems like they are building a second team. The students don’t make the cut for the A-Team, but remember f.ex. that Polar Boy was a member of the Substitude Heroes, too. Oki, they were a fun team, I remember that very well, but maybe this time, with this interesting characters around, they will be treated different. And I will not be offended, when they call them Legion of Substitude Heroes again. My wish: With Tenzil as their leader! Matter-Eater Lad rules!!!!!!

  5. brainypirate
    April 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm — Reply

    I like the idea that there are plenty of non-LSH heroes around the galaxy that can come and go as needed, maybe even taking a temporary place in the Legion during some future mega-event. But it does seem odd that with as many people as have been rejected by the LSH in the past, we aren’t seeing more off-world heroes.

    One way Levitz could explain why some of these folks have stayed in limbo for so long without having much of a shot of joining is to play up the 25-member rule and/or the financial strain of adding new members.

    • April 18, 2011 at 7:21 pm — Reply

      One way Levitz could explain why some of these folks have stayed in limbo for so long without having much of a shot of joining is to play up the 25-member rule and/or the financial strain of adding new members.

      I have always hated that sort of thing. The Avengers will occasionally fall into that government mandated 7 member thing, and it just drags me out of the story. I’d rather we just went back to the Fraternity hazing Legion tryout where we mock the losers than add a caveat like that.

      • brainypirate
        April 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm — Reply

        True, but as I look back over the history of the series, it seems it’s been used so many times that it really does become a plausible way of limiting new characters.

        I think one reviewer pointed out how happy he was when Levitz re-introduced Gym’ll and his demands for payment. It’s become that much a part of Legion lore.

        Then again, I’m the kind of guy who wonders how in the world Batman gets all that equipment into his cave without anyone noticing, or how has any time for his Bruce persona given how many comics he appears in every month and how late he stays out every night and how often he’s seriously injured (without anyone noticing).

        (I also wonder how many civilians get killed every time someone shoots up/smashes up a skyscraper in downtown Metropolis/Gotham/Central City etc.)

  6. RonC
    April 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm — Reply

    I’ve been a Legion fan for nearly forty years and I had no idea what you meant when you said Chemical Kid’s home planet’s name was hilarious until I said it out loud. Phlon=Flan. NOW, I get it!

  7. thelastavenger
    April 20, 2011 at 2:24 am — Reply

    I scared to asked this…but why did M-E Lad leave?

    • Slappy
      April 21, 2011 at 8:51 am — Reply

      I didn’t know you were in? Furthermore I you don’t know why you left, why will anyone else know?

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