Or – “The Danger Of Insufficient Baskets For One’s Eggs…”
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #16
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist(s): Daniel HDR & Marc Deering
Cover Artist(s): Yildiray Cinar & Jonathan Glapion
Letterer: John J. Hill
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously on Legion of Super-Heroes: The newest incarnation of the Legion is also the original, sort of. Back during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the original LSH disappeared from our real-world continuity, only to be replaced several times by alternate versions of themselves. Decades (or about 5 years, depending on whether you’re counting from our world or theirs) later, the Legion of Super-Heroes returned from beyond and became super-cool and awesome. Then, the new writer took over and pushed all of that aside in order to do a sequel to a story he wrote three decades ago. The Legion of Super-Villains has been in full-on evil mode, and a stretched-thin Legion is about to take their customary ‘War With The LSV Casualty.’
So Much Potential…
This issue (as with most of the other fifteen in this volume) begins with a great big spotlighted image of Earth-Man, a former Legion reject who has been clinically diagnosed as sociopathic and xenophobic, and who thus is apparently the new heart of the LSH. This issue’s art is not by regular artist Yildiray Cinar, but the team they’ve chosen is doing a lot to ape his regular pencils. Given that Cinar has been trying desperately to figure out how to make the Gary Frank costume designs work within his style, we’re treated to the ugly sight of one artist aping another artist who is forced to ape a third artist. The results are both bland and vaguely unpleasant, leading to some bloopiness in the figure work and very vague facial expressions throughout the issue. Saturn Queen’s secret boss and power source is revealed to be a Guardian of the Universe, I think. There’s never a clear explanation of what he is, but given that he’s a blue-skinned humanoid using energy powers (albeit blue, not green) it’s clear that something is Green Lantern-related here.
…So Little Follow-Through.
Of course, the Green Lantern ties are one of the most off-putting parts of this Legion incarnation, other than Earth-Man himself, as Sodam Yat, Dyogene the Green Lantern slug, and Mon-El (wearing a power ring) are all front and center in the story The battle with the Legion of Super-Villains fills up most of the issue, but I’m saddened to see that the LSV is made up of cannon fodder, like the backgrounds of an 80’s G.I. Joe cartoon. Not only that, the characters shown don’t even fit the Legion’s visual look, making it doubly annoying. The battle comes down to Earth-Man versus the renegade Oan guy, a battle which Earth-Man wins by completing his face turn and channeling the powers of the entire Legion (via Mon-El’s ring) and destroying the creature, leading to the interesting sensation of seeing a Guardian of the Universe getting blown away by an unlikely foe twice in as many months. Earth-Man, unlike Hal Jordan, has the decency to fall down dead after doing so, however. The only really satisfying moment for me in the entire issue comes when Saturn Queen falls to the ground, blithering that the battle isn’t over, only to take a right cross in the face… from BRAINIAC 5? “Incorrect,” replies the Coluan with a subtle smile, a nicely handled moment on all fronts.
The Verdict: The Right Choice Was Made, All In All.
The last third of the issue is pretty much all wrap up, as Mon-El gives up his ring, Harmonia Li threatens to join the Legion, and Shadow Lass mourns her fallen boyfriend in a manner that almost makes me forget how weird it was that they were ever together. The issue ends in a perfect place for the relaunch, and the fact that this is the future (as well as the solicits) make me hope that the Legion won’t have the kind of sweeping change that we’re going to see in the mainstream contemporary DCU. Granted, there are already annoying hints that show that the attitude towards the team is still the same, which is a shame. Geoff Johns relaunched this Legion as a concept a few years ago by cutting away a lot of barnacles, by looking at things a new way, and by promising us a less civilized multi-universal Legion with a new edge, all promises ignored by the current team. Levitz isn’t a bad writer by any means, but given all the plothooks set up by the Action Comics run and Legion of 3 Worlds, they could have done so much more. Legion of Super-Heroes #16 earns a quietly disappointed 1.5 out of 5 stars overall, with only the hope that change will be a good thing to keep my enthusiasm up…
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Don’t you hate it when they go to the trouble of setting up an interesting premise, only to have the new creators ignore all the interesting hooks and go a completely different direction? (And isn’t it sad that this question seems to define the last 5 years of DC Comics?)