Or – “The Danger Of Insufficient Baskets For One’s Eggs…”

So, they’ve been promising for months that a Legionnaire will die.  Who do you think it will be?  Who do you HOPE it will be?

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #16
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist(s): Daniel HDR & Marc Deering
Cover Artist(s): Yildiray Cinar & Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Hi-Fi
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…

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

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?)

 

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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8 Comments

  1. TaZ
    August 23, 2011 at 6:22 am — Reply

    All of the “wrap ups” of stories in the DC line have been a bit of a let-down for those that seemed to have picked up some steam. The rushed conclusion of “Titans” for example which rushed into Deathstroke’s “real” reasons for forming that team and Roy Harper’s “redemption” from the ideals of his pal Dick Grayson. The art on that most recent issue was damn awful. Leaving Osiris flying off with Dr. Sivana to kill Shazam was an extremely unsatisfying way to see off the Marvel Family legacy regardless of what happens in the last issue.

    The same thing with this most recent (original?) version of the Legion. With the Legion of Earth-Prime back being the group that was formed around a young Tom Welling “Superboy” much of that mythos will almost have to change in the “relaunched” series if Clark Kent becomes the “brooding socialist Lil’ Abner” from Action Comics and emerges on the scene almost at the same time as the rest of the central core of the JLA.

    The storylines that tied in the GL’s history to the group could have made an interesting tie in to future events in the GL Corps magazines but with “New Guardians” storyline trying to explain why only Green Lanterns are around and the rest of the Rainbow Coalition is not would be too distracting from Legion storylines.

    As a reader of the old Legion stories as a kid through the Silver Age and the “Mike Grell Cheesecake” era through Infinite Crisis I am interested in seeing what the “relaunched” Legion and “Lost Legion” books hold. I’m just sorry that some very interesting characters and storylines got “chopped” (to use a phrase from one of my wife’s favorite cooking shows). I know that the Earth Man deal wasn’t to the liking of a lot of fans but at least the story was “seen out” and readers aren’t quite a sorry to see the latest edition to the Legion Hall of Honor.

  2. Russ Catt
    August 23, 2011 at 8:04 am — Reply

    I largely agree with all points here, sadly.
    In “the future” I’d love to hear an interview with Paul Levitz, possibly discussing where he was originally planning this arc to go before “The New 52” hammer fell.
    Where, oh where, could I go to find such an interview?
    (I really want it to be here!)

    Great review, as always.

  3. J Michael T
    August 23, 2011 at 8:37 am — Reply

    Have never considered myself to be one of the “sheep” but I will pick up the “new DC” Legion as I have all of the previous reboots while hoping it gets better. This one had potential but it did not materialize for me.

    I wonder how I will react if i actually end up liking the new legion series!

    • Michael
      August 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm — Reply

      It’s still Paul Levitz writing the main series (and, I’d wager, having input into the retold origin series as well as Legion Lost), so I have no qualms about picking it up.

      I never really got the Shady/Earth-Man thing either.

      And I didn’t like most of the Frank outfits. I was hoping Timber Wolf’s having his burned off would get him a new one.

      Oh, and I thought this issue was fine.

  4. Brainlock
    August 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm — Reply

    I got the impression that this LSV arc was only supposed to last another issue, or maybe stretched out to two more?

    It also looks like the “Blue Meanie” was supposed to be Krona, but Levitz didn’t bother asking Johns how his GL “War” arc was supposed to end? I’m also of the opinion that “Dyogene” was supposed to be Ganthet, if not the “Next Guardian” aka child of Ganthet and Sayd?

    and seriously, when you heard this would end with “the Death of a Legionnaire!” wasn’t Earthy at the top of everyone’s lists?

    Since it seems that Legion is one of the few titles keeping some sort of pre-DCnU Relaunch continuity, I decided to keep it on my increasingly limited pull. I like my LCS guys and don’t want to see them go under like Atomic Comics, which is the only reason I’m giving the DCnU a chance. They’ve already had cancellations and seem to lose a few every New Years (apparently a local NYE Resolution tradition is giving up comics?).

  5. Oldcomicfan
    August 24, 2011 at 8:30 am — Reply

    Back in the day, the Legion was merely a backup series in the rear end of the Superman and Superboy comic books. Even when I was in grade school the Legion stories struck me as a poorly orchestrated mish-mash with too many characters suffering at the hands of writers and artists who didn’t know how to juggle such a large cast. Still, the Legion stories couldn’t avoid telling some really good stories. Like when one of Triplicate Girl’s bodies was killed and she became Duo Damsel, the death of Lightning Lad, etc. But then again, if you produce a comic book long enough, you can’t avoid accidently creating a few stories that are really good in spite of your best efforts.

    I have liked some of the recent TPB collection of Legion stories, especially the Superman and the Legion story – but how did he go from Earth-Man being a bat-$#!^ crazy xenophobe baddie to the leader of the Legion? He certainly was at the top of my Legion hit list.

    • Michael
      August 24, 2011 at 10:11 am — Reply

      First, he was never the leader (that’d be Mon-El at this time, FWIW).

      Secondly, he’d been at Takro-Galtos for a while when Earthgov or the UP decided that they wanted Earth-Man on the LSH, so they forced him on the team (in more ways than one).

  6. Stefanie
    August 26, 2011 at 3:19 am — Reply

    I’m glad that Earth man died. While it was a good idea, (story-wise), that he was required to become a member of the legion to placate the xenophobic population, I knew it would just get annoying really fast.

    I was convinced that Shadow-Lass was pretending to be his girlfriend because Brainiac asked her to, so the legion would be able to keep track of him. I guess I’m wrong.

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