Or – “Man, I Think I Missed An Issue…”
The Dominators have captured two Legionnaires, and their rescue squad is, at best, a ragtag affair. At least they have Bouncing Boy, the greatest Legionnaire of them all, but can even his tactical skill save Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl from vivisection? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #11
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Francis Portela
Penciler: Andres Guinaldo
Inker: Dan Green
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Colorist(s): Javier Mena with Santiago Arcas
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously, in Legion of Super-Heroes: Mon-El of Daxam is a man of many talents, but he has never been lauded as the greatest leader in Legion history. When the genetic manipulators known as The Dominators captured two of his men, Mon refused to break the United Planets ruling that he could not send any of his active Legionnaires in to rescue them. Of course, Star Boy being on injured reserve wouldn’t count. And Bouncing Boy & Duplicate Damsel are reservists. And Comet Queen recently quit the ranks, bringing a couple of prospective members along with her… Technically, all of these heroes are outside of Mon’s command, and if they happened to meander their way to Dominator space, well… Who knows what might happen?
I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M SAYING THIS…
This incarnation of the Legion just seems to have too much going on. After the 2010 reboot turned into the Earth-Man show, I had hoped that this book would give us a fresh start. Instead, Levitz has continued all the infuriating elements of that book (Harmonia Li, the increased focus on bickering and internecine strife, Brainiac 5 being an ultra-jerk) here. This issue has two separate art teams, as well, which makes for a strange shift halfway through. I very much like Portela’s work on the Dominator prison sequences, and I will give Levitz credit for effortlessly making the rapport between old friends Dream Girl and Brainiac 5 dead solid perfect. After years of working together, the duo have deep respect for one another, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t needle and annoy each other. Star Boy’s rescue squad shows some real ingenuity getting to Dominator space, using Comet Queen’s powers to simulate a comet strike, allowing the heroes to land unnoticed. The team of Bouncing Boy and Duplicate Damsel are allowed some serious bad@$$ moments as well, throughout this issue, but then things take a weird turn…
As happy as I am with Portela’s art, the shift to Guinaldo’s work is neck-breaking, akin to shifting from Adam Hughes art to Keith Giffen in the space of a page. Worse still, the chunk of story given to Guinaldo is nothing but filler, with Cosmic Boy and Mon-El sniping at each other about the rag-tag group sent on the rescue mission, making me wonder if we weren’t trying to pad out this issue (or maybe beat a deadline?) There is some enticing stuff with the Legion wannabees (Otaki and Mwindaji are their names, with no context for what those words mean) and a particularly lovely moment from Brainiac 5 (“You don’t think you know all my tricks, do you?”) that is immediately ruined by poor planning. If you spend half an issue trying to get your family heirloom force-field belt back, wouldn’t it make sense to TURN THE THING ON? And even more bewildering moment follows, a face-heel turn that I didn’t see any sort of foreshadowing for, making it feel awkward and unwarranted, while leaving the team in jeopardy at the end of the book.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A MIXED BAG.
For all that Paul Levitz does well (little character bits, conversations, chunks of motivation), this issue fails in terms of how little actually happens in it, and a lack of setup for the betrayal moment leaving a large portion of the plot inexplicable. Frankly, what the Legion needs is more than one book, allowing the huge cast to breathe a bit more (and no, Legion Lost doesn’t count) while giving Levitz more space to put his moments and side-bits in while keeping the plot flowing. Legion of Super-Heroes #11 looks great half the time, reads well about 2/3rds of the time, but has problems with both focus and follow-up that leave it at 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. As wonderful as it is to see old friends and new faces, this issue just didn’t pull it together into a fully rounded reading experience…