DUELING REVIEW: Legion of Super-Heroes #12

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The final conflict with the Dominators is here, and Matthew and Stephen take a peek inside Legion of Super-Heroes #12.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #12
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Francis Portela, Tom Derenick
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Colorist: Javier Mena
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Legion of Super-Heroes: After a failed attempt to create a strain of Dominators with ultra-powerful and invulnerable Daxamite genetic material went bad, the evil scientists of the Dominion have captured Brainiac 5, the pride of Colu, in the hopes of splicing his genetics into their horrible experiments. They’ve also captured Dream Girl, but the peace-minded United Planets has forbidden team leader Mon-El from activating the Legion against a potential diplomatic partner. To that end, the retired Bouncing Boy and Duplicate Damsel, the injured-and-inactive Star Boy, a resigned Comet Queen and two Legion Academy recruits have set out for Dominator space to save their lost comrades. Unfortunately, Comet Queen has turned on the team, leaving them all in the hands of Dominator scientists…

MATTHEW: This issue picks up right where last issue left off, with our ragtag group of LSHers trapped by the sharp-toothed Dominator scientist caste. Of course, you can’t keep a good Legionnaire down, and a little Dream Girl mojo goes a long way towards freedom… Whad’ja think about Comet Queen’s seeming betrayal last ish?

STEPHEN: Well, I’ll admit it, I haven’t been reading Legion of Super-Heroes since about issue #2. It seems that I’ve locked on to my favorite Legion, and everything else, including the constant rebooting has left me feeling cold. The New 52, which is a reboot, but not a reboot, but a time paradox, makes the mind spin more than those who complain Batman didn’t change one iota during the relaunching…

That being said, with this issue, much of what went before doesn’t really matter, as it’s Legionnaires vs. Dominators, and I like epic space battles.

MATTHEW: As do I. To be honest, I’ve also fallen behind on most ALL my books, as well as pretty much anything else you haven’t seen me review for Major Spoilers, but it was interesting to see this particular batch of Legionnaires in action against Dominators. Bouncing Boy, Dream Girl and Duplicate Girl (the former Triplicate Girl/Duo Damsel) aren’t exactly the most combat-oriented team members, so it’s fun to see them alongside Brainiac 5 against a bunch of genetically engineered monsters.

STEPHEN: So is being able to jump into this issue a testament to good writing, or is it the same ol’ stuff we’ve become accustomed to over all these years?

MATTHEW: I think it’s the power of Paul Levitz’ pacing. He has been writing these characters in some form for damn near 45 years, you have to figure he’s good at it by now. Even so, this book was quite easy to get into, and the central plot was exciting, although the question of betrayal by their new kid is tabled for most of the issue in favor of an all-out super-hero space battle, and a fun one to boot.

STEPHEN: As far as battle goes, Bouncing Boy gets a hero moment in this issue that should have made you happy…

MATTHEW: Oh, yes indeedy do! Seeing Bouncing Boy doing the heavy lifting of the combat against the Doms was lovely, and I REALLY liked the interplay between Chuck and his wife throughout the issue. Levitz writes a rather jerkass Brainiac 5, but it works well with the team in play, as Dream Girl’s sarcasm, Star Boy’s heroism and the wide-eyed optimism of the two recruits all mesh together well.

STEPHEN: I guess my biggest disappointment with the issue is that it read so quickly, that it was over before it really started. The fight scenes were nice, but we were simply given the highlights. I guess that is better than having the fight drag out for two or three issues, and though it isn’t a bad thing, this really felt like a Silver Age story in its pacing.

MATTHEW: I was very troubled by the fact that the battle with the Dominators in this issue was treated as a huge conflict, a mighty challenge for the Legionnaires present, but as soon as Ultra Boy and Mon-El arrived, it was all done. The reliance on the heavy hitters as the only characters capable of battle is one of the things that helped to sink Legion Volume 4 (the 5-Year-Gap team) and it’s a little disturbing to see it here. Still, the two super-strong guys looked really good under Portela’s pen. Or was it Derenick? I’m not entirely sure, as the art was pretty much seamless in terms of transitions from one penciler to the other.

STEPHEN: For me the art, was fine, but I think DC needs to do some damage control or some whip cracking, because this is the third or fourth DC book I’ve read in the last couple of weeks where the art is split up among multiple artists. If they keep doing this to maintain a schedule, I think DC is going to get a bad rap.

MATTHEW: Well, I can’t help but wonder if it’s being done to keep the books on time at any cost, as scheduling has been one of the cornerstones of the New 52. Timeliness is something that you and I have been wanting the big publishers to show us for several years now, and I have to say that I’d rather see multiple artists done well (as the art team transitions are here) than a seven-months-later Old Man Logan situation. Granted, I don’t really want to read Old Man Logan on time either, but you see my point. If I had my druthers, the whole issue would have been done by cover artist Steve Lightle…

BOTTOM LINE

STEPHEN: For me, this is an okay issue. There is plenty of fighty-fighty, and each of the characters get a line or two to make this feel like a team book. The Dominators used to be a scary bunch of mo-fos, but in the last decade the intimidation factor has gone way down. This isn’t a bad issue, and it is a nice wrap to what I’m guessing has been a big 12 issue story. It’s nice that I wasn’t completely lost with what was going on, so I’m giving this issue 3 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MATTHEW: Yeah, this was okay. It wasn’t a big giant meaningful issue, but it gave the Dominator threat some credibility, and featured players who weren’t Cosmic Boy, Mon-El or Brainiac 5 (one of the pitfalls of recent Legion comics) and gave them decent things to do. Given the high-profile presence of Bouncing Boy, plus old faves Ultra Boy, Comet Queen and Dream Girl, I was pretty satisfied with this as a competently done Legion comic book. Legion of Super-Heroes #12 earns a slightly-above-average 3.5 out of 5 stars overall from me, and gives me hope that this book isn’t one of the ones on any potential chopping block for New 52 Wave 4.

Rating: ★★★½☆
Overall Rating: ★★★½☆