Sunday, October 10, 2010

Legion of Super-Heroes # 5

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Legion of Super-Heroes # 5 (DC, 2010).

Paul Levitz's return to monthly comics, and the Legion of Super-Heroes that he made so memorable in the 1980s, continues. It's agreeable if not entirely satisfying. The dialogue is still a little clunky and while he's packing the episodes with unfolding subplots, he's still not using the pages available to him to their best advantage. There are thirty pages of story in each issue, but not one of them is used to capacity, with a ridiculous average of only 3.53 panels per page. That includes three splash pages and a double-page splash. I'll grant you one; it's conventional in American comics to open with a splash page, but there are just too many pages where nothing of consequence happens, including a dialogue-free page where Sun Boy defends himself, across three panels, from blaster fire while awaiting backup.

I'm not sure how much of this is Levitz, if he is specifying the breakdowns, giving his hard-worked artists a little less to draw and how much might be created by, if he's letting the artists take charge, the pencillers making the determination. Nevertheless, a $4 book with thirty pages should definitely present more than 105 panels. This is terrible value for money! Interestingly, DC announced this week that all of their $4 books, including LSH, will be dropping to 20 pages for $3 in January. I really hope this will mean, with ten fewer pages to draw a month, the artists can cram some more activity into them.

Regarding the artists, Yildiray Cinar and Francis Portela are credited with pencils, and Wayne Faucher and Portela with inks. Hi-Fi, which I imagine is a studio, is credited with colors. I'm honestly not certain who did what (perhaps Portela did the subplot back at headquarters with Cos, Brainy, Cham and Circadia Senius?), but the art, overall, is pretty basic modern superhero standard. There's nothing inspiring or very exciting here, but, apart from just putting too little material on the pages, nothing wrong either.

On a personal note, however, can I just state for the record how very, very much I hate Sensor Girl's current costume? It is the ugliest thing in the 31st Century. The original was a classic, and it's a shame that they've kept the mask and the color scheme for this hideous boob-window revamp of it. Okay, granted, Jeckie wore a boob-window before she picked the Sensor Girl costume, but seriously, you artists, more than half the ladies in the LSH are fit girls wearing boob-windows. I think we're all fine with Shady and Dawnstar spilling out; nobody's being a prude here, but can Jeckie put her cool, classic costume on again, please? Thank you.

If you're detecting some displeasure here, well, yes. It's an entertaining book for me, but it's clunky and disappointing in so many ways. I'm looking forward to rereading the stories so far - LSH, under Levitz, was always a very rereadable book - but what I'm really looking forward to is this series finally lifting off and giving me a fix that isn't fairly dependent on nostalgia. Not really recommended yet.

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