Wednesday, December 5, 2012

LSH Reread, part seven

(Covering Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 2 # 317-320 and vol. 3 # 6-8, 1984-1985)

Major developments:

*It turns out that the Lyle Norg that got spit out from the Dream Dimension back in # 310 was not actually Lyle, but a "demon" taking advantage of the Negaton Bomb to... errr... enter our universe, sit in a room and mope for months, take Invisible Kid and Wildfire back to his dimension, and then cackle and threaten and use phrases like "you'll rue the day" before our two heroes return home. A subplot worth every last page, that one.
*Shady's cousin Grev, infiltrating a rebel cult on their home planet of Talok VII, runs afoul of the Legion's old foe the Persuader, and a dangerous Talokian villain named Lady Memory.
*Lady Memory's touch drives Mon-El temporarily mad with his ten centuries of quasi-life in the Phantom Zone suddenly remembered. Superboy helps him snap out of it.
*Ayla and her criminal brother Mekt are sent back to their home world of Winath by the weird, villainous Zymyr. Mekt is turned over to the Science Police; Ayla, her lightning powers restored, returns to Earth to rejoin the LSH, although not her former boyfriend Timber Wolf.
*The five members who are missing in Limbo (Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, Phantom Lass, Shrinking Violet, and Ultra Boy) find themselves on an automated planet used by the alien Controllers to build Sun-Eaters. They destroy the planet, and take a detour to the pages of DC Comics Presents # 80 on their way home.
*Steve Lightle takes over as regular penciler of the Volume Three titles, with Terry Shoemaker, Dan Jurgens, and George Tuska alternating in Volume Two. Lightle is an unsung hero who never gets enough praise from fandom.

In earlier chunks of this story, I'd said that my impression had always been that the Tales title felt like the work of the B-team, and this bears it out. The "Death Trip" story that wraps up the cul-de-sac subplot about Lyle Norg - surprise! He was really a demon! - is just Paul Levitz (and Mindy Newell) on autopilot. It does not feel like the culmination of a storyline that was first suggested a year and a half previously; it feels like he and Keith Giffen came up with a twist ending for issue #310 at the end of a wild all-night plotting session, and, months later, the indelible evidence of their craziness apparent for all the world to see, had absolutely no idea what in the world to do next.

Coming on the heels of the LSV epic in the Baxter book, everything feels similarly hungover, like the creators are looking for what to do next. I think that Levitz will quickly recover and work wonders with the small spaces in between the epics, but perhaps spreading the cast and events over two completely separate titles a month which can only blow kisses at each other is wearing, especially when much of the plot revolves around the cast either being split up, or back at headquarters and worried because so many people are missing.

It's a weird set of comics, because only the first is really stupid, but all of the rest feel like marking time and moving characters around from place to place. They're not bad, but not particularly engaging, either. They're leagues better than the Legion had been in the "Omen and the Prophet" days just eight or so months previously, but "they're inoffensive" is hardly a compelling reason to tune in. Better things are coming.

1 comment:

Kit said...

it feels like he and Keith Giffen came up with a twist ending for issue #310 at the end of a wild all-night plotting session

Even more makes-sense-in-retrospect: Levitz never had any intention of bringing OG Invisible Kid back; Giffen simply drew Lyle Norg into that last page without telling him, and Levitz had a policy of rolling with Giffen's innovations rather than blocking them. In this case, he was simply never able to come up with any feasible "yes, and" for it, and we ended up with this.