Monday, April 1, 2013

LSH 2010 Reread, part two

(Covering Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 6 # 5-7 and Adventure Comics # 518-521, 2010)

Major developments:

*Dyogene attempts to make Professor Exposition, one of the three who caused the Titan-destroying disaster at the Time Institute, the new Green Lantern, but she turns it down.
*On Earth, a xenophobe militia group attacks the Titan refugees and overwhelms the Legionnaires assisting them. The team is saved by Kirt, who leads most of the rest of the team into action.
*In a very surprising development, Science Police Chief Zendak, a very old supporting player, is assassinated by a cell of Durlan insurgents.
*In an even more surprising development, Kirt gives up his xeno principles to bed Shady.
*The Durlan terrorists begin assassinating United Planets councilors, but their species is quickly deduced by a small team of Legionnaires: Cos, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy and Tyroc capture one of them.
*Mon asks Kirt what the devil he's doing in bed with his ex. Kirt threatens him and Mon throws him into outer space. When he returns, Shady lets Kirt know that Mon may have won the fight, but Kirt has won the prize.
*Dyogene offers the Green Lantern ring to Mon-El, who accepts it. He takes a uniform and begins new duties which will restrict his Legion activities, and has a short goodbye with Shady, where it's revealed that he had spent some additional time in the Phantom Zone.
*Adventure Comics # 515-520 had told flashback tales of the younger Legion; from # 521, the book continues the present-day story, effectively providing a new episode every second week.

If Paul Levitz's first few issues back on Legion felt like he was juggling far too many things - Saturn Queen? Servants of Darkness? Wha? - then, four months in, things have settled down comfortably. The heroes are still spread out and dealing with things, but the focus is narrowing and the storylines are folding back into something more interesting and coherent. That's not to say that they're completely successful, but at least, with the conclusion of the xenophobia story, there is less happening to fewer people, and it resonates a little bit more.

But the big problem that I have with some of this run is that less is happening in each individual issue. # 5 is a remarkable example. If I may be allowed a moment of intense cynicism, I have occasionally heard that comic book artists enjoy drawing splash pages, as they can make better money selling their original artwork. With that in mind, I'm forced to wonder whether the creators agreed to make things easier on the financial front, because the fight scenes in this book between some of the heroes and the xenophobe Earth army are ridiculous. There's an entire page, just three panels, of Sun Boy fighting back against a huge energy wave. Another page is a splash of Sensor Girl observing the army entering the refugee camp. Suddenly, the reason for the character's new boob window in her new costume is obvious: her cleavage is right in the center of the page.

Adventure # 521 is drawn by new artist Geraldo Borges, who takes over from Kevin Sharpe, who'd been handling that title's flashback stories. This issue features the first real emotional gut punch of the series, as Mon-El and Shadow Lass finally talk, all too briefly, about their breakup and the future. She tells him that he had grown emotionally cold, and "left her" after he returned from the Phantom Zone. I suspect this is how they handled the problem of his grievous injury at the hands of the Time Trapper, leaving him safely in limbo in the Zone for several months until somebody figured out a way to heal him. It probably would have been better had Shady accompanied him into the Zone... but then again, we see very clearly in LSH # 7 that she still has all her fingers. Back in vol. 3, we had the huge and shocking surprise that Shady had forced a marriage on the helpless Mon-El using her race's tradition of "binding," which includes self-mutilation. It is possible that this was one of the changes undone by the continuity revision. Or, heck, maybe not, this is 31st century sci-fi, and maybe she grew a new finger from a vat or something.

I love the twist of Mon-El, possibly already the most powerful humanoid in the galaxy, suddenly getting a power ring. It does mean, madly, that he retires his classic and brilliantly designed costume for some ugly black and green thing, but man, that opens up all kinds of story possibilities.

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