Monday, May 6, 2013

LSH 2010 Reread, part five

(Covering Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 6 # 14-16 and vol. 7 # 1, Adventure Comics # 528-529, and Legion Lost vol. 2 # 1, 2011)

Major developments:

*Punch, blast, punch, kick... issue 14 is just another fight scene. Thom is restored to sanity, and Saturn Queen sacrifices Atta in order to get a little blue being - the same one that Dawnstar has been looking for since part three of this reread - to provide her with the location of the next planet of immortals.
*To prevent the heroes from sending any reservists or the like to further interfere with her schemes, Saturn Queen sends her old ally Cosmic King to attack the Legion Academy. He kills the trainee Variable Lad.
*Another fatality: Kirt, the villain-turned-hero Earth-Man, absorbs all of the Green Lantern energy and duplicates all of the Legionnaires' powers to further absorb and blast back the blue energy from the unnamed blue enemy, killing himself in the process.
*There is then a break of a few weeks. A team of seven Legionnaires - Dawnstar, Gates, Tellus, Timber Wolf, Tyroc, and Wildfire, along with Yera (Gim's wife, who was apparently a Legionnaire) - gets trapped in the 21st Century when their time machine is destroyed. They may be carrying a dangerous plague. Thanks to the "Flashpoint" incident, timelines are all scrambled and the 21st Century is no longer accessible. The seven are presumed dead (and, at the conclusion of issue 1 of Legion Lost, it really does look like Gates and Yera are dead), and, mourning his wife, Gim quits the team.
*With eight down on the active roster, Star Boy - his sanity restored - signs back up, and Mon-El calls up the Academy members Chemical Kid, Comet Queen, Dragonwing, and Glorith. Also, Professor Exposition from the previous chapters has shown herself to have elemental powers and she joins the team as Harmonia. This is all backstory dumped into issue one of volume seven, part of DC's "New 52" initiative to give new readers a simple and easy to understand jump-on starting point.
*What also happens in issue one is that Cham, Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl take two of the new kids - Dragonwing and Chemical Kid - on a mission to find out why a United Planets base is sending secret signals to the Dominators, and find there's a Daxamite working with them. That's where I jumped off.

And... wow, what a hugely disappointing disaster this was in the end. I thought that perhaps I just misremembered it as being scattershot and uninvolving, but no, it really is a massive stinkbomb.

So the situation in 2011 was, as they say on Facebook, complicated. I should explain that I was getting my comics once every five or six weeks from Bizarro Wuxtry in Athens, the best comic shop in the USA, about seventy-ish miles away. I had also, after years and years of getting fed up with the comic book distribution company, Diamond, screwing up my orders of 2000 AD, elected to go digital early in 2011 and my trips to Athens became less frequent.

At the same time, DC Comics was doing its umpteenth "start again" rejigging of its continuity, this time starting from one of those forty-six episode crossover events called "Flashpoint." This would lead to the umpteenth endpoint of the DC Universe and a brand new continuity rising from its ashes, this time called "The New 52" and intended to be new reader-friendly, with every single title starting from scratch, except for Legion, which was a thousand years in the future and didn't need to do that. It would certainly mean, however, brand new continuity hiccups any time anybody wanted to mention Superboy.

Frankly, I am old and tired and sick of DC Comics doing this.

It also meant the cancellation of Adventure Comics, which didn't bother me much. After seven months of flashback stories, it had switched to telling tales of the Legion Academy which were remarkably skippable. It would be replaced by Legion Lost in which seven superheroes were trapped in our time, written not by Paul Levitz but by Fabian Nicieza.

And around this time, we started to get word of Before Watchmen, in which the corporation that owns the property that should have reverted to its creators, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, many years ago hired a bunch of scabs and ringers to tell new stories. I consider this series just about the basest, stupidest, and most unethical, immoral, and mercenary thing that they could have done. I am perfectly happy to no longer give any money to that company in any way. It's not as though DC Comics has any kind of admirable track record of doing the right thing, but Before Watchmen was the final straw for me. For a publisher of superhero comic books, they are, flatly, the bad guys.

So, no longer needing to drive to Athens and no longer wishing to purchase books from DC, I asked Bizarro Wuxtry to end my subscriptions, and they did, one month before both books ended. I picked up the final issues of each from a shop in Marietta to close out the collections and read the end of the story. Then, curiosity overpowered ethics and I went by another store and bought issue one of the seventh volume of LSH. This book tells us that some Legionnaires were killed - having read the advance press, I knew that they were actually in their own book - but it doesn't even tell us who. For that, readers had to buy Legion Lost # 1. That's a terrific way to start a brand new funnybook for brand new readers. Entry-level launches! And oh, look, Professor Exposition and all the awful new characters from the Legion Academy - plus Comet Queen, who I didn't like thirty years ago - are all members now! This is why you should never let curiosity overpower your sense of morality. You will always be unhappy with that decision.

Really, honestly, this stinks.

What's almost as bad is that the big battle with the LSV, which started out so promising, just coasts and whimpers to a conclusion. I can only speculate, but it feels like Levitz was told that the title would end with # 16 and that he needed to wrap everything up, but at the same time not introduce any new plots or storylines. So if the early issues of Levitz's 2010 run suffered from too many things happening in too many places to too many characters, the last four have a different problem: it's just one incredibly long and boring fight scene. The concept of the immortal world of wisdom is badly underdeveloped, and I looked twice but I never saw a name for Saturn Queen's strange blue energy friend. He knows Dyogene and the power of the Green Lanterns, so I wonder whether he's one of those Blue Lanterns that I read about? It's all badly unclear.

At least Kirt Niedrich dies. It was a very poor decision to center the stories around him in the first place. It's best that this era of the Legion, despite some good artwork and a better-than-expected middle period, ended with him. It was badly planned, rushed, and disappointing, especially the ending.

Legion Lost was canceled after 17 issues. Legion of Super-Heroes continues on and has hit 21 issues at the time of writing.

Thanks for reading that recap, everybody. Come back later this week for the first of at least eleven chapters of another Reread covering the 1994 relaunch. It's much better. Much.

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