Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #11

Legion of Super-Heroes #11 came out last week and continued a sort of resurgence of the title. The current Dominator storyline has been tighter and more dramatic than the earliest issues of the book. And writer Paul Levitz has concentrated the number of characters being used right now, minimizing scenes 'checking in' on the big cast of the book. This really 'feels' like the Legion right now.

The art on the book is split between regular artist Francis Portela and Andres Guinaldo. Portela simply shines on the book making him one of my favorite current DC artists. I keep hearing his time on the book might be coming to a close. If true, I hope he finds himself on another ongoing title quickly. Guinaldo's work is fine if dark and a bit more raw.

This arc reminds me of a couple of other older arcs. One is the Universo Project where Brainy and Dreamy are kidnapped. The other was the cabal of Legionnaires (including Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel) going against Legion rules and going after the Time Trapper.
The issue starts with the stealth Legion team led by Star Boy sneaking into Dominator space under the guise of a 'rogue comet' generated by Comet Queen. It is extremely taxing on the Queen, generating that much gas and tail (all while Thom adds tremendous mass). Avoided by the Dominator fleet, the comet sneaks into Dominator home world space, allowing the team to seek out the kidnapped friends.

The breakdown of this rogue team is interesting. I can understand Star Boy being on this team. I can understand Bouncing Boy and Duplicate Damsel (no longer Duo Damsel). I can even understand Comet Queen who would do whatever Chuck asked her to. But couldn't Levitz include Saturn Girl on the team instead of the recruit telepath Otaki? I have to believe Imra would be there.

In the meantime, Dreamy and Brainy continue to wait and wonder while no one has come for them. Brainy seems to grasp the political 'hot potato' it would be for the Legion to storm in.

I like that this conversation gives Levitz the opportunity to declare that Brainy does not experiment on animals or sentients (without consent). It is one of a couple of interesting new wrinkles in Brainy's character.

The incoming team tracks down Brainy and Dreamy and breaks them out of their cells. It looks like this might actually succeed. That is, until Brainy says he needs to get his force shield belt - a device which is now a 1000 yr old family masterpiece rather than an invention by Querl. Despite the danger to the team, he absolutely refuses to go telling the rest of the team to leave without him.

I have to chuckle a bit at the first panel as Thom comes crashing in like some heroic knight, grabbing Dreamy, seating her in his lap, and screaming to leave. That felt consistent with their relationship.

Even though it makes no sense, the team decides to stay and help Brainy rather than leave him alone with the Dominators.

I have come to love the steely heroism of Luornu. It is clear that the death of one of her body's at the hands of Computo has made her vigilant and focused on the safety of her friends. She simply won't let anyone else suffer. She won't leave Brainy. The Legion stands together. And Portela really shows us that, her eyes narrowed, her body poised. I want her back on the main team and not just an instructor at the Academy. Heck. I might vote for her for leader!

It turns out that Mon-El actually knew about the 'rogue team'. He has plausible deniability but put together the best ragtag team he could.

And he isn't going to have Cos berate him for being a poor leader. He tells Rokk to give him a break.

I get the sense that Cosmic Boy thinks he is the Legion Leader even when he isn't the Legion Leader. And I wonder if that impinges on the power of the elected leader.

Anyways, it is an interesting panel composition here as Mon-El curtly tells Cos to shove it. That opening panel with Mon mostly in shadow conveys some anger as well as echoing the need to a shadow type team. And the bottom panel is very good. All we see of Mon-El is his clenched fist. That's all we need to see to get that he is angry. And Cos small in the background let's us know that he feels ashamed and embarrassed for calling out Mon-El inappropriately.

So first we find out Brainy doesn't experiment on sentients.
Then we hear that his force field belt is an antique.
Now we see that Brainy can 'sense' where the belt is and then call it to him telepathically. It is shocking not only to me but to the team. Brainy calls it one of his 'tricks' but I hope we get something of an explanation.

And look at Dreamy laughing as she says 'Oh Brainy!' I am telling you, romance is in the air between these two.

But the escape takes a bad turn.

Just as the team is battling their way out, Brainy seemingly in a mental battle with a high caste Dominator, Comet Queen 'betrays' the team, knocking out Brainy. This leads to the rest of the team being overrun. The Dominators are just as surprised with Comet Queen's actions. They weren't expecting it either. So they include her in the captured, promising death to all of them.

I don't know if Comet Queen isn't acting on some hidden order by Brainy. She starts to say she was told to do that before she is attacked by Dream Girl. Could Brainy have some hidden agenda, pretending to be knocked out so he can get closer to the genetic database and destroy it? I am going to say yes. I don't think Comet Queen is capable of complex thoughts like betrayal.

So overall another good chapter in this Dominator arc. But can it all be wrapped up in next month's conclusion? I truly hope so.

Overall grade: B+


Matthew E said...

Saturn Girl wasn't available for this team, as she and Lightning Lad are on leave and spending time with their kids.

And even if she was around, it's anybody's guess whether she'd joust this particular windmill.

As for Comet Queen, I suspect she was tampered with by Saturn Queen as depicted in that Adventure Comics story last year.

Martin Gray said...

Excellent review, Anj, the LSH book really is firing on all cylinders right now.

And I think Matthew is right about Saturn Queen - wish I'd remembered that!

So, does the Luornu For Leader campaign begin here?

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

I think you are right Matthew that Saturn Girl might not want to head off into danger but as being 'on leave' I thought she also might fit the 'deniablity' of the team. Also, having also been kidnapped with Brainy/Dreamy by Universo she might also feel compelled to go.

Great point about Saturn Queen!

And Mart, I fear she would have two votes - you and me! But I bet she would be a very pro-active leader.