Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #2

Legion of Super-Heroes #2 was released last week and continued the story of the attack on Panoptes, a UK watchworld. Remember, the DCnU is not a relaunch but instead a reboot. In the case of the Legion, it is more of a renumbering as the title picks up exactly where the last one left off. So with out some inherent 'newness', it is up to writer Paul Levitz to reinvigorate the book, to bring in new readers and keep them.

One way of doing that is to bring in new members. And while we have learned a lot about DragonWing, Chemical Kid, Glorith, and Comet Queen from their Adventure Comics arc, they haven't had much time to shine here. One thing that I think will provide some grist for the mill will be the reaction of the older Legionnaires to these rookies and their inexperience.

Artist Francis Portela is the new artist on the book and his work suits the title well. His style is a clean, energized look, with maybe just a hint of anime, which works well on the book.

But the story itself is pretty standard fare so far with a probable Dominator plot to undermine the United Planets. There might be too much politics, too much back story to grab a truly new reader who might not know what a Dominator is.

The main bulk of the issue takes place on the UP watchworld Panoptes (very nice name). The semi-Espionage squad went to investigate why the outpost went off the grid. There the Legion discovers the planet is doing the opposite of its intended purpose, sending info on the UP to the Dominators.

Worse than that, the Dominators operative on the planet is a Daxamite who quickly dispatches the team except for Phantom Girl who is able to ghost away.

It makes sense for the team to be taken down so efficiently. Outside of Ultra Boy, this is more a stealth team than a power one. Add to that 2 rookies barely out of the academy, and it is no surprise that the Daxamite Res-vir is able to defeat them so easily. The Daxamite talks of freeing his people from their 'prison world'. I did like the comment about the difficult environment Durla is. Small comments like that can build the tapestry that the Legion is best known for.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Brainy, Glorith, Dream Girl, and Harmonia Li continue to try to unravel the puzzle of time travel. One thing driven home here is that the Flashpoint event has sealed off the time stream. At least for now, there will be no time traveling in the DCnU. To be honest, I am fine with that. This universe needs to breathe a bit and get settled before time paradoxes are created.

The standard explosion in Brainy's lab is easily controlled by a shield spell of Glorith's which intrigues Brainy. Maybe this inertial shield is what can break the timestream? Is there any doubt that Glorith ends up being the hooded woman from Flashpoint? The name alone makes it inevitable ... Glorith was the new Time Trapper a couple of reboots ago. It would be nice to have the Legion be a centerpiece in some DC mega-event.

Of course, Res-Vir doesn't simply kill the Legionnaires he has defeated, instead putting them in negation pods. You would think that he would simply off them to remove the threat they represent. I suppose the title wouldn't last very long that way.

It is clear that Res-Vir has some help with this plot of his. The tech he is utilizing, even his ability to be on the planet despite its lead content means he is getting help from some very bright people. Who could be supplying him with Brainy's anti-lead formula?

Phantom Girl has got a fair share of the spotlight in recent years being part of every big recent Legion story arc despite the enormous roster of the book. So I was thinking that Levitz might be nudging her into a stronger role in the book. That idea took a bit of a hit when she is seen cowering underground, hiding from Res-Vir, sending a distress signal, and hoping Jo is okay.

While I don't expect her to go toe-to-toe with a Daxamite, I expected a bit more out of her. There must be some way she can help her friends other than awaiting the cavalry to arrive. The signal gets through though, and while the main Legion is making a squad to go out, Mon-El takes off on his own.

Again, Levitz injects a tiny little piece of history into the scene when Li tells Glorith about the devastation the last Daxamite army did to the galaxy. Of course that references the Great Darkness Saga from about 25 years ago. But it is true.

As much as Phantom Girl's hiding seemed a little off, this scene did as well. We see Shadow Lass beside herself at Earth Man's grave. I would expect Shady to be a bit more cold, or even angry, rather than this distraught mess openly weeping at the tomb. I did like how Portela had the end of her cape be wisps of shadow rather than whole cloth. Nice effect.

I also enjoyed seeing Polar Boy's ineffective pass at Comet Queen. Who hasn't identified with Polar Boy at one point or another. Initially rejected by the cool kids, then allowed to sit at their lunch table but still as the dorky member 'allowed' in the in crowd, and now trying to woo someone at the most awkward time.

This overthrow of Panoptes seems to be better organized than just the rogue Daxamite. He boasts of his hand-picked elite troops who will unleash all of Daxam as soon as his 'friends' deliver more of the anti-lead serum.

Hmmm ... who are his friends?

Luckily, Mon-El shows up and a good old-fashioned super-powered throwdown happens. And when Phantom Girl shows up to free the other Legionnaires, Ultra Boy joins the fray.

I do wonder if Res-Vir has a point. While Mon-El talks of Daxam being quarantined for their own good (their weakness to lead), Res-Vir wonders why the UP hasn't made serum enough for everyone. The cure exists. Could the UP like having a race of potential Super-beings confined and helpless on their own planet?

Just when it looks like Res-Vir is going to be captured and his plot ended, his 'friends' arrive in the form of a starfleet. Nice cliffhanger.

So much like last issue, this was a pretty good issue. Some nice small flourishes and some plot progression and some character missteps. Still, this felt like a Legion book and that is good. Levitz always has been able to manage a huge roster and this was no different. The Polar Boy moment while not 'necessary' was perfect characterization and adds depth.

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

Yes indeed, a fun issue. You know me though, still missing the marquee villains!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I missed something when I read this issue, but isn't it odd that Element Lad appears to be alongside Mon-El in one location and Shadow Lass in another, simultaneously? From the narrative and the others on site, I didn't get the impression that those two scenes were at different points in time.

Also, I thought Element Lad seemed a little touchy feely (i.e. out of character) with Shady.