Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #3

Legion of Super-Heroes #3 was released last week and did a good job of moving the Dominator storyline forward in a hurry while allowing more of the Legionnaires to shine.

It has been something of an interesting arc to read from a metatextual point of view. This was the first arc of the DCnU, the jumping on point for new readers, the place for people who have been away from comics to come home to. And yet, this wasn't a reboot. And we are dropped into a pretty continuity heavy story involving new Legionnaires, Daxamites, the Dominion ... and most of it without in depth explanation. Could a new reader pick this book up and understand it?

For a lifelong Legion fan like me, this has actually been a fun read. It definitely started slowly but the last two issues have built up some momentum and this one in particular was a wild ride.

And, as I have said from the beginning, I love Francis Portela's art here. Just lovely stuff. He uses a nice mix of close-ups, distant shots, and points of perspective to add some dynamics to the battles here. Really slick stuff and perfect for this futuristic book. Old Legionnaires artist Chris Sprouse does a good cover here, the specter of the Dominion looming in the background.

Last issue the Dominator fleet pulled up to the Panoptes planet. Very quickly they show their belligerent intentions by firing on a dematerialized Phantom Girl.

I love the Dominators usual overconfidence when they look at the Legion squad on the ground. No 'dangerous' Legionnaires! That guy is crazy for underestimating any Legionnaires after the years of losing to them.

This is another example of the interesting art Portela is using, showing us the team as images on a panel this Dominator is looking into. Even the change in size of the subjects, the huge nature of the Dominator towering over the Legion images adds to the power of his line. As always, when art and words mesh together, comics are at their best.

Back on Earth, despite the craziness happening at the rim of the galaxy, Brainiac 5 continues to experiment with the mystic shielding of Glorith. Brainy basically finds the limits of her shielding (she is still protected by his force field belt) and hopes to then isolate some of the time stream properties he has seen there.

Is there any doubt she is going to become 'Glorith, the Time Trapper'? Is there any doubt she is the 'hooded woman' of the DCnU? And if Brainy nudges her in that direction, he will have been responsible for her and Computo!

As for those 'not dangerous' Legionnaires. Phantom Girl knows just the parts of the Dominator engine coils to ethereally pull to overheat them. Great sequence here with closeups of Tinya's hand and face just prior to this wide shot of her flying in space amidst the explosions.

Phnatom Girl has really been a star of the Legion books since Levitz returned to the book, portrayed as fun, smart, and strong. Only last issue's slip up of going to Jo and Res-Vir hears her has seemed off.

One of the best things about the Legion book has always been the size of its roster. Levitz has always been able to keep all the characters active and involved, keeping each one individual and well rounded.

While the main team and Mon-El fight on Panoptes, a second team heads to Daxam to see just how Res-Vir (the Renegade) has got off the planet despite the race's weakness to lead. The planet's leaders seem peaceful enough and welcome the team. But they learn that they don't know how Res-Vir has left.

Could his 'offworld virtual' teachers actually been the Dominators, using propaganda or mind control to make him their agent?

And there are even more members of the team. The second attack squad arrives on Panoptes. This is a decent squad for skirmishing - Sun Boy, Polar Boy, Shadow Lass, and Element Lad. Element Lad might be the most powerful of the Legion and the perfect person to battle a Daxamite. (That said, I thought Chemical King could also be useful here, speeding up the metabolism of the anti-lead serum Res-Vir must have ingested.)

This was just a nice splash page. I love Ultra Boy in the background.

And just like that, the now more fortified Legion force lays into the Dominator fleet, destroying/disabling ship after ship.

We still get some characterization in the process. Here Dragonwind seems to be making a pass at the all too ready to get busy Sun Boy. The confidence dripping off his face is great, as if he is simply used to having women approach him like this. But it also gives us a look into Dragonwind too. She seems to be a passionate and very emotional person.

We even get to see Polar Boy using his brains and powers to take care of a ship himself.

But this was my favorite scene in the battle. In the chaos, Cham has assumed Dominator shape and slipped on board a ship. With the fleet retreating before the Legion attack, he is going to follow this attack to its source.

That is just great Cham characterization, perfect for the leader of Espionage squad.

As for Res-Vir, he and Mon-El continue to fight, this time inside a darkness cloud of Shady's all while Brainiac and Element Lad figure out how to transmute or nullify the anti-lead sera inside Res-Vir. It will be tricky as changing minute elements within a body is delicate work. The wrong amount could kill the Renegade.

Shady seems to have some sort of physical response to the shadow she has created. I don't know if it is the depth of the darkness, or the fact that so much action is happening within, or the volume. But she can't maintain it for long, collapsing at the end. I have never seen the blackness sap her like this so this felt new. I did like the way the darkness is represented at the fringes, almost like crayon strokes.

Luckily Jan doesn't have to try any microscopic alchemy as when the shadow is dropped, Mon-El is  shown to have simply overwhelmed the Renegade.

The book ends with a sort of sit-com end joke, Mon-El joking who he is used to action in the shadows (having dated Shadow Lass for a long time). There is no cliffhanger here as the team has won the battle although I am sure there is more fallout next issue. So I didn't mind the cheesy punch line.

Overall, not a bad issue as this truly felt like Levitz hitting his stride. We had action, character progression, and multiple squads on multiple sites. That sounds like a Legion book.

Add to that Portela's art, and this was another great third issue for a DCnU series.

Overall grade: B+


valerie21601 said...

Levitz is really starting to hit his stride with this run.

I just hope there won't be yet another Crisis-like event happening in the DCnU where everything gets re-booted. And throw everything off kilter yet again.

Martin Gray said...

Have we ever seen Element Lad on the edge of a battle, needing time to assess the situation? I loved that.

Excellent review!

Anj said...

It's funny, but it seems like all the third issues this month were great, as if the new Universe needed a couple of months to settle in.

And yes, it was great to see Element Lad struggle to figure out just how much he should transmutate.