Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Action Comics #16 Back-Up Feature

Action Comics #16 came out last week, the penultimate issue of Grant Morrison's great run and consequently the penultimate issue of Sholly Fisch's great back-up features. This issue's back-up story continued the trend.

The Fisch stories (fish stories?) have really done a great job of filling in some gaps for some of the ancillary characters in the book and this month it focuses on the Legion of Super-Heroes. I suppose the Legion are a big part of the Superman mythos and deserve to have a part in this mega-arc.

As important, I suppose it shows just how far the tentacles of Vyndktvyx reach. Can his attack on Superman be so profound that it impacts the world of the 31st century?

This issue shows a very Silver Age looking Legion and Chris Sprouse does a great job here. His clean style (along with the blindingly bright coloring) really felt like an old Adventure Comics story.

There really is a nice suspenseful build-up to the story. We see a political hero and Earth president Takaneda landing in Brande Plaza to the hoots and hollers of his adoring audience. And at the same time we see captions that talk of how the future sounds bleaker and bleaker for Earth.

The initial feeling is that perhaps the assassination of this great man who negotiated peace is what has the world spin into the fascist state we saw in the main story.

But the Legion stop the assassin from killing Takaneda. It is pretty sweet to see those old-school four-color uniforms on the Legion again. Violet in her green dress and Gim in his ranger uniform are just slick.

Even the blue background here has the 'dot' feel of the old four color process. This really screamed Silver Age to me ... in a good way.

The would-be killer hardly appears to be a hardened criminal. Instead he says that visions have shown him the dystopia to come and he knows he needs to stop Takaneda. Of course, the Legion can't believe him, labeling him an insane loner.

Since his gun didn't work, the killer detonates a suicide bomb ... something Brainy easily bottles up in a force field, protecting the crowd. Unfortunately it vaporizes the assassin before he can be questioned more.

But the opening feeling that Takaneda's death is the first domino to fascism suddenly reverses course with this rather ominous proclamation. Whatever he accomplishes, the Legion is responsible.

Suddenly, I think this is a bad guy. I love the Legion here. Bouncing Boy and Ultra Boy seem proud. Only Cham seems stiff and somewhat worried.

And the plot thickens. The assassin was from Naltor. Now his 'visions' of Takaneda seem much more concerning.

But Saturn Girl assures them that she scanned Takaneda and he was fine.

Ahhh ... but there is more to Takaneda than meets the eye. He is Universo. And he even hypnotized Imra into thinking she scanned him.

Suddenly that 'responsibility' panel has a lot more irony. Now we know that Takaneda does lead the world to ruin. No wonder the Legion wants to change things.

For some reason it is that responsibility panel that struck me. Sure, the Legion aren't really responsible for Universo's evil. But they did save him. Is there mission to the past going to be to change this encounter so the Naltorian will kill Takaneda? It brings up the old hypothetical about killing Hitler before he came to power. I would hope the Legion would change things to stopping the Naltorian and apprehending Universo. But we'll see.

This makes me wonder just what a Grant Morrison penned Legion title would be like.

So how does this future tie into the Little Man plot? I wonder if we will ever see a direct connection. Since this doesn't quite so snugly fit into the building of the Superman myth, this didn't floor me as much as other Fisch fare. But it is still a nice Legion story with smashing art.

Overall grade: B/B+


Martin Gray said...

This was an unexpected treat, I'll also take it with gratitude, whether or not it has much impact on the Superman storyline.

It's clever, how the colouring at the end went for a decidedly darker tone.

LJ-90 said...

Morrison will do #18 too.