Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #31 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

Supergirl is the new Legion leader. She offers Legion membership to Terror Firma and the Wanderers, but no word yet on who does and doesn't accept.

Tenzil Kem, Special Prosecutor for the U.P., rigs a meeting with the Legion where he announces that he has to investigate Cosmic Boy to see if he's guilty of war crimes relating to the removal of the Dominion homeworld. Supergirl sends teams of Legionnaires to three places where, according to Brainiac 5 (possibly on advice from Dream Girl), they're most likely to find him: Timber Wolf, Shadow Lass and Atom Girl to Lallor; Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Supergirl to the Gobi rain forest; Star Boy, Sun Boy and Lightning Lord to the Ranzz farm on Winath. The Lallor team immediately gets embroiled in some kind of assassination conspiracy, the Earth team is under surveillance by some ominous tall-foreheaded chappie, and the Winath team runs into Tenzil Kem again.

Invisible Kid is having a human arm regrown for himself.


We don't get to see Dennis Calero's work yet; Kevin Sharpe does the art for this issue. I was looking forward to Calero, but Sharpe's effort this issue is, I think, better than his previous LSH issues. I can't help but notice, though, that there are a lot of panels with no background detail whatsoever, which is... not preferable.

On page ten, there's a conversation between Lightning Lad and Lightning Lord in which their word balloons point to the wrong characters. This kind of thing has been happening way too often in this comic book--colouring errors, the weird boldface/extra-space problem that happened in the lettering a while ago, bad information in the roll-call infoboxes... It's unprofessional. And I don't see it happening in any of the other comics I get. Somebody at DC needs to shape up.

Page eleven. Saturn Girl shouts, "What?!" Out loud. Vocally. Has she been taking lessons, or is this another mistake?

Page six. Theena tells Brainy that the election was 'a close vote'. But on page nine we learn that it was actually a landslide for Supergirl. Mistake? (Actually, I think it wasn't a mistake; I think Theena was trying to let Brainy down easy. But, hmm. Brainy. Why doesn't he know the outcome of the election ahead of time? It's exactly the sort of thing he should be able to figure out all by himself. As he himself said in issue #2, "This is what you have me for.")

Tony Bedard delivers us a nice straightforward storyline. It's a perfectly conventional way to kick off an arc of several issues. But... it's called a 'prologue'. I'm a fairly patient reader, but when I open a comic book and I see that it's a prologue, the message I get from that is, "thanks for buying this comic book, but the one you really want is the next one." And there's already been too much of that on this title. Anyway, nothing much wrong with what Bedard does here, but he doesn't really swing with the characterization the way Waid did. There's a rote quality to some of the interactions. I hope Bedard can loosen up with that over the next five (or more) issues.

I was hoping Theena would become the leader, but Supergirl is a sensible choice. I don't mean she's going to be a good leader; as I said in last issue's review, I think she'd be terrible at it. But it's easy to see why so many legionnaires voted for her. Of course, you could make the same case for Theena winning, but I guess Bedard just didn't want to go that way. Anyway, it could be fun with her in charge; a bad leader can make for a good story.

I don't expect the addition of Tenzil Kem to the cast to go over very well. He's kind of a fan favourite in his natural role, which is basically that of a class clown with a silly power that can come in amazingly handy at times. But to have him in the sober and serious role of a lawyer trying to send Cosmic Boy up the river? Does not compute. There may also be a parallel case happening with the assassin on Lallor, whom I suspect on the basis of very little evidence to be Bouncing Boy.

The idea of having the Wanderers and Terror Firma join the Legion is one that I'm not sure about. On the one hand, it opens things up: it makes the Legion bigger than it's ever been, and it brings in a whole bunch of new characters that anything can be done with. I like new Legionnaires and I like things that haven't been tried before, so that's good. On the other hand, Terror Firma and the Wanderers are filled with unscrupulous criminals. It's real nice that they helped out against the Dominion like that, but it doesn't make them Legion material. I'll take Sun Boy back on the roster anytime, and there may be other members of the two teams that also measure up, but if Jeyra Entinn wants a flight ring, as far as I'm concerned she can go and whistle for her dinner.

Also, a lot of people may be enthusiastic about seeing a lot of people they think they recognize, like the White Witch and Wildfire and Inferno. Plant Kid, Polar Boy, Nemesis Kid... I know. But all they are right now are combinations of names, costumes, and powers. They aren't characters. I don't insist they be the same characters as in previous versions; I just don't want ciphers. All the Legionnaires who started off this series are fairly well-drawn; some astonishingly so and some on the incomplete side... but none of them are ciphers the way most of Terror Firma and the Wanderers are. I can only think of two characters in those groups who have any depth to them, Mekt and Jeyra, and I don't want either of them in the Legion in the first place. Can any cast of characters stand to absorb so many blank slates all at once? To bring the roster up to, what, around fifty? Oh well; we'll see how it goes, but I hope Bedard knows what he's doing.

I can't imagine a single reason why Cosmic Boy would be at any of the three locations Brainy passed along to Supergirl. (And, of course, we know from last issue that he isn't in any of them.) Only thing I can figure is that Dream Girl saw some trouble coming at these locations and figured that this quest for Cosmic Boy would be a good way to get some Legionnaires on the spot.

I wanted this comic book to be better than this. Bringing Calero aboard for the art might help. Bedard may acquire enough of a rapport with the characters that he can cut loose more than he did here. And this was, after all, only a prologue. This issue wasn't bad. But I'm tired of the Legion being 'not bad'.

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