Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Legion of Super-Heroes #38 Review

What Happened That You Have To Know About:

The Tritonese girl from last issue, Giselle, revs up her metabolism again and rescues the Legionnaires. They keep fighting, even as the PPMs adapt to better combat the Legionnaires' powers, and manage to hold out until some Science Police reinforcements show up.

Meanwhile, Lightning Lad is trying to find a way to help the team on Triton, but is being blocked by U.P. bureaucracy, and has to audition seven new candidates for membership. They all - or the first six, anyway - do not have the right stuff, and he yells at them and sends them home, causing diplomatic problems with the U.P. It's implied that the seventh guy could have helped out, maybe, but by that time Lightning Lad just didn't want to hear it.


Francis Manapul can stay for as long as he likes. (In fact, let's assume that he does: he sticks around for fifty issues. How weird are the Calero issues going to look to readers of the future checking out back issues for the first time? Because Kitson, Jeanty, Sharpe, DeKraker and now Manapul all seem like they were working from some of the same assumptions about what this title ought to look like... but Calero was reading a whole different playbook.)

As for Shooter, I'm still adjusting to the (welcome!) breakneck pace. A story that's over, essentially, in two issues? Even Bedard and Calero didn't do that; their six-issue arc had interlocking two-issue pieces, which is not quite the same thing. Oh, a couple of the things Shooter introduced have yet to play out--Projectra's situation, Lightning Lad's problems, the source of the PPMs, more-- but the end of this issue feels like a period, not a comma.

Now let's talk about what these two issues were really about. The PPMs weren't the real antagonists; they were just the clothes the antagonists were wearing. The PPMs could have been anybody. The real conflict here was Lightning Lad's inability to lead. This manifested itself in several ways:
- in his poor choice of teams to fight the PPMs (if he had sent more formidable combat Legionnaires, to Triton or to the mining asteroid, there wouldn't have been any problem in the first place)
- in his inept dealings with United Planets bureaucracy
- in his inability to get out of his own way and solve any of the problems in front of him
In the end, Star Boy, Saturn Girl and Giselle save the situation on Triton, ending the immediate crisis and taking the pressure off Lightning Lad to rescue them.

We could draw a parallel between Lightning Lad and Shooter himself. Lightning Lad was Legion leader before, but after a long time out of the office he just can't handle the details, and everything's falling apart all around him. Shooter was Legion writer before, but after a long time out of the office he's got more than 30 years of Legion continuity stacked up around him that he didn't have to deal with the last time, and he may very well feel like the Legion is a tougher nut to crack these days.

The seven pre-approved candidates. The difference in tone between their auditions and the situation on Triton was marked enough that it's worth wondering just what this subplot accomplished. Mostly I think it got Lightning Lad and the U.P. torqued off at each other in a whole new way, which I suppose was worth doing. It introduces new characters, but I suspect a lot of them are throwaways: Fruit Boy, Sludge and Sonar are obvious non-starters, but Virus (a threeboot version of Infectious Lass?), Spy and Voice are plausible candidates for the rumoured Legion Academy (among other in-between characters like the Radiation Roy guy from a while back, Dream Boy, Wildfire, Tenzil Kem, and Giselle). As for this M'rissey guy, I'd have to know more about just what all that stuff he said means on a practical level, but at the very least he'd make an excellent grand vizier for Lightning Lad. (Of course, so would Theena, probably. Or even Dream Boy!) It also caters to old-school Legion fans whose hearts go pittipat at the thought of a new tryouts issue, so that's good for them, anyway.

The PPMs have settled into the role of cannon fodder, it seems. That's okay for now, but this title is starved for some decent villains, so I'm hoping we meet their boss, or at least their supervisor, pretty soon.

Good issue. Maybe a small step back from #37, but that's not unusual with second issues. 2008's lookin' pretty good so far.

- Florg. Zizz. Zork. Cruk. Snoog. Fake swear-word overload!
- to be fair, there was one fake non-swear-word: 'zeezeed'. To zeezee apparently means to signal someone via a flight ring.
- the new characters look good. Giselle kind of reminds me of snake-humanoid Sensor from the late reboot. Fruit Boy and Spy probably have the best costumes of the candidates, so much so that I was hoping they'd be a little more useful.
- Starry?
- I would like to know what cabowabo fruit tastes like. I would.
- nice attention to panel-to-panel continuity with Sludge's puddle of gobblygoo.
- no, really. Starry?

Membership Notes:

No changes this issue, but a couple of names to watch: Giselle, of course, looks like a comer, and our attention was drawn in particular to M'rissey of the Seven Pre-Approved Candidates. Gotta like a guy with math powers! The other six, of course, will go on to form the Anti-Legion, or something, in a few years, and we'll be able to watch them convince the population of Earth that Brainiac 5 is going to blow up a fake alien over Metropolis in order to conquer the world.

Labels: ,