Sunday, February 06, 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About: A new Emerald Empress has taken over Orando, and happens to capture Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet. There is fighting, and partway through, Sun Boy, Sensor Girl, and Gates show up to help. Eventually they defeat the Empress.

Review: Why exactly was I supposed to like this comic?

Was it because of the Emerald Empress? I've seen Emerald Empresses before, and there was nothing particularly interesting about this one. Was it because of Orando? Orando's boring. Was it because of the art? See below.

I did like that it was a self-contained story. I did like Vi's exploration of the Eye; that was probably the strongest part of the Annual. I like the limited cast of characters. I like the efforts made to make the comic book new-reader-friendly.

The new Emerald Empress is not a compelling figure. We spend the whole comic getting to know her, and then at the end she isn't the Empress anymore. Her origin is on the trite side; another sexually victimized woman stumbles across a power source that's too much for her. It's been done before, and I wouldn't mind if it wasn't done again. Like with Cera Kesh, for instance, except I liked Cera better than this. Well, the Eye's still out there; I hope it picks someone more on-the-ball next time. Like, maybe, Harmonia Li? Although I like her well enough without needing her to be the new Empress.

We're reminded, of course, of the Legion of Super-Villains' attempt to take over Orando and have it for their own. In that story, Ayla switched from being Light Lass back to being Lightning Lass; it was kind of a new chapter in her life. I was looking for something similar here, except it didn't happen.

- eye don't like the conceit of the Empress using the word "eye" as a first-person-singular pronoun
- I wonder if that was Oli Queen showing people around Weisinger Plaza
- still no definitive word on Vi and Ayla's relationship
- I guess this Annual takes place before the blue space baby put Dawnstar into the coma
- has Levitz decided that Gates just doesn't take part in fights? I'm going to have to check my reboot issues to see how much he mixes it up in them...

Art: 178 panels/39 pages = 4.6 panels/page. 4 single-panel pages. (Not counting all the stuff at the back.)

You may have heard that Keith Giffen did the art on this comic book. I was quite looking forward to it. Then I actually read it. I don't want to be too harsh: when he's not drawing people, Giffen does a fine job in this comic. And sometimes when he is. But the way some of the characters are rendered...

I don't want to be a jerk about this. So what if Ayla and Vi look brawnier than I'm used to? Really, it's sensible that a superheroine would have a powerful build like that, and they aren't teenagers anymore. And as long as they're well-portrayed and superheroic, so what if they aren't attractive? Prettiness isn't a necessary ingredient here; if Giffen wants to draw a superheroine with a face like a pumpkin, he's got the right to do it, and I just have to get used to it.

But still. There's some weird stuff going on with Giffen's anatomy here. Limbs are bent in odd places, heads and shoulders and necks are stuck on any which way, and women's breasts start too high up on their chests. For instance, look at Ayla on page 12, panel 2. I didn't like looking at a lot of the characters in this story sometimes. (Giffen's Gates, in particular, is not one of my favourites.) If Giffen becomes the regular artist again, which has been discussed, I hope he doesn't keep drawing Legionnaires the way he does here.

Is it because of the eye injury and the big rush? Is it the inkers? Is Giffen trying stuff? I hope it's Giffen trying stuff, because that means he can stop.

Membership Notes: Sensor Girl seems to be taking a leave of absence as of this comic book. Looks like Paul Levitz is trying to trim the roster back a bit. (My guess for the next one to go? Element Lad.) Maybe he has some new characters in mind; that'd be good.

Labels: ,