Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Adventure Comics #523 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About: The Legion Academy brings in a new student from the Sorcerer's World: Glorith. Glorith joins some of the other Academy students for some after-hours partying. Duplicate Damsel takes a dim view of this and puts them through a surprise training exercise against Night Girl, which Chemical Kid, the bad seed, succeeds at. They head out later for some more partying but are unexpectedly apprehended by the cops.

First item: some of the cover ink came off on my fingers. This is unacceptable. I mean, I don't really care about whether the thing is in mint condition or not, but I would like the freaking ink to stay on the paper. It's not a damn newspaper.
I like how Levitz is giving the students distinct personalities. That may sound like a strange thing to say; isn't it a standard thing for a writer to do? Characterization? But Chemical Kid is already more interesting than Chemical King ever was, and I wasn't sure that was going to happen. Comet Queen has depth all of a sudden; who would have thought that was possible?
Let's talk about Glorith, shall we? Glorith has three basic points of contact with Legion continuity. The first one was back in Adventure #338, when she was the hapless stooge of the Time Trapper. She messed up fighting the Legion and he de-aged her to protoplasm. I suspect that it's this Glorith that Levitz is using: if that protoplasm were allowed to grow up into a person again, how old would it be by now? Old enough to attend the Legion Academy?
Second point was her role in the Mordruverse/Glorithverse extravaganza that occupied so much of the 5YL era. This is out of continuity now, and Paul Levitz is notoriously not emotionally attached to this part of Legion history. If another writer had brought Glorith back, I might have suspected that there'd be some effort made to bring back some part of 5YL, but this is not something I expect from Levitz. So I don't really think that 5YL Glorith will have much similarity to how the character is shown in this story.
Third point was the cameo appearance of her corpse in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds. How can she be dead there but alive here? Three* possible answers:
1. Some kind of time-travel thing will happen in the future to make it all fit together.
2. It's not the same Glorith.
3. Shut up, that's how.
Of these answers, 2. is my least favourite. I prefer 3., but I understand that some may insist on 1., and that's okay too.
Apparently Glorith's powers in this are "magic", full stop. 5YL Glorith had had some time-manipulation abilities. Now, these aren't mutually exclusive, so it's still possible that the two versions will converge in this sense, which would make sense given Glorith's relationship to the Time Trapper. What I was thinking of, though, is what kind of superhero name she's going to have. 'Cause, see, if she did have the time-manipulation powers, she could call herself Future Girl, and the whole thing comes full circle.
The action that we saw this issue was strictly training-exercise stuff. That's fine. But we're going to need some actual superhuman conflict here, and I wonder just what the recipe is for providing it. It can be done, of course; no problem there. Look at New Mutants, or Harry Potter. But what's Levitz going to come up with?
Adventure Comics has had a ridiculous number of ups and downs in the short time since its revival. But there hasn't been an up as up as this issue, and I haven't been looking forward to any next issue as much as I am now. This was a real good start.

- Hey, there's Harlak again. Hi, Harlak.
- I like how Blok and Mysa haven't actually gone evil and still consider the Legionnaires their friends.
- How exactly does it come about that Glorith is attending the Legion Academy but doesn't understand that the idea is to maybe become a Legionnaire one day?
- Just how long of a course of study does the Academy offer that Jed and Lamprey are still students after all this time?
- Are we supposed to infer that Gravity Kid and Jed are a couple? Or Jed and Lamprey? Or does Jed just hang out with everyone with no shirt?
- Look, it's Urk. Hi, Urk.


The art is of course famously by Phil Jimenez, and it looks awesome. I mean, look: the Legion has had some great artists over the years, and I've been a fan of many of them. There are almost too many to list. But even the best and most famous of them, like Cockrum or Grell or Giffen or Kitson, have been great Legion artists partly because of their talent and partly because their style brings in something that fits with the Legion. That's not what's going on here. Jimenez is giving us some George Perez action here, where the style gives you this transparent impression of photorealism, where everything looks good not because of his take, but because it looks good. You know what I mean? The kind of style that tricks you into thinking that he doesn't have a style, he's just showing you what everything really looks like. When it works as well as it does here, it looks better than anything else. He can stay as long as he wants.

131 panels/20 pages = 6.6 panels/page. (That's a lot.) 1 single-panel page, and 4 pages with 10 or more panels. Man! Can Jimenez keep that pace up as a regular artist? It'd be great if he could.


* or maybe, just maybe, Glorith is Ben.

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