Friday, November 18, 2011

Legion of Super-Heroes #3 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Legion reinforcements arrive on Panoptes in time to help Mon-El and Ultra Boy beat the Renegade while the others fight off a Dominator fleet and still more investigate on Daxam. Brainiac 5 is still testing Glorith's powers.


I thought this was quite a good issue of the comic book right up until the end, and then I had a big problem. And my big problem is, what happened? I had to read it over and over and I'm still not sure that I get it. First, how'd Mon and Jo beat the Renegade? Just keep punching it out with him? That's fine, and we don't necessarily need to see it, because we've seen punching before. But what happened to Shady? Since when does she faint from using her powers? Or what?

I'd have to go back and check, but I think that might be a habit Levitz is falling into in this run: not showing us the ends of fights. I can think of another couple of scenes like this, where we see the start of a fight but not how it's resolved, and it's not clear enough to let us be sure that we haven't missed anything. I mean, I don't need everything spelled out for me, but in this case I think the stepping stones are too far apart on those last two pages.

Other than that. What we got a lot of, a lot of, in this issue, was Legionnaires using their powers effectively and interestingly in ways that is appropriate to their personalities. And that's the basic currency of superhero comics. Whatever new readers this series has, they got a bonanza this month in terms of being introduced to these characters. Let's do a count: how many Legionnaires get a moment here where we find out not just what they can do, but what they're likely to do? Phantom Girl, Brainiac 5, Glorith, Chemical Kid, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Shadow Lass, Sun Boy, Comet Queen, Polar Boy, Chameleon Boy, and Element Lad. That's pretty good for 20 pages.

It's unlike some of the issues in the LSV arc of LSHv6, too, in that there's some plot advancement: the Dominators are not just bumbling around, but are Up To Something; they have a Mysterious Ingredient for the anti-lead serum; they have a Secret Weapon waiting for any Legionnaires stupid enough to follow them. These are things I want to know about.

I had been, for quite a while, vaguely disappointed by Paul Levitz's return. I'm much less so now. This series is operating with more authority now and I hope it continues like that.

- there seem to be a few missing people on Daxam; wonder if that's just there for verisimilitude or if they're important
- why is it that the Legionnaires have belt buckles but no belts these days
- the Dominion uses Interlac? I find that hard to believe

Art: 90 panels/20 pages = 4.5 panels/page. 2 single-page panels.

Portela's art is getting a bit more stylized; look at the Legionnaires on the first page for an example. On the one hand it looks kind of weird; on the other hand it's certainly not bad, and if Portela's in the process of becoming more like himself then I'm all for it. The thing I really like in this issue is the panel boundaries and arrangements: check out how he handles them on pages 11, 14, and 16. I hope Portela stays on this title for a good long time, like fifty issues or something. Notice how the really good artists don't stay long enough?

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