Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reviews: LSH 15

Updated 2/23 to add geeky indexing notes
Updated 2/24 to add reviews by The ISB, Tales to Mildly Astonish
Updated 2/25 to add reviews by Comics Ate My Brain
Updated 2/26 to add reviews by Grant Baisley at ComixFan forums

First off, my review:

In brief, I was very disappointed. The issue promised us the multiverse, and we got a bunch of "And this one time? At Legion camp?" stories told around the campfire.

We know that the Legion didn't show up during the first JLA/JSA teamup*, the Secret Society of Super-Villains didn't crash into the Earthwar saga**, and the Legion didn't save Flash in Crisis 8***. They were stories of a "What If?" Legion, whose members don't resemble those from the stories we're currently reading about (Blok? Sensor Girl? Wildfire? What's a Quislet?), so how would the kids know about them at all, much less their personalities? It felt like a fill-in issue, and I expected more. While it was nice to see the return of Dawnstar, Wildfire, and the rest (even Tyroc), it was just a tease. Even the letters page seemed like a fill-in.

    Geeky indexing notes:
  • * The JLA and JSA met the Crime Syndicate in JLA 29 (8/64). The same month, DC published Adventure Comics 323, the first appearance of Element Lad (who also appears in this segment). Aside from the minor coloring error on his costume (it was pink, not red), Chuck and Luornu weren't an item by this point in Legion history (Luornu had a thing for Superboy as late as the Mordru story in Adventure 369).
  • ** Based on the SSOSV members Grodd, Angle Man, Star Sapphire, and Floronic Man, this apocryphal tale would have taken place around issues 10-11 of the SSOSV series (plus the DC Special Series issue) (11-12/77), concurrent with Karate Kid's battles with Major Disaster around issue 11 of his series, though he never met the Society. The picture of Saturn Girl, Tyroc, Wildfire, and Dawnstar is taken directly from the splash page of Superboy and the LSH 242 (8/78, by Levitz/Sherman/McLeod), right in the middle of Earthwar. In the original picture, though, Wildfire was with Mon-el and Ultra Boy instead of Saturn Girl and Tyroc (recall that Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad had gotten married and resigned right before the Earthwar, and Tyroc was pretty much MIA for another 2 years). Wildfire's speech is from that original issue too, but substitute "Diplomats" for "old people".
  • *** Of course, the Flash died in Crisis on Infinite Earths 8 (11/85). Several Legionnaires appeared in that issue in the 30th century, including Blok and White Witch. I don't have access to all my issues, so I don't know where Quislet and Sensor Girl were at the time.

As for the rest of the blogosphere, they'll be reporting in, and I'll be adding them as I find them. First up:

  • Tim Callahan lists it as the #1 issue in his Top Ten for the week.
    A fill-in issue featuring "imaginary flashbacks" takes the #1 spot. Why? Have you read all 12 volumes of The Legion of Super-Hero Archives? Well neither have I, but I'm up to Volume 9 and they totally kick ass. [snip] It's really good. And It's got my favorite cover of the week. And stuff happens! Even if it turns out to be imaginary. It's still stuff! Stuff is better than no stuff.

  • Discussion in the ComicBloc forums includes some commentary by the artist of the letters page story, Adam DeKraker (as "AdamDek"). One eagle-eyed fan (or should that be "ultra-visioned"?) noticed that the pose of Ultra Boy in the Who's Who story recalled a similar picture in a 1968 "Who's Who" type segment; DeKraker said that Mark Waid specifically asked for that homage in his script.

  • Tyger-Raven didn't like the issue:
    I read this one already too because I was excited by the cover. Let me just say that this was a HUGE letdown. What a waste of an issue.

  • Naladahc was let down too:
    While I was excited beyond all belief, as I should have learned in over the past 20 years, DC did the bait and switch and got the money ... and left me with that empty feeling deep in my gut.

    Nope! No multiverse. No real true content about the "Legion of Super-Heroes you thought you'd never see".

    Just a fill-in issue with a few bones thrown in to lure an old Legion reader back.

    Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the issue for what is was. But I don't like the fact that it has the typical comics' charm of misleading an old fan into buying something when in fact it isn't quite what it appears.

  • Over at the Incredible Super-Blog, Chris liked it:
    I'm always a little wary when it comes to a fill-in issue, but even beyond the fact that this one has Tyroc And His Thighs right there on the cover, this issue also features Karate Kid fighting Super-Gorilla Grodd, which means it's more awesome than 90% of the things in the known universe. Plus, that letter column's great.

  • Michael at Tales to Mildly Astonish gives it a thumbs-up:
    Legion of Super-Heroes has what may be the most superfluous crossover ever in this fill-in issue that is tied, kinda, to Infinite Crisis. From the solicits, readers no doubt expected some sort of cross-timeline caper; instead, we get a series of "imaginary stories" told by non-core Legionnaires during the recent battle with Lemnos’s forces. A pervers part of me couldn’t help but cackle at the subverted expectations, but that alone wouldn’t be enough to win the issue without the final sequence, a powerful reminder of the series’ emotional core. Mark Waid can hang around as long as he wants, but if he ever gets bored, Stuart Moore is the perfect takeover man. Pat Oliffe’s art was a treat, since I haven’t seen much of him since Untold Tales of Spider-Man was cancelled. And there’s another Legion lettercol, this one a helpful primer on the team’s current membership from Triplicate Girl. This one begins *and* ends on two great visual gags; I heartily recommend checking Scans Daily to see if it pops up.

  • Tom at Comics Ate My Brain makes a good point, one that I hadn't considered:
    The first story ... is a series of "campfire tales" about the Legion popping up in key events of the present-day heroic age, with the point being it's not whether these stories happened, it's that they continue to inspire. The second ... is essentially an extended lettercolumn designed to introduce each Legionnaire to the uninitiated. It does a decent job for what it is, but it all seems to anticipate Supergirl's joining next issue.

  • As always (or at least as far as I've seen in the last few months), the best and most well-thought-out review comes from Grant Baisley of the ComixFans LSH forum:
    This issue, though thoroughly confusing in a number of places and completely out of place with continuity, does successfully nail what it means to be a Legionnaire. Stuart Moore does in one issue what Mark Waid has been trying to do since the beginning of the run; he tells me what the purpose of the Legion is. For over a year Waid has been trying to tell us what the Legion stands for and it’s never made much sense, the Legion has always been at best an ill-defined mess of a political revolutionaries – seemingly more concerned with kicking asses and taking names than making any form of lasting social change. But after this issue, I know what they’re there for; they’re there quite simply just to shake things up.

    The final issue of the Legion of Super-Heroes is fabulously complex. On the first read I didn’t get, nor on the second nor the tjird, but the more I read it the more the inspiration of the story started to dawn. Shy at first and then ferociously so the intent of the writer made itself known. This issue was the prefect way to say goodbye to the old status quo. ... Moore’s final nod to Waid’s masterful story so far has re-energised the series and has made it so that Supergirl can’t get here fast enough for me. I simply cannot wait the 30 days until she arrives.

    Go read the whole thing.


naladahc said...

Total fill-in.

I felt mislead too.

But I was happy to at least see Quislet, who I always found an great little addition to the Legion. I wish Tellus would have been used in the later story. I always associate him more with Quislet and the mid-to-late 80s.

Scipio said...

I loved it!

Chris Sims said...

Like I said, I'm always wary of fill-ins, so I wasn't really expecting much out of it. Maybe that's why I ended up liking it so much, but gosh darn it, I did.

Kid Flash said...

I was very disappointed with this issue as well. I expected the full return of Dawnstar and Wildfire into the modern Legion. Instead, we got these crappy campfire stories. Boo! Is there a society of people I can join to bring back the classic Legion? It worked for Hal Jordan. :-)