Friday, June 04, 2010

Week of 2 June 2010

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

ADVENTURE #12/515 (8/10)
"Playing Hooky"

ROLL CALL:

Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid (Lyle), Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Superboy (Kal), Triplicate Girl; also R.J. Brande

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Gim, Kal, Lyle, Rokk (and don't miss shirtless little Jason Todds in the preview of Red Hood: The Lost Days)

This issue has two covers, and boy do Legion fans want both. The variant one is an interpretation of the Great Darkness cover where all the Legionnaires are on their knees to Darkseid, and it looks spectacular. The standard cover, showing Superboy and the Legion, is rather static and the figures are disturbingly distorted. I guess Yildiray Cinar was too busy.

Paul Levitz gives us a sweet story of young Kal-El visiting the future so he can be himself. He plays off the same device that Geoff Johns used with another Superboy (Conner) Adventure #1, a checklist: in this case, Kal's list of things he can't do in his own time. Nothing of much consequence happens, in a cosmic sense, but Superboy has a "pretty much perfect" day.

The only real shadow across his perfect day is that he gets kissed by all the girls, but none of the boys. I'm guessing that's for another list.

BITS OF LEGIONNAIRE BUSINESS: The costumes and roster put this early in the history of the Legion. Luornu is still Triplicate Girl, Gigi Cusimano is still at the S.P. Academy on Mars waiting for her first assignment.

Imra puts a block in Kal's mind: "sort of a post-hypnotic command, to keep you from being intimidated or confused -- you won't recall clearly anything you learn in the 31st century about your own future -- and each visit here will be almost like a dream." Later, upon returning to the present, Kal tells Pa Kent: "I think I saw some of my future, Dad. But it's all fuzzy -- like it was a dream. A really good dream. You know how it all starts fading after you wake up?"

This is all canon. In classic days, the whole "post-hypnotic suggestion" thing came about to explain how Superboy and Supergirl could be in the Legion together if they didn't meet until he was Superman. Originally, I believe, the post-hypnotic suggestion was self-imposed. Later, the concept was expended to cover both Kal and Kara, and included many of the details that they learned in the future. Saturn Girl was brought into the act much later.

It's a fun concept, especially the way it's treated here. But it's one of those ideas that, when you start looking at it too closely, begins to fall apart. Do we really believe that young Imra Ardeen has the power to play such sophisticated games with Superboy's mind? Or that she could so easily overcome her reluctance to mess with teammates' minds? Do we really believe that these mental blocks won't have some psychological costs for Superboy/man? What about the morality of this whole thing?

I'm not sure that there's a better solution, and the whole "like a dream" treatment is promising...but I'm still uneasy about the future of the concept.

Brainiac 5 serves Kono juice at Superboy's party. The Legion has been drinking kono juice for a good long time.

CHRONICLER'S ERROR?:

Imra says that she is an orphan. This is a difference from the classic Legion, in which the Five Legion Orphans were Brainiac 5, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Mon-El, and Superboy.

Imra's ID tag identifies her as "Imra Ardeen-Ranzz" -- but at this time she wasn't married and so was just "Ardeen." R.J. Brande's tag gives his homeworld as Durla, which is correct, but at this point in history it was pretty much a secret -- and I'm afraid it gives away something Levitz is setting up for next issue, namely that Brande is Chameleon Boy's father. I'll bet these ID tags are added at a late date from a standard list for each character, and we can't really expect whoever's adding them to keep up with two different time periods.

Imra specifically mentions that they are in the 31st century. That's...possible, I suppose. If the "current" Legion exists in 3010 CE (which Legion of Super-Heroes #1 says it does), and the Legionnaires there are in their 20's (say, Cosmic Boy is 25, 26), then this story could be taking place in 3001 CE and Cos could be, say, 14 or 15. But it strains credulity to think that this young Imra is only 9 years removed from the mother of twins in LSH #1.

Legion creators, listen up: It's always been a mistake to be too exact about dates in the Legion. Even insisting on the traditional exactly-1,000-year-gap leads to trouble sooner or later. If you want to fix Legion chronology and use specific years, I told you how here. Otherwise, for the next few years, just say that the teen Legion (featuring Sueprboy) is in "the 30th century" and the older Lgionnaires (featuring Superman) are in the 31st. I am a geeky fanboy, trust me: I know what I'm talking about.

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SUPERMAN/BATMAN ANNUAL #4 (8/10)
"A Time Beyond Hope"

ROLL CALL:

Mon-El

CUTE BOYS: Mon, Terry McGinniss, Green-Haired Victim Boy, Assorted Metropolis Toughs, and what about that centerfold advertisement for Unnatural History, eh? I know where I'll be at 8 pm on June 13th.

Paul Levitz has been busy lately. Here's a story set in "the not-so-distant future," the world of Batman Beyond.  It's a nice little story, pretty much self-contained, with all sorts of Levitz touches. Mon-El's appearance, in just two panels toward the end, is perfectly justified, totally in character, and makes nonsense of the claim that the Phantom Zone would be off-limits for the rest of the 21st century.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to drool over the Unnatural History boy....

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3 comments:

Prof. Loren LInwood said...

I am finding Levitz's treatment of the early Legion because he seems to treating the silliness of comic books in the sixties with the pseudo-sophisiticated attitude that we comic fans profess now.

I am looking forward to his reimaging of the Legion. And "chroniclers' error" be damned.

Meerkatdon said...

The Professor is right, of course. Levitz is doing a great job and this was a fun story.

I'm going to edit this slightly and move some things under a heading of "CHRONICLER'S ERRORS?" I expect this will be a recurring feature.

And I will try not to complain as much about these nitpicky things -- while still remaining faithful to my "Get-A-Life Boy" name. :)

(Hey, at least I didn't make a big fuss about Saturn Girl being an orphan...which apparently Levitz has admitted was Chronicler's Error.)

Brainy Pirate said...

Someone on another site said that Levitz has acknowledged his mistake in making Imra an orphan--that he got her confused with Nura. But I can't find where he said that (someone said it was on Facebook?). And I wonder if he'll just drop that mistake from continuity and return to the "correct" continuity.