Saturday, November 20, 2010

Week of 17 November 2010

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

"The Shifting Shape of Revenge"


Cosmic Boy, Dream Girl, Earth-Man, Mon-El, Polar Boy, Shadow Lass, Sun Boy, Timber Wolf, Tyroc, Ultra Boy, Durlans, Durlan masquerading as S.P. Chief Zendak

CUTE BOYS: Brek, Brin, Dirk, Jo, Lar, Rokk, Troy, several S.P. officers

Durlan assassins kill one of the U.P. councilors from Winath, but the Legion exposes the Durlans and prevents them from killing the councilor's twin. They take one of the Durlans into custody. Sun Boy, Polar Boy, and Dream Girl talk about the Leader election. Mon-El, who's been sulking in his quarters, confronts Earth-Man about Shadow Lass, and gets the better of the interaction. When Earth-Man returns, Shady comforts him but they are interrupted by the sudden appearance of Dyogene.


Looks like Shadow Lass might be the next Legionnaire offered the Green Lantern ring. Well finally, that little green larva is showing some taste! Shady would make an excellent Green Lantern. (Although...first Rond Vidar, now Shady...what is it with the Green Lanterns and people who've been in love with Brainiac 5?)

Tyroc has been working on his sonic powers, and he uses them in several interesting ways. The most imaginative is using ultrasound to conduct a quick autopsy of the murdered councilor. The dynamic art, by Cinar and Faucher, just makes Tyroc's powers even more striking. In addition, Levitz is refining Tyroc's personality...we get a glimpse of Troy's detective side, which we've never seen before. In the past, Tyroc has been as one-dimensional as Hayden Christensen's Anakin Skywalker -- angry, resentful, combative. He deserves to be more than a single-note symphony.

Not that Paul Levitz needs any help from me, but I suggest getting Troy Stewart a boyfriend, right away. I think Jacques would be a good choice, and not just because they're both black; gentle Jacques and fiery Tyroc would complement each other well. Alternatively, Tenzil would make a good companion to Troy; they'd both get a lot out of the relationship.

With the way "Zendak" is acting hostile toward the Legion, you'd think someone would suspect that it's not him. Very out of character.

Speaking of our-of-character...I don't believe Shady in love with Earth-Man, nor Mon and Shady broken up. I think it's all an act, a feint, a plot on Mon & Shady's part...possibly engineered by Brainy. We still don't know what Mon and Brek were doing on Daxam. Time will tell.

Polar Boy has a new arm, and it's not a robot one. I presume that Dr. Gym'll was able to regrow it, possibly with some variation of the Zan Orbal technique.

Dream Girl freaks out when Sun Boy almost touches her hair. This also seems a bit out of character. In the past, Dreamy's primary cosmetic concern has been with her fingernails, not her hair. With all these Durlans floating about, and with Paul Levitz at the reins, one must always be alert to the possibility that the Legion has been infiltrated. Could Dream Girl be a Durlan? Another clue, or a red herring? How does Levitz do it?

Having Timber Wolf sniff out the Durlan incense was a masterful use of his "enhanced senses." Any fool can use super-vision (sorry, Jo), but how often do you see a hero using super-smell? (And while we're at it, did anybody else think the scene of Brin rasslin' with Brin was kinda hot? Imagine the posibilities....

CHRONICLER'S ERROR?: This story is identified as happening in "Metropolis, 3010" -- the cover date of the comic is 2011. As regular readers know, I have no objection to identifying the Legion's time with a specific long as it stays consistent. We'll see....

Tyroc's homeworld is once again identified as Marzal. Used to be, Marzal was an island, not a world. OTOH, this isn't the first time for this particular "error." Perhaps there's more here than meets the eye. Maybe we can hope for a "spotlight on Tyroc" issue sometime in the future -- especially if Tyroc wins the post of Leader (or even Deputy).


"Inquiring Minds"

Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, High Seer Beren, Dr. Harmonia Li

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Cham (looking exceptionally cuddly this time around)

Brainy destroys a time sphere he's trying to repair. He and Cham go to Naltor, where Beren has a vision of Cham being attacked by his fellow Legionnaires. Brainy visits the enigmatic Dr. Li, and reiterates the mysteries about her: She escaped from the destruction of Titan without harm and without being quesitoned; she gets sent to Naltor and is embraced by the planet's ruler; she was offered (and refused) a Green Lantern ring; and she's much older than any data file admits. When Brainy confronts her, she says "I am who I say I am." She reveals that she is originally from Earth. Then she announces that she's returning to Earth to cooperate with Brainy, saying "I understand you've recently come into an inheritance from my old friend Mister Brande."


Beren has a vision of Cham being attacked by his fellow Legionnaires. My guess is that he's actually seeing the Legionnaires attack another Durlan who has taken Cham's form.

Dr. Li plays a yangquin, which is a type of hammer dulcimer from central Asia. In a previous issue we were told that Tibet (in central Asia) is off-limits to tourism. Betcha this has something to do with Harmonia Li and her "work exploring time." We know that she taught Circadia Senius; she also calls R.J. Brande "my old friend." 

Say "DC Comics," "Tibet," and "time anomaly" together, and what springs to mind? Nanda Parbat, the Shangri-La of the DC Universe -- a hidden Tibetan city involved with all sorts of magical goings-on, were time passes differently than in the rest of the world. Deadman is involved with the place, Batman apparently trained there for a while, and a goddess named Rama Kushna rules the place. I'm guessing that Dr. Li has something to do with Nanda Parbat.

Naltor earns a substantial amount by leasing their people out to the rest of the U.P. as starpilots. This is the kind of brilliant attention to detail that makes the Legion good science fiction.

Brainy says "It's been a rough time." He says "It took months for the Legion to get to Colu to implement my plan, and then it was good 'politics' to allow Superman to get all the credit. And in the ensuing compromise, Earthgov makes us take that thuggish Earth-Man." He's talking about the events of the Superman and the LSH series, which happened two and a half years ago, but only recently in the Legion's timeline.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Week of 10 November 2010

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

R.E.B.E.L.S. #22 (2011/01)
"To Be A R.E.B.E.L. Part 2"


Adam Strange, Amon Hakk, Bounder, Captain Comet, Ciji, Lobo, Starfire, Tribulus, Vril Dox, Wildstar, Xylon

CUTE BOYS: Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Final Fantasy XIV Guy on Back Cover

The R.E.B.E.L.S. meet, with Dox, to protest Dox's publicity campaign against the Green Lantern Corps. Meanwhile, Starfire and rookie Green Lantern Gorius Karkum go to the Psion hoemworld, where Starfire finds out that the Psions routinely imprison their women and use them as breeding stock. They fight a bunch of Psions. Starfire returns home, where she convinces Dox to break off L.E.G.I.O.N.'s contract with the Psions. The Psions, meanwhile, are breeding something really nasty.

Frankly, this comic has become rather lackluster since the battle with Starro finished up. I've come up with a number of ways to improve it, which I offer freely:

1. More Legion content and references. R.E.B.E.L.S. is a Legion spinoff, and it should have a closer connection to the Legion universe. Maybe some R.E.B.E.L.S. could go to the 31st century, or some Legionnaires could come back to visit, or something similar.

2. What's up with Tribulus? He's a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a big head that shoots lightning. Let's see more of him, his background, and his connection (if any) to Validus.

3. More romance, kissing, etc. Catpain Comet and Adam Strange would be a good start. Lyrl Dox needs to find a good-looking boyfriend to get naked with. Ciji should turn into a hot guy much more often than she does (which is pretty much never). There have got to be lots of other super-powered cute boys elsewhere in the universe who would love to be part of R.E.B.E.L.S. And the hot Final Fantasy XIV guy on the back cover looks lonely....

4. Follow up on some of the other L.E.G.I.O.N.naires. What are Garryn Bek and Mrij'n up to nowadays? How about Lydea Mallor? Telepath? What's up with Davroth Catto? Where's Zena Moonstruk been keeping herself? Wouldn't Borb Borbb be useful to have around?

5. Keep resisting the temptation to add gorillas, giant or otherwise. It never helps.

6. Did I mention that we need some Legion guests? Particularly some of the cuter boys?


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Week of 3 November 2010

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

ADVENTURE #520 (2011/01)
'Tragedy: The Death of Lightning Lad"


Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid (Lyle), Lightning Lad (died), Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Phantom irl, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, Triplicate Girl, Ultra Boy, S.P. Lieutenant Zendak

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Chuck, Dirk, Garth, Gim, Jo, Kal, Mon, Rokk, Tenzil, Thom, cute boy in crowd over Chuck's left shoulder on page 1 (anyone else think he looks a little like Tenzil's sexy little bro Renkil?)

This story tells the immediate aftermath of Lightning Lad's death: his funeral, the Legion mopping up Zaryan's gang, and Saturn Girl's anguish as she must decide whether or not to resign. In flashbacks we witness the events that led to Garth's death, including Imra's election as Leader, as told 216 issues ago in Adventure #320. The story ends with Imra vowing that the Legion will find a way to reverse the freeze ray and restore Garth to life.


Notice that Superboy and Supergirl are both present at the same time. Last week, in Supergirl Annual #2, Brainy said that "Superboy cannot come to future while [Spergirl's] here. One potential threat to the space/time continuum at a time." That didn't last too long, did it? It looks as if Paul Levitz has decided to ignore last week's chronicler's error. I think we can tacitly assume that Supergirl's Legion career unfolded pretty much the same way it did the first time around.

Legion Roster: The roster of Legionnaires is pretty much identical to that presented Adventure #304, with two exceptions. Phantom Girl and Star Boy were absent from Adventure #304, even though both were certainly Legionnaires at the time. In fact, Phantom Girl didn't start appearing regularly until Adventure #316; and after his first appearance in Adventure #282, Thom didn't show up again until Adventure #310. This can only have been an oversight by the original creative teams. Levitz correctly shows both of them in action during this period.

Saturn Girl glosses over the events of Adventure #304 in a quick bit of narration: "...we needed to elect a new Leader for the first time since the Legion's founding. So I cheated, and planted the thought in everyone's head that I was [Rokk's] natural successor...use[d] my authority as Leader to ground the others. Use[d] one of Brainiac 5's experimental substances to borrow their powers long enough to stop Zaryan." No mention of spectrium medallions with her picture on them, but I think we can forgive that. Still, I'd love to have one of those medallions....

Funeral Attendees: In Adventure #304, only 10 people were shown attending Garth's funeral: Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Mon-El, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, and...Lori Lemaris(!) It's hard to believe that Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, Matter-Eater Lad, Triplicate Girl, and Ultra Boy all refused to go to the funeral, or were on a mission at the time. In this story, all are present except for Lori Lemaris. I think the difference is easily explained: in Adventure #304 the funeral got 3 panels, where here it gets a full double-page spread. And Lori Lemaris was probably washing her hair.

Mysteriously Absent are R.J. Brande (who is, at least, mentioned) and Garth's parents & sister. One assumes that the Ranzz family couldn't get passage from Winath to Earth in time for the festivities.

The black armbands with a lightning bolt are a fine touch.

I feel like I've seen Imra's orange vest and green tights outfit before (as opposed to the orange underwear with green jacket and leggings outfit that she wears on Titan). At first I thought it was what she was wearing in the first "Origin of the LSH" story in Superboy #147, but no. Anyone recognize it?

The image of a giant ghostly Garth hovering over Titan on the last page echoes a panel in Adventure #304, as aliens mourn Lightning Lad. I'm impressed by this attention to detail.

As in Adventure #304, Lightning Lad's coffin is placed under perpetual lightning bolts. In the original story the lightning was symbolic; Levitz makes the electrical discharge serve the duty of protecting his cells from deterioration, paving the way for Garth's eventual reanimtion. That's the way it's done.


Saturn Girl's ID bubble gives her name as "Imra Ardeen-Ranzz," which is technically incorrect: it's only with Garth's death that she even realizes she loves him. As always, I am inclined to be lenient with this one.

Invisible Kid's bubble identifies him as "Jacques Foccart," and this time I'm going to allow complaining. This Invisible Kid is Lyle Norg. Yes, I know it's confusing to have two different Invisible Kids in comics that are published in the same month. But still...uh, guys? Some better proofreading, maybe?

Now it's the 30th century. Last issue (which preceded this story, chronologically) it was the 31st. Hey, DC: I have two compromises to offer you. Compromise #1 (which has no chance in hell of happening): stick to a fixed chronology for the Legion. Start off with "The year 2992" or whatever, and keep track of your dates. Compromise #2: Can you say "About a thousand years from now"?


SUPERBOY #1 (2011/01)
"Coming Soon..."


Superboy (Kal-El), Superboy (Conner)

CUTE BOYS: Conner, Kal, Conner's boy-toy Simon Valentine

Even though the Legion has had an intimate connection with the Superboy comic since the very beginning, I don't intend to include Conner's new title here unless there is actual Legion content.

In this issue, the "Coming Soon..." feature shows "Superboy Meets Superboy?!" and pictures Kal and Conner shaking hands while a big orange planet circled by debris hangs in the sky behind them. Here's the thing: in current continuity, Superboy (Kal) is pretty much only seen in connection with the Legion. So on the strength of his appearance, I'm counting this as a Legion appearance.


"A Moment in Time"


Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Lightning Lad, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Star Boy, Ultra Boy, Wildfire, Jim Lee, Paul Levitz

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Dirk, Garth, Jo, Mon, Thom (but I liked him better before the beard), Jim Lee

Paul Levitz actually wrote this story just before he took up the reins of the Legion again. It's set in the Modern (1970s) period of the Legion.

Saturn Girl, Ultra Boy, and Wildfire return to Headquarters after (barely) breaking out of "the Time Trapper's pocket universe." Jo describes the pocket universe as a crazy existence where "we were everywhere at once -- no limits -- as though it was a story, and we could change anything we wanted." He describes seeing Mon-El crash-land in the 20th century, the Kents serving him breakfast, and reading Saturn Girl's mind and experiencing her jealousy of Dream Girl.

Meanwhile, Dream Girl, Saturn Girl, and Brainiac 5 are sitting near the Miracle Machine, when Brainy is pulled out of time and lands in the offices of DC Comics on Earth-Prime in roughly the present day. He confronts Jim Lee and Paul Levitz (Lee says "It's even more fun drawing you than reading about you when I was a kid.") Lee (who as the artist can alter Brainy's reality) plays a trick or two, then send Brainy back home. We are left with Paul Levitz scratching his head (while clutching a book of "Untold History of the DC Universe") and Jim Lee grinning.

It's a cute little story, probably completely out of continuity, except...that mention of "the Time Trapper's pocket universe." Longtime readers will remember that the pocket universe (or, at least, a pocket universe) was the immediate post-John-Byrne retcon designed to preserve Superboy's place in Legion history. As with most retcons of the period, this one got more and more complicated as reset followed reset -- the pocket universe got involved with Supergirl/Matrix, and the SW6 Legion, and Glorith, and who knows what else, until Zero Hour came along and wiped everything out.

Problem is, the pocket universe was a pretty important part of the Legion's continuity. Not only did it produce a really great story (the death of Superboy), but it also led to the Conspiracy storyline and the big attack against the Time Trapper that revealed Rond Vidar as a Green Lantern. While the original rationale for the pocket universe is no longer necessary (may John Byrne rot in peace forever), removing it from Legion continuity would be difficult.

I'm glad to see Levitz establish that there was/is a pocket universe, and I'm eager to see what he's going to do with it in coming stories.


"Cosmic Boy"

This is a hand-painted lead figurine of Cosmic Boy, accompanied by a 14-page magazine all about Cos and the Legion in their various manifestations through the decades. The figurine is exquisite, and the magazine is pretty good. Definitely worth having.