Friday, May 13, 2011

Week of 11 May 2011

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

FLASHPOINT #1 (2011/07)
"Flashpoint Chapter One of Five"



CUTE BOYS: Barry Allen, Billy, Eugene, Freddy, Pedro, Shade

XS appears in a cameo of the Flash Family on page 3.


R.E.B.E.L.S. #28 (2011/07)
"Starstruck: Conclusion"


Adam Strange, Amon Hakk, Bounder, Captain Comet, Ciji, Lobo, Lyrl Dox, Starfire, Tribulus, Vril Dox, Widstar, Xylon, Smite, Starro

CUTE BOYS: Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Lyrl Dox, Vril Dox, assorted Rannian cannon fodder

This is the last issue of R.E.B.E.L.S. (this time around).

Tribulus, under the direction of the two Doxes, defeats Starro, who flees. Smite, having bonded with Lobo over drinks, unites with Lobo in taking down Starro. And...uh...well, that's it.

R.E.B.E.L.S. has been a problematic comic. There was a lot of potential here. The Legion connection, the other sf elements of the present-day DC universe, some really nice art...yet it never really managed to grab me. About the best story was the Annual, telling the origin of Starro.

I can't exactly say this comic was a failure -- after all, 28 issues is a respectable run. But it wasn't a huge success, either. Why?

I think there were some mistakes along the way. First, there was too much concentration on the Doxes and too little on other characters. Look at all the intriguing characters here -- Ciji the Durlan, Xylon the renegade Dominator, Wildstar, Bounder, and above all Tribulus. We didn't even get an origin story for Ciji, Bounder, or Tribulus. And we didn't get to know these characters any. One of the great things about the Legion is how even minor characters come alive, with detailed backstories and problems we care about. Except for Starfire and Comet, there was little of that in R.E.B.E.L.S.

I think the stories were too simple. Starro attacks, Starro is defeated. Brainiac attacks, Brainiac is defeated. Some nonsense with Green Lanterns. Starro attacks again, Starro is defeated again. I'm not saying that stories should have had the same multi-level complexity as Paul Levitz's best -- but a few strong continuing and interlocking subplots would have nice.

Finally, I think the creators were too ambitious in tying the series into the rest of the DC Universe. Crossovers with Blackest Day and the Brainiac/Last Days of New Krypton series were just distracting. Bringing in the Omega Men and the whole Vega system might have been a good idea, but the execution was lacking. For readers like me, who were not all that familiar with the Vega/Omega Men/Tamoran/Psion mythos, there should have been more explanation of the background. Bringing Rann and Adam Strange into the mix made it even more confusing.

There are ways to do this kind of thing well, ranging from in-story exposition to text boxes to back-of-the-comic "what's what" features. But here it was a case of too little, too late.

Ah, well. As Vril Dox says at the end, L.E.G.I.O.N. is here to stay. Eventually another storyteller will come along who can do justice to the group.


"Legion of the Damned"

It's back again. This time with a white logo on the cover, and the four chapters of the story in correct order. This comic reprints Legionnaires 79-80 and Legion of Super-Heroes 122-123.

Re-reading this story left me with the following thoughts:

How To Do a Legion Story That I Won't Like
(based on the Giffen/Bierbaum Method)

  1. The Legion's future is too bright and optimistic. Let's make it darker and more depressing.
  2. Let's join the story after all the great changes have already taken place.
  3. Some Legionnaires should turn traitor to the human race, that's totally in character.
  4. More despair.
  5. A great evil power should turn Lar Gand into a puppet, why not?
  6. Let's make everyone in the universe look grotesque. Who wants attractive art?
  7. Oh, yeah, corruption should be everywhere.
  8. The art is too bright. Put in more dark shadows.
  9. Do everything you can to obscure people's faces. Masks, dirt, shadows, it's all good.
  10. Have a few flashbacks, but don't identify them as flashbacks. Readers like being confused.
  11. It still looks too attractive. Can you get a three-year-old to scribble all over the pages?
  12. Put in lots of white letters on black backgrounds. Who needs to read words?
  13. More splotches. All over the place. Everything in the dark, depressing future should be splotchy.
Wow, I can't wait until Legion Lost comes out next month. Even darker, with more corruption, more splotches and scribbles, and even uglier art!



Brainy Pirate said...

How come you've not yet mentioned the wonderful Legion short that occurred over in Action 900? At the very least, you have several cute boys to list, including Brin chowing down on a pizza....

Meerkatdon said...

Dammit, I KNEW there would be Legion content in that one! I don't have a copy yet. Have to hit a different comic store....

Rob said...

Thx for the heads up about the Legion of the Damned 100-pager. Dark, splotchy art doesn't sound like something I'm gonna enjoy - will give it a miss on amazon then...

Shadow Kid said...

The DnA/Coipel run on the Legion ranks right up there for me—certainly DIFFERENT takes on the characters, but hey—these weren't the EXACT same characters we grew up with in the 70s and 80s. Theirs was an ALTERNATE take on the Legion mythos, and for me, one that is certainly still preferable to the Silver Age (and even some of the disco-era) hokeyness (and let's not even talk about the post-Giffen 5YL garbage). The DnA characterization was multi-layered, the plots inventive, and Coipel's art was simply amazing (particularly in LOST)—fresh & energetic, it certainly fit into THAT universe as well as classic Giffen's did to his 80s-era automatized spic-and-span take on the future. IN fact, LEGION LOST is one of my favorite takes on the Legion EVER—and was a much more compelling monthly read for me than much of what Levitz has been churning out of late.

Anonymous said...

The issues reprinted here mark the point where I dropped the Legion after 5 years of faithful reading.That art was reason enough.Copiel can draw better,as his work on Thor proves.Whether his style on the Legion was an artistic choice or just the best he could do at the time I don't know,but it made me miss LEGION LOST, which gets a lot of praise.With the reprinting of that story,I'll be able to see what all the talk is about,even though I'll still have to endure that*ugh*art.

The DnA run was the "Archie Legion"seen thru the 5YL lens. Sometime it worked, sometimes not.But it never got any good art until Chris Batista came on,by which time DnA were out of gas.Pity.

Anonymous said...

Legion Lost made me drop what was, to that point, my favority comic book. I don't know what genius decided that Legion was too optimistic or that it needed some wrenching change to its outlook, but it was not my Legion.

I dropped it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you regarding REBELS. It didn't concentrate enough on the actual LEGION characters but rather focused (inexplicably in my mind) on those dopey Green Lanterns and all sorts of auxiliary DC space 2nd stringers.

Now, I don't mind space 2nd stringers, but they were brought in without placing them in context or without backstory. But I don't understood Tamoran politics and the Vega system history so a lot of the content was baffling to me.

It almost seemed that REBELS was trying to bring in all these folks to give a bump to circulation. And it seemed almost desperate after a while.

The authors should have concentrated on the Legion members and cut down on the superfluous and sometimes gratuitous externalities,

Meerkatdon said...

There's no denying that LEGION OF THE DAMNED and LEGION LOST inspired passionate responses in Legion readers -- some hated them, some loved them, few were indifferent.

My husband has an observation about Doctor Who, which works perfectly well with the Legion: "If there's something about the show you don't like, just wait a'll change."

In the Legion 1005 Years of the Future collection, whoever wrote the introduction made the point that the Legion is constantly changing, and I think that's true. Constant change, but also constant respect for the past and tradition. It's a winning formula.

Maybe it's old age, but the recent reintroduction of the multiverse has really reconciled me to some things I despised, like the 5YL timeline and the reboots. I realize now that a big part of what upset me was the feeling that (as one poster said here) "it wasn't MY Legion."

I think it's much easier to accept one-of-many-alternate-Legions as opposed to this-is-the-one-and-only-Legion. It's no secret that I'm a fan of alternate versions of the Legion, as long as they all coexist and nothing claims to REPLACE "my" Legion. I would love to see more stories of the Earth-247 Legion (all incarnations), the Earth-Prime Legion, and even the 5YL Legion in its several incarnations.

Heck, there are supposed to be 52 alternate Earths -- let's see LEGION OF 52 WORLDS!

Meerkatdon said...

Shadow Kid:

I do have to object to your reference to Giffen's "80s-era automatized spic-and-span take on the future" -- If you look back at his art of that period, especially in the late 80s, he was big into "dirty and splotchy," and he even did his own version of scribbling on the pages. :)

But still, your larger point (about the art fitting the stories and being a different take on the characters and settings) is absolutely right. I didn't personally like that take on things, but many people did, and there's no denying it WAS different.

Meerkatdon said...


Don't take my word for it -- as you see, lots of people liked LEGION OF THE DAMNED and LEGION LOST.

I'd say take a look through the comic in the store -- you should know pretty quickly whether it's to your taste or not.

Me...I'm hopeless. If they wrap garbage in newspaper and slap a LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES title on it, I'll buy it. (And they've come pretty close at times...does the name Dr. Mayavale mean anything to anyone?)