Saturday, October 3, 2015

Who Drew It Better? LSH 37 vs Superman 8

Often, on Hollywood (and other) Award Shows, some women show up wearing the same dress design, or men show up in the same type of tuxedo. When that happens, gossip reporters often dissect the fashion event by asking, "Who Wore It Better?"

Well, in the four-part Legion adventure "Past Imperfect," the Post-Crisis Superman came up against the Silver & Bronze Age Superboy and Legion. In the first issue crossed-over from the Legion title itself, the pertinent information from Legion (v3) #37 is repeated in Superman (v2) #8. So the Legion of Super-Bloggers is proud to present,
  Who Drew It Better?! 
The four-part epic begins in Legion (v3) #37 by Paul Levitz, Greg LaRocque, and Mike DeCarlo. In this story Cosmic Boy leads a group of Legionnaires back in time to Smallville in Superboy's era.

After various things happen, the story crosses over to Superman (v2) #8, by John Byrne and Karl Kesel. SuperMAN meets the Legion, who explains to him (and the readers who didn't pick up LSH #37) "the story thus far." And these flashbacks are John Byrne's chance to re-interpret scenes already drawn by Greg LaRocque. So let's get to it!  

Exhibit A: The Legion meets Police Chief Parker 
After the Legionnaires arrive back in time, four members stay to guard the Time Bubble as the other four head into down-town Pleasantville Smallville. Cosmic Boy, Mon-El, Ultra Boy, and Substitute Hero Night Girl experience Superboy's home-town, sure that they are in the right time and place. Then, they are met by Police Chief Parker. 
In the LSH version, the police car seems to be the most important thing, as it is placed directly in the center of the scene. In Superman, the people get the attention. By the way, for some reason John Byrne has reversed Ultra Boy and Mon-El from their Legion clothes: long-sleeved blue shirt turns into short-sleeved blue shirt. Verdict: Superman 
Legion 0
Superman 1

Exhibit B: The Legion meets Pete Ross
Immediately after Chief Parker leaves them, the Legionnaires run in to Honorary Legionnaire Pete Ross. Meeting Pete makes them feel as if they really are in the right place at the right time. 
The plain background in both scenes bothers me, but not as much as Mon-El's gargantuan hands do in the LSH scene. Still, what really alters the feel of these two versions is the layout. John Byrne for his scene chooses to place the camera overhead looking down, whereas Greg LaRocque aims his camera below looking up.  Either would work, but LaRocque's choice creates odd shadowing on Ultra Boy. 
Also, points to Byrne for putting all the dialogue in one scene, rather than breaking it up into two. However, LaRocque gets points for including Cosmic Boy and Night Girl. Yet then he shows Pete all alone in that second panel, which doesn't do so much to establish that they are all good friends. 
Verdict: Superman 
Legion 0
Superman 2

Exhibit C: The Legion meets the Kents
Pete guides the Legionnaires to the Kent General Store, where an emotional reunion occurs between Mon-El and the Kents
The more detailed background by LaRocque in LSH adds points to its goodness. However, the static poses of each of the main figures detracts from it. And although Byrne's version in Superman has tight close-up of the main characters, it has no emotional pay-off (no hugs or tears).  
On the other hand, it is clear that the boy Ma Kent is hugging in LSH is actually supposed to be Mon-El, not Ultra Boy. Which makes sense, as it was Mon-El who spent a week living with them as their adopted son! Verdict: LSH 
Legion 1
Superman 2

Exhibit D: Pete Ross rides out to the rest of the Legion
The story then shifts back to the four waiting Legionnaires at the Time Bubble. Suddenly, Pete Ross rides up on his bicycle, warning the others that Superboy and the others have been defeated! 
As hard as it may be to believe, these two pages are identical. Look for yourself. 
The only real difference is in the details. So....the forest looks more real in the Byrne illustration of panel 1, but the details in LaRocque's version of panel five are better. Brainy in panel 4 looks better by Byrne (or maybe inker Karl Kesel). AND the bicycle in panel five looks better by Byrne-Kesel. So reluctantly, I give this one to Superman, too. Either could have won by putting just a tad more details in the backgrounds of panels 2, 3, and 4. Verdict: Superman. 
Legion 1
Superman 3

Exhibit E: Pete Ross warns the Legion
Pete explains to the remaining Legionnaires that Superboy and the others have been defeated. He wants them to escape into the time stream so that they are not attacked, too. Although they hesitate to follow his advice, they finally decide that discretion is the better part of valor and fly off. 
Here is another page that is a direct swipe homage between Byrne and LaRocque. 

Points to LaRocque in the first panel to a. show stars (it IS night-time) and b. show that the Time Bubble is hidden behind a billboard. In Byrne's illustration it looks like daytime, and that there is a chalkboard set up next to the Time Bubble. Of course, both artists lose the billboard in panel four, so there is that. 
I like the look of angst on Pete's face as illustrated by Byrne; do you agree with me that he does a better job than LaRocque? Also, the body postures in general seem more natural on Byrne's page. 
Verdict: Superman
Final Tally: 
Legion 1
Superman 4

I guess we can say that in this battle, John Byrne Drew It Better.