Friday, November 25, 2016

Threeboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #37

When is a reboot not a reboot?

When does something go from a simple 'continuation' and become a 'bold new direction'?

Legion of Super-Heroes #37 was the first issue for the new creative team of Legion and Comic legend writer Jim Shooter and (then) new talent artist Francis Manapul. The Mark Waid/Barry Kitson were in the rear view mirror. The Tony Bedard/Dennis Calero issues seemed like a pause. But their last issue definitely felt like a coda of sorts, ending with a splash of the team. The theme of those runs, of youthful political progression pushing on the establishment, was gone. Readers seemed to be clamoring for something more 'classic'. And what could be more classic than Shooter.

But this run feels hardly classic. Not that I want retreads or retellings. I don't mind good innovation. Remember, I actually praised the Waid/Kitson run. Instead, Shooter seems to be trying to infuse some of the 'extreme' nature of the  perhaps a more mature comic market to try to bring a gritty feel to the team. And Shooter also decides to bring in new characters very early on. You would think that a 'set up' arc to re-establish the team, would make more sense.

As for the art, I am a Manapul fan. This is relatively early in his work and lacks the sort of breathy, pencil-y feel of his current style. It has a nice, sort of Image feel it which seems at home with the story Shooter is telling.

If you can't tell, I am not a big fan of this run and this might be more difficult for me to cover than the end of the 5YL issues I did way back when. So bear with me.


Thanks to Russell for adding this poster, the complete image of the cover above. It is a nice showcase of his work on the book and the new costumes for some of the characters. Chameleon Boy's has a sort of classic Silver Age vibe to it.

And as a lover of Ayla, I like Light Lass's new look.

On to the book.



We start out on a mining station in the solar system where Karate Kid is fighting off some odd looking mecha-organisms that look suspciously like an armored version of the demon Sammael in the Hellboy movie. These aliens have been appearing and battling all over the UP.

Karate Kid is battered, fighting with a broken arm, but is still able to defeat these things, hitting one so hard its guts explode out his back. I guess he knows the infamous Dim Mak, death touch technique. I also guess the Legion code against killing is antiquated.

With the aliens defeated, Kid has the time to call for transport. Phantom Girl arrives and sees the carnage.

This fight is a symptom of a bigger problem. Lightning Lad is not being an effective leader. He sent Triad alone to fight these things. Karate Kid went on his own. She is in even worse shape.

I never was a fan of Lightning Lad being leader in prior incarnations. No surprise he isn't effectively mobilizing the team here.

Also, please note that Tinya's costume in the book has a solid black P on the front, different from the boob-licious window so prominent on the cover.


Back on Earth, we see just how overwhelmed Lightning Lad is. The Legion Leader isn't all about sending out teams on missions. There is a lot of red tape to deal with. Contracts to be signed. Permits to review. Government get-togethers.

With all these interruptions, Garth can't make the team function. And kid sister Ayla seems to be getting a kick out of his problems. Ayla certainly is a little vicious in this Threeboot book. And this is certainly the most curvaceous I have ever seen Ayla.

Garth has sent a team to Neptune's moon of Triton where advance warning of another attack of the Sammael-iens (my term). This time he sends some heavy hitters: Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Star Boy, and Invisible Kid. Maybe one of them could have helped Luornu?

Triton is an exclusive ski resort these days. Despite the attack warning, the manager won't shut down the slopes. It shows that even in the future, the dollar tends to rule all.

I have to say, I like what Manapul is doing here. The Legionnaires look great.


On Earth, Lightning Lad is still drowning in phone calls. One is ominous. The UP is sending 'pre-approved' candidates to the headquarters to be Legionnaires. The unholy marriage of the two seems to be bearing bitter fruit.

Karate Kid stumbles out of the infirmary to yell at Garth only to once again collapse. Phantom Girl, as medic, is called to help.

Now why do we need this completely gratuitous shot of Tinya in her underwear, brushing her hair? Perhaps this is another of those 'mature' aspects of the book. Karate Kid kills! Tinya likes to lounge around her room in lingerie!


But then Shooter takes, what I think, is a wrong turn.

We have a new threat of these alien incursions. We have a chance to showcase the Legion team as a whole, something missing in the Bedard issues.

Instead, Shooter decides to introduce us to an extreme skiier on Triton. We don't get a name. All we know is she is a genetic anomaly able to increase/decrease her metabolism at will. She can stay warm, move faster, etc as long as she has the energy stores to do it.

And Invisible Kid is immediately smitten.

Sigh.

I don't mind new characters, honestly. But I felt like this was the time to shore up the foundation, not build an addition!


Whoever she is, the other skiiers don't like her or her showboating ways. They decide to beat her up in the locker room. And without calories to help her, she seems to be losing. That is until Invisible Kid, who I guess was stalking her, shows up with an energy drink ... and a flower.

That seems a little fast ...


But as expected, the Sammael-iens arrive and begin tearing the place apart. At least we learn that they might not be alive and might be more like 'constructs'. Maybe Val didn't kill something after all.

Timber Wolf and Star Boy seem to be holding their own for now.


But the team can't afford to teleport anyone else there to help. The UP funds the team and they are racking up unrealistic costs.

Garth sends Princess Projectra to the UP as a liaison to hope she can use her political pull to loosen the purse strings. But Jeckie is in for a harsh surprise. She has no pull anymore. In fact, with Orando gone she has no planet. She has no official standing. She is basically a commoner.

You would think the UP might slap some 'Honorary' title on her. I doubt they would make her apply for some provisional status. It all seems overall cruel. She is the last surviving Orandian. You think they would want to protect her.

Instead they show her the door.


And she doesn't seem to take it kindly.

In what is the first of many dark turns for the character, we see Projectra use her illusion powers to terrify the YP guards. I love the dark shading on the upper panel, perfect reflection of the character in that moment.

And without back-up, the away team is over run. Only Timber Wolf stands.

So what can I say.

I was really hoping that this first issue by Shooter would really grab me. I wanted to be entranced and immediately want to read the next issue. But this was just an okay issue. Maybe those preconceived expectations ruined the book for me.

I wanted extraordinary. And I sort of got average. Shooter at least lays down some of the upcoming themes for the book ... Projectra's madness and finanacial woes. But is those good elevator pitches for a Legion book?

What did you guys think?

9 comments:

  1. Because I'd spent most of the 2000s out of (new) comics, I missed the Threeboot. I got back in with this issue, attracted to the "fresh start" and Shooter coming back to the book where he got his start. I read it to the end, but he never produced anything memorable. Manapul's gorgeous art is wasted on this, and while I didn't dislike what was being done, nor did I especially like it either.

    I'll say this, despite the revamp some years before, it did feel closer to the Legion I was reading in the 80s, and indeed, Johns' insistence on retrobooting the Legion back to its pre-5YL days seemed pointless given the state of things. The Legion wasn't floundering because of its current configuration (they didn't feel the need to retroboot Wonder Woman or Superman, well not really, right?), it's that despite the Shooter/Manapul team which should have been a money maker, the stories just weren't interesting.

    Prepare for slow-burning, tedious story arcs... Although the era isn't without its moments.

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  2. I wasn't a fan of this run at all, and for once I wasn't sad to see outside DC mega-events cause things to change.

    Yeah, Shooter wrote a lot of Legion decades earlier. But he completely unmoored the Threeboot from the more interesting precepts of Waid/Kitson, shifting from a "optimistic youth vs staid adults" to "Lightning Lad vs. stultifying bureaucracy," which was neither original nor interestingly done (and, I might note, had already been done by Shooter himself, as he introduced Henry Peter Gyrich during his Avengers run to be a bureaucratic thorn...). And the knowledge of whom Shooter was going to make the Big Bad of his proposed 18-issue (!!) arc make me glad it was truncated.

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    1. Projectra---she wanted revenge against the Legion & the U.P. for letting Orando die, so it would turn out she was behind everything bedeviling the Legion during the run.

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  3. Projectra with an evil clone Superboy IIRC.

    Which isn't nearly as extreme as the direction he wanted to take with the whole I-Kid/ Gazelle relationship.

    On the whole I enjoyed this run, it's a good mix of action and charecter but without a memorable mix of villains, new or old, and it really lacked in that it never seemed to get into many character's backgrounds or what really makes them tick.
    Dream Boy just stopped showing up one day & Star Boy might as well have.
    It's a bugbear to me that they went through the trouble of giving Thom a race-swap and never in the whole threeboot run did he get much characterization beyond that.

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  4. Thanks for comments. An evil Superboy ... yeesh!

    We'll see if I like this run more on this critical examination!

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  5. I found his blog revealing the directions he wanted to take the Jeckie/ Superboy and Lyle/ Gazelle directions:http://jimshooter.com/2011/05/legion-of-super-heroes-overview-part-3.html/
    They are... interesting, though the jury is open on how successful they would have been (and if they helped accelerate the titles end. Good reading to you :)

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  6. PS one thing I must admit is the space-swearing was wearing pretty early on, but by the end of the book it was nigh interminable. As always YMMV.

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  7. Well, on the plus side, the art is much, much better, and I like the new costumes (though they won't actually appear until issue #42).

    The cons: this is where a lot of the cast gets shipped off to Limbo with little to no explanation. KK and Trip soon end up in CBL like Rokk did. Also, once again, Dream Boy is persona non grata despite having a pivotal role in the tail end of Waid's run.

    I think the worst part is the shift to making Projectra the Legion traitor. Then again, Shooter created her and the original LOSH trator Nemesis Kid, so he gets a free pass on that one.

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