Friday, December 2, 2016

Threeboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #38

Legion of Super-Heroes #38 represented the second issue of the new Jim Shooter/Francis Manapul and continued to cement the major plots of this run. There is an alien invasion happening, with brutal monsters overrunning planets. And the Legion is handcuffed, mummified by red tape which is limiting the team's effectiveness. These elements were introduced last issue but played up even more here.

Shooter also decided to maybe take a break from the bleaker storylines to bring in a tried and true humor element of Legion mythos - Legion tryouts. As a group, these might be the most ridiculous applicants I have ever seen. But this amusing subplot is actually a natural extension of the bureaucratic main plot. These are handpicked members from the UP, often the result of some favor or nepotism.

This aspect of the book is sort of the opposite of Waid's earlier 'revolution' theme of the Legion. Instead of rebelling and pushing things forward, this Legion instead is crushed by the system. One interesting wrinkle to this plot is how it is effecting Legion leader Lightning Lad. Historically, he has never been the most stable character. Here we see how the weight of this pressure is weighing on him.

The art on this book by Francis Manapul is just spectacular. There is a mild sense of anime here, not necessarily in the art style but in the kinetic feel of the fight sequences. The brawls on Triton are amazingly rendered. If there is a true positive to this run, it is the art.

On to the book!

The book opens on Triton where Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, and Star Boy are trying to fend off these vicious mechanized monsters. These things are not pushovers. The Legion is sort of getting their lunch handed to them. And the fight is vicious. We were told last episode these things aren't truly alive ... thankfully ... given the lethal force the Legionnaires use throughout.

One thing I am a bit impressed with here is Saturn Girl's fighting prowess. Here we see her using a pistol to perforate one beast. And later she uses her mind powers to revive an unconscious Star Boy. This isn't a cold distant Imra cooly reading minds. She is up to her knees in the carnage and using her powers in innovative ways.

The young 'anomaly' who could control her metabolism who we first met in last issue shows up again to aid the Legion in the fight. In her hypermetabolic mode, she is able to flit around the beasts and attack them.

Here we learn she is named Giselle.

Her powers are interesting and remind me of the earliest adventures of Wally West as the Flash where he needed to consume massive amounts of food to keep his engine running.

At last we learn why these things are hard to defeat.

Much like Doomsday, or maybe Saiyans, these things can not only regenerate but also evolve to a stronger form.

As of now, we have no idea what the things' agenda is. Are they controlled? A vanguard? Acting on their own?

Meanwhile back on Earth, Garth continues to drown in the bureaucracy. The Earth team cannot teleport to help the away team. And Ayla isn't helping with her snarky dialogue showing just how insane the team's finances are.

I don't know about you, but I don't read comics to see a team frustrated by money issues. This is escapist literature!!

As for this sequence, if you are an Ayla fan, you love what Manapul brings to her.

And then we meet the new members.

This group is ridiculous. The muscular man in the green shirt if Fruit Boy and he can ripen fruit quickly. The blue skinned woman is a new version of Infectious Lass. One is named Sludge and can expel a mud like substance.

But one is related to an ambassador. Others have similar connections.


But I like that when Garth first meets them he immediately asks if one of them has teleportation powers. At least he is trying to turn this to his advantage. But here and later on, he loses his temper and seems psychologically destroyed.

Meanwhile, on Triton, the battle is getting even more brutal. These monsters have energy beams now.

This was comics in the early 2000s, a period where the anti-hero was all the rage. And here we see Giselle isn't all warm and fuzzy. She doesn't want to be a hero. And she doesn't care about saving the other lodge members who hate her. She just wants to save herself.

This isn't a classic Legionnaire. She is rather self-centered, joining the Legion in this fight to improve her chances of survival.

The new applicants get more time.

One is called Spy and looks like a mix of Azrael and Assassin's Creed. He has hypersenses and ESP and knows that Sludge is thinking naughty thoughts about Ayla.

Another can hear well underwater.

The Legion has no need for these applicants.

But one applicant sticks around.

M'Rissey, named after long time Legion letter hack Rich Morrissey, has great knowledge of calculus and trivia.

Despite having powers which seem to already exist in Brainy, he not only becomes a member but has an important role.

Nice homage.

Finally, the Legion is able to defeat these things.

Star Boy rips one in half. And once again, Saturn Girl shows she has a range of powers. She uses her powers to take control of the unconscious SciPo officers, using them like puppets to create a strike force. With a phalanx behind her, she blasts the last monsters to pieces.

Of everything so far in this run, I am most impressed with Imra.

But even Imra's inspirational attacks cannot sway Giselle from her rather self-centered take on life. She doesn't want to join the Legion. She curses them and the UP.

I get the sense she is also going to stick around.

So this was a solid second chapter for Shooter, ramping up the action with the monsters and again showcasing the frustration of the team on Earth. The art is dynamic. The applicant sequence felt classic.

But this still hasn't grabbed me. I keep thinking about Waid/Kitson.

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