Friday, November 10, 2017

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #9

Thanks for joining me for my re-review of the New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes. It has been fun for me to revisit this series, if only to contrast current thoughts to what I was thinking then.

For example, Legion of Super-Heroes #9. In re-reading this book, I can say that I enjoyed the semi-spotlight on Dream Girl. I liked the group shot at the end. I liked the slow progress of the Dominator plot. But I don't know if I liked it as much as I did in the original review. It is clear, rereading these reviews, that I am aching for a great Legion book. I keep talking about how I keep thinking the book is on the verge of something. That things are simmering and boiling. 

I don't know. I don't know if we ever get to the fantastic stuff I was looking for.

All that said, Francis Portela is just lights out in this book. The art is brilliant.

Legion of Super-Heroes #9 came out this week and, I have to say, is probably my favorite issue of this DCnU run for the team. I have talked before about this book, about how the Legion feels tepid to me, not exciting and just sort of cruising along. I talked about how with Levitz juggling the massive cast of characters that I felt the momentum of the book was suffering. And I felt that the last 2 big story arcs - the Blue Flame entity and the Dominator invasion - were relatively lackluster.

This issue seemed to tighten up all those concerns. And most of all, made me excited to read the next issue. It was as if the water of this book started to roil a bit and near a boil. Things are starting to come together in an ominous way. Suddenly I was that Anj of the 80s, devouring the Levitz/Giffen book and wondering when all the plots and characters would crash together. The wonderful cover by veteran Steve Lightle added to the effect. It's not a perfect issue. But it is very very good and that is what I am looking for in my Legion.

Add to that Francis Portela's superior art. Portela has shined on this book throughout but here he seems to sparkle in both the quiet moments and action sequences.

But, again, it is the meshing of multiple plotlines, the use of multiple characters, and the feeling of upcoming tension that brings it all together.

The issue starts with Brainy still determined to break through the perceived Flashpoint wall and travel through time again. If they broke through the Time Trapper's wall, they can get through this.

Joining him is Harmonia Li and then Dream Girl, who arrives because her powers sensed danger happening. Brainy barely registers they are in the room. Classic Brainy.

But I love Dreamy here, talking about how her powers wouldn't detect Brainy's ineptitude and how she likes him despite his social foibles. I am calling it here ... a Brainy/Dreamy romance is going to happen. I think she protests too much. And it would harken back to Waid's short-lived run when they were romantically linked.

The research is stopped when 2 mutated Dominators warp into the lab. One is named Dys and seems to have a technology dampening power. Suddenly computers, flight rings, and even force field belts are inoperable.

I have always felt that Levitz has a soft spot for Dream Girl. He has never made her a simple glam girl although that is what she projects. He made her an effective leader, even during the time of the Great Darkness Saga. He had her sneakily being one of the smartest and mentally tough Legionnaires. Here, he shows that she did not shirk her combat training. Nice snap kick to the chops!!

While the Dominators are scheming and skirmishing, Mon-El is investigating the re-creation of the Fatal Five. He heads to Takron Galtos where Validus is still trapped in his inertron cube. Is this the first Validus sighting of the DCnU or in Legion recently? Is this known to be Garth and Imra's boy? I forget where the old Legion ended and the cured 'Garridan Ranzz' began. Was that 5YL?

Of course, I am starting to wonder if Shrinking Violet is unwittingly doing all this as the new Emerald Empress. She did absorb the energy in the last Annual. Is she living 2 lives, unaware?

The Dominators continue to pound away in the Time Institute. Not only do they capture Brainy (who apparently was their target) but grab Dreamy as well.

This reminded me a bit of The Universo Project from many many years ago when Dreamy and Brainy were part of a small group of Legionnaires who were so mentally strong they needed to be separated and imprisoned rather than controlled.

The other dominator seems to be more of a hulking brute and is kept at bay by Harmonia Li and her abilities.

I have to say I like the new look of Harmonia. She has a sort of Lady Shiva feel to her. And her superior air works well here. She seems like a goddess who is uninterested in sullying her hands in battle.

I think this might be my favorite panel and there is no action happening.

Cos is simply trying to keep track of all the Legionnaires and what they are doing. There are the away teams, each training or investigating. Who can he send when the attack on the Time Institute shows up on the monitors?

One thing I loved here was how much information Portela conveys about the characters here. Comet Queen is waving to the camera, Chemical Kid looking at her exasperated. Dragonwing is looking fierce and sideways, confident in a semi-'battle ready' pose. Vi has her arms folded looking perturbed. Nice.

Who can help out? Ultra Boy of course.

I do like how Levitz has him talk out the timing of his power switch going from speed to invulnerability to strength at just the right time. His punch incapacitates the Dominator thug to the point he is helpless. But the Dominator won't be taken in. He activates some inner suicide switch and unravels into a pile of glue. It is only after investigation that the goo is shown to probably be Dominator in origin.

As I said, Levitz has there be more under Dreamy's sultry exterior. She is more than just a pretty face. Even this Dominator can detect her mental strength. And, even he can see that she acts like Brainy's companion.

Why can't those two kids just admit they love each other??

The Legionnaires genes will be analyzed, their powers isolated, and then they will be added to the super-Dominator genome. Looks like an army of Legion-Amazos is going to crop up soon.

With 2 Legionnaires kidnapped, Cos plans to bring the fight to them when suddenly Mon-El intercedes. The UP doesn't want to invade unless their is solid proof. Why risk war on an educated guess?

Oh, I don't know ... how about 4 issues ago the Dominators brought their fleet through a wormhole into UP space. Isn't that enough reason?? Didn't the Dominators break the treaty?? This seemed like a lame reason to not go after your friends, especially given recent events.

Anyways, isn't this just what an Espionage Squad made for? If Cos doesn't form a covert team ... or look the other way when other leave on their own ... I'll be upset.

At least Star Boy is upset. If a Legionnaire can't rescue Nura then he isn't a Legionnaire. He quits. That sounds like what Thom would do.

Too bad Dreamy is going to dump him. At least, that's my guess.

Anyways, this issue got the Legion book simmering for the first time in a while. There are a lot of threats on the horizon and the Legion are grasping at straws a bit. It has been a while since I was excited to get the next issue in my hand. That's a good sign.

And I have to compliment Portela again. Man, this is a gorgeous book to look at.

Overall grade: B+

I'd probably give it a B/B+ now. Overall nice stuff here. Portela really likes drawing Dream Girl. And I like Portela drawing Dream Girl too!


  1. I have to agree with you on the art - Portela really shines.

    I liked the dynamic between B5 and Dream Girl, but I really don't want a romance between these two. I prefer to see them as two friends / co-workers with the utmost respect for each other. These are the two you go to when you need answers. One get them scientifically, one does not. They clash in style and HOW they get the answers and occasional personality conflicts, but they appreciate and respect each other's contributions. That doesn't mean they need to be in bed with each other.

    I did find part of the run confusing. The big pages showing who was involved was helpful. This was one of only 2 books I was reading in this reboot, and it was never clear what history was being referenced. Validus? Tyroc? I know I missed some stories, but i thought these characters had stories that removed them from play. We, the long-time readers, need a scorecard to figure out what happened in THIS particular reboot.

    After SO many reboots it just becomes a blur. The legion has a long history. A lot of fans really appreciate that history. But mixing things up AGAIN, for the bajillionth time makes us feel like it's not worth relearning.

    1. Yeah, it would also be really shitty for Dreamy to drop her cripple boyfriend for Brainy. We

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  2. Hello Anj - no one will think less of you if on second reading you give the issue a much more negative rating. The art has been really good and it needs to be because it is polishing a turd. Art-wise - lots of great touches like the symbol board, use of Interlac on the names of Otaki and Mwindaji, creating different faces and poses for the Legionnaires standing. The only problem is I can't tell if Harmonia is actually using some type of tremor or ground manipulation power against Trog. It may not be an art issue though. While you appreciate Jo dictating his power switch, I feel it is unnecessary when we can't even get an accurate description of what Harmonia's powers are.

    Going back here a few pages, we see how the Legion is "spread thin" which I really have a problem with. The blog entry on Adventure #318 a few days ago shows how this is a silly plot contrivance. Why are the newbies on another training exercise? Didn't they learn anything in the Academy? And if Legionnaires are going on fact finding missions, might it not be more of a training exercise to send out one experienced member and one newbie on a mission. I mean, that's what we've had so far with Cham and Dragonwing and Element Lad and Chemical Kid. IMO, Levitz did little to improve the profile of the newbies and instead, relied on his old familiars to tell stories. He's not blazing any new ground here. It is apparent to me that since Shadow Lass is not dating Mon-El, Levitz doesn't know what exactly to do with her so he shoves her off with the newbies.

    And yes, you point out how there was that incident with the Dominators a few issues ago. It's really a plot fail. This plot/subplot should have rested a few more issues. Also, failed opportunity to reintroduce Ambassador Relnic!

    Also first (cameo) appearance of Otaki and Mwindaji. Good thing we get to see them here because we get to read a story about them next issue and I can't wait to rip into these characters.

    Overall, I give the writing a D. Levitz has fallen into his Legion of 30 years ago and it is showing the weakness in his writing.

    1. I just realized I have two different blogger accounts whether I'm on my tablet or PC. I'm Todd, btw.