Friday, October 5, 2018

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #11

Hey folks, Anj here.

At some point over on my Supergirl blog, I began reviewing this run of Legion of Super-Heroes. So much like I did with the New 52 Legion and the New 52 Legion Lost books, I will be doing retro-reviews of the Retroboot book. What I mean by this is I will post my review from 2011 here. And then after, I will post what my current thoughts are after a re-read.

What strikes me immediately about this old review of Legion of Super-Heroes #11 is that I am far more forgiving of this book. When I re-read the issue, my enthusiasm was tepid. And yet in the first like of the older review I am glad the book is 'firing on all cylinders'. Different times and different hopes for an LSH book make these retro-reviews interesting time capsules. Let's see what 2011 Anj thought!

Legion of Super-Heroes #11 came out last week and picked up right where the Legion of Super-Villains One Shot ended. I have to say that I think this title is finally clicking on all cylinders. This just feels like the Legion I want to be reading. And as a long time Legion fan who has picked up some of the reboots and ignored others, I am happy to be enjoying the Legion again.

Of course, one the beauties of the Legion is the deep continuity of the characters and the series. In fact, in some ways I think that continuity might be a double edged sword. For old-timers like me, the history and legend of the Legion is really one of the draws. I think many long-time Legion fans pride themselves on a deep understanding of Legion lore. But that same deep history might make it difficult for a brand new reader to pick up the book. But if you reboot and lose that history, you probably will lose the core foundation of the Legion fanbase. It can't be easy for the folks at DC to figure out what to do.

In this issue, for example, there is great characterization throughout, as events hearken back to some personal moments in the Legionnaires lives. Writer Paul Levitz knows that adding that depth to the characters is what makes this book so special. And I know exactly what he's talking about. But do new readers? Does it frustrate them?

The book opens with a Legion away team starting the arduous task of rounding up some of the villains who escaped Takron-Galtos when Saturn Queen started her riot. And what a team of personalities. Wildfire and Lightning Lass get into a minor quarrel during the battle. That's not surprising. Both of those characters are headstrong and opinionated. They are two of my favorite Legionnaires so it was great to see them get some screen time.

Ayla talks about how the last time the LSV got together, the Legion lost 'a good man', talking about the original Karate Kid. Now I know that. But that story is almost 30 years old. Do new readers know who she is talking about or how that death impacted the Legion?

Phantom Girl knows that Ayla also had a hard time in that skirmish. Lightning Lass was imprisoned and tortured by Lightning Lord as he tried to get her to see his way of thinking. For some reason, this hug felt wrong. For one, it seemed like the wrong time to do it, in the middle of the crime scene. Also, Ayla doesn't strike me as a 'hug it out' person.

Meanwhile on Takron-Galtos, another group of Legionnaires is investigating the site of Saturn Queen's escape.

Shrinking Violet is another of my favorite Legionnaires. When Vi discovers the dead body of Micro Lad, she spits on the corpse. There is no love lost for him as he was the Imskian rebel who placed her in a sensory deprivation tank for months while a Durlan (Chameleon Girl) replaced her in the Legion.

Again, Vi has hardened a lot since that storyline and I am glad she referenced it. That clearly was a turning point in her life.

Back in the Legion HQ, Dreamy arrives with Star Boy. She has brought him back from the past and demands that Brainy helps him with his insanity. Brainy doesn't think that he'll be able to immediately help because as acting Legion leader, he is dealing with multiple crises.

As if on cue, Mon-El, the elected leader, arrives.

I have never really thought of Mon-El as a big time leader type so his victory in the election surprised me.

And his tenure isn't starting out easily. As  Brainy delineates, there is the breakout on Takron-Galtos with 37 major villains free, Dawnstar is off in space, Saturn Queen is forming a new LSV, Colu has shut off communications, and now Star Boy has returned. Now we know that all of these things (outside of Star Boy) are connected, but Mon-El doesn't.

I liked the panel construction here. The panels are off a little, overlapping. It sort of literally felt like things were piling up.

Back on Earth, Timber Wolf is searching for Sun Killer and instead runs into the Sun Emperor. The Emperor was always one of the scarier members of the classic LSV, a clear sadist who burned through chambermaids for fun.

Again, Levitz does a great job injecting Legion history references into this book. The Emperor calls Brin an animal and that strikes a nerve. Enraged, Timber Wolf allows himself to be immolated in order to get close enough to the Emperor to take him out. Of course, early on in his career, Wolf thought he was a robot. And he has always battled with the 'call of the wild'. This little encounter gives some nice insight into Wolf's personality.

In the meantime, Brainy starts the slow process of helping Star Boy regain his sanity. A weepy Dream Girl actually wonders if Brainy cares about the Legion. I read his response in an irked tone of voice as he says he wouldn't be with the Legion if he didn't regard them as his friends.

This far into his career, knowing all he has been through, Dreamy shouldn't be asking or crying about this.

Finally, the enigmatic Dr. Li tells the Legion that she is responsible for what is happening on Colu. She has been a mystery in the book since her arrival. My guess is she is somehow responsible for the events which led to the Blue Entity's escape.

I thought this was very good issue from a story viewpoint. There are a lot of pokers in the fire right now and Paul Levitz gives us a look at most of them with the much appreciated wrinkle of strong characterization. While we didn't learn more about the LSV plot here, we did see the Legion begin it's investigation and start cleaning up the extraneous stuff.

The artwork done by HDR was serviceable. I do think that the Legion cast is variable enough that we should see different body types. Brainy looks as buff as Timber Wolf.

I was also happy to see the election results posted. How sad that my favorite Legionnaire Wildfire got trounced overall, and even defeated by Gates and Quislet.

This series is finally starting to feel right to me. We have a big story arc ahead of us, and Levitz is filling in all the small details that make the Legionnaires themselves such great characters. I just hope that all this continuity doesn't scare new readers away.

Overall grade: B+ 

Well, some of the characterization is wrong. Vi spitting on Micro Lad is a bit crass. Dreamy crying is a bit off. 

And yes, as an old time reader I like that Levitz so easily hearkens back to the original Baxter LSV storyline. But I must say that newer readers are probably having a hard time understanding these sideways comments about loss and struggle. 

I will say the scene with Phantom Girl and Ayla was powerful given how rough that period in Lightning Lass's life was. But without a flashback panel or an explanation, I fear the power of that scene is lost.

I probably would give this a C+ now. The odd actions of the characters stands in contrast to it leaning so heavily into history. You can't discuss 30 year old arcs but have someone act completely differently than they have in that continuity without making the reader feel disjointed.

Interesting how technology has increased the number of reader votes for the election! 

What did you all think?


  1. I'd agree with the characterization quibble, but at least quibble illustrates that characterization is there. Far too many team books lack development and for years characterization was interchangeable even within the Legion.

    Regarding the election results - I'm all for giving the writer a challenge, but 1500+ votes for Earth Man?! That's just being obnoxious. Then I look at what we got and just have to sigh and accept that some people really haven't thought things through.

  2. 4 different Captcha hurdles to get past? That's kind of overkill.

  3. Violet spitting was rather harsh. Mon-El duplicating himself was ridiculous (in my opinion, only people with mental powers or a splitter like Luornu or Marvel's Multiple Man would have the brain capacity to function this way). And I agree: all of the lameoids who voted for Earth Man were either a) obnoxious/trying to be difficult, or b) just didn't think it through.

  4. I share the same thoughts as Ken.

    Frost and Fume. I like their look but another female with mind control powers? Nevertheless, it is good to see a villain from Tharr. Tyroc saves the day again. Did Levitz finally eat his words about using him? Nevertheless, would have been fun if Quislet would have swooped in and used the villains getaway car against them instead. Quislet has not seen much action at all.

    I do wonder if Vi's lack of remorse was meant to a possible hint of change in her from her encounter with the Emerald Eye.

    I don't like how Brainy is so stressed. That 12th level intellect isn't good for much is it?

    And what's with all the sexism going on this issue? And then Dream Girl is all emotional? This issue really isn't doing it for me. I think it's pretty terrible. My grade is D.