Friday, October 19, 2018

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #13

The stereotypical Legion fan is someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of that gleaming future and the team. They are usually well-read, even of older books. And they know their stuff. It is a double edged sword.

For example, if you set up a LSH vs. LSV storyline, the standard Legion fan will have at their mental finger-tips the past LSV arcs. In particular, I think the initial Baxter series opening arc would be the primary comparison. And that arc is both important and beloved. So you better be ready for people to hold those arcs next to each other.

All that is my way of saying that the Saturn Queen, blue flame entity, LSV arc running through this retroboot Legion title is going to suffer when compared to the Baxter arc. It doesn't help that both portend and end with a dead Legionnaire, making them similar enough to really contrast. 

That Baxter arc had all the classic Legion villains squaring off against the team. This LSV has people named Atta and Immortus. There isn't enough gravitas and history to make it seem memorable. And the underlying plot of Worlds of Wisdom and blue baby beings is too insubstantial, at least in the middle chapter of LSH #13, to grab me.

On the positive side, I do like how the Legionnaires interact with each other in the crisis, fighting well as teammates.

And yes, I know I am presenting a middle chapter first. I promise, the LSV Special review will happen soon. 

On to the book.

Legion of Super-Heroes #13 came out last week and continued the Legion of Super-Villains arc. This was a middle chapter in this arc of Saturn Queen's quest to destroy the World of the Wise before turning her army towards Oa. The sad thing about this chapter was that in many ways it was a place holder. Not much happens in this issue to progress the overall story. Now don't get me wrong, there are some nice moments and small revelations here. But no major events happen in this issue. As a result, this issue felt a little flat for me.

Paul Levitz does do a good job juggling the large cast of the Legion, checking in on some members who haven't been seen in a bit and giving them distinctive voices.

I did feel that this may have been Yildiray Cinar's weakest issue on the book. It just seemed a little rough and scratchy in some places as opposed to the more finished look I am used to seeing from him.

While Saturn Queen has left Colu with Zymyr, the remaining Super-villains do their best to recreate the landscape with destruction.

I am pretty interested in this Immortus character. We know he was constructed on Zuun. But now we learn that his inertron body can regenerate. How can that happen? At first I wondered if this might be a suit housing another living Tromite. Then I thought maybe it is the Doom Patrol villain General Immortus' downloaded into this thing. Both are unlikely.

I was glad to see Element Lad thinking a little out of the box, using his powers for something other than disintegration or encasement. Another thing I liked was Invisible Kid calling Element Lad the mightiest Legionnaire currently on Colu. Element Lad could be unbelievably powerful.

In what was one of my favorite moments of the issue, we get a look at our maturing blue flame entity.

When Saturn Queen cannot find the World of Wise through her Coluan research, she calls upon the blue flame. He drops some hints about his powers and persona. He spreads terror, terror gives him form, and he has been exiled for centuries.

I am going to stick with my original guess that this is Dark Opal from the Amethyst series. Any other guesses? Any terror or fear based villains I'm not thinking of? Maybe Lyssa Drak who kept the Book of the Black in Green Lantern?

Another thing that Levitz does very well is show just how good a team the Legion are, how well trained they are, how well they work together. We've already seen Phantom Girl take out Atta last issue. Here we see Polar Boy and Quislet run interference while Shadow Lass takes out Sun Killer. Again, there is more to Tasmia than darkness. She can throw down with the bad guys too!

It reminds me how in every Legionnaire's Who's Who entry they have some stock statement saying they 'passed Legion combat training and know martial arts'. I guess this proves it.

Here was my favorite moment. Before the villains teleport off of Colu, Hunter finds Earth Man and makes him a proposition. If Earth Man betrays the Legion and aids the LSV when the time comes, he will get Earth 'to cleanse'. It makes sense. I never quite understood why Earth Man would have such a sudden change of heart and join the Legion to begin with. And he surely will be tempted.

But we also know that a Legionnaire dies at the end of this arc. I suddenly have to put Earth Man at the top of the death list. Can't you see him die just as he proves to the Legion that he has put his xenophobia behind him, lashing out the villains one last time? It would show he has changed, is a 'true' Legionnaire, and have him die as a hero. Plus, he isn't a long-time Legionnaire so there will be less ripples through fandom.

This was my least favorite moment of the book.

While discussing the World of the Wise, Tellus senses an image in Gates' mind that was also in Harmonia Li's mind. Maybe she knows something?

Umm ... I am pretty sure she does since she just told Brainy she was responsible for what is happening on Colu two issues ago. Now why he didn't talk to her about that 'confession' since then, I have no idea. But he can't be surprised, can he?

I also liked this splash page showing Mon-El trying to coordinate the team from the Legion headquarters. Surrounded by screens, talking to the Legionnaires, you can see him trying to put all the pieces together. But he doesn't look comfortable.

I still can't believe Mon-El won the election. He has never struck me as a dynamic leader.

I had to include this panel because Wildfire, my favorite Legionnaire, finally got some action. He and Ultra Boy arrive on Colu just in time to help get Immortus away from the unconscious Element Lad.

And then Zymyr shows up and teleports all the members of the LSV away, including the members recently beaten by the Legion - Atta and Sun Killer too! Seems strange that the Legion would just leave them unattended and lying around for the other LSV members to drag them through a portal.

So the Super-Villains are now reunited and the Blue Flame will soon impart to Hunter the location of the World of the Wise.

So a lot of noise on this front but basically the teams are exactly where they were last issue.  

Back on Earth, Harmonia Li again tries to tell someone that she knows something about this threat, telling Dream Girl that Star Boy will join her in sacrifice to stop the Blue Entity. Hopefully Dreamy actually asks her a few questions this time. Hmmm ... could it be Star Boy is the Legionnaire that dies? Nah. Too obvious.

I hope the mystery behind Professor Li is explained soon.

So there are some nice little moments to this issue as we get to see the villain evolving and the internal intrigue of the temptation of Earth Man. But the main story of Saturn Queen's threat sort of just tread water this issue.

Still, even if this issue sort of underwhelmed, the arc continues to intrigue me. And I think Levitz is getting a handle on the massive cast here. And again, the art wasn't the usual crisp work I am used to on the title.

Overall grade: B-

Hmm, I wonder if my guess of which Legionnaire would die turned out to be correct?
I think it was here that my aggravation around Harmonia Li hit the top of the meter. Stop being so darn obtuse! Tell us what you know already!!!

And that scene between Hunter and Earth Man still plays out pretty well.

But I think I would make this more of a C+. Not a big drop from the old Anj's thoughts.


  1. I love this cover, two of my all-time favorite Legionnaires in dynamic action. Plus, if I squint hard enough, I can blur out Scrappy Doo, er I mean Quislet. :Þ

    It's great that Tasmia cuts loose with that haymaker. A lot of people forget that she is a warrior from a primitive world.

    And I agree, Mon-El isn't suited for leadership. He has a scientist's brain, not a tactician's. But it was nice to see that the 'Daxamite with a power ring' wasn't omnipotent.

    And my dislike of Drake's current containment suit aside, what a fantastic image of him and Jo lambasting Atta!

  2. This obtuseness has always been a part of Levitz's work. It was there during Earthwar. It populates here and there.

    I get what you are saying about Tasmia, however, she doesn't use her powers once. When she and Dreamy fought that Durlan, she never used her powers. She has one power and she doesn't even use it. That's nonsense and poor writing.

    Obviously we don't have any Quislet fans here but it swoops in and finishes off Sun Emperor. I think Quislet's abilities really are unappreciated.

    And yeah, the Legion just making dumb tactical mistakes by not securing their enemies. But again, that's the writing.

    It's a D- from me. These issues really are abysmal. The characters are idiots. The plot is stretched thin. The melodrama loses effect.