Friday, May 13, 2016

Threeboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #16

My copy, signed by Waid and Kitson in 2007
Recap: The war with Praetor Lemnos may be over but things are hardly stable for the Legion. They are enjoying unprecedented popularity with the youth of the galaxy who are aligning themselves behind the Legion creed of progress. They have recently agreed to become an adjunct to the United Planets, as politics and economics sometimes lead to strange bedfellows. And they are still reeling a bit from the death of Dream Girl.

Infinite Crisis and 52 had ended in the present day DCU. The universe was again threatened and rescued. But the reverberations were felt through all the DC books. Every title jumped forward a year in their plot lines. This led to some mysteries. What had happened over that year that stripped Superman of his powers? What shook up the roster of the Birds of Prey?

Mark Waid and Barry Kitson over at the Legion didn't jump forward a year in Legion of Super-Heroes #16. Regardless of the '1001 Years Later' logo on the cover, this story takes place immediately after Legion #15. The news of the Legion joining the UP and the Science Police isn't well known. And the team is still picking up the pieces of their ruined headquarters.

That doesn't mean the creative team didn't shake up the book. The very name changed to Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes. And, in a sort of throwback to the glory days of Superboy and the Legion, a Kryptonian youth was going to join the team.

A little background story. This Supergirl was still early in her DC history. Her own book was only on issue #6. As a huge Supergirl fan I was conflicted. While it was great to get any Supergirl back into the comics, the bratty, saucy, pessimistic, angry, smoking, drinking, anti-hero that was being written in her main title wasn't exactly evocative of what I think Supergirl is. I certainly didn't want that Kara in the Legion. Still, at least at this point, the Supergirl book was selling like gangbusters. Putting her in this book might have been a kick in the pants in sales for the Legion.

Knowing how much Waid loved the classic Supergirl, I was optimistic that he was going to treat her right and I was rewarded. Whoever this Supergirl was, she acted more like the Girl of Steel I liked to read. At some point, DC explained it by saying in WWIII Supergirl was split into two beings ... but that explanation was never explored, further explained, or remembered.

Still, even if the cover said 1001 years later, this felt like a return to something classic ... Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

The book opens with a prolonged and funny scene of the Legion capturing a criminal who was impersonating a Science Police officer. Ultra Boy, Chameleon, and Shadow Lass have a grand time while tossing the guy around and generally making a racket.

A local citizen named Klar has had it with the noise. In a 'get off my lawn' moment, he tries to rally the adults in nearby apartment buildings to stand up to the Legion. We see just how sanitized the world is. Initially, no one wants to talk face to face with Klar. Finally Klar rallies people to gather while he yells at the Legion to leave or he'll call the cops.

It is then that the Legion flash their newly minted SciPo badges. They are the cops! Maybe they should set up their HQ right there.

The team does leave but we see a kid looking at them with joy. A new and very young covert.

Also, it is ironic that it is the Legion's mantra of progressive action which Klar derides ... and yet he is motivated to act progressively and band together his neighbors. The Legion inspires all.

Meanwhile, Saturn Girl is notified by her Ambassador mother that a huge object is traveling towards Earth at high speeds. It is massive and would cause an extinction level event. Just passing near Neptune caused a 30 mile trench to be dug into that planet's surface.

And more interesting, the object has the S-shield.

What is it?

Waid and Kitson do a very good job conveying the threat giving us panels from space, seeing it smash a planet near Korugar, cutting into Neptune, etc.

On Earth, the Legion is rebuilding their Headquarters, astonished at the number of new followers they have garnered since defeating Terror Firma.

In another nice nod to classic Legion history, Cosmic Boy suggests the team have an open election to name their new leader. Cos stepped down at the end of the war. Colossal Boy isn't happy about Cos' decision.

More impressive, Cos wants anyone who considers themselves a Legionnaire to be able to vote. That includes all these young acolytes everywhere. How could you control that election? Verify it?

The repairs are interrupted by the Legion signal informing them of the approaching mass. They need to stop it.

How iconic is the top panel, a group of heroes gathered above Earth, the last line of defense. It also is one of the few times we have seen so many Legionnaires together as a unit. To be honest, I don't know what Karate Kid is doing up there (although we did see him trying to chop through Grimbor's planet-sized chains in a prior incarnation).

I also love that Ultra Boy is proud that he was the brave member who tested the transuit in space to make sure they were safe.

The team hacks away at this missile as it approaches but the thing is massive. Despite shearing of huge chunks, it is still going to hit.

Colossal Boy (I'm sorry ... I can't call him Micro Lad) enlarges and literally tries to catch it. But the things is too big. All it does is smash his flight ring. He is suddenly dying in space.

That is ...

Until a red blue streak, something faster than a speeding bullet, scoop him up and drops him off safely on land.

The crowd sees who it is that has rescued Colossal boy.

They are floored, stunned, amazed.

Look ...

Up in the sky ...

(Such a great moment by Waid and Kitson.)

And then the blue streak turns around, streaks back up into space, and smashes the hurtling mass to bits with one mighty punch.

It's Supergirl.

This is the first we see of Kitson's Supergirl and it is fantastic.

From the streaking hair to the strength of the punch, to the one bent leg, this is a superb picture of Supergirl, worthy of a splash.

With the world saved, Supergirl flies down to the surface where she is greeted by the cheers of the Legion followers. I love how they all yell 'Great Krypton!'. Remember this team has been built on the ethics and heroics taught in comics. They revere the past heroes. Supergirl would be a legend.

But this is the post-Infinite Crisis Supergirl. She has no idea where or when she is. She had been chasing that object for a while but couldn't catch up until someone had slowed it down.

So she wasn't in that object, she was behind it? And she doesn't know how she ended up there?

Maybe there is a 'one year later' mystery? Except it is Supergirl's mystery, not the Legion's.

I have always been a Kitson fan. But I will say that I love his Supergirl. Look at that first panel! Gorgeous.

It is clear that this is truly Supergirl and not a doppelganger.

But she turns things on their heads. She scoops up Cos and flies away from the crowd. Alone, she says that while she is really Supergirl and does exist, that the Legion doesn't.

What does that mean?

As a bold, new direction I thought this issue worked very well. We are still dealing with the Legion issues that have proceeded this. Waid and Kitson do a good job of showing us that with the early scenes. But then the wild card of Supergirl is introduced. And she has some form of amnesia. Those ending pages with Supergirl saving everyone are perfect comic storytelling. So as a current reader of the book (and an admitted Supergirl fan) I was hooked.

And for new readers? Well the opening scene with Klar introduces the political landscape of the book. The UP scene and the HQ scene would catch them up on some subplots. And then Supergirl is as big a mystery to new readers as it is to old.

There was an energy here and I liked it.

What did you think?

1 comment:

  1. I liked the smirky aside, where Klar is of course supposed to evoke Clark Kent, down to the spitcurl