Friday, October 27, 2017

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #7

This relook at the New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes has been something of an interesting experiment for me. These books aren't that old. This is a run that is relatively recent. So I shouldn't be surprised that my thoughts haven't necessarily changed too radically. What I have noticed is that the highs seem a little higher. I think that is because there weren't too many highs so when I see them now, knowing the way this title proceeds, they seem brighter. That said, I am also reading this with the foreknowledge of this book's trajectory and as a result there is more a sense of ennui about the whole thing. So higher highs with a lower foundation makes things even out.

Legion of Super-Heroes #7 bucks the trend a little bit. I liked this issue a bit more now than I did then. I think the high points, basically the scenes I comment on here, are numerous. And when you put that many memorable or powerful moments together in one issue, it has to get bumped up. In particular, the shuffling of the roster so we see lots of teammates pitching in is welcomed. And the added characterization to the new Legionnaires is welcomed. 

Lastly and as always, Francis Portela's art is just dreamy dreamy! So onto the book.

Legion of Super-Heroes #7 continued the trend of good but not great issues for this title. As a longtime Legion fan I keep waiting ... hoping ... the be blown away by a story arc. I love the characters and love the setting. But it has been a while since I put the book down and said 'wow'.

Whether it is the Durlan infiltration arc, or the Blue Flame/LSV arc, or the initial Dominator arc in this renumbered title, nothing has been fantastic. In particular, the Blue Flame/LSV arc was muddy and ended with a sort of whimper. And while the other arcs have been fine, I just want so much more from the Legion.

One thing I will say is that long time writer Paul Levitz really does a good job of rotating the cast so we get to see a lot of the Legionnaires frequently; no one feels neglected. And it looks like the first arc was a sort of prologue to a massive Dominator storyline coming up. Maybe that'll be the 'knock my socks off' arc I need.

And I absolutely love Francis Portela's art on the book. Maybe that is part of my problem. Portela's art is so slick, I just want a spectacular story to go along with it.

This issue is the second part of a 2 part mission in China where an industrial disaster is linked to an uprising of a cult/gang determined to take over the country.

The gang storyline has a nice personal wrinkle to it as Dragonwing's estranged sister is on the gang's roster. It looks as though there is little love lost between the two siblings.

I have come to like Dragonwing more and more. She seems the most committed of the new recruits, the one who takes the responsibility the most seriously ... probably born from these troublesome beginnings. Here I like that she uses plain old hand-to-hand combat techniques to fight her foes, praising her Legion training.

And stealing fire from the imperial horde? Sounds almost Iron Fist/ Shou-Lao like.

I know I praised Levitz' ability to juggle the huge roster of characters earlier this very post. But in this issue, these breakaways tended to distract from the main story on China.

Here, Mon-El and Brainy agree to hold a new election for Legion Leader. Will this be a reader poll again? Mon-El never really gelled as leader what with the Green Lantern ring subplot.

And we catch up a bit with the Dominator threat which sounds like a doozy! They have perfected the genetic splicing of Daxamite genes into their DNA, giving them all the powers of Daxamites with none of the weaknesses.

We saw what an army of Daxamites can do in the Great Darkness Saga. This isn't going to be pretty! I actually am a little bit amped for this.

The industrial accident at China's sea of fire continues to rage on despite Element Lad and Chemical Kid's attempts to squelch it. So in comes Sun Boy to drain off the power.

I like the fact that Levitz is writing Dirk as extremely powerful. It makes sense and adds some further credence to his superiority complex. Nice panel here by Portela too.

And the disaster was part of the cult uprising, an added bit of chaos.

Again, Levitz has such a command of these characters. The simple 'ridiculous' by Element Lad is perfect. He probably can't understand why people of the same lineage would kill each other ... especially since he has no one else from Trom alive. He would cherish life.

Another thing I liked about this issue was Dream Girl maneuvering the Legion from afar, sending Comet Queen and Harmonia Li to China to pitch in. Levitz always had Dreamy be one of the smartest Legionnaires so seeing her moving the pieces around the chessboard was a welcome site. I wonder if he is setting her up to be leader again, especially since she was leader during the Great Darkness Saga ... she would have the experience to deal with those Dax-ominators.

And Harmonia Li, now clad in a Shiva-like outfit, shows her elemental powers by eliminating the cult's leader, burying him under rock.

And Dragonwing shows her sister who her real family is.

Man, that is some beautiful violence drawn by Portela.

One plot that has been kicking around this book for a while is Chemical Kid learning that being a Legionnaire isn't all fun and games. There is risk and danger. He has seen it first hand in his attempts to use his powers to stem the tide. And he has seen veterans like Chameleon Boy come close to death in combat. Kid was portrayed as a spoiled brat who bought his powers in Adventure Comics. I can't imagine he would want to stay a Legionnaire for long. Or maybe he'll develop PTSD. But either way, with what we know of him I wouldn't make sense for him to continue to head to the front. So I hope Levitz shows him struggling with things away from a missions scenario.

So again, nothing horrifically wrong here. But nothing earth-shattering either.

Maybe the next arc will bring the good stuff we have seen so far and elevate it.

Overall grade: B-

Okay, I like the Sun Boy moment, the Element Lad response, and Harmonia Li in this issue. I didn't recall ever really liking Li so seeing her dispatch this guy was sort of a surprise! I definitely liked it.

I am going to kick up the grade!

Overall grade (2017): B


  1. Hi Anj! I just responded to a man in the LSH Facebook group when he said didn't know why Paul went to the Dominators as villains when the Legion had so many other villains. My response was that Paul was rehashing most villains instead of creating any new threats. I think a lot of people really wanted to see something new with the old Legion and we didn't really get it. if Paul was planning on making Nura the leader again, I see that as a rehash too. Perhaps he was trying to recreate some of the most successful parts of his earlier run?

  2. Saying Levitz wasn't creating new villains isn't exactly fair; we've had blue guy, there's an upcoming gang where they almost even get names and Red Phoenix (who as a transhumanist extremist has a lot of potential).
    It's fair to say they weren't really sticking so mixing in a new take on Dominators was a good direction to head in.