Friday, November 24, 2017

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #10

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate. But let's skip the chit chat and talk turkey. New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #10 continued to move the mega-plot of the Dominators plot to overrun the UP nicely. We have seen the Dominators using gene technology to engineer super-powered troops. We know they are close to realizing their goals. Now we see the UP side of things.

And writer Paul Levitz does a good job here showing us the factions of the team. We see some Legionnaires trying to take matters sneakily into their own hands. We see others quit the team so they don't have to listen to the UP at all. And we see a lot of interplay between Brainy and Dreamy, the couple I never knew I wanted to see together! But the best thing about this is we have an explanation why the UP isn't engaging the Dominion already. This has been a plot hole that has been bugging me and at least it is answered.

The art for the most part is by Francis Portela and I must admit it continues to dazzle. I want to read a Brainy/Dreamy mini-series drawn by him. Andres Guinaldo does some pages which have a less polished look and therefor stick out a bit. 

What amazes me is that I find myself actually getting caught up in the story more on these rereads than I did when it was happening. I honestly have no recollection of how this whole thing ends so it is brand new to me. Knowing that I don't remember it makes me think I will again be disappointed. But we'll see!

On to the old review!

Legion of Super-Heroes #10 came out this week and was another solid issue for this title that seemed to be struggling to find itself for a while there. Writer Paul Levitz has righted the ship a bit by concentrating on the Dominator storyline for the last couple of months. While new plot threads have been introduced and we have checked in on some folks we haven't seen in a while, the main thread is the Dominator plot and that has tightened up the feel of the book tremendously.

It also helps that Levitz knows these characters so well and keeps the characterization solid in between the action pieces. It is the small things with the Legion that make it so wonderful, the interaction between the characters and their stories.

Unfortunately, artist Francis Portela only provides half the art on the book. I feel like Portela would be a mega-star if he was put on a bigger book but I am thrilled he is still here on the Legion (for now). He really has brought a fresh dynamic to the book. It reminds me how dramatically the feel of the book changed when Keith Giffen took over on art so many years ago. The remainder of the art is done by the team of Andres Guinaldo and Dan Green. It has a rougher feel to it, harsher, which mirrored some of the pages they were responsible for.

Between the Legion Lost crew and the kidnapped Brainy and Dream Girl, the team isn't faring too well. While the lost Lost are a mystery, the Legion are all to aware that the Dominators are responsible for the missing Querl and Nura. And with the UP denying them the ability to act, the Legion takes it upon themselves to muster the evidence to spur things along.

Incredibly, it is the usually staid and morally upright Cosmic Boy that takes matters into his own hands, breaking into a Dominator embassy on Earth looking for some information. I like his stealthy all black ninja gear. His plot is nearly foiled and he is almost captured until Ultra Boy scoops him out.

I like Jo's jibe that Cos isn't a spy like the Espionage Squad.

Still, things must be pretty tense for Rokk to do this. That speaks volumes.

As for Brainy and Dream Girl, they have been captured and are in a sort of Dominator prison. It is clear that this is a low security prison for Legionnaires they have ranked low on the power level. It is also obvious that the Dominators have been biopsying them for the genetic code.

Brainy and Dreamy are such a combustible duo. He recognizes she is smart but can be superficially flighty. She says things like 'sweet dreams' to him, I am sure, to get a reaction. I have said for a while that romance is inevitable between these two. I still think that.

While Rokk was breaking and entering, Mon-El was trying to convince the UP to declare war on the Dominion and cut the Legion loose.

One of my complaints last time was that the UP was reluctant to do just that given the Dominator plot on Panoptes and ... oh yeah ... the invasion fleet they sent into UP space. At least here we get a little explanation about their reluctance. The UP tells Mon-El they are outgunned and declaring war is suicide. I guess a bad explanation is still better than none.

Some of the other members aren't happy about the Legion kowtowing to the UP's mandates.

A cadre of Legionnaires and academy members actually quit, going rogue to try to save Brainy and Dreamy.

It is a motley crew. Sure Star Boy is potentially devastating but he is still nursing his injuries and is a bit too emotional about Nura. Bouncing Boy and Triplicate Girl make sense. Luorno has always taken these sort of things extremely personal, most likely born from her losing a body to an enemy. She was part of the cabal to avenge the pocket universe's Superboy as well. She seems fierce. But we aren't talking big guns here. And the academy members are weaker versions of Dawnstar and Saturn Girl. Good skills for this rescue mission but untested and naive folks. And one other member will be named later.

This feels like it has disaster written all over it.

As for the captured members, they have gone through Legion Combat training. They escape the low security cells and raise some havoc before being overwhelmed by the lower caste Dominators. These Dominators lives exist only to serve the higher castes, even if that means suicide missions.

I like this peeling back of the structure of the Dominion in this arc, showing us the uglier bits at the bottom of the social pyramid. Makes it even easier to dislike them.

Finally, Nura gets a vision that help is coming. And someone will betray them.

Look at how she swoons into his arms. I am telling you romance is around the corner.

Now as for the betrayal. It may be that she is seeing a feint, some plot where someone appears to be betraying the Legion.

My guess? That Star Boy quits the Legion after this disastrous mission. He realizes that Dreamy no longer loves him and can't be near her. This quitting of the Legion is a betrayal. Or maybe he is the one who feints, using the Dreamy/Brainy romance as an excuse only to sacrifice himself so they other can escape. Either way, I don't think Thom escapes this arc unscathed.

As for the mystery 'other Legionnaire' ... it's Comet Queen. She, of course, would be willing to follow Bouncing Boy anywhere. But it is hinted she has a key role in their 'plan' so was necessary for something more than her loyalty/infatuation.

Maybe the plan is her faking a betrayal? I hope not. And she better not die either. While she isn't a favorite, she is silly and fun. That is something needed in comics these days.

So lots of progression of the Dominator storyline. We even learn that the super-Dominators are cooking nicely and will be ready shortly. Things are going to come to head and soon. These sort of issues are a welcome change from the meandering sort of rest issues from earlier in this reboot. And there are some mysteries to mull over.

It still isn't giving me the magic of the old days, but this Legion is at least closer to the mark.

Overall grade: B/B+

I think I would keep that grade right there. This is a solid issue looking in at the team writ large. Hooray for the New 52?


  1. "And we see a lot of interplay between Brainy and Dreamy, the couple I never knew I wanted to see together!"

    Traitor. The Kara/Querl Alliance doesn't suffer betrayers!

    *shakes fist*

    Now seriously, good issue, although I'd agree that the fact you barely remember how this plot went down is a bad sign.

  2. Thank you for pointing out Otaki and Mwindaji as being garbage characters. This seriously bothered me. Mwindaji is the Swahili word for Hunter. I was hoping he had some tricks up his sleeve, like being a great fighter or having some other power than tracking. Otaki had ill-defined powers. I gathered she was somewhere on the level of Mentalla. Visually, while I like their costumes, and they were diversity characters, it's another black male and Asian female. Otaki could have been Hispanice, for example, but that would not have helped her suckage. I know I'm jumping ahead slightly but Paul really could have made some more inspired characters. Otaki could literally have any other power and she would have been more interesting.

    While you may have enjoyed a story involving Chuck and Lu, I think this focus on secondary characters probably turned off a lot of new readers. Levitz really didn't have 20+ years of history to tell his stories this team. And more Jo, Rokk and Mon. A lot of the narratives have involved these characters. I feel like this is where Paul was during the Conspiracy storyline from the Baxter series, where he starts focusing on all these small teams and secondary characters. The basic plot of the Dominators is fine, but his execution is not. It just doesn't feel like there are any subplots at all.

    Don't get me wrong, this isn't terrible comics, but it's not great comics. Once again, the art helps elevate the story.