Friday, December 8, 2017

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #12

Paul Levitz, Francis Portela, and Steve Lightle do the creative heavy lifting in Legion of Super-Heroes #12 and with a lineup of talent like that you'd think this issue would be a huge win. On top of that, the issue ends the ongoing 'Dominator super-clone army' plot which has been rather intriguing to me. I was ready for this to be a big win on my reread.

Unfortunately, the plot points that were bothersome to me on first read are just a bit more grating now. This storyline is end far too quickly. A lot of dominos need to fall just the right way for the Legion to win. And even then, it is only a win because the Dominators pull the plug. And that just weakens the earlier chapters. I can't help but wonder about that #12 in the corner. Was Levitz told to wrap things up in 6 issues to fit a trade treatment? Because one more issue to flesh things out I think would have helped this a ton.

As usual Francis Portela does a great job on art here. His pages sizzle. All-pro pinch hitter Tom Derenick fills in on some pages. Derenick is fine if ordinary. And his pages just can't compare to Portela's giving this an unfinished feel as well.

On to the old review as well as some notes afterwards.

Legion of Super-Heroes #12 came out last week, the finale of the Dominator Super-clone storyline. I have to say the title has somewhat rallied for me over this arc, bringing back some older characters, highlighting the personalities of the members, and always falling back on the Legion being more like a family than a group of super-powered individuals. Those elements have often overshadowed the main plot of the Dominators trying to clone a sort of Amazo-like army of Legion/Daxam/Dominator soldiers. But overshadow in a good way.

Add to that the stunning internal art of Francis Portela and the throwback slick Steve Lightle covers and it has been more of a win for this book recently.

And this issue had more of the same. We see the resilience of Dream Girl, the leadership and strength of Mon-El, the grit of Star Boy. And they all have their parts to play in a victory. Thanks goodness for all this great characterization because some of the plot points are a little iffy.

Still, overall this book has moved steadily upwards in my mind over the last half year or so and this issue continued that momentum, even if it was a smaller step forward than the prior ones.

The trapped Legionnaires of Brainy and Dream Girl as well as the rescue squad of Duplicate Damsel, Bouncing Boy, Star Boy, and some recruits have been betrayed by Comet Queen. Surprisingly, rather than gather the genomes of these new Legionnaires, the Dominators decide to eat them instead.

Seems a little off for the Dominion. Heck, grabbing Duplicate Damsel alone would make sense. Then, in essence, you only need to make one clone that can copy itself. So I thought that seemed off.

Still, it is great to see Dream Girl continue to be more than a seer and a pretty face. Here she escapes from her shackles and frees the other prisoners. Levitz has really made her tough and a leader under that shiny exterior.

And, as I said last issue, I have loved the way he has treated Duplicate Damsel in the book as well. She has been fierce and unyielding, unwilling to leave anyone behind. In this mission on the Dominion homeworld she has impressed me the most.

This panel, in particular, struck home the point. She is an army of one, willing to fight the whole Dominion military if need be.

While skirmishing with the 'red shirts' of the Dominator infantry, the Legion realizes that things have gotten much worse. The one of the long teased at super-powered clones emerges from his birthing matrix. Funny, it seems only to have Daxamite powers. For some reason I thought other DNA had been collected.

I did think it was a nice touch to have it look like the Daxamite Dominator sympathizer Res-Vir who started this whole thing back in the Panoptes story in LSH #1. Nice continuity there.

But being fresh from the 'womb', the clone isn't fully juiced yet. Brainy quickly realizes that Star Boy can overcome the clone's powers with tremendous mass. Remember Thom isn't really whole himself and is unsure if he can do it until Dreamy inspires him.

Again, a nice touch of characterization. Thom loved Nura enough to go after her. She loves him so much that her love can spur him to new heights.

Of course, this goes against my 'I am dumping you for Brainy' anticipated Dream Girl plot.

As for the other Legionnaires, they are trying to figure out how to convince the UP to let them go into Dominator space to help. Mon-El has a brainstorm and has Sensor Girl use her powers to show the council the battle raging.

Of course, the UP rightly states that part of Sensor Girl's powers are illusions. How can they know this is true. Mon-El tells them that is enough evidence even if they don't believe it and takes off with Ultra Boy.

So, it is a nice use of Sensor Girl who has been a bit missing from the book. And a great move by Mon-El.  I liked that. But if Mon-El was going to go in regardless of what the UP thought about it ... why not just go in before this? I just think the whole UP holding up the rescue has felt off given the Dominators wormholing their starfleet into Panoptes space. What more proof do you need that you are indeed at war?

While the big guns are on their way, the Legion rescue squad continues to mop up the foot soldiers. Realizing that more super-clones could hatch, Bouncing Boy slams into the techno-organic tree they are in, knocking it down.

This is another one of those moments I have to roll with. I like Bouncing Boy. And seeing him pinball of Dominator troops, knocking them down, was great. And giving him a nice moment is also great. But, he doesn't have super-strength or speed. I don't know if I would think he could level this thing. So great characterization and a nice moment ... but maybe overboard?

In what I thought was the weakest moment of the book, the chief Dominator basically pulls the plug on the whole 'super-clone' idea, literally eating the head scientist and deciding to rely on the old ways, the warrior caste.

Seriously, if the Dominion had good handcuffs, this plan would have worked! They were 2 minutes away from having a Daxamite cadre. And because a million things had to fall the Legion way, they aren't going to pursue this? I don't know ... this all seemed too fast.

But the book ends on a nice high note. Mon-El and Jo show up and basically mop the floor with the Dominators, breaking everything up, knocking out the super-clone, and raising hell.

I love the awe on Otako's face as she sees these two in action for the first time. It must be something to behold your heroes up close. It is this sort of feeling that makes the Legion the Legion. It was good to see this low-powered squad basically save the day, letting the powerhouses just do the property damage.

Of course, there is still the sour note of why Comet Queen went rogue. Any ideas out there?

So overall, a winner of an issue for showing the Legion at it's best, rallying around each other, using their unique powers in winning combinations, and striving for justice. And that's really what I want out of this book. These things were enough to gloss over the rough spots of the plot.

We know the Fatal Five are right around the corner too!

Overall grade: B+/B

Okay, the wins here are Dreamy, Duplicate Damsel, and Mon-El showing some guts in defying the UP. The lows are Bouncing Boy destroying a huge structure, Dominators eating super-powered recruits they could harvest powers from, the unclear betrayal of Comet Queen, and the Dominators giving up on the idea of super-clones because of this setback. That is idiotic. As I said in the review, if Dreamy was secured in a good set of handcuffs or even sedated, none of this would happen and the Dominators might win the whole shooting match.

In the end, the highs (I love Luornu in this book) just aren't high enough. The new grade would be a C.


  1. Weird aside, but I swear the line "If you dream it, you can do it" is from a Sherman Brothers song.

    And I remember the Comet Queen reveal being one of the few twists that really worked for me & surprised me in this run. I won't spoil it.

  2. Hi Anj. You definitely realized there is a lot wrong with this issue and the nostalgia ride isn't carrying the book anymore. At this point, the series was only around 24,000 copies. I think editorial was starting to take note that trying to reunite Levitz with more classic versions of his characters with Lightle covers was not enough to sustain sales on the book.

    Paul's love of Dream Girl is one of the things that holds him back as a writer. It had to be her who freed herself from the shackles, didn't it? He was grooming her up to be leader in the next election.

    When Brainy tells Mwindai to find his belt, he says, "Not now." Why? Next page the Dom-Dax is punching a table used as a makeshift shield. Something is missing there and we see Bouncing Boy taking off for no particular reason. I think you hit the nail on the head with the #12. I think Editorial realized Paul was taking too long to tell the story, and started cutting up the issue. Next page of Portela shows Mwindaji crashing into a table. Brainy is missing from the shot where the Legionnaires are surrounded. He's back in the group when Mon-El joins the fight, but Brainy now has his Force Field Belt! I feel like there were scenes missing that may have showcased Mwindaji a bit more and what he is capable of because he is seen throwing one of the larger Dominator creations to the ground with ease. So yeah, I think there was some heavy editorial influence which made the plot very poor.

    Otaki showed a bit more promise here but this was to be her and Mwindaji's last appearances. We don't even see them in the final Fatal Five battles!

    Also, a minor annoyance, if Sensor Girl's dual identity is now known, why the mask?

    And lastly, we have the team of Jo and/or Mon, swooping in to save the day. This tired, old Levitz trick that has been used multiple times throughout this volume. Paul was definitely out of steam because he couldn't create stories where there wasn't some deus ex machina, instead of allowing the characters to resolve problems on their own.

  3. Did we ever find out WHY Comet Queen betrayed the Legion? IIRC, she disappeared after this issue. No explanations, no resolutions--she was just gone.

    1. No formal resolution. They assumed it to be a suggestion left by Saturn Queen by it seems odd that it triggered then. I would have thought there would have been other times it could have triggered.