Friday, December 29, 2017

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #14

The last review I wrote about New 52 talked about how I felt the book had taken a turn for the worse. It seems like the 2012 Anj hit that point with Legion of Super-Heroes #14. As I read this issue now, I couldn’t help but question the need for this arc. With a Fatal Fuve brawl about to happen, this side story of Braalian pirates seemed a bit useless. And the only new story bit which came from this was the possibility of Cos losing his powers.

It is a shame because the pages not involving the main story are interesting. Levitz has an understanding of a broad universe. The Comet Queen reveal, the scene with Tinya (a scene I understand more now in these days), even the Brainy stuff builds up the universe. But the Element Lad plot? Kind of a snooze.

The art is by Scott Kolins. An artist whose work I like much more now. But if only Francis Portela was still on the book.

My grade of C- stands. Hopefully, I like the upcoming issues a bit more.

Legion of Super-Heroes #14 came out last week, another issue by the creative team of writer Paul Levitz and artist Scott Kolins. It also felt like another meaningless issue in this book in which few moments have stood out.

As usual, Paul Levitz is able to sprinkle in some crumbs of good characterization and some seeds for future storylines that are inticing. In particular, the upcoming Fatal Five story continues to simmer on the back burner nicely.
But the main story here, this mission where Element Lad and Chemical King fight Braalian pirates seems like a waste of time and space. These are nameless villains who are little more than junk metal thieves. This doesn't seem to have any bearing on any major storylines. So nothing of consequence there. And from the Legion end, Chemical King struggling in his role as a Legionnaire has been seen before, with no new wrinkles were added this time.
Blog friend Dave Mullen says it best and I am going to quote him here. These current Legion stories simply aren't memorable. Indeed, this issue is utterly forgettable.
And Scott Kolin's rough art doesn't help matters. One thing that was memorable from the early issues here was the beautiful art by Francis Portela.

Now Levitz has always shown that he was a master at juggling the large roster of the Legion, making sure we catch sight of each character now and then. But it is clear that he has his favorites and Brainiac 5 is one of them.
Brainy has been central to the last several arcs and even the focus of the zero issue. Here, he is even around to help Element Lad. creating a device that can hone in on unusual magnetic patterns for the Legion to track, presumably leading them to the Braalian base.

Meanwhile, Cosmic Boy, injured last issue, is about to go under the knife for life-saving surgery.
So one of the interesting nuggets in this issue is the discovery that Cos has no ambient magnetism emanating from his body. Hmmm ...
We have seen Rokk lose his powers in the 5YL Legion. Could it be happening again?

And Brainy finally gets to the bottom of Comet Queen's betrayal. Comet Queen was, as many have figured out here, acting under a post-hypnotic suggestion placed by Saturn Queen. Congratulations to all who cracked that mystery!

What is interesting is that the suggestion was specifically to kill Brainy, not undermine the Legion.  Why would Saturn Queen do that? And weren't there easier times for Comet Queen to act on that compulsion? Let's say ... shooting him in the Legion HQ?

Meanwhile, Element Lad and Chemical King struggle against 3 Braalian robbers. Really?
I have seen Element Lad take down a whole planet of raging Daxamites. I have seen him cage Validus. Three petty thieves with magnetic powers take him out? By tossing rubble on him?
Was this brief elimination of Element Lad from the story forced in there to show how nervous Chemical King still is when in combat? I get it ... Chemical King has few skills right now. With Element lad unconscious, the best he can do is hide and hit the distress signal.

The other subplot bubbling away is the reformation of the Fatal Five. Sun Boy and Phantom Girl are sent to a sort of super-villain armory to check on the Persuader's Atomic Axe only to discover the axe is gone. It has been replaced by a hologram.
 Okay, that isn't surprising.
What is surprising is this odd exchange between Tinya and Dirk. He had just touched her on the shoulder to warn her about something when she goes ghost on him. And then says 'no touching unless I ask?'

What the heck does that mean? Is Dirk touching her too much? Does she not like personal contact? Does she, at times, ask Sun Boy to touch her? Is she just being kind of flirty....? Strange for someone so devoted to her beau Ultra Boy. It was odd to read. I hope we hear more about what that means. 

After nursing his head wound and before reinforcements arrive, Element Lad dispatches the villains by turning their oxygen feed into nitrogen. It is done quickly, neatly, easily. Shouldn't this takedown have happened an issue ago? How did these guys last this long against Element Lad and Cosmic Boy? At least we get a brief peek at the rescue team which includes Shadow Lass and Lightning Lass, two characters I haven't seen enough of here.

Anyways, this was 2 issues of watching Brainy examine Comet Queen and Element Lad and Chemical King struggle to stop some pirates. Yes, the small moments are nice but that is like complimenting the garnish after eating a mediocre meal. There was little memorable here. And the Legion deserves bigger and better stories.

And I have never been a big fan of Scott Kolins art. Here it just seems too crude for a futuristic book.

Overall grade: C-


  1. I agree with your Scott Kolins art assessment. It's great in some places, just not the 31st Century. I also fell you on the story drag. Perhaps it's Levitz's attempts to follow the 'modern' trend of decompressed storytelling, and it's throwing off the rhythms of his legendary mix of subplot backburners and main story speed? Just a guess.

    1. Interesting theory. I feel the Dominator was definitely decompressed.

  2. Some thoughts on this one. I'm disappointed if Levitz had intended to retire Cos this way. Cos and Jan should have made short work of the Braalians. I guess he never developed magnetic shields to protect him from projectiles.

    I have always regarded Cos as one of Levitz's favorites this time around but he barely did much except monitor duty. We also get to see his favorite Dream Girl here too and also Mon-El. They should never have had the Legion fan election because Mon as leader was one of the worst developments for stories.

    Regarding Hadru, he appeared to speed up his own metabolism. I wonder if Levitz was going to explore him using his powers like Gazelle?

    The story ends with the cavalry being female Legionnaires who don't get to do much. I imagine many readers would have liked to have seen Night Girl join a battle. Poor Shady, at least she gets one line here but she has been grossly ignored for most of this volume, relegated to training.

    The only character who was slightly redeemed was Tinya, but her characterization did seem odd. In the #0 issue, we saw Tinya floating without flight ring. We see her here, walking on air. Was this a liberty being taken by Kolins or part of a new take on Tinya I wonder? Perhaps Levitz was trying to set some things up that would never see fruition.

  3. That Tinya and Dirk panel also jumped out at me when I read this issue tonight for the first time.

    I had lost interest in this volume of the Legion, but started reading again when Giffen came onboard for the art.