Friday, January 5, 2018

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #15

It is hard for me to believe but this set of Legion reviews will be ending in about 2 months. This title is reaching a turning point in the creative team and then will enter a decaying orbit into it's ultimate cancellation. Incredibly, there hasn't been a monthly Legion title since this one ended in 2013. Insanity.

But that said, in re-reviewing this series, I am not surprised.  This book was filled with ups and downs. And Legion of Super-Heroes #15 is a great example of that. This is basically a done-in-one adventure with the new Legionnaire Glorith. I thought Glorith would eventually become ... well.. Glorith the super-villain. Or maybe a new Time Trapper. It never happened. But, as I have said in prior reviews, this book just doesn't have the traction to be doing rest issues or side adventures every 3-4 months. I needed this book to be a Legion book in the classic sense. We just don't get there.

Writer Paul Levitz just seems to be treading water here. And that is a shame. There are the usual glimmers of brilliance and some good characterization. But there just hasn't been the sort of engaging storylines in this series to keep me invested.

This issue also is the last issue for artist Francis Portela and that is also a blow for the book. Portela's art has been brilliant. 

We'll have one more issue with Levitz and then it is onto Keith Giffen's insane ending run. And then ... well ... we're still waiting.

Onto this book and my old review.

I have been a bit rough on Legion of Super-Heroes lately. I have said that the issues are tired and forgettable and that the book itself seems meandering. All of that may be changing soon as an interview on Newsarama with Keith Giffen discusses a 'revamp' not a 'reboot' of the Legion including a couple of characters simply not making it. That interview is here and worth reading.

Now there are a couple of issues to go before Giffen comes on and that includes Legion of Super-Heroes #15 which came out this week. It amazes me just what great art will do to a comic. Because this issue feels very much like a place holder issue, treading water before the upcoming big Fatal Five arc. And, as is usual, there are some nice character moments here. If there is one thing you can count on from writer Paul Levitz it is great characterization.

And yet, despite the same complaints, I enjoyed this issue more than the last few. And I think that a lot of that probably has to be because of Francis Portela's wonderful art here. Because in the end, this is simply another 'rest issue' focused on Glorith, with little forward momentum. The shame here is that Portela is off the book once Giffen comes on board.

The issue starts with Glorith being awakened by a ghostly voice, luring her into some teleporting gate, and sending her to Barcelona where all times seem to have merged. She is immediately cornered by an inquisition like mob which is already erecting a stake upon which to burn her.

Now us old timers will know about a strong connection between another character named Glorith and the Time Trapper. So when this one hears a voice and gets sent into a temporal maelstrom ... well ... the Trapper can't be far behind.

But given the upcoming Fatal Five arc, he is probably 7-9 issues away.

While the Legionnaires first debate why Glorith is missing, they realize that the time-ripped Barcelona is an active issue, one which probably has to do with Glorith. A squad is sent off including some big guns, Mon-El and Ultra Boy.

This is half of a 2 page spread showcasing just how beautiful Portela's stuff is.

Interestingly enough, the rest of the squad includes the other Legion 'rookies' and Brainiac Five.

While I like the fact that the rookies are bonding and looking out for each other (like Glorith) I find it hard to believe that Harmonia Li would hang out with them. Isn't she supposed to be some ancient all-wise one? Would she really hang out with the most adolescent of the Legionnaires. She seems to have the best relationship with Brainy.

Now you can see that maybe it is a strained relationship. She has a bit of a cutting comment about Chemical Kid here, teasing him about his life while praising Brainiac 5's ability to read a situation analytically.

Pretty quickly it is discovered that the 'eye' of this time storm is Glorith, further pushing my Time Trapper theory forward.

I loved this moment where Glorith, unable to perform any spells given her predicament, instead realizes her flight ring can help her. There is a nice moment immediately before this where she calls herself a Legionnaire and can act like one. It is sort of a coming-out party for her as she accepts her place on the team.

Another nice scene was this side one where Chameleon Boy invites Vi and Ayla to his room to discuss the team's inability to find the Fatal Five.

Vi is relatively prickly about the whole thing but consistent with her character. Cham seems to think something is blocking them. Now I will remind you all that in the last Legion Annual back in early 2011 it seemed as if Vi absorbed the Emerald Energy. Is she unknowingly sabotaging the search?

And I love Portela's Five here. Looks like the new Tharok isn't half-robot. And no Mano. And no Persuader mask. But still, pretty slick.

Meanwhile in Barcelona, Ultra Boy is having a blast taking out dinosaurs and World War 2 era military tanks. He clearly enjoys his job.

But as great as that panel is, I love the exasperated Brainy who seems exasperated that Ultra Boy is having fun with this. I think Brainy is one of the strongest and most well-rounded characters in the book.

It all comes to a calm end when Harmonia Li advises Glorith to do a reverse-protection spell, shielding the world from her rather than the other way around. Without Glorith's presence, the time anomalies melt away.

It is another quick adventure hinting at a larger mystery. And the Fatal Five storyline sort of simmered rather than boiled. And this issue will be put aside and probably forgotten.

Oh, but that art is so good.  Maybe I'll remember this one a little more.

The bigger question on my mind is which Legionnaire isn't going to survive the Fatal Five arc?

Overall grade: B- (kicked up a notch by art)

1 comment:

  1. I wasn't quite happy with VI's comment. I guess without Dawnstar Levitz needed to find someone else to be the team sourpuss. Glorith was clearly the least developed of the newbies so I can see the the purpose of a spotlight issue. I feel that Levitz must forget what he's doing on each page because Mon tells Cos to take a break, he'll handle monitor duty then next page he's flying off into action. Somwho is on monitor duty now? In fact, some of the dialog seemed off to me in this issue.

    I did like how Harmonia saved the day here.

    I feel everything with Glorith is a red herring though. When Claremont created Madelyne Pryor, he had no intention of making her a clone or anything with Jean Grey. That's what I feel here.