Friday, August 31, 2018

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #6

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #6 is another of those issues that is surprising to me.

It has become something of a mantra of an introduction for these reviews but I find myself enjoying these issues more on this trip through them than when I first read them. I must have been generally displeased because I have never gone back and reread these. Nor do I have any specific memories of the run other than a general dislike. I keep waiting for the series to turn the corner and remind me why it is forgotten in my mind.

I thought for sure this was going to be the issue. I do remember strongly disliking the pairing of Shady and Earth Man. And this cover puts it front and center. Last issue we found them together in bed. Now we have this cover, presumably after that climax (pun intended).

Instead, I found this to be another interesting issue. This one didn't have a true main plot, instead keeping all the subplot balls in the air with some progression. It actually is split into three short stories. The first, 'Acceptance', has full Francis Portela art and is just gorgeous. The second, 'Leadership', is something of a backdoor pilot for the Legion Academy run in the rebooted Adventure Comics. It has standard hyper-detailed Phil Jimenez art. And the last is a single pager with art by Yildiray Cinar announcing an old school Legion Leader election.

On all fronts, writing, art, and even Legion nostalgia, this was a winner.

On to the particulars.

 The subplot about the displaced Titanians continues to be an active one on multiple fronts.

Here, a ship with some of the refugees is trying to slip into a no-fly zone in the Himalayas to visit the graves of their ancestors. The Legion is called in to stop them.

The team leader is Colossal Boy, recruited by his mother Marte. While not President, she is back in EarthGov. Joining him is Phantom Girl and Shadow Lass. Shady is still a bit snippy at Tinya for just phasing into her room last issue, catching her and Earth Man in the act.

The Titanian ship is quickly boarded and sent back to the camps.

The interaction between Shady and PG is solid given their history of friendship. The idea that Titan ancestors are buried in the Himilayas is interesting. I wonder if that is brought back up at some point. And, of course, the art is just gorgeous.

Back in the headquarters, Tinya tries to smooth things over. They are friends and Phantom Girl worries about this new relationship.

But Shady is in control here. She comes from a feudal society, one still dealing with tribes and warriors. She frankly likes that aspect of Earth Man. It is a far cry from Mon-El.

Portela sells Shady's attraction to power with her pose and this angle.

PG says she knows Shady falls hard and she'll be there for her friend.

These inter-team friendships are one of the things I love about the Legion.

Meanwhile, more Titanians are boarding ships in the Painted Desert to be taken to new homes. During this extraction, a rogue ship tries to do a suicide run into the refugees.

Surprisingly, the first Legionnaire to spring into action is Earth Man. Fueled with Timber Wolf power, he flies up and quickly disables the ship. Moreover, he says he is disgusted with the pilot, a xenophobic zealot who declares his loyalty to Earth Man.

It is Brainiac's inner monologue which is most interesting. The idea that a convert is the strongest preacher is so true. But 'morality reinforcement' programs are in Earth Man's ring. A fascinating concept. But also sort of icky.  Mind control.

Later, in the headquarters, lovebirds Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl are on monitor duty. Now Jo was Mon's best friend. So he is just as put off by the Shady/Earth Man tryst as Tinya is.

I love how Portela rips himself off, having Tinya strike the pose Shady was in as she explains to Jo why Shady is attracted to the recent enemy. That is just perfect. Even her expression is sort of mocking.

But it is too cute for Jo to resist: he pulls the chair out from under her, catching her and laying on a big kiss.

That middle panel is just so perfect. I loved this sequence.

The deep kiss is interrupted by another Legion couple.

Finally, we get a Shrinking Violet sighting.

She and Ayla are going away on vacation.

I have to say I love the new outfits, sort of honoring the old but updated.

These two are in my top three favorite Legionnaires, right behind Wildfire. I am glad their relationship was not retconned. 

With the Painted Desert rescue documented and his behavior since joining the Legion exemplary, Earth Man is given a full pardon by the EarthGov. He is free. He no longer needs to be on the Legion for them to babysit.

Colossal Boy's mother explains the politics behind it all. They can't arrest Earth Man, he'd become a martyr. Pardoning him is a symbolic pardoning of all of Earth. It's all in the optics.

I don't know if I agree. Throw him in a dark hole. He was horrible.

Despite being freed, EarthMan isn't going anywhere. He wants to remain on the team. But he wants a standard ring. No more failsafes.

And even if he is rethinking globally hating other races, he can still hate the individual. It is clear he doesn't like Brainy.

So why is he staying? Has he turned over a new leaf for real? Loves Shady that much? Conspiring from within?

This redemption arc would be so better if it simmered rather than boiled.

The second story is complete with lush Jimenez art as I said. Cosmic Boy decides to check in on the Legion Academy applicants, wondering who will make the cut for the big team but also wondering who could die under the Legion flag. They don't lead an easy life.

We get a great splash page showcasing these new characters.

But seeing these young kids and being weary of all the decisions he has had to make, Cos calls for an election. He's had it. His time as leader is up.

 Perhaps the page that got my attention the most in the whole issue is this one.

Sensor Girl can detect this new Karate Kid on the planet, so like her beloved Val. Is this the reality-displaced one we saw in Countdown?? I forget.

But that last image is haunting. I love that Jimenez gave Jeckie back her curly, lush, silver hair. But she still has the original Karate Kid's bloody uniform from his fatal fight with Nemesis Kid? And she even sleeps with it? Ummm ... that is a little weird.

The page is gorgeous and I love that lower half. The stone face sort of evokes Orando and magic.

Last but not least is the one page story with art by Yildiray Cinar asking readers to write in and vote for leader.

I'll say it again. I was pretty pleased with this issue. The art alone made it a great read. But Levitz plots are moving along well.

So when does this series jump the shark??


  1. I don't know. All of the motivations I get from the dialog seem forced. He doesn't like off worlders except blue ones? Maybe this hasn't jumped the shark but it just feel like a waste of half an issue.

    I'm kinda surprised that Cos could fly from Metropolis to Montauk on a flight ring. If fact, how did Gim, Tinya and Tasmia get to Tibet? I know I nitpick a lot but let's not sacrifice the universe here. In fact, everyone seems to be flying with their flight rings really quickly.

    I do like the bit of Cos reflecting back on his mother and Pol. LSH #297 is probably one of my favorite issues of all time. This does help solidify the timeline a bit too.

    I'm not sure what Grava does to make the fire worse. I have often said I'm not really sure what Chuck and Lu teach the kids because it certainly isn't teamwork or how best to use their powers.

    And why is it such a bad time for the Legion? 26 members without Garth and Imra is plenty. With Lar and Brek on Daxam that leaves 24 (why is Brek there anyway?). It's somewhat heavy handed writing. I kinda wish they didn't go back to the reader-elected leader because it would have given us maybe some more pages of a new subplot. Maybe Paul should have started the series with a different Leader than Rokk to begin with. Rokk did not really have a big role in the Action Comics story so Paul could have tried to do something fresh without resorting to the standby Rokk as leader. It's stale. He could have put Gim as leader and had Dirk giving him grief over it. Given the action Gim has gotten in the series, I wonder if Levitz was trying to push for him as leader. Alternatively, Jacques and Vi could have been in the role as we see they were sorely lacking in story the first 6 issues.

  2. The "mind control" rings remind me of Mark Gruenwald's "Squadron Supreme."

  3. If you'll check your long box (LSV storyline, etc), you'll find that stone face is a prevalent motif on Orando.

  4. nice review. The stone face on the page with Jeckie is drawn from early Giffen illustrations of Orando, particularly just before the Great Darkness saga