Friday, September 7, 2018

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #7

Since beginning this review series of the Retroboot book, I have been wondering when it is going to go off the rails. I knew in my heart I overall didn't love this book. I knew I definitely didn't like the New 52 series which was basically a continuation. And yet in these early issues, I have been surprised by how much I liked what I was seeing.

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #7 might be the issue where the flaws are starting to show. It isn't as if the plots aren't moving forward. But there was a lot of padding here.  It isn't as if the characterization is too far off. But there are a couple of scenes here which just read odd for the characters I have grown up with. And it isn't as if the art isn't right. The book contains two stories, one by Yildiray Cinar and the other by Francis Portela. And both are lovely.

But this was the first issue where I felt I only needed 5 pages to get across what was said in 22.

Maybe the cracks are starting to show.

On to the book.

The book opens with a Legion squad comprised of Cos, Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf, and Tyroc heading to a murder scene. A UP official has been killed. The Legion had been put on guard duty by SciPo Chief Zendak. There were officers in the building. But somehow he has been murdered.

It is strange because at first the officers outside the room try to stop the team from getting in. Is that procedure? Left over hate from the Earth Man regime? Or excuse to put in a couple of pages of the Legion fighting cops?

Anyways, Zendak isn't pleased.

We as readers know that Zendak is actually a Durlan in disguise.

So I wonder how long it will take the Legion to figure out that the only 'person' near the official at the time of his death was Zendak.

It is very good to see Tyroc back in the fold.

Levitz I guess is trying to punch up his powers to give him something more than a 'Canary Cry'. So somehow he is able to use 'ultrasonics' to bring up an afterimage of the official getting his heart ripped apart from the inside.

I don't know if I quite buy it. But there it is.

And this is going to be a tough case to solve. In this universe of people who can shrink to microscopic size, shape-changing races, teleporters, and telekinetics, I can bring up a dozen races who could kill someone from the inside out and from a distance.

Meanwhile, in the Legion HQ, Sun Boy and Polar Boy wonder if Dirk should run for leader. After all, he has charisma and usually that is all it takes to win.

It is a funny exchange for long time readers for a number of reasons. One, Dirk was the leader of the Legion during the Dominator takeover in the 5YL book. We know how awful that was. And two, Polar Boy talks about his tenure as leader as a success which makes me think he isn't aware that his term is looked at terribly. No self-awareness there.

But this part of the scene I didn't like. Dream Girl sits on the back of the couch, all leg and smoldering looks. Sun Boy takes it as a possible pass at him so tries to stroke her hair. She slaps his hand saying that he can never touch her hair and storms off.

That whole thing, from both sides, felt a little icky.

To continue the weird romantic and gender politics, we see Earth Man confront Mon-El wanting to know about Lar and Shady's relationship. We never hear exactly what he wants to know but Mon-El says he isn't going to say anything.

Then, like a neanderthal, Earth Man says he'll beat the information out of Mon. This leads to a very brief fight where Mon throws Earth Man into deep space.

Still, two men fighting over a woman. Earth Man wanting details of her past relationship from the ex and not from Shady herself. It all felt like a schoolyard fight between adolescent boys. Not heroes.

Maybe this is to remind me that Earth Man is a backwards jerk?

While we don't know that the dead UP official Alb Razma was from Winath, we are informed he has a twin who may be targeted as well. Timber Wolf picks up the whiff of a particular incense in the twin's vicinity, a scent that only Durlans like.

Now aware of their possible enemies, the Legion spies a flock of birds who turn out to be shape-shifters. A brawl ensues. It is a decent battle sequence with the Durlans changing form frequently, including turning into a duplicate Timber Wolf at one point.

Finally a Canary Cry from Tyroc blasts all the assassins away except the one Jo has choked out.

Now the Legion knows there is a Durlan conspiracy afoot.

Still, I have to question this tactic by the Durlans and maybe this will be explained. If they are trying to slowly insinuate themselves into society, why murder the first official so brazenly? Why not replace him? Or cause a stroke and make it look more natural? If they are trying to be stealthy, why reveal themselves and try to overpower the Legion here? Why not fly away as the birds and attack later in some different form?

It just seems the Durlans tipped their hand a little early here. It is too quick. And it reminded me of how quickly Earth Man changed his tune as well.

At least we learn that for the most part, Durlans stay on their home planet. It is odd for them to be on Earth. So is this Durlan faction a sanctioned plot by the planet's government? Or a rogue operation.

It is chilling to see Cos shake Zendak's hand since we know about the duplicate Chief. Still, Cos has known Zendak for years. Can this Durlan pull off all his mannerisms? Speech patterns?

Since the Legion knows that there are Durlans about and since Zendak was alone with the official, shouldn't Cos be suspicious?

Finally we get another sort of cringe worthy scene.

Earth Man drags himself back to the Legion HQ. Shady calms him by saying he 'won' what was matters. Does that mean she is saying he won her? Like she's a prize? That she isn't upset that he fought Mon-El? This seems like very very off-putting behavior from Shady who has always been a very independent and progressive woman on the team.

Thankfully the scene is cut short by Dyogene showing up again.

The second story is just lushly drawn by Francis Portela. I know I say it every month. But his stuff crackles.

Brainy tries an experiment with a Time Bubble on Earth only to have it explode in his face. Cham arrives and they decide they need to head to Naltor to investigate something. Flying into the planet's atmosphere, their ship almost gets crashed into by another cruiser. They have to have an emergency landing.

Okay, the art is great. But those were basically wasted pages. The real purpose is what we learn on the planet. We could have opened the story on Naltor with one word balloon saying the team was there for a mission.

On the planet, the high seer tells Cham he sees a future where the Legion is attacking Reep. Given that we saw a Durlan try to impersonate Timber Wolf earlier and how they have replaced officials, my guess is the vision is actually of another Durlan. But decent hook.

But Brainy is really there to talk to Harmonia Li.

He finally calls her on recent events. She has been at the epicenter of a lot of big things recently. She has always escaped unharmed and in the best of positions. She rejected a Green Lantern ring. And she is old. Who the heck is she?

But we knew all that. So why did this story need to happen over so many pages? At least it looks like we'll be getting an origin story soon!

So overall this was a decent issue. The Durlan cabal has taken plot line slot A. We get new powers from Tyroc. And we get a little nudge in the Harmonia Li story.

But the odd gender dynamic scenes, Shady and Dreamy's weird behaviors, the padded stories, and the rapid progression of a Durlan stealth mission all detracted from the book.

Overall grade: C


  1. I didn't quite understand that new application of Tyroc's power either, but I was glad to see him featured.

    To me Dirk and Nura have always been the two overt flirts of the team, and with their long history together, I assumed they had a mutual respect and admiration for one another, with an occasional playful back & forth. I remember thinking during my initial reading of this issue that something must have been up with Dream Girl for her to react so violently to an old friend's harmless pass.

    And I loved seeing Mon-El fling Earth Man into space.

  2. The Durlans should have read Marvel’s “Secret Invasion” for some Skrull takeover strategy!

  3. Thanks for comments!

    Yeah, I think Nura's response felt like an over-reaction. We have seen her vamp for decades!

    And yes, maybe the Skrulls long play would have been a better strategy.

  4. I agree that this issue had some unnecessary padding, but that's to be expected when an author tries to adapt his 30 year-old writing method (aka The Levitz Grid) to fit in with the current trend of decompressed (aka "writing for the trade") storytelling.

  5. Sorry I'm late in my re-read here. A couple things bother me. Finally we get to see a little bit of Brek even though it's not action oriented. Aside from the 2 pages devoted to talking about leadership (it really becomes filler) the main plots here focus on 8 male Legionnaires, Shady makes an appears just to hug her new boyfriend and Harmonia is just a supporting character. The females seem to be generally removed from action.

    I think the melodrama with Mon-El was unnecessary but it served the point for him to leave the team. Again, Levitz just being heavy handed to get from A to B.

    Tyroc is a bright spot here for me. I think use of his sonic for a type of postcognition was different. I don't know if Levitz intended this but Troy almost feels like a version of a mythical banshee with his screaming, but instead of foretelling a death, it's revealing a death.