Friday, June 14, 2019

Review: Adventure Comics #506 *revised*

(In my initial version of this review, I accidentally credited Paul Levitz with writing this story. It is written by Michael Shoemaker. This is a terrible mistake on my part and I have no excuse. More importantly, Shoemaker's ability to write these characters this well, with both a look back and to the future is impressive. After all, I mistook him for Paul Levitz.

Apologies to Mr. Shoemaker.)

Adventure Comics #506 continued the run of Legion as the 'second feature' in the book. In essence, this book was Superboy and The Legion of Super-Heroes. That smacks of history although the two properties don't interact.

This was an interesting time for the Legion as Geoff Johns reinsertion of the classic Legion timeline meant readers need to shrug off all the reboots and party like it was 1989. As a result, this back-up series has a couple of tall orders to fill.

One, it needs to provide solid stories for old-school Legion fans who want to pick up where things left off.

Two, it has to introduce the personalities and history of this timeline to new Legion readers who are used to ThreeBoot and Reboot timelines.

It can't be an easy task. Heck, it is that trying to please everyone that (I think) is the reason a Legion book isn't on the shelves now!

'Running Hot and Cold" was written by Michael Shoemaker with art by Clayton Henry. It is a buddy cop story with Sun Boy and Polar Boy, great foils for each from a power perspective. I also think this was something of a reclamation project for Levitz, giving Polar Boy a little more of a serious edge than we saw in the Johns story. Ultimately, these two become good friends in the New 52 era.

We start on Tharr, Polar Boy's home planet, so brutally hot that native Tharrians, like Polar Boy, have cold powers.

In a bit of a turn, Levitz makes it less of a 'so hot no one can live there' planet to a more hedonistic tropical paradise. We see swimming pools and scantily clad young partyers everywhere.

Unfortunately, Polar Boy is a joke to the locals, the Legion Sub.

That doesn't stop Sun Boy from trying his charm on a couple of bathing beauties.

He lays on the charm and uses one of his best lines, that he makes things hot, to try to lure them in.

But on Tharr, the last thing people want is for things to be hotter, even metaphorically.

They rebuff his advances.

We then get to the actual purpose of their visit here.

Cryo-King, a cold powered Tharrian, has been trying to join the Legion of Super-Villains without much success. He has bombed and frozen United Planet allies in hopes of joining ... but without success.

Can you see the similarities between Cryo-King and Polar Boy? Both from Tharr. Both rejected from Legions. Both working (or worked) to get into the good graces of the big leagues.

Sun Boy's intel was sound as they run into Cryo-King at the very resort they are at. The chase is on, leading into Tharr's core.

It turns out, in a new bit of Legion knowledge for me, that Tharr's planetary core is very cold while the surface is very hot.

It is small details like that which enrich the Legion continuity.

As the heroes and villains skirmish, Polar Boy acts relatively vicious.

He finally admits that Cryo-King being a sort of reflection of his life has been jarring. No matter what Polar Boy seems to accomplish, he is still teased for being a Sub.

Finally, he confronts Cryo-King and voices his own frustration. Polar Boy was rejected, but then he worked really hard to get into the Legion. He did it the right way.

Polar Boy and Sun Boy combine their powers to bash the villain, ending the threat.

Realizing that Polar Boy has opened up a bit, Sun Boy gives his friend the respect that Brek deserves.

Polar Boy took the high road. He didn't take things personally when the Legion rejected him; instead he used that as positive motivation. And even though his tenure as leader is viewed badly, Sun Boy tells Polar Boy that he was a good leader. He loved the team and the job.

This sort of  personal revelation of how his history is still a sore point is a good character point for Polar Boy. And it elevates him a bit from the joke driving the little yellow bus we saw in Johns' story.

But just like last issue ended with a cliffhanger, Levitz ends this one with another decent crumb. Cryo-King had an ancient map on him, one of 21st century Earth. And he hints that an LSV Espionage Squad exists.

What would they be doing in the past?

I like Clayton Henry's art throughout here. There is sort of early 2000s house style here, similar to RB Silva and Daniel Sampere. And this side mission, showcasing a couple of the Legionnaires and expanding the universe for new readers, was a good little story.

I don't think Cryo-King has been seen since.


  1. The art was great, the buddy trip was fantastic, and Sun Boy giving Polar Boy the respect he's always deserved (Brek is one of my 5 favorite Legionnaires ever) made my day when I first read this. Especially the part about him being one of the better leaders.

  2. I have mixed feelings on the new Levitz run. I like that he tried to bring characterization back and give some depth to the characters, but some of the characterizations just seem off. I can understand Polar Boy's insecurities. His time with the Subs had both successes and setbacks. And his tenure as Legion leader was tumultuous. But the portrayal Sun Boy as dumb seems off. Why would someone who has been to the 20th and 21st century numerous times.

    And this isn't the Legions first mission to Tharr, there are several other legionnaires who would have been just fine with the heat.

    1. ^... not recognize paper?

      Sorry - somehow part of that sentence got cut off.