Monday, October 25, 2021

Who's Who in the Legion #4 EXTRAS

Continuing the series where we spotlight the features that appeared at the beginning of each issue of the mini-series Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes (1988). This time out the series profiled the home planets of the Legionnaires. 

This issue's cover is a fun, thought-provoking illustration by Ty Templeton. On first glance it seems to feature only Blok and some nameless non-Terran. But on closer inspection the alien is modelled after one of those stereo-typical "maps to the stars' Hollywood homes" vendors you may have seen in Los Angeles, or in any of various movies or TV shows. The red cape on the back clearly belongs to Sensor Girl, and I'm going to guess that the purple person on the extreme right is Shadow Lass. And Dawnstar is clearly about to land and put the kibosh on this peddler. 

Still, there's a lot of dead space and this seems like a lot of work for what is basically one joke. It is not my favorite cover from the series. 

The profile feature for this issue is a host of the holotape series, taking a tour of "The Homeworlds of the Legion of Super-Heroes." It is written by Barbara (Randall) Kesel, with art by Paris Cullins and Martin King or Robert Campanella. 

I am not familiar enough with these inkers to be able to tell the difference between them, but if pressed I would guess that somewhere around Naltor, Martin King was replaced by Robert Campanella. Or maybe the installments were not done in alphabetical order, because Durla sure does look a lot like Starhaven. 

I am a fan of Paris Cullins from his work on Blue Beetle but the art or the graphic layout (or both) are not well done this time out. Although some of the profiles, such as Bgtzl and Durla, manage to occupy all of their allotted area, most of the illustrations have waaay too much empty space, with Colu, Talok VIII, and Winath being the worst offenders. Some of them, such as Cargg and Colu, appear to have open spaces for text or something (maybe an overlay?) to be inserted that never was. 

The other profiles...what are we really seeing? It looks like we lost an actual illustration for Matter-Eater Lad at the bottom of his piece, but we do get two people in a hallway....? How is that representative of Bismoll? Braal doesn't feature the monsters that are famously from that planet; instead we get....two men flying, playing Magno-Ball in the air? They don't fly on Braal....

I could go through each of the profiles and make comments on each but I won't; suffice it to say that given the opportunity here editors Mark Waid and Karen Berger fumbled badly. A little bit more of a graphic standard would have been nice. Each portrait should have had a small portrait of the planet itself (such as we get for Earth, Hykraius, Xanthu, and Zoon plus a few others but not for all of them), a scene of the biggest city (telling us what that is would have been nice), and a scene of representative geography. So for Earth's entry we might have gotten the big blue marble pic, a picture of Metropolis, and maybe a picture of the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls. It comes close to what we did get, and is one of the better entries. 

As for the text pieces that accompany these illustrations....they are adequate, but mostly not very note-worthy. For Blok's entry on his home planet Dryad, however, writer Randall-Kesel says that there are other carbon-based life forms out there, searching for a new home. I think Blok would have loved to have known this! 

And for Earth's entry, I never really thought about it before but according to this text,  most of the Terran Legionnaires came from Metropolis?! I always kind of assumed that although they were living IN Metropolis, they were not necessarily OF Metropolis. For example, Wildfire was a college student at Metropolis University when he was transformed. But who said he was actually born and/or raised in Metropolis? By the way, this text forgets Colossal Boy is also from Earth. 

Orando, Projectra's home-world, used to be open to tourists?! I can't imagine that went over very well at all. Even if the tourists considered it one huge Medieval Renaissance Festival, the idea makes me shudder. 

"Open" the pages to see them at Colossal Boy size!

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