Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Supergirl and The Legion #30 (plus Countdown #49)

Over the past year, I've read every Legion of Super-Heroes comic book story from Adventure #247 to this current Waid/Kitson incarnation. I've joyously experienced the brilliance of Bizarro Computo and the death of Proty. I've thrilled at the introduction of the Fatal Five. I've gasped at the secret identity of the Time Trapper (he's a rogue Controller--no, wait, he's Cosmic Boy from the future--no wait, he's Glorith?!?). I've endured the shopping sprees of Monstress. I've eagerly devoured the mystery of the lost Legionnaires. And now I've read the ultimate defeat of the Dominators and the introduction of the Knights Tempus. So, now that the Waid era has ended, what is my final verdict?

It was pretty good.

Although the ending was kind of strange.

It was strange because the previous issue, Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #29, guest-written by Tony Bedard, didn't feel like the climax of the story, yet this week's issue was obviously the resolution. I wonder what happened. Did Waid write a version of issue #29? It was solicited as a Waid issue, and we were all surprised to see, instead, a Dominator-centric issue. Issue #28 had ended with the Legionnaires invading the Dominators homeworld, issue #29 was backstory on the Dominators, and now, with issue #30 it's all over? What happened?

"We've won the war," says Lightning Lad. "...every one of the Dominators' sciencities has been crippled."

Really? When did that happen? Between issues, I guess. That's strange, right? It's a violation of creative writing rule #1: show, don't tell. And I guess that's been my problem with this whole Waid reboot. I've enjoyed it. I like a lot of Waid's conceptual changes. Kitson's art has been excellent. But, all 30 issues have seemed a bit "tell-heavy" and not showy enough. Characters constantly talk about their plans, then we find out about things that have happened. This wasn't just the problem with the final few issues--it's felt that way pretty much the whole time. And that's too bad.

Waid did include some great moments in his final issue, though (assuming it is, in fact, his final issue). The death of Mon-El was handled well, even though the resonance of that first image on page 1 depends more upon readers' previous affection for the character than anything Waid did to establish Mon-El in this series. Anyone who hadn't read a Legion issue before picking up this new series would probably care very little about Mon-El's sacrifice. He hadn't done much in his few appearances since his escape from the Phantom Zone. But for all of us old Legion fans, that statue is a powerful image.

I also liked Cosmic Boy's approach to outwitting Mekt Ranzz. That was a bit of genius.

And, then, of course, we have the Knights Tempus, whose appearance in the story (and exposition--look, kids, more telling!) gives the rise-and-fall-and-super-awesome-rise-of-Cosmic-Boy storyline the final exclamation point it needed. And it was a pretty cool moment. I just hope we see more of the Knights Tempus. This incarnation of the Legion could always use more time travel goodness.

I'm curious to see where Bedard (and future Legion writers) take this version of the team. I hope we get to see a wider variety of threats (and threat levels), and a bit more emphasis on some of the other characters on the team. I hope we get a bit more action and fun and mystery and thrills and just good-old comic book storytelling. In the future. With time travel. And Bizarro robots.

Besides Waid's farewell issue, we got a bit more Legion goodness this week in Countdown #49. Unlike the mass of internet opinions, I like what I've seen in the first three issues of Countdown. It definitely has potential, and since it's not limited by the "real time" conceit of 52, it could develop into a stronger long-term narrative. The idea of using the Monitors as continuity cops is a great one, especially since it allows DC to acknowledge the inconsistencies within its titles and not only provide a way to fix the problems, but open up so many great storytelling possibilities (some of which involving the Legion) like we've been seeing in the recent JLA/JSA crossover. According to Countdown #49, Nightwing, Supergirl, the Levitz-era KARATE KID, and THE (current incarnation of the?) LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES are "loose ends left by the last Crisis." The rogue Monitor implies that these characters should not exist. Does this open the door for a new Legion reboot? What Legion is supposed to exist in the future of New Earth? (And is some of the inherent coolness of the Legion related to the fact that it takes place in the future of the DC Universe? What if the Legion is just an alternate reality super-team? Does that diminish its potential quality? Readers, tell me what you think!) But Countdown #49 wasn't just a good issue because of its potential (and interesting continuity questions)--it was good because it reintroduced Elastic Lad (yes!) and included some nice banter between Red Arrow and Karate Kid.

By the way, this Countdown issue was written by the very same Tony Bedard who's taking over the Legion for the next few months. That seems to open up even more possibilities, doesn't it? Elastic Lad + old-school Karate Kid + the new Legion vs. the Monitors seems like a good time to me. How about you?

4 comments:

Ultimate Matt said...

Just ordered your book from Amazon!

Timothy Callahan said...

Enjoy!

Ultimate Matt said...

Are you going to be reviewing/commenting at all on The Lightning Saga? I ask because I'm getting the sense that it's very much written for old-school fans who will get all the references - I feel very lost reading it, and not in a good way.

Timothy Callahan said...

Sure! As soon as I get my new issue of JSA (which has been delayed at my shop until Friday), I'll post something on the Lightning Saga. Good plan.

Also, and this doesn't help you AT ALL, comic book scholar Geoff Klock is writing an in-depth analysis of The Lightning Saga for my next book project, due out in April of 2008. So, in about a year, you'll learn everything you needed to know. But I'll tide you over until then.