Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: Legion of Superheroes #1

As I mentioned in my Legion Lost review, it's pretty clear that DC's hoping the relaunch will boost the status of the Legion. The Legion of Superheroes has the potential to appeal to a pretty broad range of readers. The Green Lantern books have taken on a "space cops" role, but Legion has a more of a Star Trek feel, right down to the diverse characters and relationships. However, Legion is also one of the few franchises to escape the relaunch with their continuity intact, making it a harder sell to would-be fans. Green Lantern and Batman #1 managed to be very new reader friendly, while last week's Legion Lost was downright impenetrable. How did Legion of Superheroes do?

Yes! This is exactly what Legion Lost needed. I always appreciate when writers find a more organic way to convey necessary information, but with a cast as large and complex as Legion's, I think shortcuts like this are the best route. Even with the introduction boxes, I felt a little overwhelmed, and it was nice to be able to flip back a few pages and check on things as I read. I don't mean to imply that this is a particularly accessible book, because it's not, but writer Paul Levitz makes enough of an effort that those with a genuine interest in Legion won't be scared off at the door.

This title appears to pick up directly where the last issue of Legion left off, referencing things like other recent missions and Flashpoint. What is it with Legion and Flashpoint? At the same time, this comic goes out of its way to provide information to the reader, almost as if it was trying to be a Legion encyclopedia. That's not to say there's no story here- this issue mostly consisted of set-up, but there are some nice action scenes and character interactions. I really enjoyed the dialogue between Mon-El and Braniac 5- my favorite Legionnaire- and new to me characters like Dragon Wing and Chemical Kid seem promising. As a big fan of Geoff John's run on JSA, it gave me warm fuzzies to see Thom Kallor back in his time alongside his Dream Girl.

Even during the moments I enjoyed, I almost felt this comic was working against me. I understand that this is set in the future, but I find a lot of the names used in this really offputting. When they're using superhero aliases or nicknames for them, I'm fine, but when a character is called by their actual name, I sort of come to a standstill. They feel genuinely alien to me, which I suppose is the intention. It felt almost like work trying to absorb all the information as it was thrown at me, and if I wasn't determined to familiarize myself with the Legion, I might have lost interest.

Francis Portela's work here is solid, but isn't particularly special. He was asked to squeeze so many characters into many of the book's pages, and it's honestly pretty impressive that the book looks as good as it does. His figure work isn't as strong as I would've liked it to be outside of the book's action scenes, but his facial expressions are great, and really helped me get a feel for the personality of his new characters. Many of the costumes here are new, and Portela does a great job rendering them. There've been some complaints about the preponderance of collars in the DCnU, but I think they work really well here, and help play up the book's Star Trek feel.

X-Men, eat your heart out.
Legion of Superheroes makes for a much better introduction to the world of Legion than Legion Lost, but it's still not an easy nut to crack. The comic asks readers to take in so much information, and requires more focus than your average comic book. I'd recommend this one only to Legion fans and determined would-be Legionnaires like myself. If you're a fan of sci-fi ensemble casts or mildly curious about the Legion concept, I'd suggest waiting for this story arc to end. I get the feeling that this will be much easier to digest in a bigger dose.

By Marceline with No comments


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