I’m having a hard time deciding how I feel about this latest volume Legion of Super-Heroes. It follows the recently-established definitive version of the DC Universe’s heroes of the year 3000. I don’t pretend to know anything close to all there is to know about the amazingly confusing continuity of the Legion, but I still can’t decide how much I like the series. Credit where credit is due, writer Paul Levitz manages to write a Legion story that doesn’t require an encyclopedic knowledge of their history, but the plot is still confusing in a way, but maybe not in the way you might expect.
To clarify, it is not that the plot is hard to follow. In fact there are quite a few different plot threads running with different members of the team and they are all fairly straightforward. What I don’t get is where the overall plot of the book is going. There is no established threat for the team to overcome yet, except for maybe xenophobia among the populace of Earth towards aliens. There isn’t really a central thread that affects all the stories, making it more like an anthology of different stories than anything. It makes the issue, and the series as a whole, feel rather disjointed as it tends to jump from one character’s plot to another’s and back suddenly and frequently. Sometimes, the scene changes were very jarring and seemed entirely unnecessary, serving only to pad that particular story thread across the issue. This was most egregious with the search for Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl’s children as it suddenly comes to a very anticlimactic end with no apparent setup for any future stories.
Despite this, I don’t find myself not enjoying this book. All of the characters, at least the ones that get screen time, are strong and likable. Levitz seems to really understand how they should be written. I’m actually really enjoying the xenophobic Earth Man’s role as his feelings slowly begin to change (though this might not entirely be his choosing). Many of the various plots seem as though they could be fleshed out into a very entertaining tale that could involve more of the Legionnaires and I personally believe this would make the series stronger. The character work is all there, as are some solid general plots, but they need to come together into a related whole that play the characters off one another.
I am a little disappointed that the art team has to extend to add two more artists to help out regular artist Yildiray Cinar this issue. Though it isn’t the most dynamic art out there, Cinar has done a commendable job so far as artist and manages to make each Legionnaire look like they have distinct features which is no easy task with a cast of characters as huge as Legion of Super-Heroes tends to have. Personally, and I think this goes for many other readers out there, I enjoy consistency in my comics and, if an artist is going to make a commitment to a series, they should be able to stick to that commitment and manage their work. I understand that illustrating a monthly book is hard and I know I could not do it, but that is not my job. The fact that after only three issues Cinar had to bring in two others to help him cover does not help the series. Luckily the assistant artists, Francis Portela and Wayne Faucher, have enough of their own styles in common with Cinar’s that it is never overly noticeable and does not distract from the story of the issue. I would like to Cinar manage to work his way back to being the only artist though.
I want to like Legion of Super-Heroes a lot. Levitz clearly knows these characters, but he needs to inject a real plot into the story to make it truly entertaining. As it is, I enjoy the book, but it is usually quite low on my list of books to read and I don’t know how much longer it will hold my interest at this rate. If a threat could be established and kept around for more than two issues, Legion could really shine and bring in a wide audience.