Monday, October 03, 2011

DCnU - Legion of Super-Heroes #1 from DC's New 52

Legion of Super-Heroes was written by Paul Levitz with art by Francis Portela.

Paul Levitz has a long history with the Legion. He has written more than 8 years' worth of Legion stories.

His familiarity with the characters and setting shows through here, both in positive ways, and in negative ones.

I'll start with the negative, because there are fewer of them. This book does not seem like it would be a good jumping-on point for new readers. The Legion Espionage Squad is investigating a planet on the border of the Dominator Empire. We aren't really told much about the Dominators in this book, nor even really what the Legion is, and why they are the ones investigating. Long-time fans can probably piece it together. Hopefully it isn't too confusing for new ones.

Part of the reason for this is that continuity for the Legion seems to be basically unaffected by the Flashpoint. Variable Lad has just died (referenced as Oaa in the comic - that is another thing that makes the Legion a little harder to just pick up. Very few of the Legionnaires use each other's code names. Real names or nick names are much more common. This adds a feeling of reality once you know all the characters, but can be confusing when you first jump on board) and all the story lines from the pre-relaunch DCU are still in place.

But on to the good stuff. Levitz' command of the characters allows him to quickly sum each of them up, in both a summary box listing name and powers, as well as with dialogue. In a cast this big, it can be a challenge to not have any characters get lost. Levitz manages to bring a few coer characters to the forefront while still allowing many at least a small chance in the spotlight. This is truly challenging on a book with this scale, and his experience is evident.

This Legion team feels a lot like the classic one, which was tremendously successful many years ago. Interesting characters with some depth, some very powerful heroes and enemies, and internal strife which gets put aside when necessary but overall leads to strong character development. This is the stuff a good book is made of, and this is what Levitz promises to bring with this first issue.

He's got political intrigue, action, and has set up redemption story arcs and some internal mysteries. Lots to draw on here for future stories.

Portela's art is very well-suited to the book. The story is clearly told, the technology seems very natural, not taking center stage, but always being present. There are different page layouts and such used to good effect.

Overall, if you can stick with this comic even though it isn't necessarily a ready-made jump-on poing, I expect it to be rewarding. And while it may not be the perfect jumping-on point, it certainly is the beginning of a story arc.

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