The Comic Book Club: Avengers and Legion of Super-Heroes

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DOUGLAS: My biggest problem with LEGION #1 is that every Legion artist has the job of showing us what “1000 years in the future” looks like. Historically, that tends to look a lot like Tokyo 20 years from the date of publication, but it’s always been an excuse for artists to show off some kind of sense of futuristic design–the way Keith Giffen drew holograms and circuit-board-looking things everywhere (and retooled the look and flow of the book altogether for the “Five Years Later” period), Barry Kitson’s iMac-like blobjects, George Pérez’s landscapes jammed with centuries’ worth of detritus all stuffed in together, even Al Plastino’s innocent evocations of what looked gigantic from a 1958 perspective in the very first story. Cenar doesn’t give us that–parts of this issue look kind of received from bits of early Giffen-era Legion, or Gary Frank’s, but we really don’t get a visual sense of what kind of future we’re dealing with here. (Gary Frank was the first artist to draw the future Metropolis of the Johnsverse Legion–what Chris Sims just called the “deboot”–but Frank’s version was a kind of worn-down, decrepit version of Plastino’s, which fit the “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” story. There’s not even much of a sense of that here.)

Also, the big explosion just makes me wish Christopher Bird’s “I Should Write the Legion” campaign a couple of years ago had been successful: his Reason #2 is a much cleverer premise for a story.

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GRAEME: And then I end up re-reading all of Chris Bird’s Legion reasons again.

What didn’t work for me about the Legion art isn’t, actually, the lack of interesting surroundings, because (a) I tend not to notice that thing, because I am an idiot, and (b) I was too distracted by the characters, who seemed very flat and sterile, if that makes sense? There was something disappointingly generically “cartoony” about them, something that made me think of fill-ins from the 1980s, instead of anything contemporary. A lack of dynamism, perhaps? A lack of overly-glossy style?

DOUGLAS: The actual story this issue seemed perfectly OK. Not terrible, not thrilling; I was happy to see some of Levitz’s old supporting cast back in action, and I don’t think the “forced to accept a new member nobody’s happy about” plot has been done before. I was just hoping that it would answer the questions “why is Legion different from every other super-team comic book?” and “why is this Legion series different from every other, and meaningful in 2010?”

And of course everyone knows what happens when you set the Time-Watching-Scope for the beginning-of-all-things in the DCU, although I imagined that since the question of whose hand that is was answered in Final Crisis maybe they’d let that particular image rest for a little while longer. I gather from all the time-travel stuff this issue, as well as in The Return of Bruce Wayne, that there’s going to be a lot of that going on in the DCU leading up to and including “Flashpoint.”

Readers: tell us what you thought!

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