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Phantom Girl lifts and separates.
Jason Schachat's
Occasional Breakdown
12/05/05 page 3
page 1 here, page 2 here

Of course, Mark Waid added tons to the saga of the Marvel Universe Fantastic Four, so we wouldn’t expect any less from him on Legion of Super-heroes #12, right?

Well, he did set himself up with the task of opening the story up to brand new readers and continuing to attract them with storylines that actually resolve in a single issue, but, having delivered so many great issues that performed as both standalone episodes and chapters in the larger story, this outing drives us full force into the war that’s been brewing for the last year.

Having some consideration for new readers and those of us who missed an issue or two, Waid and company start off with a two-page summary detailing where the Legionnaires are and the odds they face, but then we’re plunged right into the twisting plotlines. As one team takes control of the United Planets’ communication planet, another attempts to knockout galactic teleporters, and yet another has to tackle the army of thousands preparing to launch attacks throughout the galaxy.

Meanwhile, Earth and the remaining Legion reserves are being torn apart by Elysion, Dream Girl has been killed and Braniac 5 has started talking to rocks. Atom Girl appears on the scene and proves that she really does exist, Projectra uses her newly acquired powers of illusion to rescue Brin Londo (Timber Wolf, to the oldtimers), Ultra Boy and Karate Kid get in the largest fistfight we’ve seen in... well, it has to be a little while, at least...

Long story short: this book is rockin’.

Waid started this cycle of the Legion of Super-Heroes with a big bang (back in the Legion/Teen Titans team-up), but he let the easily approachable style of the early issues take center stage for quite a while. Now, we’re seeing the larger story at hand, and it’s just as smart and exciting as we hoped it would be. Waid’s encyclopedic knowledge, pseudo-science leanings, and understandings of the conflict and tenderness found in any family unit put this book right up there with his work on Flash and Fantastic Four.

This arc wraps up next issue, but I’d still advise jumping on as soon as possible. It’s worth it.

He's the Butch Cassidy to his Mozart.
Batman #647 also finds us at a rather crucial point in a long-running story. Batman lost his proteges and Gotham allies back during “War Games," then discovered Jason Todd, the second person to bear the mantle of Robin, was truly back from the dead and taking back the streets of Gotham as the Red Hood.

Now, Gotham kingpin Black Mask has joined forces with the Society to take out Red Hood, and Batman ponders whether he should aid his former apprentice or not.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a good fight if Bats didn’t make an appearance, but the interesting part is how he and the Hood fall into their old maneuvers from when they were a team.

It’s strange, but I never thought I would enjoy the return of Jason Todd like I did in this issue. The whole notion of constantly bringing characters back from the dead is pretty repugnant to me, but writer Judd Winick has used it to define Batman.

Does he need Jason as a symbol of his failure to protect the innocent any more? No, Stephanie can fill-in that role, now.

So, with Jason back, we see how Batman failed as a mentor. Not how he couldn’t train someone to beat villains, but how he unwittingly trained someone to BE a villain. More to the point, the difference between the two is pretty dodgy in the world of Gotham. As long as Jason remains a perversion of everything Batman strives for, he’ll be haunted by both his failure and how far over the line he himself may be going.

Sure, this all comes through in a fight against Captain Nazi, Hyena, and Count Vertigo, but it rings through loud and clear. As long as Batman can use events like this resurrection for actual character development rather than cheap trickery, it’s going to get a gold star from me.

Jason Schachat

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