Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 12/27/04
just because some of you have the week off doesn't mean that
the comics industry is slacking. Here's a rundown of some
of the things that will be delivered to shops on Wednesday.
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa
of Super-Heroes #1
writer: Mark Waid
artist: Barry Kitson
At its heart, The Legion has always had
a somewhat ridiculous premise. In a future society, the
only superheroes on Earth just happen to be teenagers, and
somehow, the world government condones that. We're not talking
about something like Super Boys and Girls Clubs of America,
where mutant teens might gather to play billiards and make
leather wallets at craft time. These guys were taking on
menaces with names like The Fatal Five and the Sun-Eater.
But they came from a simpler time, originally
appearing in issues of Superboy and somehow getting
away with some pretty grim storylines during the Silver
Age. Their fan base was rabid, yet never quite large enough
to keep the team from getting their books cancelled again
and again. They've been rebooted, cloned and rebooted again,
jumpstarted five years into their own future, and then at
the hands of the Time Trapper scattered to different ages.
Eventually they sacrificed themselves in order to set the
timeline straight - and we all know how well THAT worked
Their most recent series seemed to be on
track before becoming what it always does - dependable,
solid comics that for some reason just don't excite the
masses despite the tremendous amount of imaginative storytelling
going on. Even as word came down that another reboot was
in the works, DC turned Gail Simone loose for a few exciting
but ultimately pointless issues. How could we invest in
the peril she created if we knew it would all be over soon
So here we are again. A proven fan-favorite
creative team relaunches the Legion, this time without bothering
to try and explain what has gone before. Mark Waid and Barry
Kitson caught fire with Empire, a quasi-futuristic
tale of dystopia, so putting them here has promise.
Right off the bat, Waid strips the premise
back to its basics, trying to find a reason for a group
of teenagers to be allowed to fight evil with government
sanction. That reason may still take a few issues to coalesce,
but at least the seeds are here. Sometime after the present-day
DC Universe, the superheroes disappeared, likely because
they weren't needed anymore.
"With the help of interstellar alliances,"
the opening narrative claims, "the Earth entered a millennium
of utopian peace." Of course, that also means a pretty rigid
society, peaceful perhaps, but constrictive. All across
the galaxy, life is good as long as you conform.
That can't sit well with the youth.
Waid borrows from history for this launch.
The youth unrest element may seem more like the original
Teen Titans than the Legion of Superheroes, but that's because
it's right out of the late 1960's and early 1970's. At times,
it almost feels like reading an issue of Prez, if
that book had been any good. The writer dips further back,
as the Legion takes its template not just from "their" superheroic
history, but from comics in general. Any teen can be a Legionnaire,
and even get a super keen membership ring. The twist is
that these rings will enable them to fly - and also drop
off the citizens' grid that keeps tabs on where every person
is at all times.
The core team, those with actual powers,
also make sure they follow the 20th Century pattern of naming
themselves with an adjective and gender identification.
No more of this just picking a cool word to be your super
name; there are rules. Though I still hope for Wildfire
to make it in this incarnation.
Kitson's art is dynamic and creative as
he puts a new spin on the 31st Century old readers think
they know. But then, this is old territory for him, as he
drew L.E.G.I.O.N. back in the early '90's. The artist is
in his element.
Don't worry about the previous incarnations.
Those days are future past. If you're new to the Legion,
Waid and Kitson definitely make this a book you want to
read. And if you're a longtime fan, don't worry - the kids
are all right.
Adam Strange #4: Rumors have it
that events in this mini-series will have far-reaching repercussions
into the big crossovers Countdown and Crisis 2.
So why not jump aboard now? It's been so long since we've
seen The Omega Men, I'm going to have to take it on faith
that their appearance here is accurate, but either way,
the last page of this book is a doozy.
The Invincible Iron Man #2: Iron
Man never actually appears in this comic book, and he's
not missed. Instead, Warren Ellis focuses on the Tony Stark
of that old theme song - the "cool exec with a heart of
steel." Except that heart is withering under the realization
that he hasn't done nearly as much good as he thought he
had. This isn't the run-of-the-mill stolen technology story
that has been done over and over with this character; instead,
Ellis really is sending Stark off on some serious soul-searching.
With all that's wrong in the world, is being a superhero
really the best use of time and resources?
Marvel Age Spider-Man Team-up #4:
See? If you're going to modernize old stories for younger
readers to enjoy now, you've got to get a solid writer,
a decent artist and let it be a nice stand-alone. Unlike
the old Marvel Team-up, this book doesn't seem to
have any subplots running through it, so if a kid likes
Spider-Man and Thor, they can immediately hook on to what's
going on and hopefully reread this thing to death. It's
also $1.75 U.S. - which means this really is a good deal
for younger readers. Okay, Marvel's slowly winning me over
on this one.
Michael Moorcock's Elric: The Making
of a Sorcerer #2: On one level, this book really is
for the hardcore Moorcock fans. But the writer and artist
Walter Simonson have also concocted a solid enough story
within the story that casual readers can still enjoy it.
It's Moorcock turning his own Eternal Champion concept on
its ear - again. And we fans love him for it.
What If Week: Marvel releases a
slew of "What Ifs" as a post-Holiday treat, and it's unfair
to single one or two out for praise - or rotten tomatoes.
What makes these visits to the Watcher's old domain noteworthy
is that all of them feature high quality creative teams
- in many cases, writers and/or artists closely associated
with the characters being used. Thus Chris Claremont tackles
an X-Men story, Peter David dallies with the Hulk and Brian
Michael Bendis deals with both Jessica Jones and Daredevil.
Ed Brubaker puts the best spin on the concept with his "What
If Aunt May Had Died Instead of Uncle Ben?" - instead of
being told by The Watcher, it's two guys in a comic book
shop hashing out the details over some longboxes. After
all, isn't that what it's all about?
Western Tales of Terror #2: Mainly
because I miss DC's Weird Western book. The first
issue of this anthology was a bit spotty, but it's a great
experiment and a chance for new creators to hone their talent,
something I'm always in favor of happening. If you can't
find it at your local comics shop, ask the guy at the counter
to order it for you.
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