Adventure Comics #523 Review

Adventure Comics #523 Review

Adventure Comics has been a solid, but not spectacular read.  In fact, I have not enjoyed Levitz’s work on Adventure Comics nearly as much as I have his work on Legion of Super Heroes.  The re-telling of old Legion stories on Adventure Comics was nice for new readers, but boring for long-time readers of the Legion.

Therefore, I was thrilled when I learned that Adventure Comics would begin to feature the Legion Academy.  This is a brilliant idea.  The Legion Academy is a wonderful cast of characters.  This will help to further flesh out the Legion’s mythos and the setting of the 31st Century.

Even more good news came in the form of Phil Jimenez begin tabbed as the new artist for Adventure Comics.  I love Jimenez’s artwork and think his style of art will be a fine match for this title.  Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Adventure Comics #523.

Creative Team

Writer: Paul Levitz

Pencils: Phil Jimenez

Inks: Andy Lanning

Colors: Hi-Fi

Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This issue begins with Night Girl, Power Boy and Comet Queen arriving on the Sorcerers’ World to meet with Black Witch, Blok and Glorith.  Black Witch informs Gloriththat these are good friends.  That Night Girl is going to be one of Glorith’s teachers.  That Glorith is going to go to Earth and train at the Legion Academy.

We cut to Glorith with the rest of her Legion Academy students (Gravity Kid, Chemical Kid, Comet Queen, Variable Lad and Dragonwing) in the city of Montauk on Earth.  Glorith is overwhelmed by all the people and technology in the city even though Montauk is considered a very small suburb to her fellow teammates.

We get Glorith’s viewpoint of all the technology that constantly bombards Earthlings, on the culture of shopping and consumerism and on partying and drinking.  During these scenes, Chemical Kid calls Dragonwing a downer because she is cynical on any of their chances of ever making it into the Legion.  Dragonwing says that she is a realist.

As the night wears on, Chemical Kid takes the rest of the students to a warehouse where Chemical Kid can access his father’s account and buy whatever alcohol and food that they desire.

We hop over to the Legion Academy, where Duplicate Girl (Luorno) and Bouncing Boy (Chuck) watch on a monitor as the students attempt to sneak back into their rooms after their night of partying.  Luorno is mad and wants to teach the students some discipline and that Chemical Kid is a bad influence. Chuck disagrees and says that the students are just young.  That they are just kids.

We cut to sunrise with Duplicate Girl waking all of the hungover students up and telling them to report to Gym Number 4 where Night Girl is waiting for them.

We cut to the gym with the hungover students not happy about being woken up at the crack of dawn.  Night Girl holds a red ball in her hand and tells the students that they have to get past her and get the red ball and that they cannot use their powers on her.  Suddenly, the lights go out.  Night Girl’s powers kick in.  The exercise starts.

Night Girl easy evades all of the attacks by the students in their effort to get the red ball.  Finally, Chemical Kid is able to accelerate his own metabolism which slows everything down around him and he is able to pluck the ball from Night Girl’s hands.

Unfortunately, Duplicate Girl is unimpressed.  She states that the students presented a total lack of teamwork in the exercise.  Chemical Kid hands Duplicate Girl the red ball and says he is going to go back to his room and sleep.  Luorno calls Chemical Kid a spoiled brat.  Night Girl responds that the students are okay and that they will make real Legionnaires if they can learn to work together.

We cut to Power Boy and Lamprey together in their room.  Lamprey mentions how graduation is soon.  They wonder if they will get into the Legion.  Power Boy responds that if they don’t then there are other ways to serve.  That it is a big universe with lots of problems that need fixing.

We shift to Dragonwing, Comet Queen and Chemical Kid grabbing Glorith to go out partying for the night.  Gravity Kid stays behind because Duplicate Girl is mad with them.  The other students ignore Gravity Kid and say that Gravity Kid just doesn’t want any spots on his shiny record and that he is mad that Chemical Kid beat him in practice today.

We zip over to Chemical Kid trying to access his father’s account again.  Unfortunately, this time the account is locked.  Suddenly, Science Police officers suddenly surround Chemical Kid, Dragonwing, Comet Queen and Glorith.  The SP officers tell the students that they are under arrest for violating store security policies. End of issue.

Commentary:

The Good: Adventure Comics #523 was a good read made even better by some gorgeous artwork.  Levitz did not blow me away with this issue, but he certainly delivered a solid read that did a good job setting the table for the new direction of this title.  I like the decision to have the Legion Academy star in Adventure Comics.  The re-telling of old Legion stories on this title was a miss for me.  Instead, using Adventure Comics to flesh out more of the 31st Century and to grow some of the Legion’s supporting characters is a smart decision.

The Legion Academy posses a wonderful cast of characters.  Levitz succeeds in making Adventure Comics #523 new reader friendly.  It does not matter at all if you know nothing at all about the Legion Academy.  Levitz gives a pleasant overview of the Legion Academy and its purpose and goals.  Levitz also nicely introduces each member of the Legion Academy, both students and faculty, in a fashion that brings new readers up to speed without boring long time readers like myself.  In fact, it has been such a long time since I read a story starring the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Legion Academy that I appreciated get a bit of a refresher with the information that Levitz doled out in this issue.

Levitz whips up some nice dialogue.  Each character has a well developed voice.  The character work is well done.  Levitz is able to quickly and effortlessly establish each character’s personality and what role they play on the team.  In just one issue, the reader gets a good sense of each character and what motivates them to be in the Legion Academy.

It is impressive how quickly and effectively Levitz was able to establish each character in just one issue.  This is something that seems to be rarely done anymore.  Most debut issues (and this issue is effectively a debut issue with the Legion Academy taking over the title) seem to fail to introduce more than a couple of members of the team.  Often, we burn the first six issue story arc introducing one or two characters of the team per issue.  That is definitely not the case with Levitz’s delightfully decompressed storytelling that gets the new direction of this title moving quickly.

Levitz gives background on the Legion Academy, the students and the faculty and then introduces the main conflict for this opening story arc.  That is a fair amount of plot progression for one issue.  The result is that Adventure Comics #523 moves at a proper pace and is a clearly plotted issue.

I particularly love the faculty for the Legion Academy.  Bouncing Boy, Duplicate Girl and Night Girl are all excellent characters that definitely deserve panel time.  Adventure Comics offers Levitz a chance to flesh out these three characters in a fashion that could never be done over on the Legion of Super Heroes.

I enjoyed how Levitz portrayed the differences between the faculty members.  Duplicate Girl is the harsh taskmaster who views the students through a jaundiced eye.  Duplicate Girl is quick to label her students, either positively or negatively, and has an extremely short fuse.  She is certainly not going to tolerate any behavior that she views inappropriate.

On the other hand, Night Girl demonstrates a less judgemental approach to the students.  Lyddacan appreciate cockiness and ability without negatively stereotyping the students.  While both Lydda and Luorno share the same core beliefs about teamwork and responsibility, it appears that Lydda is willing to allow for more personality to shine through in how the students tackle their tasks.

Of course, Chuck Taine is going to provide for the comedic relief.  Bouncing Boy has always been a humorous character and I would expect for Levitz to continue that with this title.  Of course, this is not to say that Chuck will be written as incompetent or out of touch.  Bouncing Boy is a true hero, but his much more laid back approach will be contrasted with the more aggressive nature of both Night Girl and Duplicate Girl.

Art was simply fantastic.  Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning knock it out of the park with this issue.  Jimenez’s slick style is a perfect match for a sci-fi super hero title like Adventure Comics.  Of course, I have to mention that Jimenez draws the best female Legionnaires of any Legion artist since Mike Grell.  Night Girl, Duplicate Girl and Dragonwing all look smoking.  But, what I liked the best was the cool 1960’s retro feel that Jimenez gave Night Girl and Duplicate Girl.  That was a nice nod to the era in which those two characters were created.  I particularly liked the Modesty Blaise look that Jimenez gave Night Girl.  All in all, Adventure Comics #523 was a beautiful issue to look at and made reading Levitz’s story a real joy.

The Bad: This issue was a character driven story.  Readers who like plenty of action in their comics may be disappointed with this issue.  Also, despite my enjoyment of this issue, there was a lack of any real big hook to the ending of the story.  There was nothing that pulled the reader deeply into the story and compelled them to come back for more.  It is incumbent for debut issues, or issues featuring a brand new cast and direction, to differentiate themselves from the rest of the super hero titles on the market and give the reader a reason to come back for more. Something different and interesting that convinces the reader to add the title to their pull list. I do not feel that Levitz achieved that with this issue.

My only extremely minor quibble with the art has to do with the coloring.  Night Girl has black hair not brown.  But, she has consistently had black hair since she debuted in Adventure Comics #306 in 1963.  I do not think that getting a detail like the correct hair color on an almost fifty year old character is a case of me being too picky.

Overall: Adventure Comics #523 was an enjoyable read.  Hopefully, people will hop aboard this title due to the new direction.  Readers who like Sci-Fi stories as well as readers who enjoy traditional super hero stories should enjoy what Levitz is going to deliver on this title.  The Legion Academy is a unique and interesting franchise that sets itself apart from the other super team titles that are on the market.  Adventure Comics #523 is definitely worth the $2.99 cover price.