This is a book that is floundering about looking for direction. It started off featuring Conner Kent. Suddenly, Conner is not in it and Superboy/man-Prime is the main character. A risky move at best. Superboy/man-Prime is not a popular character. Either feature Conner or give the whole book to the Legion now. In a few months it is the Legion’s book anyways.
He Primed Me Part 1: Spoiler Alert
Writer: Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jerry Ordway
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Earth Prime…Superboy/man-Prime is sitting in his bedroom reading this very comic book. He wants to know why “they” did not leave him out of it. He has become a joke. He flips to the last page, throws it down and runs out of the room saying “it can’t end that way”.
Next, we see the Black Lantern symbol. Alexander Luthor is reviewing how he was friends with Superboy-Prime during the first crisis. He was killed by the Joker and Lex Luthor. Now he is back as a Black Lantern. Joining Alexander are all of the people that Superboy/man-Prime killed.
The 31st Century, Headquarters of the Legion of Super-Heroes of Earth-Prime…an emergency signal has sounded. A temporal anomaly has occurred. Superboy-Prime is under house arrest but he has walked out his front door.
Superboy-Prime meet his parents at their car. They assure him that they just went for groceries. He orders them to take him to the comic store. It is a matter of life and death. His parents look scared as they drive him to the store. His father asks him not to hurt them. Prime says he would never hurt his parents. His mother asks about Laurie. Prime says she did not like him anymore. His mother says she is scared of him. When they get to the store, Prime gets out. He tells his mother that he loves her. She tells his father to drive anywhere to get away from their son.
In the store, Prime demands a copy of Adventure Comics #5. The worker tells him it is not out yet (you know, we are just now reading #4). He asks if Prime checked the internet for rumors. Prime starts searching the internet for rumors. The other customer (yeah, I know, technically Prime is not a customer because he is obviously not their to buy anything) comments on the cool Black Lantern suit. BL Alexander blasts the customer.
A fight begins. BL Alexander says that Prime was weakened by traveling through the multiverse. He blasts Prime and restores his power. He says that everyone hates Prime. Prime disagrees. BL Alexander tries to blast his parents but Prime saves them. Then, all of the victims of Prime show up in their Black Lantern glory. BL Alexander says “spoiler alert. Superboy-Prime dies next issue”.
Long Live the Legion Part 4: Starcrossed
Writer: Geoff Johns and Michael Shoemaker
Artist: Clayton Henry
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Blok is running through the Legion’s headquarters. He is screaming that he needs to find the White Witch. Parts of his body are falling off. Phantom Girl wants to stop him. Brainiac disagrees. He sends 2 Legionnaires that can relate to Blok’s problems with his girlfriend(Mysa). He sends Wildfire and Dawnstar to take Blok to Mysa. Blok tells them he and Mysa are like Romeo and Juliet. They are similar to Wildfire and Dawnstar.
Once they arrive at the Sorcerers World, Blok starts to feel stronger. Mysa (who has taken over for Mordru) has used Mordru’s powers to make the surface a paradise. Inside her castle, it is still dark. Blok feels worse when they enter the castle. She is fighting the dark forces she absorbed from Mordru. As long as she has Blok by her side, Mysa can control the dark and use it for good. He tells her he will stay by her side forever. Wildfire and Dawnstar leave.
The Good: Jerry Ordway amazed me with his art on All-Star Squadron many moons ago. He still does an amazing job to this day. His cover was great. The image of Prime crashing through realty with all of the Black Lantern rings swarming around him is eye-catching.
The interior art by Ordway and Bob Wiacek is classic. Take a look at the backgrounds. Very few panels were drawn with a blank background. This actually looks like it takes place in a world, not against a blank screen.
The expressions they drew help to tell the story. Look at the fear in the Prime’s parents faces when they are driving. You knew they were scared just by looking at the picture.
Ordway uses the art to draw your eye through the story. One glance at the next to last page will show what I mean. Prime is blasted by a kryptonite ray in a small panel in the upper left. The main shot shows him being blasted again. The first panel leads the eye to the second. What happens when someone is hurt? They fall. The third shot is Prime on the ground. This is a textbook on how to lay out a page.
And for the older fans, the pose that Ultra Boy is in shows a homage to the great Dave Cockrum’s artwork on the Legion. Cockrum used this pose at various times during his stint as the Legion artist.
As far as the story goes, the best part was the fear shown by Prime’s parents. I liked that they were trying to get away even though they knew it was hopeless.
In the second feature, Clayton Henry has greatly improved since the first story. Some of his panel layouts were innovative. I liked the opening panel of Blok. The other really nice shot was Phantom Girl phasing through Brainiac as she was running. This shows that the artist is thinking. It demonstrates her power without slowing the story down.
The Bad: The only downside to Ordway’s art in this issue was some inconsistancy in Prime’s face. At times his face changed to the point of looking like a different character. It did not happen often but it did detract from the story.
The story. If you were a big fan of the ending of Legion of Three Worlds then you would enjoy this. Personally, I am bored by the whole Prime story. He has become a one dimensional cardboard cutout of a character. I get it that he thinks he is a hero. I get it that life has been unfair. I get it that he is obsessively angry at the world. It is time to let this go. Johns is too good of a writer to keep returning to this dead storyline. I don’t know why he thinks this is so great but it is time to move on.
The second feature is not really a story. It is more of a scene from a novel. Even though Blok is now on the Sorcerers World, nothing has changed. This was a complete waste of paper. The writers need to go back and read some of Jim Shooter’s Legion back up stories from Action Comics. He told a complete story while laying the groundwork for the future. Characters changed. Things happened in these stories. And he did it in less pages than this feature. I know writing styles have changed over the years but you don’t ignore the good that was done in the past.
Henry’s art needs work on the backgrounds. Based on the backgrounds this story could have taken place anywhere, anytime. On a science fiction strip like the Legion, you need to sell the environment.
Probably the worse thing about this issue is the question. Why doesn’t DC have Ordway/Wiacek drawing a regular title?
Overall: Adventure Comics #4 is worth picking up if you are a big Jerry Ordway fan or if you are fascinated by Prime’s story. Otherwise I would pass on it.