Comic Book Review: Legion of Super Heroes #40

Shooter’s Legion of Super Heroes has been a huge hit here at The Revolution. This is the fourth issue of Shooter’s run and I have a feeling that the pacing is going to pick up a bit. Shooter is done making the transition from Waid’s Legion to his Legion. I expect the intensity to increase as Shooter unveils his new story arc “Enemy Rising.” Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Legion of Super Heroes #40.

Creative Team
Writer: Jim Shooter
Artist: Francis Manapul

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Shadow Lass on Talok VIII. Shady is fighting with one of the alien invaders. Suddenly, Brainiac 5 appears via a wormhole. Unfortunately, that mode of transportation makes people throw up. Brainy is stunned to see the alien invader begin to immediately evolve and adapt its arms in order to break through Brainy’s shield. Shadow Lass whips up a shadow. Brainy then calculates the weak point in the alien’s armor. Shady then uses a battle axe to split the alien invader in half. Brainy tells Shadow Lass that he came to Talok VIII to get Shadow Lass and bring her back to Legion headquarters.

We cut to Lightning Lad’s dormitory apartment in the Legion HQ. Garth is informed by his phone message machine that he has 7,697 messages from various U.P. officials and that Garth’s 7 a.m. appointment with the President’s Chief of Staff has been cancelled.

We slide to a little bit later with Lightning Lad entering the living room of the Legion HQ where Ultra Boy, Chameleon Boy, Triplicate Girl, Atom Girl, Phantom Girl and Colossal Boy are all hanging out socializing. Light Lass and Karate Kid then enter the living room. Phantom Girl immediately pulls Ayla aside and asks her how her night was with Val. Ayla responds that it was awesome.

Suddenly, Brainy and Shady appear in the living room via a wormhole. Shady throws up. Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Invisible Kid and Star Boy then enter the living room from their mission. Garth rushes to hug Imra. Imra gives her report to Garth telepathically. Timber Wolf barks for Imra to get out of his head. Imra tells Garth that she has had to maintain a level of telepathic control over Brin to prevent him from killing her on the trip back home. Garth instructs Imra to let Brin go.

Element Lad is horrified that Imra took control of Brin’s mind. Shady and Atom Girl threaten that nobody better invade their minds. Phantom Girl counters that Legionnaires don’t kill and that Imra was right to stop Brin from killing by taking over his mind.

Brin spits that Tinya’s opinion is worthless since she is another Legionnaire with a “run-and-hide” power. Timber Wolf threatens to beat up Tinya. Ultra Boy stands up and tells Brin “Down, boy! Stay!” The Legionnaires continue to quarrel about if Imra had a right to control Brin’s mind. During all of this in-fighting, Brainy tries to get everyone’s attention so he can discuss something much more important: the alien destroyers.

Garth snaps and shoots lightning through the room and tells everyone to shut up. Garth tells Brin that what Imra did was wrong and then asks Brin what he wants Garth to do to Imra. Garth says that Legionnaires have been expelled for less. Timber Wolf says that he will settle for Imra guaranteeing to stay out of his head. Imra agrees to do so.

Garth then tells Imra that he wants from her a guarantee that she will never intrude on another Legionnaires’ mind. Imra agrees to do so. Garth then tells Timber Wolf that if he must get control of himself. That Brin must get therapy or do whatever he has to do to get control over himself. Because if Brin screws up one more time then Garth will expel Brin from the Legion. Timber Wolf mutters that he understands.

Ayla whispers to Tinya how impressive and in control her brother is acting. That maybe Garth has what it takes to be Legion leader.

Brainy then asks Garth if they can now talk about the alien destroyers. Garth says not right now. That first he wants to relax and have a cup of coffee. Garth mentions that he put the Legion’s communications computer on auto-answer and then posted signs outside Legion HQ saying that it was under quarantine due to stink-wart plague due to Venusian muskshrews.

Princess Projectra then enters the living room. Timber Wolf greets her by kissing her hand. Brainy once again tries to get Garth to focus on dealing with the alien destroyers. Suddenly, the deputy health minister busts into the living room with a clean-up crew. He says that because of the signs about the stink-wart plague that U.P. regulations dictate that the facility must be inspected and decontaminated.

A robot process server then enters along with the clean-up crew and serves lawsuit papers on Projectra. We cut to a couple of minutes later in the recreation room. Brainiac 5 is taking this opportunity to meet with Triplicate Girl, Invisible Kid, Phantom Girl and Karate Kid. He tells them that the alien destroyers are coming from a locus at the far fringes of the universe. Brainy says that he needs a piece of one of the alien destroyers in order to examine it.

Invisible Kid volunteers to go back to Triton and see if he can find a piece. Phantom Girl agrees to go to the Oort Cloud site. Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl agree to go to the scattered disk site and see if they can find any pieces.

We shift to Lightning Lad practicing in the firing range of the training center. Ayla enters and asks to talk to Garth. Garth says that he is thinking about stepping down as Legion Leader. Ayla disagrees. Ayla says that even though the quarantine idea was dumb, that Garth handled the entire situation with Imra and Brin with such impressive authority. Ayla says that Garth can be a strong leader and that she feels difficult times are ahead for the Legion and they will need a strong leader like Garth.

We zip to Karate Kid and Triplicate reporting that they can’t find any pieces of the alien invaders. Phantom Girl also reports back saying that she can’t find any pieces of the alien invaders. We then cut to Invisible Kid on Triton. Invisible Kid visits Giselle’s parents. Invisible Kid discovers that Giselle was placed in juvenile detention for a fight she got into with some other teens. Invisible Kid also finds a note in her file that her sentence was conditionally commuted and an encrypted letter from the President’s Chief of Staff.

Invisible Kid then sneaks into SP station on Triton and discovers that the SP have recovered a piece from the alien destroyers and is having it shipped back to Earth for analysis.

We cut to the office of the law firm that is representing Princess Projectra. Projectra is informed that numerous creditors have sued Projectra for Orando’s debts. The attorneys tells Projectra that if she renounces her thrown then they could help her get out of these lawsuits. Projectra doesn’t like that idea.

Projectra suggest that she sue on behalf of Orando any debtor planets to Orando. Projectra is then informed that the U.P. allowed all of Orando’s debtors off the hook. That Orando was a major economic engine, but that the eradication of all the debt by the debtor planets was a huge boon to the failing U.P. economy.

We cut to a pissed off Projectra leaving the attorney’s office. Projectra is approached by alien tourists and asked if she would pose in a picture with them. One of the tourists grabs Projectra’s arm. Projectra is pissed that these commoners are bothering her and actually touched her.

We shift back to Legion HQ where Brainiac 5 is telling Lightning Lad that he must be able to examine the piece of the alien destroyer that the SP have. Invisible Kid suggest that there may be a sneaky way to get to the piece of the alien.

We then slide to the Legion infirmary where Star Boy and Saturn Girl are getting medical treatment. Ultra Boy suddenly contacts Saturn Girl and tells her that Projectra is in trouble. That she may have just killed someone. Ultra Boy asks for Saturn Girl to come immediately. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Legion of Super Heroes #40 was a solid issue. Shooter dishes out plenty of good dialogue. The dialogue and character work continue to be Shooter’s strong points. We continue to get plenty of excellent character work. Shooter continues to display a deft touch for the personalities of each of the Legionnaires that we have no experienced on this title in an incredibly long time. It is the little things that I appreciate. Like Ultra Boy’s trademark cockiness in just one throwaway panel as he tells Timber Wolf “Down Boy! Stay!”

Shooter’s strong dialogue and character work lend to some fantastic chemistry between the Legionnaires. Again, the small things count like Ultra Boy horsing around with Chameleon Boy and giving him a noogie. Shooter’s ability to generate such fine chemistry between the characters lends to enjoyable drama when the Legionnaires interact with each other.

I dig the tension that simmers between Timber Wolf and Saturn Girl. Shooter has done more with Saturn Girl in the past couple of issues to give her a unique personality than we have gotten in a long time. I like how Shooter handles the morally questionable action of Saturn Girl controlling Brin’s mind. Shooter does a good job of playing out this moral debate through the various Legionnaires without ever preaching to the reader which side is the “correct” one. It is a complex issue and both sides make good points.

Even though Shooter has Saturn Girl agree to never use her powers on a Legionnaire again, Shooter has managed to plant that seed of doubt in the reader’s mind. From now on the reader will always be wondering when and if Saturn Girl will deem it necessary to take such an action.

Shooter does a brilliant job handling Brin’s character. We get to see Brin’s naturally aggressive and feral side as he barks at Saturn Girl and then snaps at Phantom Girl. I really dig how Shooter has Brin completely disrespecting Legionnaires who have passive powers like Intangibility and invisibility. This is a cool idea that makes perfect sense. A character like Brin is only going to appreciate overt offensive powers.

Of course, Shooter then juxtaposes Brin’s wild side with his more compassionate side as we see Brin being sweet with Projectra. This is a smart move that avoids Brin from becoming too one dimensional. This is certainly an unusual pairing and I’m curious to see if the Princess ever returns Brin’s affections.

I like how Shooter continues to handle Lightning Lad’s character. After getting picked apart over the last several issues, it was nice to finally see Garth snap to attention and display what a ballsy and strong leader he can be. Shooter has certainly gone in depth to expose all of Garth’s shortcomings, so it was enjoyable to finally get a glimpse of Garth’s strengths. And it is no doubt that Garth handled the entire situation with Saturn Girl and Timber Wolf with no hesitation and with absolute authority.

Of course, then Shooter contrasts this strength of Garth with his obvious weakness as we see what an incredibly dumb idea his quarantine plan was. Garth is a tough strong leader; however he simply is not a particularly cunning or cerebral leader. And Garth’s management skills leave a lot to be desired.

I know that I have said this before, but it bears repeating. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Shooter’s take on the Legion is that it just feels right. The characters finally are acting like the Legion. This title finally has that proper Legion feel to it.

I love that Shooter properly utilizes the Legion headquarters as the spine for this title. This is an aspect of the Legion that has been missing for a very long time. Shooter understands exactly the role that the Legion headquarters should play in this title and also understands that the Legion headquarters is completely unique from the headquarters of other super teams. The Legion headquarters is a part hi-tech super team facility with all the proper labs, training rooms and monitor room. But, more importantly, the Legion headquarters is also a dormitory. And that means it requires that necessary college dormitory feel to it.

Shooter ends Legion of Super Heroes #40 with a quality hook ending. We have Brainiac 5 wanting to break into the SP facility in order to study the piece of the alien destroyer. And we also have Projectra apparently having killed one of tourists. That certainly was enough to get me excited to read the next issue.

Francis Manapul whips up plenty of his usual excellent artwork. Manapul gives the Legion such a wonderful vibrant and dynamic look that is absolutely necessary on this type of title.

The Bad: The alien destroyer story arc officially kicks off with Legion of Super Heroes #40 as this is the first installment of this story arc. Shooter used his first three issues on this title to transition between Waid’s Legion to his version of the Legion. Shooter has to set up his various plotlines and get them moving. Also, Shooter used the first three issues to give the reader a proper sense of Shooter’s take on the various Legionnaires. Having said that, I hope that Shooter now picks up the pacing a bit on this title.

I’m curious to learn more about the alien destroyers. At this point, the alien destroyers simply aren’t hooking my interest. Shooter needs to do something with them to make them a bit more intriguing. So far, these alien destroyers just come across like a generic alien threat. I hope we get something with a bit more substance than that.

Legion of Super Heroes #40 had a bad flow to its story. This issue was too choppy of a read as it takes the reader on a rather herky-jerky ride. The reader is snapped back and forth too abruptly from the various scenes. And there were too many very short scenes and far too many cuts back and forth between the various scenes. Shooter needs to reduce the amount of scene cuts and make the transitions a bit smoother.

I’m starting to get tired of the Projectra debt plotline. I get it already. She has not only lost her planet and her status as royalty, but she has also lost her massive fortune. This needs to get resolved so we can move on with Projectra’s life as a regular person.

I’m also not even remotely interested in Giselle’s plotline. I find Giselle to be a completely lame character. And with a title that has such a huge roster of characters, I’d rather Shooter give more panel time to the other Legionnaires than a character like Giselle.

It appears that since the UP got Giselle out of juvenile detention that it appears that they may have decided that she would make a fine Legionnaire. It is possible that in return for the UP solving her legal problems that Giselle will have to repay them by joining the Legion. I hope that Shooter doesn’t add Giselle to the Legion’s roster. Especially since there are other great classic Legion characters that are much more deserving of a roster spot. I’d much rather see Matter-Eater Lad, Bouncing Boy, Dawnstar or Blok return to the Legion. Hell, I’d even rather have Chemical King back on the team before having Giselle join the Legion.

Overall: Legion of Super Heroes #40 was a solid read. Shooter continues to breathe new life into the Legion. If Shooter can tighten up his plotting and pacing then the Legion of Super Heroes will be an absolute gem of a title. Still, despite my complaints with this issue, this is still the best version of the Legion that we have gotten in many years and is definitely a step in the right direction for the future of the Legion.

1 Comments

  1. As a (ahem) mature reader – I cut my comic teeth on Shooter’s Legion in Adventure in the late 60s – I have to agree with what you say. I think Shooter has done a tremendous job in rescuing the Title which I though started well under Waid/Kitson but then just drifted. But…issue 40 was a bit disappointing. This story needs to go somewhere. It suffers from the current cult of stretching stories over multiple issues just to sell more product. An Adventure story would’ve wrapped this up by now! Nevertheless, I’m still enjoying reading something written by my childhood idol. Let’s hope he doesn’t blow it.

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