Comic Book Review: Legion of Super Heroes #39

The Revolution has thoroughly enjoyed Shooter and Manapul’s first two issues on the Legion of Super Heroes. It is great to see this title shaping back into form after being such a lackluster read for so many years. I haven’t been this excited about reading the Legion of Super Heroes since DC wised up and wiped out the DnA Legion and allowed Waid and Kitson to start fresh and try and establish a Legion more loyal to the true essence and roots of what makes the Legion of Super Heroes so unique. Unfortunately, Waid’s threeboot, though solid, simply lacked that something special that Shooter has managed to bring to this title. Shooter knows the Legion like so very few writers and he is putting on a clinic on how to handle these characters. There is no doubt that Legion of Super Heroes #39 is going to be another strong read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Jim Shooter
Artist: Francis Manapul

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Princess Projectra arriving back at her home. There is an SP police officer and several police robots outside of her home. The officer instructs Projectra that she is not allowed inside the premises. Projectra uses her powers to make the officer imagine that his robots are attacking him. Projectra then enters her home.

Inside the house is Imra’s mother, Councilwoman Ardeen. She had been waiting for Projectra to arrive. She tells Projectra to accept that her planet has been destroyed and that she is no longer royalty of any people. We learn that Projectra’s home has been repossessed and will be auctioned off in order to pay off large debts that Projectra has incurred now that she no longer has her family’s royal money.

Councilwoman Ardeen tells Projectra that she can’t keep acting the way that she has been. That what she did at the U.P. headquarters was unacceptable. That she has been running interference for Projectra and the Legion. That she could lose her position if anyone found out that she was meeting with Projectra right now. That Projectra must stop acting the way she has been or else she could face serious consequences.

Councilwoman Ardeen then sneaks out of the house through the servant’s entrance. Projectra leaves through the front of the house and lifts her spell on the SP officer on her way out.

We shift to the Legion headquarters. We see a mysterious person in the Bridge viewing the mission monitor board. We then zip to Triton where a news reporter is on the scene reporting how the Legionnaires made the problem worse and how the SP officers where the ones who saved the day. Timber Wolf wants to rip the reporters head off, but Saturn Girl uses her Jedi mind trick saying “He is not worth it.” Timber Wolf repeats Saturn Girl’s words and leaves the reporter alone.

Star Boy comes back with Invisible Kid in tow. Timber Wolf sneers that it is great that Star Boy found the little coward whose ability lets him hide whenever there is a big fight. Cinch Boone, the city manager, complains how the Legionnaires ruined his city. That the Legionnaires are not normal and that they are freaks.

Timber Wolf approaches Giselle and thanks her for her help. Giselle mentions how the locals purposely shut the doors on the safety shelters when the alien invaders attacked. Giselle says that the locals here hate her because she is different. That they view her as an anomaly and a freak.

The city manager keeps raving about the Legionnaires making a mess of everything and that he is going to sue them. Timber Wolf snaps and lunges for the city manager with the intent of ripping his throat out. Saturn Girl quickly uses a telepathic command to stop Timber Wolf from hitting the city manager. Saturn Girl then uses her Jedi mind trick once again and gets the city manager to say that Timber Wolf merely tripped into him. Imra gets the SP officer to say that Timber Wolf was just being clumsy and that no harm was done.

Timber Wolf then grabs Saturn Girl’s arm and snarls at her to never brain-slam him again. Saturn Girl replies that she didn’t have time to be subtle or gentle and that reasoning never works with Timber Wolf. Imra says that they don’t need anymore trouble. Imra then tells Timber Wolf to let go.

We then slide over to New Beijing where Ultra Boy, Colossal Boy and Element Lad are getting rid of the last of the muskshrews. Unfortunately, they stink to high heaven and prissy Element Lad won’t get near them and Ultra Boy has to do the handling of the critters. They then detect one last muskshrew. Colossal Boy heads off to get it while Ultra Boy and Element Lad stay behind to put all the containers of muskshrews together.

We see Colossal Boy arrive at the location of the last critter and discover that a biker girl is keeping the muskshrew as a pet. She refuses to hand it over to Colossal Boy and then tells her jacked up biker boyfriend and his gang to attack Colossal Boy. Gim starts brawling with the biker guys.

Unfortunately, the boyfriend has had muscle enhancements and starts pounding away on Colossal Boy. The girlfriend attacks Gim from behind and knocks him out. The boyfriend is about to shoot Colossal Boy when Ultra Boy suddenly arrives on the scene and blocks the projectile. Ultra Boy quickly kicks the biker’s ass. The Legionnaires grab the final muskshrew and take off.

We cut back to the Bridge at the Legion HQ. The mysterious figure is still watching the mission monitor board. The person looks at Light Lass and Phantom Girl on the monitor board and says “Wonder if you can do two at one…? Aha!”

We then shift to the recreational room in the Legion HQ where Light Lass and Phantom Girl are hanging out in their slinky nighties because they can’t get any sleep. Ayla is worried about Lightning Lad screwing up as Legion Leader. Ayla comments that they should talk to Garth about stepping down as leader. Tinya responds that Garth is one of the three original Legionnaires. That it is his turn.

Karate Kid ambles into the rec room. Karate Kid tells Light Lass that he has healed up, but that he is still weak and tired. Ayla then comments that if she were to take advantage of Karate Kid, he would be helpless. Karate Kid tells Light Lass to go easy on him. The couple then head off to Ayla’s room.

We cut to a sleepy Lightning Lad stumbling into the Bridge and calling out if anyone was in there. The mysterious person hears Lightning Lad coming and makes a quick exit. Lightning Lad then comments to himself that he thought that he had turned off the mission monitor board before he went to bed. Garth says that he is just being jumpy because if anyone had entered the Bridge the alarms would have gone off.

We shift to Princess Projectra arriving at a jewelry store being looted by a mob of people. Projectra puts on a bracelet and muses how anything she wanted could be hers on a whim. Suddenly, the SP police appear and tell everyone to lie on the ground. That they are all under arrest. Projectra walks through one of the SP officers and flies off. Projectra calls the SP hotlink and informs them of a jewelry store being robbed. The SP operator says that officers will be there in seven seconds. Projectra then commands for her illusion to end and she flies off. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Legion of Super Heroes #39 was another excellent read. Shooter crafts a well paced issue that has just enough action to keep it lively but relies mainly on strong character work to carry the story. This issue was pleasantly plotted as Shooter has smoothly transitioned the reader from Waid’s Legion to his version of the Legion. Shooter is patiently introducing several clearly constructed and interesting plotlines.

It is not easy to juggle the various plotlines and characters on a title like the Legion. Most writers wilt under the strain of trying to properly plot the Legion. Shooter doesn’t overload the reader with tons of crazy plotlines and action. Instead, Shooter wisely constructs a proper foundation for his run on this title. This is something that seemed to be missing during Waid’s run.

Shooter is also committed to spending the necessary time in fleshing out the various characters in the Legion. And with a roster as huge as the Legion’s that is no easy task. And it is certainly an area where Waid failed during his run. In just three issues, Shooter has spent more effort to give the Legionnaires distinctive personalities than Waid did during his entire run.

Shooter is finally giving the Three-boot Legion some proper substance and depth. And more importantly, Shooter is finally giving the Legion its trademark “Legion” feel. Again, I can’t describe it; I can only tell you when it is present or missing. And that trademark “Legion” feel has been missing for a long time.

Even though Shooter is placing a priority on character work, he certainly is not shortchanging the reader when it comes to quality action. Shooter fully understands that the Legion is an action adventure title and that action is a necessary ingredient to a good Legion story. This issue lets Ultra Boy strut his stuff as he quickly dispatches the biker thug. Jo is one of my favorite Legionnaires. And Shooter gives Ultra Boy his proper cocky attitude as he shows off why Ultra Boy is one of the most powerful and feared Legionnaires.

Shooter crafts some strong dialogue in this issue. Shooter simply has a wonderful feel for the Legionnaires’ personalities that very few writers possess. After reading Johns trying to hack his way through writing the personalities of the various Legionnaires on Action Comics #862, it was a pleasure to read Shooter’s handling of the Legionnaires’ personalities in this issue. Shooter deftly handles the dialogue and the Legionnaires’ varied personalities with ease. Shooter gives each Legionnaire their proper personalities and enjoyably unique voices.

Shooter is able to generate some enjoyable chemistry between the various Legionnaires. I liked the playful banter bantering between Ultra Boy and Element Lad as the rough and tumble Ultra Boy picks on his more prim and proper teammate. And what was nice is that it is done in the spirit of good natured ribbing between friends rather than mean spiritedness. The flirting between Karate Kid and Ayla was well played and continues the proper amount of sexiness that is required of an older teen/young adult title like the Legion.

Seriously, I know some people will bitch and whine about the fact that Tinya and Ayla where in their slinky nighties while in the rec room. Dude, the Legion HQ is basically one massive hi-tech college dormitory. My freshman year in college, my dorm room was directly across the hall from the girls’ showers. I lived on a co-ed floor where it was one boys’ room for every two girls’ rooms. The girl who lived two doors down from me, Gwen, would always pop into my room to hand out and chat before and after her shower dressed only in her little towel. Things like this happen.

I totally dig how Shooter handles Saturn Girl and her willingness to overtly use her powers on her teammates and those around her. This is an excellent move. I have always found Imra to be a rather dull and somewhat vanilla character. This is a great move by Shooter to spice up Saturn Girl’s character more and make her a bigger player in the Legion other than being Lightning Lad’s girlfriend. Shooter is giving us the most interesting version of Saturn Girl that I have read.

I always love me some Timber Wolf. I dig Brin’s attitude and anger. Shooter properly gives Bring a blunt aggressive personality as he speaks his mind without filtering any comments that might hurt the feelings of those around him. Timber Wolf bluntly referring to Invisible Kid as a wimp with the power to hide during a fight is spot on. This is a thought that some teammates might think but never verbalize.

I also liked the tension between Brin and Imra. Timber Wolf has ever right to be pissed at Saturn Girl for reaching into his head and controlling him. However, at the same time, Shooter makes the reader sympathetic to Saturn Girl knowing that there really is no other way to control or reason with Timber Wolf.

Characters like Timber Wolf are necessary to keep things lively. Especially since the Legion is missing its other agitator in Wildfire. And I know that some people dismiss Timber Wolf as just a Wolverine rip-off in space. The fact is that Brin first appeared in Adventure Comics #327 in 1964. The clawed cliché first appeared in Incredible Hulk #180 in 1974. Timber Wolf is no rip-off. He is his own man.

Shooter does a phenomenal job with Projectra in this issue. Princess Projectra is a character that has never interested me. I didn’t dislike her character, but I never liked it either. Projectra was the equivalent of a beige wall. Shooter manages to create some depth to Projectra’s personality. And amazingly enough, Shooter manages to make the reader sympathetic to a character that never before engendered much sympathy.

Shooter gives Projectra a nice sense of loss. One can only imagine what it is like to not only be stripped of your royalty but also to lose your entire planet and all of your people. Shooter clearly has some massive changes headed Projectra’s way. It shall be rather interesting to see how Projectra adjusts to being just another “commoner.” When you are raised in a certain lifestyle it is very difficult to change to a new one.

I enjoyed the final scene where Projectra happens upon the jewelry store looting. Shooter does a fine job showing the internal conflict within Projectra’s heart. That with her power she could amass her wealth through illegal means. Projectra shows that she isn’t’ quite ready to walk down that path as she does report the break-in to the SP. But, at the same time she does steal a beautiful bracelet before she calls the SP. I’m very interested to see what Shooter has in store for Projectra’s character.

I am extremely interested in the new plotline concerning the mysterious individual who slips into the Bridge and views the mission monitor board. Clearly, since no alarms were set off then this person has to be someone within the Legion. I am certainly curious to learn more about this mysterious individual.

I continue to enjoy how Shooter is handling Lightning Lad’s character. Poor Garth can’t even engender any confidence from his own sister. Ayla wanting to gather a group of Legionnaires together and go talk to Garth about resigning was a neat wrinkle. Shooter does a nice job handling the complex relationship that exists between siblings. And even though Shooter has piled the troubles upon Lightning Lad’s shoulders, he wisely employs Tinya to remind the reader that Garth is one of the three founders and deserves his turn as the Legion leader.

Francis Manapul whips up plenty of nice looking artwork. Manapul has an excellent eye for the Legion and gives this title the proper look. The Legion has enough of the bright optimistic future without it being too shallow and Disneyesque.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Legion of Super Heroes #39 was a fantastic read. Shooter has returned the fun and excitement to this title. Once again, I get pumped up in anticipation with the newest issue of the Legion of Super Heroes. It is so refreshing to have a writer on the legion that understands the characters and gives us a read worthy of the Legion’s origins instead of his own personal fantasies of how the Legionnaires should act totally irrespective of the history and origin of the Legion.

I wholeheartedly recommend giving the Legion of Super Heroes a chance. Shooter is doing his best trying to make this title new reader friendly. If you enjoy numerous interesting and unique characters along with plenty of drama and action then you should dig this title.

4 Comments

  1. Hey, congrats on your anniversary but I meant to ask about Cosmic Boy being in the future, was that a trap by some obscure enemy to take down the legion which is now starting to work or is he legitimately in the future?

  2. here’s a thought, the mysterious figure looking over the duty roster list might be cosmic boy, just returned from the future.

  3. One of my favorite parts of this issue is the incredible amount of subtlety Shooter applies. In the confrontation scene between Saturn Girl and Timber Wolf, I love how at the end, you’re not sure if he let her go because he was persuaded, or “persuaded,” if you know what I mean. I agree that this interpretation of Saturn Girl is incredibly interesting.

    I also love how on the duty roster scenes, you could see how Brainiac completed his wormhole tech and how he’s hopping from world to world fetching Atom Girl, Chameleon, and probably Shadow Lass. It’s very subtle, and it only works if you’re paying attention.

    And how hilarious is it that Lightning Lad sleeps in his costume and skivvies? And Karate Kid sleeps in a hakama? All this stuff really gets me on how much care and effort is paid to the littlest detail.

  4. I grew up with Shooter’s legion in Adventure Comics (eek, that dates me) and I was a little apprehensive to have him back but these last few issues have been brilliant. I’m so glad that he has restored Saturn Girl to her former glory – up to this point she had been a complete wimp.
    He has shown good judgement in what parts of the continuity to ‘massage’ and which to go with. Let’s hope this continues, I’m feeling like a kid again!

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