Monday, April 04, 2005

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #4

Another issue, another happy sigh of contentment.

Mark Waid is back to the Parents Just Don't Understand theme that dominated the first couple of issues, but not in a way that makes anyone old enough to have seen the Star Wars when they came out the first time feel like an old coot. He is also continuing his path of both acknowledging the the prior incarnations of the team and then respectfully breaking with those traditions. It works wonderfully.

The Generational Crisis du Mois takes place on the family level and features the fears of a son of disappointing his parents. On the one hand is Sun Boy's embarrassment of his super-supportive flower-child parents and how crushed they would be if he quit the Legion, while on the other is the much more menacing shadow of Invisible Kid's parents and his father's reaction to what he considers his son's betrayal. Both cases have Legion-wide consequences -- the Morgnas are not only big fans, but also a necessary support mechanism for a team that is comprised of precocious children; the Norgs are part of the government elite and have the power to destroy the Legion in a very literal sense. Individually, Dirk feels smothered by his parents' enthusiasm, but Lyle (shown getting hit by his father in a flashback) has real fear for his safety. Lyle's actions are understandable and for all of the lack of foresight they showed, he comes out as far more mature than Dirk, who has not been exposed to such personal pain.

I've gone on before about how nice it is (for a Levitz-era reader) to see a Cosmic Boy with a personality and a spine; this issue, we get to see a Cos with spikes and prickles, too. He has already been established as a dynamic leader, secure enough in himself so that he can play possum and let others underestimate his control of the Legion. But now we see him acting openly and forcefully -- his reaction to Lyle's omission is harsh, but he is simply making the tough decisions a commander must make to protect the greater good -- and it is his good-naturedness that is hiding this time. Lyle responds, as eager to regain Cos's respect as he is desperate to stay with the Legion. Cos's depositing him with the Morgnas was a brilliant -- mercy in the guise of punishment because the latter was what Lyle was expecting.

Elsewhere, Brainy got an extra coat of personality paint this month -- a sense of humor (okay, an extremely perverse one) and some social skills to go with his usual irascible, impatient, arrogant self. His backhanded praise of Lyle's solution to the problem was the highest compliment (and Lyle took it as such) and his every conversation with Cos delights. The cameos of Chameleon (who plays dim-witted) and Colossal Boy Micro Lad (who isn't playing) were also vastly entertaining. Poor, sweet Gim.

The backup story pleased me immensely once I got past the wacky physics involved to make it work. [I can accept Phantom Girl appearing as a wraith in her home dimension while she's operating in the Legion's, but I don't quite buy the reverse -- it takes effort for her to appear at all on the Legion's plane and why she'd either exert that energy when she was engaged on her home plane or why there would be such strong residue that it wouldn't be noticeable that that was the case... Not buying.] Excepting the why, though, this was a great tweak on Tinya, whose inability to completely be part of the Legion's dimension is not merely restricted to the physical. Tinya is truly in limbo -- unwilling to live solely in her native plane and unable to live fully in the Legion's, she has connections everywhere and ties to nowhere. That it was Karate Kid and not Ultra Boy to find that out the hard way made it all the fresher in terms of interpretation.

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