The Great Comic Book Cull Of 2010/2011 Part 20: DC Comics – Legion Of Super-Heroes, Lex Luthor, and Manhunter

Legion Of Super-HeroesAn Eye For An Eye

A quick synopsis of the Legion: It’s a group of super powered teenagers from a thousand

The future is so bright, you've got to dress up in a stupid costume and fight evil aliens.

years in the future, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a nice place to be from if you are a super powered teenager. They are so influenced by the stories of Superman that they decided to dress up, call themselves by silly names that end with “kid” and “lad” and “boy”. They also fight crime. They’re fun, and well-loved by DC fans.

Paul Levitz’ run on the title in the ’80’s is still held up as a highlight for the Legion, and I remember loving this run when I was a kid. But like his run on Justice Society, when I gave this a second glance I couldn’t help but think it was written by a man who struggles with his source material. On  one hand, he’s trying to put together a fun, harmless adventure. On the other, he’s trying to write a grim and gritty drama of death and betrayal. In his effort to tame both genres, he fails at both. Unfortunately, this really doesn’t hold up that well, despite it being a story about the death of one of my all-time DC favourites, the non-ironically named Karate Kid.

CULL

Legion Of Super-Heroes The Mark Waid trades (Teenage Revolution/Death Of A Dream)

Although I’ve never been a huge fan of the Legion, I am a fan of Mark Waid’s, and since this followed his unappreciated run on Fantastic Four, I felt it was only fair that I give this a chance. I’m glad that I did, and although more serious Legion fans may

Adults are EVIL!!!!

disagree, I think it holds up quite well. The approach he takes here (Legion as anarchy-happy teen rebels) is a fresh one, and Barry Kitson’s iconic art is perfect for this type of story. I can’t say as much for its sequel, which featured Supergirl, but I’ll leave that for a later post.

KEEP

Lex LuthorMan Of Steel

Your enjoyment of this is probably dependent on how much you enjoy the John Byrne reinterpretation of Lex Luthor as an evil businessman. It’s a story of his early years, and while I can’t say it’s essential, it’s still worth a reread.

KEEP

ManhunterStreet Justice, Trial By Fire, Origins, Unleashed, Forgotten

I struggled with this title more than any other on this project. When this title came out a few years ago, it got more praise and adulation than a hundred Neil Gaiman novels. For a while, it was the most critically acclaimed superhero book on the stands.

So what’s my problem with it?

My problem is that it’s not very good.

Actually, what I mean to say is that it’s not very great. There is some good here. What I think people responded to was the character, rather than the actual comics that character was in. Kate Spencer was and is, very different from most of the lead characters that are found in DC comics these days: She smokes, she occasionally kills criminals, and she has a vagina that children have exited from. Common qualities to have if you’re the governor of Alaska, but not if you’re a superhero. I’ll give Marc Andreyko a lot of credit. He came up with one of the most original characters DC has seen in years in Kate Spencer.

Unfortunately, I just don’t think he had the writing skills to really do his creation justice. From a plotting perspective, this thing is an absolute mess. Plot points simply happen one after another, with no build up whatsoever: Woman is DA. Criminal gets off. She steals weapons. She kills criminal. Ta Da, now she’s a superhero! Yay! Now she has superpowers. Now her grandmother was a superhero. So now her son has superpowers. Yay! The entire run of the book is like this, with different crazy weirdness just dropping out of the sky, with no rhyme or reason.

That being said, Andreyko does have a great knack for characters. It’s obviously his strength, and he’s great at creating interesting, 3 dimensional characters that the audience can responds to. That, and an absolutely amazing costume design for Kate Spencer’s Manhunter is what puts this is the keep pile for me, although just barely.

KEEP

Next up: Nightwing, the Outsiders, and Power Girl!

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