March 27, 2009

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Legion of Superheroes Volume 2

Written by Mark Waid (with Stuart Moore)
Illustrated by Barry Kitson and a Legion of other Artists
DC

Thanks to interlibrary loan, I get to finish off the first arc of the reboot of the Legion of Superheroes done around the time of Infinite Crisis.

The Legion kids are still out to save the worlds, but who is going to save them? Even as they get to the bottom of the nature of the enemy (a foe who can literally tell you he doesn't exist), internal conflicts threaten to tear the Legion apart. When Brainiac 5 feels he can lead the Legion better than Cosmic Boy, there's problems all over as the Legion has their own Civil War while the planets themselves start to separate from their own confederation.

Will there be enough time--and enough Legionnaires?--to stop a scheme that's eerily similar to Cosmic Boy's own? And what sacrifices will have to be made to save the Universe?

Brainiac, Cosmic Boy, and the others are about to learn they have some growing up to do--and the hard choices that go along with it.

While Waid sometimes hits on the "these are teenagers, let's make them moody and emotional" button a bit too often, he does a great job of using the kids versus adults dynamic to complicate the fight at hand and show that a world that doesn't respect its youth is a sad one indeed. He's also excellent at maturing the characters, even over such a short period of time. As with JLA, Waid finds a way to keep the large cast juggled fairly well, without short-timing any of the major players. (It is kinda funny that he uses Chameleon in the same way that Plastic Man works in the JLA.)

There are serious questions raised in these issues that won't be easily solved--Brainiac's dismissal of the others may be at bay, but for how long? And what if his own interests outweigh those of the rest? Can Cosmic Boy keep them all together without acting like the adults he wants to subvert? What's going to happen to the rest of the Legion once things calm down and old resentments resurface? Waid remembers that comics still can have subplots while doing an overarching story.

There's also his little touches--the Kandor reference for Brainiac's planet, Robin (a thinker) leaving the trophy that can hold a key to victory, the idea that these kids have families who are affected by their choices. It's all part of the whole that Waid does so well.

Kitson's pencils are excellent, though he's marred by the mass of inkers on this one. It's obvious--and glaring--where the fill in pencils and inks show up. I mean, for God's sake, this series had four different LETTERERS.

We can't even use 1 letterer anymore?

I can't say I love the Legion or would want to be collecting this, but Waid almost always tells a quality story, and this one's on point and definitely recommended.