May 10, 2009

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Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes (Volume 3)

Written by Mark Waid
Illustrated by Barry Kitson and, no lie folks, seven other people (most notably Amanda Conner) as well as an art studio
DC

I sometimes think that there's a law against consistent artwork in DC and Marvel comic books. I mean, really--there's only 7 issues collected here and it took five pencillers, four inkers, and an art studio to do it?

No one's asking anybody to be Sal "five books a month" Buscema here, but still, this lack of artistic cohesion kills me.

I was digging the new Legion that Mark Waid put together along with Kitson, but I can't say that the introduction of Supergirl does a whole lot for me.

Basically, this time out, while the Legion tries to come to grips with its newfound popularity and the threat of being coopted by their grownup antagonists, Supergirl shows up out of the events of Infinite Crisis and claims she's dreaming the whole thing.

It's time for meta-fiction, boys and girls, and while I'm all for meta-fiction as a rule, it tromps on the teenagers learning to grow up overarching story which I am far more interested in. As this book begins, the Legion has to deal with what happens when you stop being the rebels and start being the leaders. It's a classic dichotomy--if you do manage to overthrow (at least partially) the man who's getting you down, what happens when you start being the Man?

I'd have loved to see what Waid did with this as a major plot point, as he is one of my favorite writers most of the time. And it's still there, around the edges--when the Legion helps the traditional police, they're resentlful, for example. Not all the Legion wants to be a part of the government either, and that's made clear--along with some unintended consequences if they do join. As with most of his other work, it's the little touches that make the whole better. I just wish this time the little touches were closer to the forefront.

That's not to say these aren't good stories--they are. Waid gets to show how much having a Superman enter the picture changes things, and Supergirl's insistence she's dreaming everything gives her actions a playful irreverence. Plus there's still the batshit crazy plot of Braniac--who is definitely not nearly as straight-up heroic as he may have been in other incarnations.

This is still a pretty dysfunctional team of teens in a world that fears them, just like I fear the lack of consistent art. If you liked the first two trades or are a fan of Mark Waid, I'd say keep reading. Plus, there's a set of hysterical letter columns at the end which show that in the end, Mark Waid is a comic reader's comic writer.

While not as good as the Legion-only books, I'm still going to keep reading. Considering I don't particularly care about the Legion OR Supergirl, that's saying something.