June 21, 2009

, , , ,   |  

Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes Volume 4

Written by Mark Waid, Tony Bedard, and Stuart Moore
Illustrated by Barry Kitson, Adam DeKraker, Mick Gray,Rob Stull, Rodney Ramos, LenLashley, Greg Parkin, Pat Olliffe, Livesay, Dale Eaglesham, and Art Thibert
DC

Wow! An arc of this series where Barry Kitson actually has some consistent inkers! While there were yet another a large number of artists, some of those were from the backups. So I don't have as many issues with the art this time, as the flow from one part of the arc to the next feels a lot better.

So what's going on this time? Well, there's still fallout from the uneasy alliance with the United Planets, while the Legion itself decides to find a way to deal with Supergirl once and for all, taking the Richard O'Brian approach--she needs a little (ooh!) Shock Treatment....

Ahem. Sorry about that.

A man of many subplots, because he worked in the era when comics writers stayed on a title for more than 6 or 12 issues at a time, we also see the first stages of resolution to Brainiac's attempts to resurrect the dead and the return of Sun Boy, though perhaps not for very long. Are the attacks on Sun Boy's team, several locations across the United Planets, and the Legion itself (again) linked in some way?

Hey, it's a Mark Waid comic--what do you think?

I am particularly impressed by Waid's ability here to tell multiple stories without the reader feeling cheated, a trick that also works in 52. Again, I refer back to his comfort with staying with characters for longer than a year. He also does an amazing job with the patter here. As he's grown more comfortable with the characters, you can see the little Waid touches of humor within a tragic situation, such as my personal favorite, "Which one's the delusional lunatic again?" with the obvious but perfect reply, "I can't tell anymore."

In the wrong hands, that's the lines of a melodrama. With Waid, it's comedy gold. (This is why he's arguably the best candidate to write Spider-Man, and I'm so happy he's in regular rotation right now--can't wait to read those in trade.) He also slips in just a bit of meta-commentary here and there, like when a character complains that the villain's dialog is stereotypical. Again, with a lesser writer, those types of situations distract, but Waid always seems to find a way to make it work.

I should also mention that despite moving on to some grand arc work, Waid still finds the time to do little stories that show we are dealing with teenagers, either as a full issue (a jealousy plot involving Supergirl) or little touches, where a Legionaire doesn't want to admit to losing a fight to Brainiac. They're little human elements, but for me, that's the difference between interesting superhero comics and those that are just okay

Unfortunately, sometimes Waid just has to push the envelope a little too far. A backup story deals with ruined comic books with the message that it's better to deal with the living than the dead, in a direct comment on folks not liking continuity changes. It's not a bad story, but I think that type of message is better delivered in an essay, not in the mouths of your creations.

But that's just a minor blip in a comic series I am really digging a lot more than I expected and definitely recommend.