Mixed Feelings: Adventure Comics

This post contains spoilers.  Kind of big spoilers.  Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds spoilers.  If you haven't read the most recent issue (issue four, out two days ago), you probably should not continue.

Seriously.

I'm warning you.

Stop.

Alright.  I can safely assume that you've either read the comic, don't care about the spoilers, or you accidentally hit Page Down and will now have the book ruined for you.  If so, I apologize.

Actually, to be honest, I'm not that sorry.  Because, see, the most recent issue of Legion of Three Worlds?  It kind of sucked.

That's right, my captivated readers--this is a review, too!  Despite not having weekly access to comics (although that will sort of change when mailordercomics.com starts sending me my orders), I managed to read the most recent issue of Legion through illegal downloads magic.  Fear not, though, I do have an actual, legal copy on the way, courtesy of, again, mailordercomics.com! I get a discount for plugging it, right?

So, in the most recent issue, other Legionnaires died ("Don't worry, though, none of the real Legion, just those worthless duplicates nobody ever cared about", says Johns*, while Superboy was brought back to life, and also Superboy-Prime is the Time Trapper.

Okay, well, let's get discussing this.  I admit, I'm not the most unbiased individual.  As a kid, the first comic series I followed regularly was Superboy--I bought the fourth issue of DC. Vs. Marvel because I thought that was the greatest idea for a comic EVER, and in it, there was a form for a subscription, where the company would send you an issue of a comic every month.  I wanted X-Men, but tragically, there was no Marvel subscription form in that comic, only DC.  So, I reluctantly settled with Superboy, figuring for some reason that it would be the most like X-Men--and even though it wasn't like X-Men at all, I fell in love.  Sure, I missed the first Kesel/Grummett run, catching only the final issue (30), but I was met with a perfectly acceptable run by Ron Marz.  More importantly, though, I was also around for the second Kesel/Grummett run, which is, in my opinion, infinitely superior to the first (which I would later obtain).  I was captivated, and it cemented both creators as favorites of mine, even to this day.

I even followed through with the Joe Kelly run (which, while solid, a dramatic change in tone) and the less-than-spectacular Palmiotti/Didio run.  But hey, it was Superboy!

After that, I traded in my S-title subscriptions for Teen Titans, because look, ma, Superboy's there now!  And that was a great book.  Not brilliant, but I enjoyed it as it was coming out.  And then it crossed over with the Legion.

Now, I never paid much attention to the Legion before.  Sure, they appeared in Superboy once or twice, but I mostly considered them bland characters too complicated to bother getting to know.  With the Waid/Kitson relaunch, though, I figured--hey, why not give it a shot?  By this time, I was driving, and so I stopped at BC and picked up issues one, three and five (the earliest three issues I could find).  And again, I fell in love.  The book was great!  I added it to my pull list and followed it for the book's duration.

More importantly, though, this prompted me to raid BC's quarter bin for old Legion books, grabbing a few from the "Archie" style days.  But the ones that really caught me were Legion Lost, Legion Worlds, and The Legion.  Those issues?  Incredible.  Another one of my all-time favorite runs, again cementing Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning as favorite writers that I'll follow.  I promptly dropped a few hundred dollars to get every post-Zero Hour issue of the Legion on Ebay, and then started buying the expensive Archives of the original Legion.  I was absolutely hooked.

Now then, here's the thing.  As much as I loved Superboy, the one that appeared in Teen Titans?  It wasn't Superboy.  Not the Superboy I grew to love in the Marz/Kesel runs, or the Superboy I was amused by in the Kelly run, or even the Superboy I learned to tolerate in the Palmiotti/Didio run.  This was a Superboy with a new personality, and a new backstory, one that I've since learned is just...professional fanfiction.

In an early Superboy letters column, a young Geoffrey Johns asked if maybe Lex Luthor was the DNA base for Superboy!  He was informed, quite definitively, that no, he was not.  The book would then go on to prove that Paul Westfield was the donor, prompting some rather good storylines.  But hey, an outright no is only a no until you're in charge, because young Johns would later grow up to be a big time DC writer, capable of replacing the unknown Paul Westfield with household name Lex Luthor.

Superboy's personality also became rather generic.  He went from the caring goofball to the slightly insecure meathead who only had eyes for Wonder Girl.  To be honest, I thought that he was the most boring character of the Teen Titans, even though the book tended to focus on him.  Even Kid Flash, also stripped of his personality, interested me more.  I did not mind at all when Superboy was written out of the active team following the Insiders story arc, even if he continued to show up in the book until his death.

Cut to One Year Later.  There are new books for both the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America, and a major crossover develops called the Lightning Saga.  I just reread the Lighting Saga earlier in the week.  It certainly wasn't bad, I did really enjoy it.  But it was also fairly obvious that this Legion was going to be the new focus--this new Legion that was like the originals (but not quite).

And I was okay with that.  Not thrilled, as it was probably one of my least favorite incarnations of the Legion (my order?  DnA, Five Year Gap, Threeboot, "Archie", this Legion, and then finally the original members of the Legion that hadn't even been defined yet).  But I was certainly willing to give it a shot.

And Johns proved to me that he could write the Legion almost instantly, with the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes arc in Action Comics.  It was amazing.  The title became an instant favorite under the Johns/Frank creative team, and the Legion story was basically everything I wanted in a comic at the time (I've since re-evaluated what I want after how I fell in love with Final Crisis, but that's unimportant).  And then came the announcement for Legion of Three Worlds, and I could not wait.

So, Legion of Three Worlds came out.  And the first issue?  Amazing.  The writing was good, the art was great, there was political intrigue, the characterization was spot-on, and they even remembered that R.J. Brande was The Durlan from the old L.E.G.I.O.N. comics (which are, by the way, also great reads).

Then the second issue came out, and it...was still good.  I wasn't thrilled with the fact that the Johns-favored Legion was still getting all the focus, and I also wasn't thrilled with how they dismissed the other Legions as not-being-the-real-ones, but I enjoyed the book.  Then came the last page, where I realized that this wasn't just going to be about the Legion, but it was going to be a Geoff Johns book, sort of him bringing his greatest hits all together.  Okay, I could live with that, he was doing great so far, and I liked Sodom Yat anyway.

The third issue?  The art started to weaken, a bit.  You could tell that George Perez wasn't giving it his all (especially that last page, where Bart Allen had all the muscles in the wrong place).  The thing that I didn't like, though, was that Johns felt free to use the other Legions as cannon fodder--and also explain that, oh hey, Bart Allen and XS were tied to the post-Zero Hour Legion...uh, no they weren't, that's not the real Legion, it was an accident and they really belong here.  But, even that I was okay with.  Well, I wasn't fond of cannon fodder, but I was okay with the rest.

And then came the fourth issue.  More cannon fodder.  More stress that the other Legions didn't matter.  More stress that this was a Geoff Johns greatest hits thing, where the other characters involved become more important than the Legion.  Another character returns from the dead.

Problems that a lot of people complain about and drop comics for.  And I'm not fond of it, but...okay.  I can get past it.  I can.  I can get over things I don't like about the story, for the sake of a good story.

My problem, though, is when the story isn't good, when the writing is contrived and cliched.  I spent most of the comic bored, that's not a good sign, right?

And now, the whole point of this post that took me way too long to reach--Superboy is going to co-star in Adventure Comics with the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I'm not sold on the idea.  I don't hate it, and it's what I figured would happen, and a Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul creative team isn't something to sneeze at.

But I just worry that I'll be met with more of the Superboy I didn't grow to love, and more of the Legion I didn't grow to love.  If the stories are good, I can get past all of it--but after the way this most recent issue was done, I worry that they won't be.

*May not be an actual quote.

Comments

  1. I admire your dedication to even attempt to juggle all those different versions of The Legion and Superboy - - which is one of the problems I have trying to understand those books on the few occasions I have picked one up - - and probably the reason I don't check out those titles. When every writer on a long term title makes changes it usually spells confusion. . .

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  2. I'm behind on reviews because I just had my second busiest work week of the year, so I'll save my detailed comments for later except to say that I liked this book a *lot* more than you did. Based on what you wrote, I think part of it is an age issue -- I'm more of a pre-reboot Legion and Superboy fan. I will say that I'm thrilled that the Legion has a Superboy for the first time in 20 years (and that they can use the name again), no matter which version of each we end up with.

    Also, a question for those who read the book since we're already in spoiler mode: Do you think that Bart seeing his "adult self die" means that he will never grow up. I'm not sure if that's what Johns was trying to imply, but it seems appropriate.

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  3. Just wanted to say that gt2590 is me, Brian.

    The ID is from an earlier blog attempt that didn't work out last summer.

    Anyway, hope you don't mind if I post and link out to some other comic guys, especially former BC workers/customers.

    Maybe it'll get big enough to make up for all those bounced BC checks. LOL.

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  4. Legion of Three Worlds was so bad I think it gave me some sort of venerial disease.

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  5. Ryan, I think you're using it wrong. You're just supposed to look at it. :-)

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  6. See, I'm more than willing to accept a preboot Legion with a Superboy. I think that it can be a great idea, and it's probably best for the future of the franchise.

    But what I didn't enjoy--and maybe this isn't an opinion everyone shares--the quality of the writing. I felt that it was too formulaic, and that the story wasn't really serving the interests of the Legion--instead, it was furthering other storylines developed by Geoff Johns.

    I'm perfectly willing to give Adventure Comics a try, and the preview pages really do look incredible, and the enthusiasm that Johns has for the material gives me hope. I'm just not thrilled with what I've seen so far.

    On another note, I'm really happy to see that other people are using this place, too!

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  7. I certainly can't argue that there's a lot of "Geoff Johns' greatest hits" and "Geoff Johns explains complicated stuff quickly so that you won't think about it too much" in there, but I was having enough fun that I didn't care.

    The preview pages (which I agree look terrific) show Superboy in the 21st century and Geoff Johns referred to the Legion as the "co-feature" in Adventure on his blog the other day, so it seems like we will not be getting a full-time "Superboy & the Legion" feature after all. (Though I think it's safe to assume they will cross over from time to time.)

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