Legion legend Paul Levitz returns to the legendary early days of the Legion of Super-Heroes. A review to see how well it does.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Adventure Comics #12 / 515
Published by DC Comics
Written by Paul Levitz
Penciled by Kevin Sharpe
Inked by Marlo Alquiza & Marc Deering
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
Colors by Blond
Edited by Brian Cunnigham
Cover - Adventure Comics #12 by Scott Clark & Dave Beaty
Cover - Adventure Comics #515 by Lee Bermejo (after Giffen & Mahlstedt)
If you aren't aware, this humble reporter is a Legion geek (proof of this coming at the end of the review). From the moment they first clicked with me back in 1980, they have been an all out passion. Over the years I've gone toe to toe with Mark Waid in Legion trivia and had a shining moment in my comic life when an actual character was named after me in the Legion's book (I died in same panel I was introduced in but it's still special). It hurt to no end when they disappeared and replaced by rebooted clones and dopplegangers that looked the part but never felt quite right. That all changed a couple years ago when the original team was brought back. Today, the Legion of the (future) present takes place in Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion of the (future) past gets to star in the title that began it all in 1958, Adventure Comics.
Adventure Comics #12 (soon to go back to it's true Adventure Comics numbering #515)
Clark Kent, Superboy, has gone to play hooky from school. For the youngster who has been raised to hide his abilities when in public and forced to be someone he is not, it's a chance to let loose. His friends in the Legion of Super-Heores have come to take him to their time 1000 years in the future. When there, he's recognized as one of the greatest heroes who will ever be. This unsettles him as he isn't ready for all that. Saturn Girl places a mental block in his mind so that he's not overwhelmed (and so he'll forget anything he learns from the future).
Trouble on Mars as a plague breaks out and the needed medicine will take too long to go from Earth to there. The only option, Superboy. He's rarely had the chance to let loose with his powers and on the first go he's hoping planets.
Once back he continues with the list of all the things he wishes he could do back home. Play baseball to the best of his abilities and kiss a girl (Phantom Girl eagerly volunteers - but how she escapes the heat from his heat vision is a mystery). The day over, he heads home and tells his Pa all about his fantastic day, none the sadder as it fades from his memory like a good dream.
Paul Levitz does a number of things with this simple story. He gets that this is a Superboy that at this point only has potential. Clark is wide-eyed and confused about the future (and his). He wisely has Saturn Girl block that aspect from overwhelming him otherwise all future stories would be filled with the same doubts about his life.
He includes the rest of the Legion mainly as back-up characters as this really is a Superboy story but when he does he nails their characterization. Nothing really set up for future stories here (subplots is a Levitz staple), that may change soon.
While this issue is tied to continuity, at least it is their own continuity (unlike the sister LSH book whic for some reason focuses on Green Lantern continuity).
Sadly though, it appears that Levitz has learned about decompression - as many pages just seem drawn out. In the past I imagine this 29 page story would only have been 21 (and in my opinion the better for it).
It was unsettling to see Brainiac 5 crush a cockroach. The Legion doesn't kill (not even insects).
I've never heard of the artist Kevin Sharpe before. The artwork is just okay in some places and quite good in others. I do like that he draws the young LSH as if they were really teenagers. Some panels of Superboy are very very good while others... aren't. And why did he put Jimmy Olsen in the Superman Museum's Hall of Villains wing?
And a warm welcome back to the Editor's Box! An asterix appears next to Colossal Boy's mentioning of his friend Gigi. At the bottom of that same panel a yellow text box from the Editor explains who Gigi is. I can't recall the last time I've seen this used.
All in all - this is an excellent start and jumping on point for everyone.
Long Live the Legion!
Levitz makes a serious gaff when he has Saturn Girl mention that she is an orphan. This is a factual error as evidence by...
• Adventure Comics #356 (05/1967) - Saturn Girl is not on a sheet listing all the orphans in the LSH.
• Superboy #184 (04/1972) - She is seen in a space cruiser with her "family".
• Who's Who in the LSH #5 (09/1988) - her bio begins with "When Imra's parents begin to see glimpses of her psychic potential..."
(Levitz has since admitted this was a mistake on his part).
Also in error is the ID tag for RJ Brande. At this point in time no one (not even the narrator) should know he's from Durla.
The scene with the Legion girls fawning over Superboy feels like it's taken right from Jimmy Olsen #76 (04/1964)
The Legion membership places this story somewhere after Action #267 (08/1960) but before Superboy #98 (07/1962)
Chronicaller's Error - Jet packs and Flight belts are gone as Flight Rings are now the norm (The Legion Flight Ring technically first appeared in Adventure #329 (02/1965)).
Legion appearances: Superboy, Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Phantom Girl, Lightning Lad, Triplicate Girl, Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid
Other: Ma & Pa Kent, Legion Clubhouse, Gigi Cusimano (mentioned), RJ Brande