Legion Week 3 Feature Reviews 

“Legion of Super-Heroes” – The Levitz Era Part 3

By | September 16th, 2022
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

The lead up to “The Great Darkness Saga” continues! We have a solid set of issues this week that wrap up several ongoing plot threads, introduce new characters, pave the road to darkness in earnest. I’m actually getting a little excited!

Legion of Super Heroes
Written by Paul Levitz amd Keith Giffen
Illustrated by Keith Giffen, Pat Broderick, Bruce Patterson, Larry Mahlstedt, with Carmine Infantino
Colored by Gene D’Angelo, Carl Gafford
Lettered by J. Costanza, Adam Kubert, and Todd Klein

First up we have issue #287, “Save The Espionage Suicide Squad,” which follows up on Chameleon Boy’s team as they infiltrate the Khundian homeworld. Giffen’s designs for the Khund and their world are fascinating. In a way they are the dark mirror of the medieval world of Ornado, but with a technological flair. Unfortunately, the plot is not quite as interesting as the accompanying artwork. Essentially, Timberwolf blows the Legionnaire’s cover, trapping them in a battle to the death with a generic Khundian soldier. The chapter does end with a startling cliffhanger, however.

More interesting are the interactions between the Legion members back at home. As Lightning Lad rages at Chameleon Boy’s rogue actions, his wife and sister share a close moment. Saturn Girl learns something about her sister-in-law and her self, sowing seeds of doubt and prompting her to launch a rescue mission for the Espionage Squad.

An interesting aspect of this issue is the way that Levitz uses fictional texts to flesh out the world. Excerpts from the Encyclopaedia Galactica and Khundish philosophers pepper the pages. Unfortunately, the texts add little that cannot be intuited by the reader already and tend to distract from the story at hand.

Artist Pat Broderick returns for a short back-up entitled “Prologue to Darkness.” As you might guess, this tale plants seeds for the upcoming “Great Darkness Saga.” Mon-El and Shadow Lass investigate a barren and abandoned world where United Planet forces have been disappearing. An ancient evil awakens, but the duo are called away to Orando before they can investigate. Although the mystery of this figure’s identity is quite spoiled (he’s on the cover of the most recent collected edition), the foreshadowing here is quite good. I can only imagine what it may have felt like to read along as the book was being serialized.

Speaking of Orando, the next chapter, “The Legionnaire’s Made For Burning,” returns to Karate Kid and Projectra as they face their imminent execution. Fortunately, Mon-El and Projectra are joined by Ultra Boy and Dream Girl as they mount a daring rescue. Giffen delivers his best work on the series, weaving deftly back and forth between sword and sorcery and space age science fiction. The contrast of deep black inks from Shadow Lass’s abilities with the vibrant splashes of color from Hagga’s magic make for stunning pages.

Though this issue lacks a back-up, we do pick up on the subplot of the missing Espionage Squad. Tensions and passions run high between the characters as Levitz leans heavily into the soap operatic. This carries into the next chapter, “A Cold and Lonely Corner of Hell.” Stranded on an asteroid with malfunctioning Legion rings, the team awaits rescue from any of the four search teams on patrol. We follow these teams on their adventures as they destroy miles of rain forest, beat up on stranded honeymooners, dodge random solar storms, and check in on a certain “Great Darkness.” Fittingly, it is the master tracker Dawnstar that finds them, thanks to some ingenuity by Saturn Girl and Shrinking Violet.

This issue does feature a back-up wherein Braniac 5 and Element Lad seek to help the infamous Matter-Eater Lad. Aside from artwork by Carmine Infantino, there’s little worth writing on here.

Levitz’s run thus far has featured the Legion fractured by various missions and disasters but everyone comes together for the first ever “Legion of Super-Heroes” Annual; “Monster In A Little Girl’s Mind.” This oversized issue feels important and momentous in a few ways. It features the return of one of the Legion’s most iconic villains, Computo. Shvaughn Erin, a Levitz creation from his earlier run, makes her return to the series in a way that suggests bigger things to come. I’m particularly interested in this character and the reference to the “Earthwar” arc that she originally appeared in. Finally, a new Legionnaire is introduced. The introduction of the new Invisible Kid couldn’t help me cause my “One Piece” addled brain to think of someone inheriting a devil fruit power from a previous owner. It’s Absolom all over again! In spite of this, the issue feels unnecessarily decompressed with the expanded page count.

That’s all for this week! Up next, I’ll finally cover “The Great Darkness Saga.” That is, unless I make a quick detour. Only time will tell!


//TAGS | 2022 Summer Comics Binge

Zach Wilkerson

Zach Wilkerson, part of the DC3 trinity, still writes about comics sometimes. He would probably rather be reading manga or thinking about Kingdom Hearts. For more on those things, follow him on Twitter @TheWilkofZ

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