Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Addendum to the Review of the Legion of Super Heroes: Part 1, By Johnathan

A while back I did a great big review of the whole durned Legion of Super-Heroes, circa the "Origins and Powers of the Legion" pages that ran way back when. Well, not long after I published that post I found another of those crazy things, in Legion of Super-Heroes v3 No. 17, and since that one included all of the pre-Five-Year Gap Legionnaires that I hadn't already covered I figured that I should probably do some sort of follow-up post. Kind of leery of long posts, though, so I've broken this one in two. First up: Legionnaires that I've already reviewed! Because what's obsessive completeness without, uh, completion?


You know, it's really hard to think up new things to say about Brainiac 5 when he's just standing there. That's what comes of a guy not having a costume change for 20+ years, I guess. The boots are nice and it looks like he's been working out, so that's two things. I suppose I can mention that I like the 'no black lines, just colour' style of forcefield more than the sheet of glass-lookin' ones that tend to show up in forcefield-centric comic books. I don't like this one, though. Purple forcefields aren't as good as green ones.



Probably my least favourite Chameleon Boy pic, both because of the costume and the 'how do his powers work' bit. Okay, I guess the costume's not too bad but it's definitely super-horrible with regards to palette. It's like, um... it's like Color Kid involuntarily used his powers whilst a sneeze/belch/hiccough combo was ravaging his cranial cavities - it's super-ugly, yo. Similarly, this "Let's slap CB's head on a little monkey-thing! It shows that they're the same guy!" approach to the whole issue of how to demonstrate his powers in a single panel seems even more ham-fisted than that one panel from the Sixties featuring him as an exposition-spouting garbage can. Bah!



See, Chameleon Boy? Speed lines help! They show us that Colossal Boy's getting bigger and they could've showed us how you were getting all transformative! Though in Colossal Boy's case, a wee little Gim Allon standing between his feet would've been nice. A new reader could potentially draw the conclusion that they were about to read a tale about someone who had the fantastic ability to emit gusts of wind from their fists, armpits and groin. And the only place that you're going to find that kind of action is in John and Paul Present: The Adventures of the Mighty Turbine! I like that they didn't alter his costume just for the sake of doing so - it's definitely better than the current incarnation - but I think that I might be pining for his old singing cowboy-style gloves for the rest of my life.



Decent picture of Dawny in space, no real alterations to her costume (though they may have added some more fringe, I'm not sure). Not too much to talk about here, really. I mean, her wings look like they're made of papiér maché, that's one thing., but it's not really what I'd call a conversation-starter. I'd really like to know what she's looking at, though. I mean, she flies around in the depths of space fighting super-villains, 9-5: what's really going to shock her that much? My guess? A left-over missile from the Great Darkness Saga, shaped like a giant, nude, anatomically-correct Darkseid and spewing laser fire from horrible, horrible places. That, my friends, would be a hell of a sight.



You know, until I took a close look at this picture just now I had thought it a pretty standard Dream Girl image. But now? Now I see that it's terrible. That's probably the worst rendition of the Dream Girl shiny one-piece that I've ever seen. It looks like it would require a whole roll of that special supermodel-brand double-sided tape to hold in place. Plus, I think she's wearing a cup. Bleh, I say. And while I'm bitching: whatever happened to that blue thing that she used to wear in her hair? That thing was great! It looked like a wireless cell phone headset, like she was constantly networking or prepared to network. Super-proactive! This all-glam look just doesn't have the same kind of synergy. Dream Girl is unlikely to land that big new client, and that's a shame.



Despite the fact that I'm no big fan of Interlac, I appreciate the thought behind changing the 'e' on Element Lad's chest to it's fakey future language equivalent. I was about to say that I wouldn't run around with the Cyrillic letter j on the front of my shirt, but that's a complete lie, unless Cyrillic is one of those alphabets that don't acknowledge the majesty of the j or, you know, admit to the existence of the sound. In any case, Element Lad manages to rock the pink costume far more thoroughly than Cosmic Boy ever did. I, uh, I don't really know what he's doing in this picture, though. I can only guess that he's turned an oxygen atom into one of Element 476, Gigantium (discovered c. 2674 CE), an atom notable mainly for being almost ridiculously huge.



So at some point Light Lass got her original powers back and became Lightning Lass again. This worked well because Lightning Lad had just retired, so the Legion was still able to say that it had lightning-slinging capabilities. And I guess that the ol' Light Lass powers weren't as useful as they could be. Trouble is, lightning is kind of a boring power to have - that's why Lightning Lad had the cape! It added flair! Lightning Lass' costume needs flair. Or zazz. Or possibly some moxie.



Mon-El’s another one of those cats who hasn’t changed his uniform in… ever. Admittedly, it is a pretty snappy bit of cloth – Daxam surely must have the best-dressed astronauts around. Plus, you’re bound to get attached to a tunic after wearing it for a thousand years whilst being verbally abused by ghostly assholes. I’m sure that both of those big gold buttons had its own name and complicated backstory by now and that for a while the cape was a serious competitor for Shadow Lass’ affections. I’m also sure that the ‘underwear over tights’ look doesn’t go well with this costume – so sure that I sort of blank the fact that Mon-El indulges in this abominable practice from my mind and have had more than one nerd-argument over the question of whether Mr. Gand wears ‘em inside the pants or not. Looking over my records, the answer turns out to be: both, on occasion. I believe that I have a comic shop employee to apologise to.

This is a perfectly nice picture of Mon-El, by the way. Except... Ol' Lar here has always been a character that manages to look cool despite the fact that he has a really bad haircut. This is, however, no reason to make that haircut the focal point of the image. It's like there's a hair-helmet coming to crush us, on its way to woo the Bouffant. Aiee!


Grr. My life has become too busy for long posts. I'm gonna break this up a bit (not like the last time, I promise - this time I'll finish). Tune in soon for Phantom Girl!

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Sad, Sorry, End: Review of Adventure Comics no. 337

When I started this review I was very excited by the prospect of writing about a Legion story that (I thought) epitomized many of the proper elements of Thirtieth Century tale-telling. Anyone who has been following along might have noticed that I launched into this project with great gusto and generated some epic and (according to Paul) irritatingly huge reviews. At this point, however, a curious phenomenon came to light: unlike most Legion stories - heck, unlike most Silver Age stories - the more I scrutinized and picked-apart this one the sicker I got of it. I’m not sure what it is, though possibly the gross orange jumpsuits on the Eddie Munster Brigade aggravated some latent Seasonal Affective Disorder. Possibly, too, it’s just kind of a lousy story. I’ve already covered most of the good parts (the wedding, the “new recruits”, the creepy house pet), so here are the other two:

FUTURE ZOO: Review of the Animal Books from Zinnat

I kind of love these guys. They seem to be of two different species, so I’m kind of baffled about how they might manage to convey information. Not that I can’t imagine more than one way that an animal might do so - far from it (for the record, my guesses include parrot-like speech mimicry, interpretive dance, Braille-like bumps on the back of the thing, tattoos, crazy TV eyes, Morse Code-like heartbeat, semaphore ears and sentient fleas that spell out words. Oh, and information-dense dung deposits). I’m just surprised that the Zinnatese managed to find and domesticate two such beasts before discovering, say, paper. Or the chisel. I don’t know - maybe the Animal Book is just a fancy version of a regular book, like when you get a copy of Dracula with a puffy leather cover instead of in the standard beat-up paperback format. Hell, maybe the bars on those little alcoves are decorative and the ‘Animal Books’ are just regular books that have been made out of animals, sliced up thin.

All I know is this: those Animal Books never showed up again, possibly because someone found out that they were being kept in cages roughly the size of a pack of chewing gum. Oh, wait. I also know that every time that Sun Boy came into the library he asked someone to “pass me a disc book from Uranus.” And he found it just as funny every time.


The only other interesting thing in this issue were these headers that ran along the top of the page, apparently featuring the mug shots taken after Matter-Eater Lads 19th birthday celebration on Ventura. What a night!

Anyway, Adventure Comics No. 337 ended like this: the aliens found Plan R and went home and then it turned out that Plan R was a fake, as were the Legion weddings. It had all been a ruse to get the location of Munster Planet. The Legion shows up and shuts down the machine that the aliens used to make their super-power pills. The end.

So tired of it…


My belated New Years’ resolution? Not to do crap like this again. Next up: old familiar territory redux!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Completely Unbiased Review of Goodbye Robot Army, By Johnathan

So this game Goodbye Robot Army is great, and that's neither a lie nor a biased opinion.

I mean, it's not as if it was programmed by Paul Review, right? And it's not like I myself provided concept art or some of the jokes or the above promotional image, right?


In light of that I offer a completely unbiased


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The latest in High-Tech Communication: Continuing Review of Adventure Comics No. 337

I don't know how I feel about the ol' super-shout. On the one hand, it'd be nice to know what Superboy was up to at any one time but on the other: burst eardrums. I don't know. I kind of figured that after Brainiac 5 got finished with creating those y'know, rings, the ones that let you fly, he might have devoted a half hour or so to banging together one or two walkie-talkies. I mean, I know that Silver Age Superboy had to use all of his powers as frequently as possible while talking about what he was doing or he'd lose them, but couldn't he think of the children, and also the old people and the pets and everyone else?

I like that Superboy can't just say "Great guns!" or something. He's too large for that - he needs to swear by something really, really big. It's all "Great galaxies!" or "By the rings of Saturn!" or even "Great Krypton!", which always gives me a chuckle. I hope swearing by places you were born or used to live comes into vogue soon, so I can shout "Great Windsor!" or "Holy Halifax!" or even "By the temperate climate and great dining opportunities of Victoria!" when I get surprised by seeing some of my pals taking a nap.

Adventure Comics No. 337, REVIEW DEFERRED, still.

Action Comics No. 860 is out this (wait.. last) week. There's not much new to say about the Legion of Super-Rejects (though I was surprised to see that it wasn't just a trick of perspective - Golden Boy's pants really are that high-waisted) but I'm pleased to report that my dream of a comic in which Shadow Lass and Night Girl are working as the most obvious team ever has finally come to pass, and it only took thirty or forty years!


Shooter coming back to the Legion? Ask me in a few more issues.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Shameful: Review of Adventure Comics No. 337, By Johnathan

Ugh. I suck. I kept all the children on tenterhooks for two, maybe three weeks. Sorry, children. I am filled with deep shame. Worry not, however - I hereby vow that I will finish writing about this gol-danged story before the year 2967 actually comes to pass. There: my conscience is once again clear.

Okay, so since the former Giant Giant Post format that I was using has been discredited like Soviet-era Communism (and because it was driving Paul Review crazy) I'll be delivering up the remainder of this story in easily-digested chunks. So... chew on this:

I've become even more taken with the fact that the alien spies believed that they had disguised themselves as beings from three different planets. What does this say about the future? Exactly how far can I run with the idea? Huh?

Pretty far, as it turns out. Blackout Boy, the green-clad gentleman in the centre, for example, proudly wears the planetary uniform of the Violently Clashing People of the Hot Pink Planet Eeugh. Settled by rogue fashion designers in the mid-25th Century, Eeugh's people deliberately choose a new universal style of clothing every five years, each created expressly to offend the eye when viewed against the already hard-to-look-at landscapes of their adoptive planet. The blackout power showcased in this story was evolved in order to give the Eeughians' eyes a much-needed rest.


Size Lad, here, is posing as an inhabitant of Scherer VXI, the Obsessive Rock Hudson Fan's Planet, inhabitants of which are recognizable for their hair, which is universally coloured and styled to resemble that of their idol. Further cosmetic alterations are earned by Scherernites by participating in grueling physical and mental challenges. As each citizen comes to resemble Hudson more and more they are entitled to wear a series of colour-coded uniforms that reflect their social status, starting at white for those with Hudson-hair and nothing else and progressing through the spectrum to an awe-inspiring luminescent black worn by the planet's leader, Rock Hudson.


Magnetic Kid - far right, first panel - isn't actually wearing a horrid purple jumpsuit. Rather, he is one of the Purple Torso People of the jungle planet Smee. The Torso people evolved in the jungles of Smee as relentless predators, drawing prey to them with their magnetic powers and then devouring them with their fearsome abdomouths. Eventually, the Torso People formed an advanced society and joined the United Planets, but found that the humans that they so resembled had difficulty in communicating comfortably with what to them resembled headless bodies, even if they knew that the white spots on the shoulders were eyes. Faced with the possibility of being cosmic outcasts, the Smeevians engaged the services of the renowned Coluan cyberneticist Sqak Vaq, who swiftly designed a robotic head capable of interfacing with the nerves and muscles of the Smeevian shoulder area and translating torso-based facial expressions into something that a human could appreciate. Of course, since Coluans and Torso People both consider all humans to look alike, the entire Smeevian race wears identical blonde cyberheads.


So you see: those three forms did look like they came from different planets after all! I was a fool to doubt, a fool!

And I just approved of three planets that I made up!

Adventure Comics No. 337: REVIEW DEFERRED