06 February 2017

Return to the Threeboot: A Review of Supergirl and the Legion of Superheros: The Quest For Cosmic Boy

Given that in reading Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's run on the Legion of Super-Heroes, I had read five of the eight volumes of the so-called "threeboot" Legion, it seemed like the thing to do was just go ahead and read the remaining three. So here is the first of three reviews of what was done with Waid and Kitson's distinctive Legion after they left:

Comic trade paperback, 138 pages
Published 2008 (contents: 2007-08) 

Acquired and read August 2016
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: The Quest For Cosmic Boy

Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Dennis Calero with Kevin Sharpe/Robin Riggs
Colors: Nathan Eyring
Letters: Travis Lanham, Jared K. Fletcher, Steve Wands

Cosmic Boy vanished in the final issue of the Waid/Kitson run, Dominator War, apparently taken into the future. The Quest For Cosmic Boy sees a new Legion leader, Supergirl, begin a search for him under the advice of Brainiac 5. This essentially gives us three substories, each of which is the focus of two issues or so: Star Boy, Sun Boy, and Mekt "not Lightning Lord" Ranzz go to Mekt's home planet of Winath; Supergirl, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad explore the Gobi Rainforest; and Timber Wolf, Shadow Lass, and Atom Girl must stop an attempted assassination on Lallor, the planet where the Legion fought a bloody battle back in Teenage Revolution.

I want to see more of this guy, but I suspect we never will.
from Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #32 (art by Dennis Calero)

Of these, the Winath one is the most successful. For most of the story, it's a fun and complicated adventure underground on the dangerous planet of Winath, especially thanks to a United Planet judiciary member who's come along to arrest Cosmic Boy if they do find him, so that Cos can attend a hearing on the genocide of the Dominators. Tenzil Kem, the judiciary officer, is Matter-Eater Lad in some other continuities, and here he's good fun, eating tons of stuff (including a finger!) but also with lie-detecting sunglasses. Unfortunately, it all fell apart at the end for me, when we learn that Mekt's people telepathically implanted the impulse to commit genocide in Cos, completely undermining the end of Dominator War, and replacing moral ambiguity with black-and-white simplicity. Mekt's Wanderers had previously had the same goals as the Legion, but somewhat more dangerous methods; now they're just evil folks. I was really disappointed in this change, and it cast a pall over the interesting story Bedard had been telling up until that point.

And no one ever mentioned him ever again. Even after he told everyone he used to be on the team.
from Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #34 (art by Dennis Calero)

The other two stories are considerably less interesting. The Lallor story adds Wildfire to the Legion in a somewhat too complicated fashion (he was apparently on the team before the first volume, but seemed to be killed), and it's not as though the Legion really needs more members-- the roll call in the front of the book lists nineteen active, full members, and there are so many story and character hooks for them that Waid and Kitson set up in the first five volumes that still haven't been followed up on. The Gobi story is mostly there just to get Supergirl out of the way, returning her to the 21st century for the events of World War III and whatever it was she did in her own book after the Infinite Crisis.

I imagine his tenure as Legion leader will go off without a hitch.
from Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #36 (art by Dennis Calero)

The idea of Supergirl as Legion leader has promise, given she's instinctively nice and selfless, but also new to this time and place, but Bedard's story gives her almost nothing to do in this capacity except take orders from Brainiac 5. And though I like Brainy, he overshadows the other characters a bit too much with his complicated machinations (taking after his ancestor in L.E.G.I.O.N., except that that Brainiac was a lead, whereas this one is supposed to be an equal member of an ensemble). I found myself pretty dissatisfied with the thrust of Bedard's brief run on the title. I'd like to see more development of the characters that Waid and Kitson set up-- there are lots of Legionnaires we still know so little about, including Cos's cofounders, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad!

I should say that Dennis Calero does a pretty good job on art. I'd hate to be the guy with the job of following Barry Kitson as artist on anything, but Calero does a good job on action. On the other hand, his figures and faces look a little too posed at times, especially when he seems to be tracing a facial expression that just doesn't look at all appropriate for the situation.

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