29 August 2017

Review: Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and John Sibal

Comic hardcover, 158 pages
Published 2008 (contents: 2007-08) 

Acquired December 2012
Read November 2015
Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: John Sibal
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Rob Leigh

So this takes place prior to Legion of 3 Worlds, but I actually read it afterwards. I wonder what I would think if I'd read them in the proper order, because as it is, this read like a less successful widescreen Legion action story in much the same vein as Legion of 3 Worlds. There are some good ideas here (I like the idea that a 31st-century nativist group has made the Earth's sun red as a giant "screw-you" to Kryptonians), but the story never clicked with me like Legion of 3 Worlds did, was never quite as fun or brash or crowd-pleasing.

Geoff Johns can sometimes do a great last-page reveal.
from Action Comics vol. 1 #858

At least part of this is due to the art, I think. Gary Frank is a good artist, but his linework makes young people look old, and youth is one of the essential qualities of the Legion, and everything was a bit too fussy. I guess what I'm saying is that he's no George Pérez. And yes, I know that's unfair. (I also don't really care for his costume designs.)

More like Legion of Teenage Super-Creeps. They should all be, like 13-15 here! Has Gary Frank seen a real teenager?
from Action Comics vol. 1 #858

There's a good idea here-- the diversity of the Legion standing against nativism-- but Johns doesn't quite pull off the thematic resonances, the end of the story getting kind of bogged down in a giant fight and gratuitous appearances by the Legion of Substitute Heroes. The Legion's large cast is, as always, its strength and its weakness.

Just imagine your John Williams fanfare swelling up here.
from Action Comics vol. 1 #863
Next Week: The Legion has been split... half of its members have been lost... and it faces a Hostile World!

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