Hello again! It's time for the long-awaited review of the Giant Mouth-Creature! I would have done this thang this past weekend but was involved in a series of celebrations of my great-grandmother's 100th birthday - highly JOHN APPROVED.
On to the beast! The Giant Mouth-Creature (or possibly giant Mouth-Creature - the all-caps nature of comics lettering means that we shall never really know) appeared in a single panel in Adventure Comics No. 321, in which various Legionnaires are subjected to physical and mental torture (fun!) to test whether they've got the stones necessary to keep their greatest weapon a secret. Saturn Girl ends being scanned with some sort of mind-reading device, but avoids giving up info by thinking about heroic feats that the Legion has performed, including this little number:
I've got to say: this is pretty weak. I mean, Matter-Eater Lad is my very favourite Legionnaire, but there's a heck of a lot wrong with this situation. First off: what the hell kind of wimps are these aliens? They have this critter lurking around their village, eating trees - not star basketball players, not baby-sitters: trees - and they're so scared of it's wide-mouthed herbivorousness that they have to call in a special guy to eat the trees for them. I was going to wonder why they didn't just kill the Mouth-Creature if it gave them the willies so bad, but I think I just answered my own question: it's because they can't even defeat a tree, let alone an omnivorous-at-worst sphere with lockjaw that doesn't do much more than glare when some dude just waltzes in and eats up it's bedtime snack. I wonder: if M-E Lad takes too long to do the job will they become frightened of him? Do they accuse people sitting next to them on the astro-bus of "Lurking there and frightening me"? Bah. Bah, I say.
The creature itself? Kind of awesome. I can't decide whether I want it to be able to close its mouth or not, but even if it's a permanent thing, that's a fantastic expression of impotent rage that it's wearing as it watches Tenzil snack. Also, those little rubbery legs are great. Again, how could you be frightened of this thing? It looks like something that you could tip over and use as a planter, without calling in Element Lad to adjust the soil's pH or anything. Heck, you could even get all ironic and use it to grow some Red Andal trees in, if you're that sort of person.
Giant Mouth-Creature: JOHN APPROVED. Wussy aliens? NOT APPROVED
I have listened to the will of the people, and just under half of them want to hear about some future-losers with super-powers. This poll thing seems to be working all right, so I'll be keeping it up for a while - not necessarily in any consistent format, mind you.
Today we'll look at a couple of guys from way, way back in the day (Adventure Comics No. 307, that's how way). I've been kind of putting off discussing them for a while now, not because they're not rich and fascinating topics for online pontification but because they've only got one panel of action - their combined in-continuity adventures span one-third of one page. Thankfully, on further investigation I found that a full two-thirds of the page in question was suitable for discussion, so the Internet will get to hear my opinions after all!
Here's the Legion, fresh from an encounter with the arch-pirate Roxxas, who has been flying around with his band of cutthroats stealing simply everything in sight - seriously, he goes to one planet and basically ends up making off with all of their light bulbs. The Legionnaires are concerned that they don't have the numbers to take on this murderous, awful, bloodthirsty crew, so they hit upon the idea of signing up a few new recruits, presumably as cannon fodder. Note that Invisible Kid is wearing that same black-hair-and-yellow-jumpsuit number that he was sporting during the Dynamo Kid audition. Colouring error or early-onset midlife crisis ("Bright colours - bright colours are young, right? And... and I'll dye my hair black! Get a sporty hover-car, a sexy Durlan ladyfriend - nobody'll ever guess that I'm an old man of seventeen.)?
Having neglected to give a name, this youngster is variously identified as Green Boy, Green Guy and possibly Green Lad. Me, I figure that anyone who bothers to inject himself with chemicals until he gets a side-effect that qualifies as a super-power just (I assume) so's he can apply for a club is going to think up something a bit more grandiose than that. Lime Lad? Emerald Ed? Ral Kint, the Chlorochromaticistic Kid? Guess we'll never know, though, so I'm going with Green Guy, 'cause it's short and I like alliteration.
Green Guy might - just might - be the most delusional person ever to walk away from Legion HQ with a consolation flight belt. He's at least in the running beside Rann Antar. Check him out: from the explanation that he has just given I am lead to believe that his powers affect only the world around him. I mean, he's not turning green, that's for sure. So a) why the hell is he decked out in blue and orange when a quick trip to the Army/Navy Surplus (Stormtrooper/Spacefleet Surplus) could at least lend a little weight to his argument and b) how the hell is that any use in camouflage? Even on a world with green foliage, wouldn't that field of greenifying rays just make him easier to spot? He'd just be this blue-and-orange figure at the centre of a blobby field of green. Boo, Green Guy, boo. You're lucky that Sun Boy was feeling uncharacteristically kind and let you down easy with that "Different planets have different leaves." excuse. On any other tryout day he'd just roar "REJECTED!" and set your hair on fire.
Next up is Camera Eye (again, best guess on the name), a comparatively normal youth. Amusingly, he is green. Man, I got so worked up about Green Guy that I'm a bit spent on the old "Making fun of guys" front. Okay, here goes: Camera Eye, you'd have maybe the barest hint of a chance of getting into the Legion as some sort of living sex-tape maker or something if you weren't such a liar. At the risk of sounding like exactly the kind of pedantic nerd that I am: when the hell did Superboy ever meet Bizarro? Never, that's when, you liar. Oh, he met Bizarro Superboy, sure, but that's clearly a bizarro Superman up there. Go on home, Camera Eye. Go home and watch videos of yourself crying in the mirror. Jerk.
Nice shirt, though. Still, NOT APPROVED.
And I just threw this one in because Element Lad's costume looks pretty nifty with that question mark on it. And the lad himself looks particularly elfin, I must say. Also: surprisingly jaunty for someone who recently became the only one of his kind.
Hooray!It's the end of the Supplement to the Addendum to the Review of the Legion of Super-Heroes! Let's do it!
As might be becoming apparent, I quite liked these late additions to the Legion. They represented a conscious effort on various writer's parts to inject some new life into a group that had become fairly static, member-wise, at about the time Jim Shooter stopped writing stories. I mean, this is a team that had 24 members within its first ten years and then admitted 13 more in the next two decades or so - and four of those new members (White Witch, Timber Wolf, Chemical King, Polar Boy) had appeared in that first decade, while a fifth - Invisible Kid - was basically a sequel to one of the original 24. Tellus and Quislet were pretty much the only non-humanoids in the first iteration of the Legion. I mean, Tellus is still pretty humanoid, but at least he has a fish face and a tail and little stunted legs instead of being a Klingon-style "guy with some sort of extra crap on his head" alien. I always figured that he was based on this one ocean-dwelling telepathic mutant that teamed up with the Legion to fight excessively Mod aliens this one time, which is nice because I liked that story.
Sadly for people like me who like the new members, they've suffered significant attrition as a result of 'New Writer's Syndrome' which is a condition that I made up to describe the tendency of someone taking over the writing chores on a comic book to gleefully slaughter any members of the supporting cast that were introduced by the old writer (this is why I am so concerned for the Head now that Gail Simone has left The All-New Atom), whether for cheap dramatic effect or because the new writer just doesn't like 'em. The Legion is especially vulnerable on this front, for a couple of reasons: firstly, because that 'original 24' I mentioned has been established as the canon Legion and are basically there to stay (barring the occasional dramatic event), and secondly because in a team book - especially one in which the team members don't have solo super-careers - everyone is supporting cast. In essence, this means that everyone who joined the Legion after Princess Projectra and Karate Kid (non-inclusive, I guess) is fair game for ignoble death, mutilation and non-inclusion in reboots. I haven't read the Legion comic in which Tellus was killed off - heck, I don't know for sure that he does die - but I'm not holding my breath.
Anyway, aside from making the Legion seem less like a Humans and Humanoids Only Club, Tellus filled much the same role as Blok: philosophical outsider who didn't quite "get" what was up with those crazy humans. Nothing new, really, though Tellus has the added element of attracting a fairly incessant stream of racist commentary from Wildfire on the subject of Tellus being a useless fish-asshole. The Legion does not, it seems, have much concern for cultural or species-related sensitivity, or perhaps were reluctant to embark on the logistically nightmarish task of trying to throw a guy made of antimatter out of a building. Tellus' powers (not shown, boo) of sub-Saturn Girl-level telepathy and telekinesis were useful, plus it was always fun to see him zoom through the air with is little legs trailing behind him. I also liked the fact that his given name (Ganglios) would be a great moniker for a brain-based super-villain (as opposed to fish-based super-hero) to sport, though this name-related joy is dampened by the fact that his super-hero name is one letter away from being shared by a most irritating telephone company.
Bah. Over all, I like Tellus, but for me he's kind of become symbolic of misused Legion characters, and so I get grumpy when I think about him too much.
The White Witch is a venerable character - she first appeared way back in (issue), during that whole escapade with Evillo and his mythic crew. She was there as the Hag, a cackly old witch of the Hansel and Grethel sort, and eventually her dear sister Dream Girl arranged to change her back. Subsequently, she turned up now and then when the Legion had some sort of magical trouble and Brainiac 5 was going into a Batman-as-willful-idiot fugue state ("Nope, I categorically deny the existence of magic. It's completely impossible that it exists. Laughable, really, why... hold on, Zauriel, I have the Spectre on the other line."). Eventually, she got mixed in with the whole Mordru/Sorcerer's World shebaz and I think that it was as a result of one of the LSH's interminable battles with The Poorly-Dressed Sorcerer that Mysa finally joined up, some twenty-odd years after her introduction. She was originally a sultry redhead, but I'm pretty fond of the pale n' wispy redesign, shown here, and especially of the eyelash-antennae, which are tied in to this neat theme of magic in Legion continuity - the better you are at it, the weirder-looking you get. There are all these wizards and witches on Sorcerer's world made of water and plants and such, Mysa's all pale and antennaed and Mordru's outfit is magically awful (seriously, I think that there are flashbacks to when he was less evil/powerful in which his helmet isn't as gaudy and the wings are smaller).
The White Witch was a fun addition to a team of bickering egoists, which was kind of what the Legion was at the time. She was thoughtful and spiritual rather than argumentative and moody, plus she palled around with Blok a lot. She also added a lot of power and versatility to the team: though her magic operated under D&D rules (lots of studying, only so many spells in her head at one time, once a spell is cast it's gone) she was pretty good at improvising with what she had on hand spell-wise to keep her more hapless teammates alive.
As for the picture: it's a very good rendering of the White Witch costume, though I don't know what the hell she's doing. This is further evidence, though, that Polar Boy should be making a snowflake in his picture - together with Element Lad and the White Witch, they'd have a theme going!
(and just because she's not a comic nerd and thus it's noteworthy, she's also JOHN'S GIRLFRIEND ANN APPROVED)
I've discussed Polar Boy as a member of the Legion of Substitute Heroes in a prior review, so this time I'm just going to talk about his time in the Legion proper, so as to avoid repeating myself. After years and years of trying, Brek Bannin finally became a Legionnaire at the same time as Magnetic Kid et al, whether due to the fact that he'd been doing a really good job in the Legion farm team for years and years or because they needed a few more folk around the clubhouse for tax purposes, I'm not sure. I was pretty fond of Legion Polar Boy, both because I had always liked him and because he had attained this huge goal that had coloured his whole life and it completely showed in whatever he did. When he was hanging out with the other new recruits he was full of good advice from his days in the Subs, while around the old-school Legionnaires he just tried so damn hard, to the point that he campaigned for and won leadership of the Legion. He made a good leader, too, as far as his being readable is concerned - instead of instantly becoming a giant dick (see Wildfire, Lightning Lad) or constantly doubting himself (see Lightning Lad). I mean, he did doubt himself, but for good reasons, as he was constantly struggling with the fact that he was now the leader of a big, complicated organization like the Legion instead of something small and simple like the Substitute Legion.
What I didn't like about this iteration of PB was the costume. I mean, he always had a lousy costume, what with the lavender and the fur trim and all. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the more fashion-conscious Legionnaires (Uh... I'm sure that there have been some. Saturn Girl? No no, the pink thing. Well, maybe Brainiac 5 was testing a fashionist-o-matic or Blockade Boy was visiting or something) voted against him because of that thing. This new costume is... close. If only it were, say, light blue instead of lavender. Also, I hate the weird shoulder hoops. I understand that Polar Boy is a small guy and he needs to compensate to some extent, but sheesh. take those things off, though, maybe slap the old costume's logo on the back and this could be an okay costume. The skullcap alone, as a replacement for the toque-cowl, was a giant step in the right direction.
As for the 'demonstration of powers' portion of this picture... well, it's somewhat lacking. Blasting out a snowman is a very 1960s Iceman stunt, really. Polar Boy was usually more about volume of ice produced rather than being concerned with what form it took, but as I recall, his sculptures were always a bit nicer than this. I don't know - seeing as how he's adopting essentially the same pose as Element Lad did, wouldn't it make more sense for him to have produced a snowflake-ized version of that stupid big atom?
Ayup, Polar Boy is:
(EDIT: Note the shift in spacing toward the end. You may have noticed this in earlier posts - this is a symptom of me having written a review on another computer and taken it home one way or another to cut and paste. Blogger does not like this - perhaps it views the writing of posts in another program as some sort of cyber-infidelity. In any case, until I find a quick and efficient way to fix this sort of thing and/or I stop writing reviews in inappropriate settings, we all get to suffer through inconsistent formatting)
(PS: These Legion reviews are kind of serious compared to my regular stuff, huh? I don't know if anybody cares, but if you do, rest assured that there'll be all kinds of Superhuman Detritus, Future Zoo-ing, High-Tech Tomorrows and Detective Comics Firsts, soon soon soon. Heck, I might even finally get the Henchman Fashion File off the ground. In the meantime, scroll down - Paul posted!)
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!