I’ve been a big fan of Jim Shooter’s new run on “Legion of Super-Heroes” and how it’s mixed the old and new into one book. From his first issue on, he’s told two different stories; invaders slowly conquering their way through the United Planets, and the Legion’s relationship with the United Planets slowly disintegrating. It’s at this point that things finally seem to be hitting a turning point, the team hitting its lowest. In theory, this should be the most exciting issue on his run so far, as we see the Legion having to rally back from certain defeat.
So why, then, this issue feel so dull? Maybe it’s because it felt so by-the-numbers. Shooter writing “Legion of Super-Heroes” has certainly felt very comfortable, but up until now there’s always been a little punch in each issue’s script, something that makes it stand out as well above average. This one just felt a little off; nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen, no clever little twists. If anything, I actually found myself a little annoyed at one scene with what I can only assume was a “Final Crisis” tie-in.
Even Francis Manapul’s pencils, which are normally full of energy and smart design, seemed less than interesting here. Panels seemed crowded and cluttered, and we’re seeing less of those beautiful individual panels that have made up so much of Manapul’s art here to date. Knowing how much better he is normally, it was more than a bit of a surprise at this point.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad issue. But it felt a little lackluster, and I can’t help if it has to do with everything else going on at DC Comics at the same time. Not only is “Legion of Super-Heroes” running, but simultaneous with Shooter’s arrival on the title was Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Legion story running in “Action Comics”, followed by the announcement of a “Legion of Three Worlds” mini-series by Johns and George Perez. It’s taking all the focus away from the Legion in their own book, and if I was working on “Legion of Super-Heroes” I’d feel a little disheartened. Who wants to be told they’re getting the main stage, only to have all the spotlights focused on the pre-show side stage instead?
Hopefully next month things will snap back into focus; Shooter and Manapul are capable of so much better than this, and up until now I felt like they’d really proven themselves as a strong, interesting “Legion of Super-Heroes” team, the first one since those very early Mark Waid and Barry Kitson issues on this series that have made it fun to read. But this issue? Well, if you haven’t been reading “Legion of Super-Heroes”, this isn’t the time to jump on board. Maybe next time.