Adventure Comics #516

Well, this is an unfortunate turn of events. Paul Levitz coming back to write the Legion of Super-Heroes should've been a joyous occasion, doubly so with having not only "Legion of Super-Heroes" but also "Adventure Comics" with which to do so. But after two dud issues in a row, I'm almost ready to write off "Adventure Comics" entirely.

The main story suffers from a lot of different problems. Using this issue of "Adventure Comics" as a primer about the founding of the Legion should've been an easy slam dunk, but Levitz's script manages to be simultaneously dull and baffling. It's narrated by the recently-deceased R.J. Brande, the founder of the Legion who tells his life story. But instead of speaking in a normal speech pattern (like in the past), it's in a strange broken sentence structure. One can only assume it's because Levitz is trying to emphasize Brande's nature as an alien, but instead it makes the character look like an idiot. If it's supposed to be funny, it fails; instead it's just distracting and bothersome.

Even worse, the story, itself, is stretched out far longer than it should have been. It's padded out beyond belief, with little diversions designed not to give us additional depth, but instead to let the story hit its page count. Considering the main story isn't extra-long, I found myself amazed at how "Adventure Comics" this month felt like a small eternity.

Kevin Sharpe and Marlo Alquiza's art is even more erratic this month than last, unfortunately. Why is Saturn Girl karate-chopping Brainiac 5 on page 4, for example? Turns out it's just a bad pose for her having just slapped his shoulder. What's with the new strange tattoo on Lightning Lad's face on page 5? It's an odd shadow, upon closer examination. And why on page 12 are almost every single character's eyes shut? (Or on most other pages too?) Well, that is a good question that I still can't figure out, any more than Superboy's strange Fonz-from-"HappyDays" pose on the last page of the story. It's not good.

There's a new back-up feature starring the Atom, and while Jeff Lemire's script doesn't make me love the character, it's at least a competent story. Atom's hunt for the Calculator has a couple of mildly clever bits, and Mahmud Asrar's pencils are fine. It's not great, but there's nothing there that made me cringe. It's sad that hitting such a basic level of craft feels like a relief after the main story, though.

It's sad to think that just a year ago, a new issue of "Adventure Comics" from Geoff Johns, Francis Manapul, and Clayton Henry was an exciting event. Now? With a monthly "Legion of Super-Heroes" title existing, and a "Superboy" title en route, I wouldn't feel too bad if "Adventure Comics" got the axe. Unless it gets a creative kick in the seat, there's not much to recommend it sticking around.

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