Reading the second issue of Paul Levitz and Phil Jimenez’s “Legion Academy” feature in “Adventure Comics,” it makes me wonder why we didn’t get this as a regular comic earlier. Sure, the Academy appeared in backgrounds and subplots over the years (and once in a blue moon actually graduated members into the Legion), but this shift to the young and inexperienced heroes of the 31st century is fun.
It helps that Levitz knows not to focus exclusively on their time in the Academy proper. This issue, for instance, is set much more outside of the Academy than within it, as the group of new cadets heads to Phlon to find out what happened to Chemical Kid’s suddenly incommunicado father. It’s a good move because get to see them working together as a group outside of exercises, and with their interactions we begin to get a grasp of their characters.
Last month’s issue was primarily focused on new member Glorith, so it’s nice to see some other characters get a bit more of a spotlight. Chemical Kid’s history is presented in much greater detail (including his connection to deceased Legionnaire Chemical King), but it’s characters like Gravity Kid also getting some more page time that I found enjoyable. Levitz also has fun with the setting of the 31st century, with little details like the shifting buildings of Phlon or a pep talk to the senior cadets (courtesy Cosmic Boy) on what other career options exist for graduates of the Legion Academy. And like before, I appreciated that even when old characters show up, it’s in a way where you don’t need to know they’re old. I hadn’t realized upon first reading “Adventure Comics” #524 that Black Mace wasn’t brand-new; Levitz certainly presents him in a way where I didn’t feel lost or missing any important information. Considering how much “Legion of Super-Heroes” history there is, that’s a critical move.
The one thing that goes without saying is that Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning’s art looks great. Jimenez continues to pack in the detail, and Lanning keeps up with Jimenez’s fine lines and careful tweaks, from strands of chest hair to the scales on the dragons that adorn Dragonwing’s cape. Jimenez is also having a lot of fun with the character designs here, from the already-mentioned ornate cape of Dragonwing, to Gravity Lad’s International Leather competition outfit. (Considering how many ladies are baring large amount of flesh in comics, it’s entertaining to see that in the 31st century it’s a gender-neutral phenomenon.) Even details as simple as Chemical Kid’s eye screens and ridged gloves, or Glorith’s glowing silver facial markings add a nice amount of flair to the book’s overall look, and this is a nice reminder on how much I’ve missed regular doses of Jimenez art.
“Adventure Comics” is doing well with its new Legion Academy feature, and even if it ends up being a limited run in “Adventure Comics,” hopefully it’ll show its face again before too long. This is a fun, easily-accessible gateway into the 31st century.