Saturday, March 27, 2010

Legion of Super-Heroes: The More Things Change

Written by Paul Levitz
Art by Steve Lightle, Ernie Col
ón, Keith Giffen, Larry Mahlstedt, Mike DeCarlo, Karl Kesel, and Mike Machlan

Even though I'm pretty sure I have all the original issues somewhere, when I saw this on sale at a store, I couldn't resist picking it up. It was the Legion that first got me reading DC comics way back in the day (the 50th issue of this particular Legion series), and I've always had a soft spot for this team (and really, the last ten years, one was needed to put up with a lot of what was done to them).

The recent news that Paul Levitz is returning to the title has been most welcome, and I figured reading this would be a good way of reminding myself what his take on the Legion is like. This volume collects the seventh through the eleventh issues of the 'Baxter' series which came out in 1985.

Levitz's Legion was always about volume of characters. Continually through this book, the characters complain about the drastic under-staffing the Legion is going through, with only 19 active members. That's 19 powered individuals, not counting the Legion Academy, which is featured quite frequently here. Levitz is good at juggling all of these different characters, finding time for some nice character building for Element Lad, the founding three Legionnaires, and Timber Wolf. All the other Legionnaires get some screen time as well, and one is left with the feeling that Levitz had long character arcs planned for each of them.

Levitz's Legion is steeped in team tradition, and values. He demonstrates respect for what has gone before, and is concerned with building the team. Okay, so the villains in this whole thing are goofy and dull, but the conflicts and super-heroing were often secondary in his plans.

Steve Lightle's art is gorgeous throughout the book, and the Keith Giffen drawn short story is classic Giffen. Ernie Colón's pages are not anywhere near as good, but are manageable.

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