09 January 2008

Legion Of Super-Heroes: An Eye For An Eye

There are three criterions I use when deciding which comic trade I should pick up the next time I go comic book shopping. One, the creative team. A book that has a talent whose work I'm familiar with stands a good chance of getting picked up. Second, the character(s) featured in the book. There is a better chance of me picking up a Batman collection than say, a Ghost Rider, since I prefer the former over the latter. And third, I would pick up a book due to nothing more than plain old curiosity.

Legion of Super-Heroes: An Eye For An Eye is a book I bought based on curiosity and nothing else. I have never read a LOSH comic prior to this though I was not ignorant of the group. There are two reasons why I never bothered with them. Firstly, as their name suggests, they are legion. Way, way, waaay too many members, I thought. How can I keep up? Secondly, I found their superhero names ridiculous. Bouncing Boy? Matter-Eater Lad? Cosmic Boy? Dream Girl? Star Boy? I just could not take them seriously....says the person who grew up reading Spider-Man. Yes, I'm quite aware of my hypocrisy, thankyouverymuch (in my defence, he was called Spider-MAN and there was only one of him).

I decided to jump onto the LOSH bandwagon with this collection because this was what is known as the "version 3" Legion. It seemed like the good place to start since I was not really interested in the prior adventures of the LOSH when they had Superboy as a fellow member. Also, Paul Levitz was the writer and his run on the title is still regarded highly today.

An Eye For An Eye collects the first six issues of the "v3" Legion and it revolves around the plans of their evil counterpart, the Legion of Super-Villains, who want to, what else?, destroy them. This book doesn't disappoint in the action department. In the typical style of an early '80s comic book, everybody in this book prefers to war-war instead of jaw-jaw. The villains kidnap some of the Legionnaires, the remaining good guys fight the bad guys, the bad guys fight amongst themselves and even the heroes bicker with each other. That was something that I did not expect to see. It reminded me more of a Marvel team like the Avengers or the X-Men. If my memory is correct, members of superhero teams in the DC universe always get along with each other. So to see Brainiac arguing with his fellow team-members was, to me, quite a surprise (but after reading the Brave and the Bold: Lords of Luck collection, I have learnt that Brainiac is a bit of a superdick and I shouldn't really be surprised that he argues).

Anyway, Legion of Super-Heroes: An Eye For An Eye is just what it says it is: a book about a futuristic super team going toe to toe with a team of super villains in space. The title hints at losses suffered by both sides but since the Legion's history has been rebooted a couple of times in the last twenty years, the deaths (especially the hero's death) wasn't such a big deal to me. That's the problem with reboots and retcons in comics. After a while, you just don't care what shocking developments occured to shake up the status quo. They brought back Jason Todd, fer goodness' sakes! Peter made a deal with the devil and now he's not married anymore! But I digress.....

I found this "version 3" Legion interesting enough that I would pick up the as yet unsolicited second trade, if only to find out what happened to the five Legionnaires who were trapped in limbo on their way back home after defeating their enemies. Looks like my curiosity wins again.

A couple of things more...even though I thought the good guys had ridiculous names, they at least, well, looked heroic enough. The Legion of Super-Villains had a member called Hunter and he looked less than menacing to me:

Yyyeeeaahh...those tails? They make him so not scary.

And I found this in-joke mildly amusing but then again I'm not Christian. What do you think?

Super villains at the Last Supper? With Lightning Lord as the Christ figure? Did the Pope sent off a strongly worded letter to the DC offices?

Edited to add: Michael from The Legion Omnicom (check it out if you wanna know more about the Legionnaires, by the way) dropped me a line to explain that "v3" is not version 3 but rather volume 3. That is, this 1984 incarnation of the Legion of Super-Heroes is the third series to have the title of "Legion of Super-Heroes". Thanks, Michael! Consider my ignorance fought.


Michael said...

Nice review. Glad to see some new Legion readers.

A lot of people think that "v3" refers to a third version of the Legion, maybe the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, and the Levitz-written stories. Actually, "v3" (or "volume 3") refers to the fact that this was the third series to have the title "Legion of Super-Heroes". The first series was a reprint miniseries in the early 1970s, and the second one took over from the old "Superboy" series from issues 259-313. And there have been two more since then, the "v4" which started out with the Giffen/Bierbaums "Five Years Later" story and then "v5" which started with the Waid/Kitson reboot.

Khairul H. said...

Thanks for the clarification, Michael! Hey, aren't you the guy from that LEGION OMNICOM site? Great place to go to for all LOSH news and trivia. An Eye For An Eye is my first ever foray into the LOSH universe so I'm still learning about them.

Michael said...

Yep, that's me. You showed up in my RSS feeds and I'm always willing to help a new member of the cult (sorry, I mean "new fan").

I try to post about what other people in the blogosphere write about the Legion but I've gotten lazy lately. This is the kind of post that I'd highlight - not just a review, but a review from the POV of someone who is pretty much unfamiliar with the Legion. I've been seeing more of those lately from people who have started reading with the new Shooter storyline (in the v5 title) or with the Superman/Legion story in Action Comics.

BlackmarketPies said...

Aw, cut Hunter some slack - he's just craving a hot, juicy burger:


From Wendy's, naturally.