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Legion of Super-Heroes #40

Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2008
By: Shawn Hill

Jim Shooter
Francis Manapul, Livesay (i)
DC Comics
“Enemy Rising Part 1: Headlong into Darkness”

Plot: No big surprises this issue, but several little ones, as Shooter continues to develop his take on the current versions of characters he knows so well.

Comments: There’s an old-school quality to the storytelling here, but not in a self-conscious or nostalgic way. Rather, Shooter just brings solid writing skills to bear, developing a tapestry of 31st century life in the United Planets, and moving our heroes along paths both noble and fraught with dangers deadly and petty in turns. It’s nice to see the story begin on Talok VIII, as Shadow Lass and her homeworld are more than just familiar territory for Shooter. Who should understand Tasmia or her “barbarian” people better than their creator?

Talok VIII is threatened by those despairingly adaptable invaders the team has been fighting for several issues in diverse locales, and Braniac shows up in the nick of time, thanks to his new transportation technology that has a humorous side-effect (one that’s rendered all too completely in this frank era). On other fronts, the team from Triton returns to base, resentments fully intact, and we learn more about the political machinations behind Princess Projectra’s extreme predicament.

Shooter makes some obvious choices regarding Saturn Girl and Timber Wolf: She’s a mind-invading harpy, and he’s a Wolverine-esque beast. Not much nuance there, but I’m sure there will be eventually, especially as these harsh portrayals serve mostly to allow the previously bumbling leader Lightning Lad to make some quick but worthy decisions regarding the response to the disagreement between his two team-mates.

Projectra, on the other hand, deserved as fair a judge, as it’s revealed that while she owes all of Orando’s creditors since its destruction, she can’t collect any of its former wealth, in a cruel but well-explained Catch-22 that leaves her in an understandably foul mood.

Despite all these distractions, the Legion is able to dispatch away teams to gather intel on the invaders, and Invisible Kid takes his own side mission to try and bond with the Tritonian girl who fought with them in Shooter’s first issue. These plots are ongoing, as is a possible dire development for Projectra. Shooter is following a common tactic of putting the team through a testing crucible in his initial run on the title, but he’s doing it with subtlety and solid fiction construction skills that bode well for a long and intriguing new epoch of grittier realism and stability. Tension is building, and one feels that any major changes in plot or character direction will be well-earned, in fact probably foreshadowed and explored fully. When did good writing itself gain a nostalgic aspect?



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