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Legion of Super-Heroes: Five Years Later Omnibus Vol. 1

de Keith Giffen, Mary Bierbaum (Autor), Tom Bierbaum (Autor), Al Gordon (Il·lustrador)

Altres autors: Dusty Abell (Il·lustrador), Dougie Braithwaite (Il·lustrador), Craig Brasfield (Il·lustrador), Brett Breeding (Il·lustrador), June Brigman (Il·lustrador)28 més, Michael Christian (Il·lustrador), Paris Cullins (Il·lustrador), John Dell (Il·lustrador), Colleen Doran (Il·lustrador), Carlos Garzon (Il·lustrador), Al Gordon (Col·laborador), Scott Hanna (Il·lustrador), Tony Harris (Il·lustrador), Rob Haynes (Il·lustrador), Doug Hazelwood (Il·lustrador), Stuart Immonen (Il·lustrador), Dan Jurgens (Il·lustrador), Dan Jurgens (Col·laborador), Karl Kesel (Il·lustrador), Steve Leialoha (Il·lustrador), Bob Lewis (Il·lustrador), Larry Mahlstedt (Il·lustrador), Tom McCraw (Col·laborador), Ian Montgomery (Il·lustrador), Jason Pearson (Il·lustrador), Brandon Peterson (Il·lustrador), Joe Phillips (Il·lustrador), Bob Smith (Il·lustrador), Chris Sprouse (Il·lustrador), Karl Story (Il·lustrador), Curt Swan (Il·lustrador), Brad Vancata (Il·lustrador), David A. Williams (Il·lustrador)

Sèrie: Legion of Super-Heroes

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I'm always ping-ponging around the Legion timeline, based on what DC has deigned to collect and what I can get hold of. This volume collects the first thirty-nine issues of the so-called "Five Year Later" era (plus assorted annuals and other tie-ins). In terms of publication, it began three months after the previous issue, Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 3 #63, but in terms of story, there was a five-year gap during which the Legion of Super-Heroes had disbanded, Earth had withdrawn from the United Planets and become a Dominator puppet state, and many of the Legionnaires had suffered various dark fates. The series was the brainchild of Keith Giffen, who pencilled and plotted the majority of the early issues-- previously a collaborator of Paul Levitz for much of his run, but now the series's lead creative force. New-to-comics writers but longtime Legion fans Tom & Mary Bierbaum dialogued his issues, and wrote many of their own; most issues were inked by Al Gordon, who also contributed to the plotting and wrote several issues as well.

You could write a book on this book (it is over 1,300 pages), but I will try to limit myself by sticking to one paragraph for each of the major storylines. The first, covering issues #1-12, is simply dubbed Five Years Later, and slowly reveals the situation of this new world. On the one hand, it's very confusing: partially this is because a lot has happened in those five years, and partially this is because the latest-published issue of the Legion I've read is from 1984 (in The Curse), so this is ten story years after what I was familiar with, and partially this is because Giffen's layouts are dense and packed and confusing. He uses the nine-panel grid here, with lots of quick cuts and little exposition, leaving the reader to piece togther events themselves. On the other hand, though, it's incredible: more happens in a single issue of this comic than in entire sixty-issue runs of contemporary comics. Giffen has always been an artistic master, but I feel like this is him at his peak: a very distinctive style and a command of characterization mostly unmatched. I didn't entirely understand everything that happened here... but I wanted to, and this is a story that will richly reward rereading, I suspect. There's lot of great character stuff here: for the first time, I care about Cosmic Boy, the rock upon which the Legion stands even when "powerless"; Cham is put into a new role of authority; new character Kono is an utter delight, a "female chauvinist"; Laurel Gand quickly establishes herself as the kind of strong woman who I love. There are time travel shenanigans and attempted genocides... but best of all is Matter-Eater Lad! Oh my god, I don't think I've laughed so much at a comic book in a long time as I did at #11, where he defends Polar Boy in court. In the midst of all this darkness, we have humor: Giffen and the Bierbaums get it. The one thing I didn't like about this storyline is that it almost seemed too easy to actually reunite the Legion: if so many of them were up for it, why did it take so long since the dissolution for this to happen?

The second is even more simply dubbed The Legion of Super-Heroes, and spans #12-25. It covers a couple different crises the Legion handles: Matter-Eater Lad battling Evillo, a Khund invasion, a Dark Circle infiltration, the Moon exploding, and the return of Darkseid. I found these hit or miss. The Matter-Eater Lad issue was great, of course. The Khund story didn't have the weight it should have; the whole thing seemed to happen so suddenly. The aftermath of the Moon exploding was interesting, but the actual way it happened didn't work for me, a crossover with Superman where Superman and the Legion reminisce about the "pocket universe Superboy," a character earlier issues went through some pain to establish had been removed from history! The Quiet Darkness, the Darkseid story, saw inker Al Gordon take over writing duties, and I found it a strong thriller with a neat take on Darkseid.

The third is Terra Mosaic, #26-36, which focuses on Earth finally rebelling against the Dominators, as well as the emergence of "Batch SW6," clones of the Legion from their young, idealistic days. Giffen switches from pencilling to doing layouts, and it's to the book's detriment. It's just not as dense anymore, it's more straightforward comics. Though some good stories are told about the Batch SW6 Legionnaires (I have mixed thoughts about the trans representation in #31, but it's an emotional triumph), they are a huge number of extra characters in a book already straining to use its cast, and most of the "adult" Legion sits around doing nothing for most of this crisis. The at first straightforward retcons start to get more complicated, too, with the introduction of Kid Quantum. But the Sun Boy story is terrific, the fight between Laurel Gand and B.I.O.N. is one of the best fights in comics, and the climax comes together extraordinarily well.

The last doesn't have an overaching title (but you could probably call it The End), and is just #37-39. #37 is a cute side story about Star Boy being a baseball manager, but then in #38 the Earth is destroyed! I'm not sure what I think about this; it feels gratuitous. It's an ambitious issue, covering lots of ground... but that means you feel rather distanced from its momentous events. #39 reads more like the start of something new; I suspect it's here because Giffen pencils some of it and DC wanted to get all of his "Five Years Later" work in this volume, but it reads more like the beginning of the next storyline.

There's also three annuals included. #1 is great, pulling together a history for Ultra Boy and deploying some clever retcons. Weaving Glorith into the events of the two Superboy and the Legion volumes almost makes what Brainiac did there palatable. I never cared much for Ultra Boy before, but this story made me appreciate him a whole lot. #2 does a lot to clarify Valor's history, though it's one of those stories that sounds better in summary than in actuality; I found its events too compressed to have much impact. #3 is half set-up for the Timber Wolf miniseries, but half a "story" where the Legion just chills out. I really enjoyed it: great character writing, lots of good moments. Plus some great Kono jokes!

And then there's Al Gordon's Timber Wolf miniseries. I appreciate that it is here, but it is quite frankly not very good. Timber Wolf is sent to the 1990s, and it's the most mediocre and generic 1990s superhero comic you've ever read. Full of bland, awful characters doing who knows what, and I didn't think it really felt much like Timber Wolf.

Lastly, the volume collects a sequence of Who's Who entries published during its run. These were helpful in orienting me, though it was hard to know when to read them: some contain spoilers for later issues, so beware! I eventually decided I'd just risk it, and usually I alternated between issues and Who's Who issue (so I wouldn't read them all in one go). There's even a series of postcards Giffen illustrated!

Given how much is in here, it feels churlish to complain about what's not, but by a total coincidence, I read Secret Origins #42 right around the same time I started this volume, and it really should have been included: it's by the Bierbaums, giving an origin for Phantom Girl that introduces some threads picked up on in Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1. When reading that story, I found myself glad I had read the Secret Origins issue. I see from Wikipedia that issues #46, 47, and 49 also featured Legion-related tales, but as I haven't read those, I don't know if they would have made good inclusions here. (Only one is by the Bierbaums.)

This volume cuts off at a pretty logical point, when Keith Giffen left the book, and when the Earth was destroyed. Another big omnibus could collect Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 4 #40-61, the two remaining annuals, the eighteen issues of spin-off Legionnaires, and its one annual, enclosing the entire "Five Years Later" era in two large volumes. DC often starts Legion collections and cuts them off before getting anywhere, but I really really hope they can follow through on this book's "volume 1" and tie up this unique, worthwhile era of comics. I think I only scratched the surface in my reading, and I barely even did that in my write-up. I look forward to revisiting this someday and doing it justice.
1 vota Stevil2001 | May 7, 2021 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Keith Giffenautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Bierbaum, MaryAutorautor principaltotes les edicionsconfirmat
Bierbaum, TomAutorautor principaltotes les edicionsconfirmat
Gordon, AlIl·lustradorautor principaltotes les edicionsconfirmat
Abell, DustyIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Braithwaite, DougieIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Brasfield, CraigIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Breeding, BrettIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Brigman, JuneIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Christian, MichaelIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Cullins, ParisIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Dell, JohnIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Doran, ColleenIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Garzon, CarlosIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Gordon, AlCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Hanna, ScottIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Harris, TonyIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Haynes, RobIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Hazelwood, DougIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Immonen, StuartIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Jurgens, DanIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Jurgens, DanCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Kesel, KarlIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Leialoha, SteveIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Lewis, BobIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Mahlstedt, LarryIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
McCraw, TomCol·laboradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Montgomery, IanIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Pearson, JasonIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Peterson, BrandonIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Phillips, JoeIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Smith, BobIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Sprouse, ChrisIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Story, KarlIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Swan, CurtIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Vancata, BradIl·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Williams, David A.Il·lustradorautor secundaritotes les edicionsconfirmat

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