Legion Of Super-Heroes Volume 1: Hostile World by Paul Levitz, Francis Portela and Walter Simonson (comic-book review).
If there’s one aspect of the DC Universe that can be affected by the reality changes in the current time period, then it’s the 30th-31st century which houses the Legion Of Super-Heroes continuity that has existed since the early 1960s. Originally seen as a means to allow Superboy to be part of a team of youngsters with diverse super-powers that he could relate to, the LSH got a life of its own when it was allowed to run independent of his star-billing to garner sales in the 1970s. With the ‘Crisis On Infinite Earths’ used to remove or condense the alternative Earths because it was felt too confusing to new readers, someone forgot about the repercussions in the 30th century as there would be no Superboy and how that affects the one legionnaire the Daxamite, Mon-el, who survived in the Phantom Zone from that time period due to lead poisoning by a certain Boy of Steel. Ergo, it shouldn’t exist but to keep going it became very much a bubble reality, independent of the past and go its own way and were influenced by Superman not Superboy. Their reality had changed, although no one thought of it as an alternative reality at the time.
Although I haven’t read many of the tales since the 1990s, the reviews of those I have indicate that some semblance of order was maintained to the past by having alternative realities for each significant change. 52 of them in fact. There might be some resemblances of history but things weren’t always quite the same. The Legion of the 60s with their more 50s’ look costume styles were not quite the same as those when Dave Cockrum introduced costume changes for them all in the 1970s. This should be regarded as quite a nexus change as variations of many of the changes he introduced still exist to this day and indeed in this latest volume as part of DC’s ‘New 52’, the only thing I haven’t spotted is anything that says things are really new, other than the introduction of a few new legionnaires.
Certain formats, like putting up identification boxes into the story to tell readers who the legionnaires are, home world and abilities are still used, unlike the ‘Legion Lost’ volume, reviewed elsewhere this month. Some legionnaires, like Ferro Lad and the elusive Power Boy, are still remembered as statues of the departed. Certainly, it looks like the Legion Of Substitute Super-Heroes has gone because Polar Boy is still in the team and the Academy for trainees is still here, suggesting that writer Paul Levitz has moved things back to something close to what he was writing in the 1980s, which means if you’re a long-term Legion fan, you should feel reasonably comfortable here and me puzzled as to what makes differences makes this part of the ‘New 52!’.
A team of legionnaires are on the planet Panoptes to investigate at a Dominators (the tall yellow aliens with very long teeth) watchpost only to run into trouble from a renegade Daxamite, Res-Vir, who has been given a similar anti-lead poisoning serum to that Brainiac 5 supplies to Mon-el, and is determined to get his planet of Daxam out of the United Planets Federation. As Brainiac 5 points out to Element Lad, with his ability, he can stop such plans by just chemically changing the formula in the Daxamite, which actually re-enforces my logic in that he is actually the most powerful legionnaire. However, the possibility of this killing Res-Vir is against the Legion Constitution, won’t let Element Lad conduct such an action. Saying that, from my point of view, there are other things he could do temporarily against anyone to stop them although the scientific knowledge of all those who have written the LSH has always been somewhat shaky, which makes it a bit odd why Chemical Kid has been resurrected. His non de plume is a bit misguided as he really should be called Catalyst Kid as he can speed up or slow down chemical reactions.
There is also a second story where new legionnaire Dragonwing is in her home city to find her sister and the criminal cartel she belongs to. There are a few surprises here and a demonstration that even they can be caught out when facing a powerful opponent.
Although I have my reservations as to whether this belongs to the ‘New 52!’ reality, this is actually very good LSH material and if you’ve missed your fix of them of late, then this is, as the promotion goes, not a bad stepping stone to get back in line with them.
(pub: DC Comics. 160 page graphic novel. Price: about £ 6.50 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 978-1-4012-3501-7)
check out website: www.dccomics.com