Mark Waid's run on Legion begins to come to a close with this fourth-to-last trade, Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: Adult Education. As the story ends, it seems that Waid's arc is to show the Legion growing from counter-culture to mainstream; while this may be, in a way, something of a letdown for those of us wanting to see this Legion remain "revolutionary," it's probably the most realistic exploration of how a phenomenon like the Legion might actually play out.
The fourth volume finds the Legion troubled by problems with their new partners on multiple fronts, both the United Planets government's interferring and Supergirl's grand-standing. Cosmic Boy thinks he's in love with Supergirl, but finds out it's a reaction to residual Zeta radiation; Shadow Lass is jealous when she thinks Ultra Boy will leave her for Supergirl. Fearing the Girl of Steel's impetuousness, the team takes her to Kandor for education by her own people; there, they're attacked by the Wanderers, an anti-Legion team lead by Light Lass and Lightning Lad's brother, Mekt. On Kandor, the Legionnaires find a Phantom Zone projector still containg Mon-El, the hero known as Valor. Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 believes he's resurrected Dream Girl, but only he can see her.
The Legion here is far more pro-active than Waid has shown them before. Along with fighting interstellar threats, they're now working to take care of their own in seeking help for Supergirl's mental issues. Freeing the teenage hero Valor also shows growth for the Legion; though previously reluctant to take on new members, they're now actively seeking them out.
We get an even greater sense of the Legion's move toward the mainstream in their decision to hold open elections. The Legion is now a democratized voice of the people, and in that way loses some of it's revolutionary stance. In these pages, the Legion must also deal with the Wanderers, a Legion knock-off group that views the super-heroes as too commercial. In fighting revolutionaries of their own, the Legion may find themselves more like the United Planets than they want to admit.
Never fear, however--Legion is still just as much a soap opera as a political missive. There's an uncomfortably long sequence here, a la your favorite Friends episode, where Karate Kid tricks Ultra Boy on behalf of Shadow Lass to find out if he's in love with Supergirl. I say "uncomfortably long" because the emphasis here is unusually more on feelings than super-heroics--I never read the series Young Heroes in Love, but I imagine this is much what it was like. And lest I be misunderstood, I think what Waid is doing here is very interesting; Legion, in its genre focus, is a series like few others, and I think that's worth recognizing.
I'm not entirely sure what art here is Barry Kitson's and what is Adam DeKraker (incorrectly called "Mike" on the back cover), but the art is the best of all the volumes so far. Kitson has a distinctive style that I sometimes feel gets repetitive, but there's a fluidty to this art, helped by very detailed coloring, that makes it all shine. With Kitson's departure, I'd be happy to see DeKraker stay on once Mark Waid's Legion run is over.
[Contains full covers, roll call, Tales of the Legion pages.]
One more Legion trade to go, and more Legion trivia coming up. Who will live? Who will die? Who will date whom? Stick around!