Review: Legion of Super-Heroes: Enemy Manifest hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, July 27, 2009

I re-read the first part of writer Jim Shooter's current run on Legion of Super-Heroes, Enemy Rising, in preparation for reading part two, Enemy Manifest, and found myself enjoying the whole thing considerably more than I did when I first read part one.

Maybe the difference is passage of time; when I started, what I felt where some unnecessarily rude comments Shooter made while the ink was still fresh on Legion's pages) still gnawed at me. I found in this re-reading, however, a detailed, multi-layered Legion story that takes much of its action from intergalactic politics (if you like that sort of thing), with a great helping of calm-before-the-war suspense. There's also plenty of scenes of the Legionnaires using their powers (often two Legionnaires using their powers in tandem) that has for me always been the most enjoyable part of Legion of Super-Heroes.

In Enemy Manifest, Shooter essentially pits the Legion against a takeover from virtual reality. The alien destroyers from the first volume are revealed as avatars of digitized race that lives in the universe's ever-present dark matter. It's a fascinating concept, though one unfortunately that Shooter doesn't get much time to explore before the story ends; under writer Mark Waid, this incarnation of the Legion specifically decried how their society communicated virtually instead of physically, so if you squint and tilt your head, the entire series approximates coming full circle.

To be sure, it's apparent from Enemy Manifest even without Shooter's comments that the end comes quicker than he expected. As some point I thought quite a few of the subplots might tie together in the end -- the mysterious beings counseling Projectra could have been the alien invaders, and they could additionally have been responsible for Timber Wolf's violence, the confusion over what happened between Saturn Girl and Ultra Boy, and Dream Girl being blinded -- but instead these stories trickle off into limbo, with only the main story wrapped up. I'm not all that educated in Legion history, but it wouldn't have hurt to have the virtual reality society called COMPUTO, just for old time's sake.

I did appreciate at least that the Projectra storyline made use of events from Mark Waid's Legion run; Shooter also returns Sun Boy from the earlier Dominator War issues. While I enjoyed Shooter's two volumes, the trouble is that they're "just Legion," whereas Waid's run put a new spin on the Legionnaires (as teenage rebels) that made it more interesting to me than the "kid superteam" of previous incarnations. I'll reserve judgment on Geoff Johns's upcoming Adventure Comics Legion until I read it, but I do hope his Legion has more in some way like Waid's did.

[Contains full covers]

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2 comments:

  1. So is this Legion the same as the one that Mark Waid rebooted?

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  2. Correct-ish. This is the same Legion that Mark Waid rebooted with art by Barry Kitson. It's not to be confused with the Mark Waid/Tom McCraw shortly after Zero Hour.

    The difference between Waid's two Legion reboots is a credit to him as a writer; obviously he's got enough ideas to take the same team and portray it two different ways.

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