Sean Maher's Quality Control

Monday, October 03, 2005

Legion of Super-Heroes: Caught it on the rebound

First thing's first: that was one of the best weekends of my life. I've gone on and on about the list of performers, so I'll just say this one thing: I got to see an 82-year old Doc Watson playing blues in the foggy cold. Just incredible.

So. At the Isotope on Friday, Larry Young pointed out with his usual genteel sophistication that I haven't been writing too much about comics lately. "You're dead to me," I believe, were his exact words.

Of course, I've been dead to Larry before. Every time I wear my black fedora, I'm dead to Larry. One time I died to Larry because he was drunk on margaritas and I walked in the door (tequila, I am told, makes a man mean).

Still, he's got a point, and while I don't mind straying from comics now and then - especially when it's something else that's got me enthused, as music's been doing lately - this is a comics blog. So today I'm gonna tromp back in with some praise for my favorite comic from last week, Legion of Super-Heroes #10.

First of all, that cover is brilliant. Bits of Invisible Kid's face made invisible so you can see what's going on behind him? I'm sure something like that has been done before, but it works amazingly here. Very clever.

I'm really loving, as this series progresses, all the different character relationships and how everyone responds to everyone else. The cast here is huge and I think part of the reason that the plot proper hasn't moved forward as quickly as some reviewers would like is that there would be no value in going through the motions - "first something scary happens, then disaster strikes, then the heroes pull together, blah blah blah" - unless we had a reason to care about the impact of that plot on the characters, and with a cast this sprawling and ambitious, I'm personally really impressed with the clip at which Waid's taken us through the story.

Barry Kitson's work here is the best I've ever seen from him. I mean this issue particularly. The tenderly drawn scene between Dream Girl and Brainiac, the seething facial expressions for Karate Kid's barely controlled anger with Invisible Kid, the crowded sequence leading up to disaster when everything's becoming confusing and chaotic for the characters but remains clear enough for the reader to follow easily, up to the spectacular two-page spread when disaster does indeed strike... there's a versatility and consistency of quality here that you don't often see in one comic or from one artist. Amazing to see such a veteran coninuing to grow and impress.

The fight sequence on the sun planet is really well drawn, too, but it was the coloring that really knocked me out. The overexposed palette, made "soft" by the excess of light within the world of the story, retains a vivid sharpness that really impressed me. I'd be embarassed to turn in professional work under the name Sno Cone, personally, but the quality of the work itself is fantastic. Colorists are really grabbing my attention these days. Are there new tools available or something? It seems like we're crossing some kind of threshold, hitting a new plateau of quality and complexity. Maybe folks're just stepping up their game. At any rate, I'm glad to see work like this.

Oh, plus, like every other issue of this series, it's 40 pages instead of 32, and for the same $2.99 price. That kicks ass.


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