One of the disappointing but reliable experiences of reading Joe Staton’s Legion of Super-Heroes has been the panels where his art seems to be improving but then doesn’t. In this issue, the same thing happened, and I reminded myself of the phenomenon. First, the art would seem reasonable, then go disastrously wrong.
Even with Dave Hunt inking Staton, the art doesn’t go disastrously wrong in this issue. There are some problem panels, to be sure, but there’s consistently better Staton and Hunt art on this issue than I’d have thought possible.
I wouldn’t bet on much more improvement, but I also wouldn’t have bet on the art getting this reasonable.
The story’s also surprisingly okay, with writer Gerry Conway exhibiting a knack for writing Brainiac 5. The story doesn’t cure or redeem Brainiac 5, which adds a layer to his participation—Superboy goes to him for help; no one can save the seemingly dead Legionnaires but Brainy.
Only Superboy then gets killed with Kryptonite lasers, which seem like such an obvious idea Richard Pryor should’ve used them. Or did he?
Brainiac 5 will figure it all out and save the day with the help of some familiar but irregular guest stars, which allows Conway one of those enthusiastically belabored Legion fights where everyone’s powers are essential. Conway keeps the reader in the dark about Brainy’s plans, so the big battle specifics come as surprises. It’s perfectly decent superhero stuff.
Besides the Brainiac 5 as bad guy stuff, the only other subplot involves the Legion finally tracking down their financier R.J. Brande. He doesn’t tell them how he escaped the shit monsters a few issues ago, but he does finally tell them he’s broke and they’re up a creek.
It’s not a great scene, especially not for the art, but it’s brief and doesn’t drag the rest down.
I’m not optimistic about the book with the current team; maybe someday, though, which is a long way from the norm.