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review 2020-06-14 21:24
Legion of Super Heroes, Vol. 11
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 11 - E. Nelson Bridwell,Cary Bates,Jim Shooter,Mike Grell

We're still getting some very wacky ideas from what should have been a straight-forward plot, such as the issues where the Legion teams up with a Science Police officer, or when Princess Projectra keeps getting sick. The women also keep getting weaker and weaker. The time will come when male writers will figure out how to tell a love story in a comic book without the woman becoming utterly hopeless. An exception creeps in with Night Girl's romance with Cosmic Boy, but her costume had to lose most of its fabric. I love Mike Grell's art, though, it's classic pop comic. He will make some questionable choices with costumes, too, but we'll get there when we get there. There is tension building in this series, and I can almost feel the Legion about to spring forward into the dark '80s. It's just waiting on the write author to pull all of the elements together.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes

 

Next: 'Volume 12'

 

Previous: 'Volume 10'

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review 2020-06-12 21:20
Legion of Super Heroes, Vol. 10
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 10 - Cary Bates,Dave Cockrum

This volume contains Dave Cockrum's landmark stint as the new illustrator for the series. The early 1970s was a tumultuous time in the industry and the many titles were being revamped and or canceled to make way for new creators and lines. Cockrum was fan of the series and made many costume decisions for the series, for better of for worse. He also made many character contributions. In the end, he committed fully to Marvel to work on the revived 'X-Men', creating Storm and Nightcrawler.

 

Despite other advancements, the stories here are still pretty shallow. The main writer is Cary Bates who doesn't seem to plan much for the long term in his storytelling. A lot of the new costumes were fan-service for the dudes that seem even more dated than the early '60s originals. In fact, there was a whole spread of costumes sent in by fans that thankfully were used only once or twice before settling into a slightly-less-cringey holey-jumpsuits and bikinis. Notably Phantom Girl gained pigtails and bell-bottoms and Princess Projectra's front bodice is only held together by two threads, for example. Chameleon Boy and Colossal Boy got thoughtful recreations of their costumes that complimented their characters. Huh. Funny.

 

Still, a whole lot of fun.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes

 

Next: 'Volume 11'

 

Previous: 'Volume 9'

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review 2020-06-02 21:31
You Brought Me the Ocean by Alex Sanchez
You Brought Me the Ocean - Alex Sanchez,Julie Maroh

Jake Hyde is in his junior year of high school and wants to study the ocean. He's never even seen the ocean, living in Truth or Consequences, NM, but he's always felt drawn there. His best friend Maria wants to study closer to home, and Jake's overprotective mother would agree. After his father drowned when he was a baby, his mother has all but forbid him to go near open water. There are other complications, like the weird birth marks Jake has up and down his arms and legs that glow when wet, and his growing crush on Kenny Liu, captain of the swim team. 

 

The story moves at a nice pace, allowing plenty of time for the characters to show who they are and Julie Maroh ('Blue is the Warmest Color') provides a dreamy landscape that doesn't dilute the sharper aspects of the story. I'd forgotten this was a DC Comics graphic novel when Jake and Maria spot Superman flying high in the sky towards the West coast while hiking. 

 

This novel succeeds as a coming-of-age story, complete with first romance, tears and drama as well as an origin story for Aqualad. There is an astonishing amount of LGBTQIA books coming out now (yay!), and this one hits all the marks.

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review 2020-05-26 21:23
Legion of Super Heroes, Vol. 9
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 9 - Jim Shooter

This volume collects issues mostly from 1969, which was also the year that the Legion stories were pushed from the lead feature of Adventure comics to a second-stringer in Action comics.

 

The stories however...a lot seems to have happened in the volume I had to skip due to costs. Action-wise, certainly, but character development is happening and the stories are taking on more stakes. These issues are sharper and (relatively) heavier-hitting. This includes the first "drug" storyline printed in a comic book after the comics code authority banned the subject - writers got around the censors by making the story about "toxic fruit". That story, as well as an earlier one where a criminal apprehends mind drugs that were for United Planets study only featured great psychedelic art. These issues also see the beginning of new costumes, open romantic relationships and dating stories for legionnaires, and other signs that these babies are growing up!

 

The Legion very easily could have been cancelled after the switch in venue, but they carry on stronger than they ever were before. The only blah note was the constant referring to the women as "doll". The women have always been treated as equals in 'Legion' stories, and it doesn't go away, but I could really do without the late '60s lingo in the 31st century.

 

Legion of Super-Heroes

 

Next: 'Volume 10'

 

Previous: 'Volume 8'

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review 2020-05-09 20:01
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang
Superman Smashes the Klan - Gene Luen Yang,Gurihiru

Adapted from the 1946 'Superman' radio serial on 'The Clan of the Fiery Cross', 'Superman Smashes the Klan' is great fun and offers a message of hope for those confronting intolerance.

 

Author Gene Luen Yang, most famous for the middle grade graphic novel 'American Born Chinese', offers a detailed essay in this edition on the origins of the famous serial and its direct influence in defeating a revival of the Ku Klux Klan in postwar America.

 

The Lees are moving from Chinatown into the heart of Metropolis' residential area. Dr. Lee has been hired by the Health Department (a private company) on a top secret project and looks forward to integrating his family into modern American life. He encourages his wife to speak only in English and they have had their children take on "American" names.

 

The night after the Lees move in, the Klan burns a cross in their front yard, attracting sympathetic and negative responses. The Daily Planet's most valued reporters are on the story, of course. 

 

Roberta Lee is a great character, shy and prone to motion-sickness, she is nonetheless brave and stands up for what's right for herself and her family. She doesn't like the idea of leaving their old lives behind, but a piece of advice from her mother about how to make new places home ends up helping Superman as well. During this conflict Superman is increasingly dealing with challenging visions and memories of his childhood. How different is Superman willing to be in order to be his best self?

 

A timely and important story, appropriate for all ages.

 

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