In "Adventure Comics," Paul Levitz is writing stories about the old days of the Legion, providing some future-history lessons to a new batch of readers. It's not going so well, unfortunately, and the most recent issue of that series felt clumsy and cramped, stale and bland.
But "Legion of Super-Heroes" #3? This is the stuff.
This is the series in which Paul Levitz gets to propel the franchise forward, and this is where he gets to cut loose and tell epic stories with substance. This is what Paul Levitz does best, and it's why readers were excited to hear about his return to the Legion. And though the series has been good from the start, this is the best issue yet.
It's not perfect, and I still don't think Yildiray Cinar is a strong enough artist to pull off the emotional touches that a good Levitz story needs, but it's a good superhero comic, and a good Legion story that hits the moments that fans of the series -- and any potential reader -- would surely enjoy.
In this issue we get a oversized battle between Earth-Man and Colossal Boy (though Cinar draws it in such a way that it's difficult to tell that the characters are supposed to be huge until Cosmic Boy shows up to break up the fight), a 31st century Green Lantern, sinister deeds from Saturn Queen, time-tossed family drama from the Ranzz parents, moral quandaries, prejudices tested, and a great scene involving Sensor Girl. That's a lot of plot to cut back and forth between, but Levitz does it with clarity and precision. And did I mention Darkseid? No? Well…Darkseid.
Levitz is probably best known for "The Great Darkness Saga" even though he has now written over 100 issues of Legion stories. I suppose it's no surprise that he would bring Darkseid back to the future, but I was surprised. I didn't think this new series would head in that direction so quickly, but the final page of this issue indicates that the lord of Apokalips is going to be a strong presence here. Or maybe it's a bit of misdirection. Either way, it's one more moment that Levitz nails in this issue.
Like last issue, Francis Portella comes in to draw a few scenes and his contribution is much stronger than Cinar's -- so much stronger that I'd love to see him take over as regular penciller on the series. But though Portella's delicate linework looks distinctively different than Cinar's chiseled characters, it's not overly jarring to transition between the two artists. All it does is make Cinar's work seem a bit stiff by comparison, and less elegant.
Even with a bit of artistic inconsistency, this is a good issue, and it shows how well Levitz can juggle the plotlines and the character beats and still move the story forward at top speed. Forget the sluggishness of the history lessons of "Adventure Comics." This is Paul Levitz really writing the Legion. This one counts. And it shows.