Lead Story By: Paul Levitz (writer), Geraldo Borges and Marlo Alquiza (artists)
Back Up Story By: Jeff Lemire (writer), Mahmud Asrar (penciller), John Dell (inker), Pete Pantazis (colorist)
The Lead Story: Some sort of Oan intelligence is looking for someone strong enough and fearless enough to carry a green lantern ring. In the meantime, a bunch of legionnaires are off in Uganda, trying to fix up after an earthquake that, after a little bit of investigating, doesn’t look very earthquaky, especially when it wallops a couple of them at better than the speed of light.
Lead Story What’s Good: Borges and Alquiza have an attractive, arresting art style that works really well on expressive faces (check out Shadow Lass or her racist boyfriend on pages 2 and 3) and interesting aliens (the Oan on page 2 or the close up on Tellus on page 6). That’s half the battle right there.
Story-wise, I was intrigued by the vanished Green Lantern corps and its last representative trying to revive the venerable force. That was interesting, although the Legion’s reactions seemed a bit odd and unexpectedly submissive. “Everyone come here so I can pick a new Green Lantern.” “No problem. Here we are.” Huh? Oh, well. The dialogue and writing worked for me as well, especially Dawnstar and Shadow Lass.
Lead Story What’s Not So Good: While Borges and Alquiza have some strengths, I think they’re still working on a few weaknesses as well. On weird camera angles or even just people looking up (splash page with the Oan on page 13 or Lar Gand on page 15), the proportions go all funny. The women are attractive, but obviously every one has had a cheap boob job leaving their mommy parts sticking out at odd angles in defiance of gravity and good taste. As well, in terms of composition, panel-wise and page-wise, the approach is very middle of the road. (Instructions: Put camera in standard position A. Pan right to standard position B. Repeat.) This left the panels themselves rarely dynamic, and the panels on the page didn’t feel like they were flowing from one to another. Some artists have tried some interesting things with diagonal layouts and odd-sized panels, but nothing innovative was tried here.
Writing-wise, I was surprised (negatively) that Levitz had picked such classical background action. The old legion stories were filled with the Legionnaires leaping into natural disasters (as only do-gooders can) and saving humans and endangered wildlife. I think that worked in the sixties, but comics have matured a lot since then and I didn’t feel this mood was quite up to what comics are capable of doing. I wasn’t invested in the disaster, so the action didn’t really pull me in.
Back Up Story: The Atom is in one dilly of a pickle. Dad is in the clutches of bad guys. The Atom’s belt is fried.
Back Up Story What’s Good: I bought the story in this feature, the conflict between hero and uncle, the redemption arc that was going on and the stakes (Dad’s in trouble). The art on this story was rougher, but more dynamic than the lead story, while remaining emotive and expressive.
Back Up Story What’s Not So Good: No real complaints about the back up feature.
Conclusion: Adventure Comics #521 delivered on its title and brought me shrunken and futuristic adventure and excitement. I love the Legion and they are the main reason I bought the book, but Lemire and Asrar have got me feeling for the Atom.