By: Paul Levitz & Phil Jimenez (storytellers), Andy Lanning (inker), Hi-Fi (colorist)

The Story: These ain’t your mama’s Legionnaires—they like to fight hard, and party hard.  And do it on their parents’ money, apparently.  Kids these days…

The Review: Bringing in a team of unknowns can be a risky, even redundant move, especially in the overpopulated universes of mainstream superhero comics.  There’s bound to be outrage over the neglect of established characters in favor of those who may turn out to be nothing better than thinly veiled copies of what’s already been done.  Still, new characters can inject fresh energy onto titles even when they’re raw, and it’s just plain fun to speculate on their possible evolutions.

Adventure Comics’ set of rookies breathes new life into the title—a good thing.  Since the futuristic team has returned to its Silver Age continuity, under the helm of Levitz, its veteran writer, the Legion seems a bit creaky with age when it should be appealing to a younger generation of devotees.  No one can tell if an all-new cast of young characters will do the job, but the interest they generate in their first issue looks and feels promising.

Levitz has clear direction in mind for these kids, allowing them to express their distinctive voices throughout the issue, though the focus lands mostly on a select number of the bunch.  Levitz wisely uses the newest recruit, Glorith, as a cipher to guide you through the setting and dynamic of the title.  Each snippet of dialogue reveals a layer to the character speaking, and they bounce off each other very well, making for a very lively sounding issue.

As strong as the dialogue can be in this issue, there are still a few weak links.  Levitz still overly relies on telling you straight up what’s happening.  The gimmick can really start to grate on your nerves during the action sequences, where lines like “Accelerating my own metabolism makes you sound so dreary—but it makes this easy!” sounds not only awkward, but ridiculously corny.  It’s a very old-school style from Levitz, which feels somewhat unnatural and melodramatic.

And with the reduced count in pages DC’s got on all its titles, there’s really no room for empty words, which is why Glorith’s extended monologues feel like such a drag on the story’s pace.  They do little to expand her character or explain much of anything, other than to ramble on how foreign everything feels to her.  Levitz really needs to be more aggressive in offering more ways for his characters to channel their youth, other than babbling their way through the story.  Breaking curfews and drilling with a red ball is small stuff—I want to see them get in over their heads and earn their Legion stripes the hard, messy way.

But this issue really prospers thanks to Jimenez’s richly furnished, beautiful art.  His character designs for the newbies (like Dragonwing’s Orient-inspired translucent cloak) are inspired, and his loving attention to detail makes even the costumes and figures of the vanguard Legionnaires pop out (when was the last time Night Girl looked this good?).  And the work he puts into the city backdrops, the advanced tech, the lush fantasy of Sorcerer’s World, all boldly colored by Hi-Fi—it all gives you a sense of wonder that’s been missing from the Legion for a while now.

Conclusion: The allure of new characters strengthened by gorgeous art makes the debut of the Legion Academy a worthwhile read.  I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Old-school envelope is the symbol of choice for Glorith’s scribes.  Quaint, but do those even exist in that era anymore?

– Please don’t make “I don’t understand” Glorith’s ongoing, charming catchphrase.  What’s with all these catchphrases that poke fun at the girl’s ignorance lately?

– I applaud Levitz for allowing a purple dude and a green girl to hook up.  Usually, you have to get at least one flesh-tone in there—not in Legion!  Anyone know any more multicolored couples?