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

The Story: What—my rich dad’s credit card is totally wiped?  He’s got to be in trouble, right?

The Review: The rite of passage for any teen superhero group usually involves disobeying their chaperones or having a run-in with foes out of their league.  Almost always, the two incidents go hand-in-hand, and they usually wind up testing the kids’ powers, their code of ethics, teamwork, friendships, and relationships to their mentors.  The success and value of this old plot usually depends on the setup for why they end up in trouble in the first place.

Levitz takes a rich, bratty know-it-all out for some kicks and turns the story into one about family ties, a very worthy change in gears.  Even after one issue, Chemical Kid’s snide (Bouncing Boy says “spirited,” but I’m going with Duplicate Girl on this one) attitude has already begun to wear thin, so it’s a relief to see he’s aware of his own jerkiness, and beneath the swagger, he’s actually very sentimental—look how tenderly he holds his damaged robot nanny.

Besides Chem Kid, all his Academy mates get some interesting character moments in this issue: Glorith’s magical destiny forcing her removal from her parents; Dragonwing’s own parents trying to sell her off; even Gravity Kid’s decision to join the others hints he’s not the totally strict do-gooder he seems.  These are all little threads that can easily spin into bigger storylines down the road, so Levitz clearly has far-sighted plans for this bunch of rascals.

In fact, if I may be so bold to say so, it feels Levitz is more invested in this team than he is with the full-blooded Legionnaires, or at least he writes them better.  His expository style of dialogue seems to suit characters with history left to spill more than it does characters that already know most of the ins and outs of each other.  When the Academy kids interact, it feels like they’re actively building relationships and learning, rather than bantering pointlessly.

But one thing’s for sure: Levitz writes some really weak battle chatter.  It’s like an exercise in writing the cheesiest, silliest lines you can think of: “I’m so scared.  Will you tat me?”  “You’re not much use if you can’t lift those nasty toys!”  “And all those pretty glowing rocks are gonna be dust when I slam them!”  Comet Queen’s often-incomprehensible star-speak falls in its own category of weirdness: “Implode the ageism baldy.  We’re the new stars gleaming in the sky!”

It’s not surprising Jimenez gets credited as fellow storyteller, because his art pulls just as much weight in making Adventure Comics a strong read as Levitz’s script.  The richness of detail he puts into the character designs is of course great, but his settings really bring the future age to life—the organic tech of Phlon’s architecture not only looks beautiful, it feels fully-realized, with a specific culture backing it up.  Jimenez also draws some convincing action, albeit with one or two hiccups—like what exactly is Dragonwing flame-breathing at in Chem Kid’s house?  Hi-Fi offers some hi-fi (wah-wah), practically neon colors, making the issue nearly electric to look at.

Conclusion: New blood seems to be just the thing to make Legion fun again; their adventures may be smaller in scale than their adult counterparts’, but at least they get you more invested.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I’m with Duplicate Girl: those are some douchey glasses Chem Kid is wearing.  Add in those oversized collars and coattail and this is clearly the hipster look of the future.