By: Paul Levitz & Phil Jimenez (storytellers), Andy Lanning & Sean Parsons (inkers), Hi-Fi (colorist), Geraldo Borges & Marlo Alquiza (2nd feature artists)

The Story: It’s not easy having a dad who gives superpowers to the people trying to kill you.

The Review: Having a magic-user on your superhero team can be a great idea in practice, but very risky for a comics writer.  Magic can be a great catalyst for telling stories, but it can get out of hand very quickly.  Too often, magicians end up acting as deus ex machina by instantly getting their team out of otherwise inescapable scrapes—just look at Dr. Strange on the Avengers, or Zatanna on the Justice League.

There’s plenty of reason to fear Glorith will wind up doing the same thing for her Legion Academy mates.  With all her pals out of commission, she still manages to take down the rest of the gene-modified gangsters by herself using some vaguely portrayed powers (Illusions?  Mind control?  Telekinesis?).  Let’s hope Levitz doesn’t make this a habit—it can get old pretty fast.

On top of that, you have the dissatisfying non-conclusion to Chemical Kid’s storyline, where as it turns out, his dad’s been selling off his gene-mod tech to cover his gambling debts.  It’s a pretty cliché sort of explanation that doesn’t lead anywhere, although it’s kind of fun to see Chem Kid’s dad as a whimpering coward. The kids don’t really have a chance to do anything about it either, since Levitz chooses to abridge their plot with two other stories in the issue.

Senior Academy members Lamprey and Power Boy get their graduation final by taking down some exotic animal smugglers (which, amusingly enough, include elephants—nice to know we haven’t completely killed them off by the 31st century).  It’s a low-stakes test, and since you don’t really know the Legion-hopefuls all that well, you have little interest in their success.  Let’s hope their getting shunted to prison duty on Takron-Galtos ends their part in this title for good.

The testing panel includes Night Girl and Cosmic Boy, the latter of whom comes off pretty crusty.  He just acts like a downer during the whole test: “We don’t all get our dreams, Lydda.”  His opinion of Power Boy’s powers as not distinctive enough comes off particularly petty.  The guy can make himself intangible or incredibly durable—doesn’t that already beat Phantom Girl?

We also get a co-feature showing Black Witch’s struggles with the evil sorcerer Mordru, whom she’s sealed inside herself.  It plays out with all the fraught melodrama you’d expect from such a storyline written by someone as partial to soapy scenes like Levitz.  Considering the story also helps explain how Glorith manages to suddenly rouse herself and save her teammates earlier, Levitz could have easily integrated it into the overall plot, so the separation seems a bit lazy.

At this point, it may be fair to say Jimenez plays the bigger role in making this title as readable as it is.  His art designs never fail to thrill (his choice for an alien: a purple horse with arms and an eye-patch—does it get better than that?), and his strong character expressions really help to sell the often silly dialogue.  Borges and Alquiza’s art for the second feature is serviceable, but bland and has little personality.  It gets the job done, and that’s about all.

Conclusion: With three plots running at once in one issue, none of them get the chance to really grab your interest.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Setting aside the fact that Power Boy is the least descriptive heroic name ever, it is also incredibly inappropriate for a guy who can manipulate his personal density.

– “After Black Mace broke every bone in my body.”  Really?  Funny how you’re still walking around, then.