By: Paul Levitz & Geraldo Borges (storytellers), Marlo Alquiza (inker), Hi-Fi (colorist), Jeffrey Moy (2nd feature penciller), Philip Moy (2nd feature inker)

The Story: Glorith performs the first genetic exorcism, and XS tries her hand at modern art.

The Review: Even though DC’s co-features largely didn’t work, the concept of them as bonus tales to your title’s usual offerings had a nice appeal.  Whether they were worth the tacked-on dollar was arguable, but they never harmed the main series story-wise.  Occasionally they even enhanced their partner feature, if the creators put a little effort into it.

Not so here.  Levitz’s follow-up features have done little for his ongoing storyline except take away space that could’ve been devoted to more action and plotting.  Chemical Kid’s family problems had the potential to be a strong opening arc for these kids’ misadventures, but four issues in, the pace reduced to a crawl, the story still hasn’t got the excitement or intrigue it needs.  The stolen gene-mods could’ve been the first step to a much larger adversary for the Legion wannabes, but Levitz seems intent on letting the plot end on an anticlimactic note.

At least he spends time giving some interesting new shades to our young heroes.  Dragonwing gives off a tough vibe, but she’s also sensitive to her teammates’ feelings, even smoothing tensions between Gravity Kid and Chem Kid.  Glorith may be naïve about the modern world, but she’s respectfully strict about her magical traditions.  And Chem Kid’s lack of scruples when it comes to money may be the thing that gets between him and being a true hero.

Levitz should spend more time building on these things, instead of throwing away pages to the Academy mentors.  They serve no purpose other than to emphasize how crotchety Legion has gotten about membership lately (not letting in Bouncing Boy—how dare they!).  Maybe if they take a more active role with their charges (like White Queen and Banshee in Generation X—old school!), there’ll be more reason to keep them around.

Now, as for the most problematic part of the issue: the back-up about XS seems like yet another Flashpoint teaser, as there are no signs it ties in with the Saturn Queen brouhaha over in Legion of Super-Heroes.  It doesn’t give XS much opportunity to show off her loveable self; it doesn’t really advance her search for her family (a plot left behind years ago now); and it doesn’t clear up her status in this foreign universe.  Misses on all counts—consider this a waste of time.

Phil Jimenez’s absence (temporary, we can only hope) is sorely felt.  Borges does an adequate job trying to mimic Jimenez’s style, but he doesn’t have the same confidence.  His work lacks Jimenez’s solidity in lines and his designs are far less ambitiously detailed and imaginative.  In other words, he won’t distract you from the weaknesses of Levitz’s script.  Moy’s work on the XS back-up is not only laughably (not in a good way) cartoony, but he gives only the most superficial emotions to the characters, often making it seem like they physically can’t look directly at each other.

Conclusion: If Levitz will wise up and get rid of these largely disposable “co-features,” and if Jimenez or his equal returns to art duties, this title may recover its early momentum.  If not, it’s likely to become as bland a read as its sibling series.

Grade: C

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – In idleness, Cosmic Boy uses his magnetism to make paper-clip chains.  Way to add pizzazz to your totally kooky image, man.

– What a lack of interior design will do.  The Academy kids’ barely furnished rooms look like prison cells—especially since their beds stick out the wall like prison cots.