By: Paul Levitz (writer), Geraldo Borges (penciller), Marlo Alquiza (inker), Hi-Fi (colorist)

The Story: Calling the love of your life chubby may not be the best way to get on his good side.

The Review: Of the Legion Academy cast, Comet Queen is most likely to have any familiarity, first appearing to the Legion in the eighties (also under Levitz’s pen) then joining the first set of Academy recruits.  As such, she has the most developed personality and history among her classmates and she acts as a direct link between them and their mentors.

All this is grounds to question why Levitz would choose to devote an entire issue to retelling her origins.  Her motivations for wanting to join the Legion read like a stalker’s biopic: small-town girl, enamored with a Legionnaire (Bouncing Boy, of all people), follows any and every crazy impulse possible to get close to him.  She literally stands in the path of a passing comet, turning her into a super-powered energy creature instead of, well, space dust.

About halfway through her story, you’ll regret that comet didn’t just toast her off, as most of her astoundingly shallow behavior rings home just how annoying a character she is.  Her ridiculous speech patterns are just the tip of the iceberg, but they demonstrate very well Levitz’s often unwise storytelling decisions.  Such obviously artificial dialogue wears thin quickly if not written with some restraint, and he goes all-out, giving you lines like, “Settle your grav-drive in, and I’ll tell you, still-shaking-from-your-first-thrill-ride-girl…”

Levitz spends more time glossing over the major events of her life, and so fails to make her very sympathetic.  Getting pawned to the Legion of Substitute Heroes hardly merits her description of them as “burned-out stars that never shined” (look how many ended up in the Legion proper).  Her mind-wipe at the hands of Saturn Queen has more potential to give her character some depth, but Levitz avoids showing you any really harmful effects.  Her first reaction upon waking from the wipe is to love-tackle Bouncing Boy—which she probably would’ve done anyway.

Meanwhile, we still have a whole cast of brand-new, unfamiliar characters who get almost no page-time, some of whom you’ve learned nothing about since this title launched five issues ago.  Gravity Kid and Dragonwing’s backgrounds remain a complete blank, and Variable Lad didn’t even get to join the kids on their last adventure.  Once again, we watch the team go through an exercise which gives little opportunity for any real interaction among them.

The only positive outcome of Comet Queen recapping her story is it prompts Glorith to begin diving into her own past.  Since Levitz intends to use her as the focus of this series, it’s good to finally get some dirt out of her—next time.  It would’ve made a lot more sense to cover both girls’ origins in the same issue; it’d have cut our excruciating time with CQ in half, at least.

Borges has a clean, to-the-point style that packs a punch in the action scenes, especially in portraying Comet Queen’s speed and flight, about the only thing you can really admire about her.  But he also has Yildiray Cinar’s weakness for largely nondescript, unimaginative settings, where everything has shape, but almost no texture or depth.

Conclusion: You’d think revolving an entire issue around one character would do more to make her palatable, but almost the opposite effect happens.  This series is dangerously close to joining its sibling on the Dropped List.

Grade: C-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Variable Kid not only misses out on the very first story arc, he gets burned by his own teacher when Night Girl saddles him with extra work and ranks on his fashion sense at the same time.  What exactly did this kid do to deserve getting Meg Griffin-ed by everybody?