Most of the One Year Later relaunches have followed a similar pattern: The first issue has been devoted to establishing the new status quo, with plenty of hints and questions as to what happened during the missing year. Consequently, not a whole lot really happened, other than some very exposition-heavy conversations and narratives. Some of the books were promising, but offered little more than hints as to where stories would be going.
Walt Simonson and Howard Chaykin’s Hawkgirl showed flashes of promise, but was bogged down by loads of exposition as everyone – Kendra in particular – spent the issue talking about everything they were feeling in reaction to the missing year. Simonson starts the plot moving this issue, beginning with an interesting resolution to last issue’s cliffhanger. (though it’s not one we need to see again any time soon) The storytelling is much smoother, and they mysterious goings-on in St. Roche don’t feel quite as forced. There’s a lot more action and a lot less talking, though Simonson maintains his old school style dialogue and narration. Chaykin’s got a better handle on the characters this time, turning down some of his T&A tendencies while keeping his lead character attractive.
Simonson and Chaykin haven’t quite delivered on the book’s potential, but they’re much further along the road than they were last issue.
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes doesn’t actually advance things very far. Last issue introduced the new status quo for the Legion – cleverly billed as 10001 Years Later to reflect the Legion’s futuristic time frame – and ended with a new addition to the status quo: The fairly spontaneous appearance of the 21st century Supergirl, who believes the Legion’s future to be entirely in her imagination.
This issue resolves the question of what to do with Supergirl. Of course, having already changed the title, DC isn’t holding a whole lot in suspense: She joins the Legion. Perhaps the need to build up advance publicity for the book precluded this, but wouldn’t it have been great to keep Supergirl’s appearance in the 31st century a secret? It would have made these two issues far more surprising, and they could always change the title with #18.
At any rate, Supergirl spends some time showing off how awesome she is, while the Legion debates whether or not to let her join. There’s the requisite awe and wonder at a real, live 21st century superhero showing up, and the question of whether or not she’s insane. They also talk about not having a Legion Flight Ring to give her, though one wonders why it’s entirely necessary: Supergirl can already fly and hang out in space, so why does she actually need a ring? Couldn’t they just give her a radio that patched into the communications system? But perhaps that’s just Mark Waid’s attempt at building some dramatic tension.
Waid’s also stumbled into another potential problem with suspense and drama: In spending two issue showing off how incredibly powerful Supergirl is, he’s raised the bar for any new threats he wants to introduce. The Legion was pretty tough to begin with, and now they’ve got a member who trumps just about all of them… so who’s going to stand up to them? Hopefully Waid’s been taking notes from All-Star Superman.
It’s all fairly predictable, but Waid’s got a nice knack for this kind of light-hearted superhero fare. It needs a stronger direction post haste – and hopefully one that doesn’t focus entirely on the new lead – but Legion is still a fun, if safe, superhero romp. And as a nice bonus, Barry Kitson’s Supergirl is one of the least skanky variations I’ve seen since her return.