Current Reviews


Legion Of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #16

Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2008
By: Ray Tate

Matthew K. Manning
Shawn McManus, Heroic Age (c)
DC Comics
"The Untold Legend of Arms-Fall-Off Boy"

Matthew K. Manning should use a couple of bottles of vodka to assassinate the brain cells that concocted this lulu of Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century. The concept is bad beyond bad, and the art by Shawn McManus doesn't make it any better.

Arms-Fall-Off Boy was a one-joke character in Legion of Super-Heroes. He attempted to parlay his eponymous power into Legion membership. The dude didn't even make it to the Substitutes.

Manning apparently thought AFOB was pure comedy gold. Let me tell you something. The original vignette is the only tiny nugget you'll ever pan from this character's stream.

Manning attempts to show AFOB as useful, which is impossible. What's more, Manning knows that it's impossible. The story forces him to contrive so many lame brained contingencies to display AFOB as a hero.

Before AFOB encounters the Legion Manning sends the team on a mission to tame a space beast. Manning deviates from Phantom Girl's cool, composed characterization to exploit her as a foreshadowing device. Her lack of enthusiasm in being the solution to defeat the beast identifies Cosmic Boy as the master of magnetism and displays the magnetic nature of flight rings.

If I recall correctly, flight rings have traditionally been non-magnetic. Otherwise, the Legion would have been at the mercy of the Braalians, Cosmic Boys' people, as well as anybody with a kitchen magnet in his pocket. The Phantom Girl I know wouldn't hesitate to plunge her hand in muck if it would save the day. Manning however believes she suffers from Stereotype Girl's avoidance of ickiness.

All of these contradictions pave the way for even more dubious events. Starfinger enters the fray, for no good reason. He has a desire to snatch a flight ring. I don't get this at all. Why does Starfinger have such a jones for a flight ring? He's never had one before.

Cosmic Boy responds to the intrusion by curling his fingers at Starfinger. Presumably this poor pose signifies that he's about to slap Starfinger silly with his own hand, which now wears the magnetic flight ring. Before this occurs, AFOB lends his own expertise to the situation.

I like to think I have a highly developed sense of humor, but I didn't find Starfinger being struck by AFOB's detached arm remotely funny. Stupid, but not funny.

Giving up on instilling humor, Manning tries for pathos. Phantom Girl thanks AFOB by lending him her flight ring for a moment. He might have gotten away with the story if it ended here. Phantom Girl would have recovered a modicum of her dignity. AFOB would have had a sweet memory. Manning, however, cannot resist ruining the scene by trying once more for comedy. He creates absolute hilarity by having the flight ring pop off AFOB's arm. Yes. Such a side-splitter. My ribs still ache.

Shawn McManus hasn't quite got the hang of Legion animation style. His mutton-chopped Cosmic Boy looks like a chimpanzee. Phantom Girl in profile looks frightening. Perhaps, a better story would have inspired him.

What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!