Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #16

Story by Mark Waid, art by Barry Kitson and Mick Gray

Now this is good comics.

Mark Waid's Legion revamp, which I hadn't looked at until now, is like a youthsploitation sci-fi fantasy from 1971: in the 30th century, everyone's a boring adult trying to keep the kids from having any fun, until a team of brightly colored teenage superheroes arrives to shake things up. It works because Waid doesn't take the premise seriously (his adults say things like "We insist that you stop being so ... so ... colorful!"), and because he writes funny dialogue. He's good at plotting too: he welcomes new readers with a scene-setting anecdote; he contrives for the Legionnaires and Supergirl (who debuts in this issue) to team up before they've even met; he introduces or advances three (by my count) subplots without cluttering up the story; and he ends on a genuinely surprising cliffhanger.

The frosting on the donut is the startlingly handsome art -- cleanly composed, consistently legible, and still fun to look at, especially in the crowd scenes, where the background faces are a little more cartoony than those of the main characters. (This is an old trick but one you don't see enough of in mainstream comics.) Plus, I'm pretty sure that's one of the Anathematicians of the Insect Mesh, from Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, in panel two, page 20. No one who is not a dyed-in-the-bone nerd can understand how happy this makes me.

A couple of these One Year Later books have motivated me to look out for the next issue, but this is the first one that's inspired me to pick up the back issues too. Fortunately they're collected in two paperbacks, which I will be obtaining in exchange for cash.