DC Comics brings back the Legion of Super-Heroes with ambitious relaunch: Part One

DC Comics originally introduced the Legion of Super-Heroes way back in 1958 and the venerable franchise featuring a team of 30th, then 31st Century super-powered teenage crime-fighters from planets across the galaxy bounced around the DC Universe with several re-boots until it was shelved in 2013 due to low readership. In the last couple of years, members of the Legion made appearances in several titles, giving hope to fans for a relaunch. This past June, DC announced that it was finally returning the Legion, with Brian Michael Bendis as the writer. But it wouldn’t be a hurried revival. To build anticipation and an audience, DC would gradually reintroduce the Legion storyline in five books over a ten-week period prior to the publication of Legion of Super-Heroes #1 on November 6th. I picked up the five prelude books as they were published and am finally getting around to reading and reviewing them. Below are short reviews of the first three prelude books, which will be followed by reviews of the last two next week.


 

Capture20Superman #14: The Unity Saga: The House of El, the Conclusion: Part One
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Penciller: Ivan Reis
DC Comics, August 2019

5 Stars

Superman/Kal-El and his father, Jor-El, are observing the ruins of Krypton from their spaceship when another ship appears bearing Zod, Jax-Ur, and Rogol Zaar, the destroyer of Krypton. Overcome with anger at the site of his former planet, Zod turns on Zaar, destroying their ship, which exposes the trio to deadly radiation. Superman and Jor-El watch momentarily, but Superman cannot allow the trio to die and intervenes. Supergirl and Superboy then show up and join in the fray. Units of the elite Thangarian Black Guard suddenly arrive and arrest everyone, but just as the dust is settling, the warlike Khunds invade Thangar. With the galaxy on the verge of absolute chaos and self-destruction, Superboy pleads for an inter-galactic governing body to resolve conflicts, in the mold of the United Nations. Superman seconds the motion, but the distrusting representatives of other planets are hesitant. At that moment, the Legion of Super-Heroes arrives from the 31st Century, honoring Superboy for initially inspiring the United Planets intergalactic federation, which continues to guide the galaxy in the future. In gratitude, the Legion invites Superboy/Jon Kent to become a member. But did the Legion jump the gun? It doesn’t appear a consensus had yet been reached regarding the proposed United Planets. Keep reading.*


Capture21Supergirl #33: The House of El: United: Finale
Writer: Marc Andreyko, Penciller: Kevin Maguire
DC Comics, September 2019

4 Stars

The plotline for this book is very similar to that of Superman #14, above, but the story is told from Supergirl’s perspective.

Supergirl and Superboy come to Superman’s aid in capturing Rogol Zaar, the destroyer of Krypton, but, like everyone else, are arrested by the Thangarian Black Guard. The Khunds suddenly attack Thangar and Superboy wistfully proposes a peaceful “time-out.” Superman expounds on the idea by suggesting some type of agency for intergalactic cooperation. As representatives of the galaxy’s planets mull over the proposal, the Legion of Super-Heroes suddenly arrive from the 31st Century to commemorate the historic origin of what would become the United Planets. In a subsequent private moment, Supergirl has a virtual conversation with Z’ndr Kol, an apparent romantic interest, and relates that the Legion has invited Jon Kent/Superboy to become a member. Supergirl then says her goodbyes to her cousin, Superman, and finally returns to Earth after her year-long crusade to bring Rogol Zaar, the destroyer of Krypton, to justice.


Capture22Superman #15: The Unity Saga: The House of El, the Conclusion: Part Two
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Penciller: Ivan Reis
DC Comics, September 2019

5 Stars

The book begins with Superman commiserating with Adam Strange following the events detailed in the two previous reviews. We then find out that the Legion did arrive prematurely* because of Brainiac 5’s miscalculation. But the Legion’s testimony to the success of the United Planets convinces the gathered planetary representatives to unite and to mark the occasion in perpetuity as “Unity Day.” Superboy then mulls over the Legion’s invitation to join them in the 31st century. Adam Strange informs Superman that his father, Jor-El, has been convicted of the crime of creating Rogol Zaar and sentenced to return back in time to Krypton at the precise moment before the planet was destroyed. A sorrowful Superman, along with Supergirl and Superboy, establish a truce with General Zod, his wife, Ursa, and their son, Lor-Zod. With the crisis over and the United Planets established, the Els return to Earth.


Commentary: I jumped into this Superman storyline, endstream, but Bendis made it relatively painless. I quickly picked up the drift of what was going on. Of course, I especially enjoyed the re-introduction of the Legion! Brainy’s time miscalculation was a humorous slant. Excellent stories! Regarding Unity Day, Bendis no doubt had in mind the complete disunity in American politics these days. Pencillers, Ivan Reis, Kevin Maguire, and the rest of the illustration team do a fantastic job! Comic art has advanced by leaps and bounds since the Silver Age.

Next up: Next week, we’ll be reviewing the remaining two preludes; The Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 and #2.

Postscript: I was a fan of the Legion back in 1966-1968 and checked in every so often for 45 years until DC pulled the plug in 2013. See the index to my reviews of 35 Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes tales here.

Trivia alert: It’s no coincidence that Superman/Kal-El’s surname is “El.” El is a shortening of Elohim, one of the Hebrew words for God, and Kal-El could be interpreted as “voice of God” or “vessel of God.” Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were both Jewish. In several aspects, the Superman mythos resembles the story of Moses.

13 thoughts on “DC Comics brings back the Legion of Super-Heroes with ambitious relaunch: Part One

    1. 👋🏼 It was fun to read these first three preludes. Good stories and good to see the Legion back after the long wait. I was convinced DC was done with the Legion. The next two preludes were regrettably a LOT of “sad astronaut” navel gazing which I’ll be posting about next week.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Finished reading this. Seems smart of DC to build up on LSH through different titles to get fans following Superman and Supergirl to know about LSH which many fans of DC today might not have known so well or even have read about.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s