Waaaay back to the future

With apologies to my über-serious brethren and sistren, today we engage in some very un-serious frivolity as we kick off our monthly series reviewing DC Comics’ 2010-2013 era of the Legion of Super-Heroes, that 30+ member team of teenage crime-fighters of the distant future, each with unique super-powers. So, without any further ado, let’s climb into our time sphere and journey way back to 2010 and then waaaaaaay forward to the 31st-Century with the Legion of Super-Heroes as they battle crime across the Universe.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1: The Scream Heard ‘Cross the Universe
Writer: Paul Levitz, Penciller: Yildiray Cinar
DC Comics, July 2010

5 Stars

Plot

31st-Century Earth had been overrun by a xenophobic culture* led by Earth Man and his Justice League. Earth Man is eventually defeated by Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, but as a concession to the remaining, large, anti-alien faction on the planet, the Legion agrees to allow Earth Man to become a member, albeit under the strict supervision of Brainiac 5. As events unfold, Saturn Girl visits her home moon of Titan and witnesses the relocation of the Time Institute there from the politically and socially unstable environment on Earth. Despite warnings, the foolhardy scientists at the institute decide to explore the origin of the Universe** and thereby unwittingly unleash a chain reaction that will ultimately destroy the moon. In the panic that ensues, Saturn Girl desperately searches for her twin sons.

Meanwhile, on the planet Oa, Sodam Yat, the last of the Green Lanterns, mourns as he perceives the coming destruction of Titan, but is visited by Dyogene, a being sent by the Guardians, who forcibly removes Yat’s Green Lantern ring.

Back on Titan, Saturn Girl locates her two boys, but they are kidnapped via a time-transport beam just before she can reach them. Saturn Girl absconds with a time sphere in desperate pursuit of her two children as the rest of the Legionnaires hurriedly direct a limited evacuation of Titan. The destruction of the moon along with the annihilation of most of its inhabitants reverberates throughout the galaxy.

Unperturbed by the destruction of Titan, Dyogene travels to Earth and presents the Green Lantern ring to the surprised Earth Man.

Commentary

This was a very entertaining inaugural for the 2010-2013 Legion and from here Levitz has the opportunity to develop many storylines. Saturn Girl plays a prominent role as she will a decade later in Brian Michael Bendis’ 2019-2021 Legion. Other Legionnaires appearing in this issue include Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Phantom Girl, Sun Boy, and Ultra Boy, along with very brief cameos by Blok, Bouncing Boy, Duo Damsel, and Polar Boy. Cinar’s pencils are decent, but not at the caliber we saw from Ryan Sook in the 2019-2021 Legion.

As with previous Legion incarnations, readers are asked to suspend their senses of sight and logic by characters who are supposed to be teenagers and are still referred to as “boy” and “girl,” but appear as PED-abusers in their late-20s. And the “girls” have more artificial enhancement than the Real Housewives of New Jersey (not to mention Saturn “Girl,” a mom with two pre-schoolers).

Criticisms aside, I enjoyed this introduction to the 2010-2013 Legion era and I hope you enjoyed my review. I’m looking forward to our monthly visit to the 31st-Century.

*Is the xenophobic culture on 31st-century Earth that’s presented by Levitz a thinly-veiled swipe at the populist Tea Party movement, which gained national prominence in 2009?

**In a scene at the Time Institute, the scientists ponder what time period they should investigate. One of them suggests that they examine “the Great Mystery in A.D. 33 and end the endless debate” (p. 12), but the beginning of the Universe is chosen instead. God gets His digs in, even in the most surprising places.

The Legion of Super-Heroes is back! Well, kinda, sorta…not really.

After a long, six-year hiatus, DC Comics relaunched its venerable Legion of Super-Heroes franchise in 2019 with a flurry of prelude tie-ins, followed by its inaugural monthly book in November. The creative team of Brian Michael Bendis (writer) and Ryan Sook (pencils) did a very good job, however, the much-anticipated reboot didn’t draw enough readers and lasted only twelve issues.

What’s a Legion fan to do? Well, back in 2010-2013, DC had resuscitated the Legion and was indulging Legion fans with multiple titles. I collected all of the 80 books that were published in that time span with the intention of reading them “someday.” Given the reality that the Legion is not a part of DC’s current or future plans, that day has come. My plan is to read and review an LSH book from the 2010-2013 period each month. At that rate I’ll get through all 80 books in 6.5 years.

As I mentioned, multiple LSH titles were published concurrently in that 2010-2013 span. I initially thought about reviewing them chronologically according to their publication date, but concluded that bouncing back and forth between titles would be disconcerting for myself and the reader. Instead, I’ll complete each title before moving to the next one. Here’s the four series we’ll be looking at:

The Legion of Super-Heroes (July 2010-October 2013) – After an absence of two years, DC reintroduced the Legion with their own monthly book in July 2010 with Paul Levitz as scripter and Yildiray Cinar as penciller. After 16 issues, the numbering reverted back to #1 (November 2011) as a part of DC’s “The New 52” relaunch and would continue to #23 (October 2013). Total issues: 42.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics (August 2010-October 2011). Paul Levitz (writer) and Kevin Sharpe (penciller). This series was more of an upbeat, Silver Age Era-inspired alternative to the “sad astronaut” pessimism of the main Levitz-Sinar series. The mission of the complementary Adventure series was to “(fill) in some gaps in the (Legion’s) backstory” in order to “help new readers understand the history and relationships.” Total issues: 15

Legion Lost (November 2011-March 2013). With the demise of the Adventure Comics series in October 2011, Fabien Nicieza (writer) and Pete Woods (penciller) followed a contingent of Legionnaires stranded on 21st-century Earth. Total issues: 17

Legion: Secret Origin (December 2011-May 2012). Paul Levitz (writer) and Chris Batista (penciller) presented this six-part series which explored the “real beginnings of the Legion.” Total issues: 6

We’ll kick off this LSH 80-issue project with a review of the Legion of Super-Heroes #1 (July 2010) next Friday.

“Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2″

Last month, the re-formed, future-state Legion tracked down former-member, Element Lad, who was apparently responsible for raining-down destruction and chaos upon the entire galaxy. Let’s pick up the action in…

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 [of 2]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils and Inks: Riley Rossmo, Colors: Ivan Plascencia
DC Comics, February 23, 2021

3 Stars

Plot

A large contingent of Legionnaires, including Blok, Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 7, Chameleon Lad, Colossal Boy, Duo Damsel, Ferro Lad, Lightning Lass, Monster Boy, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Superboy, and Ultra Boy, arrives on Trom and captures Jan Arrah/Element Lad. Saturn Girl examines Arrah with her telepathic powers (as Brainiac 7, Gold Lantern, and Ultra Boy look on) and discovers that he was not responsible for the galactic onslaught after all. She sends Chameleon Boy to Daxam to persuade a bitter Cosmic Boy to return to New Earth to learn the truth and to lead the Legion in “avenging the entire galaxy.” With Cosmic Boy present, Imra reveals what she had discovered. The elders of Titan, Imra’s home planet (actually a moon of Saturn), used her to infiltrate the Legion and to eventually manipulate Element Lad and his fellow Tromites into attacking the entire United Planets. Their motive? The Titians viewed the galaxy’s other inhabitants as “impure of thought” and radically inferior.

Saturn Girl returns to Titan to inform her mother that the moon has been removed from its position in the galaxy and “encased in a prison sphere for the rest of time” as punishment. After returning to New Earth, Saturn Girl and the other Legionnaires resolve to continue the Legion and “make a new normal where all feel protected and safe.”

Comments

This Legion Future State two-issue series was a semi-entertaining ride, with Element Lad starting out as the bad guy, but ending up being merely a puppet of the malevolent Titians. A decent twist, but overall, this series was not compelling reading with far too much plot awkwardly squeezed into forty-four pages. Writer Bendis had previously hinted at a surprising development involving Jon Kent that never materialized. To go along with the ungainly storyline, Riley Rossmo’s pencils are nowhere near the caliber of those of regular LSH artist, Ryan Sook.

Many have conjectured that this Future State series would be the Legion’s last gasp, although Bendis promises more (see here). The reality is there’s no sign of the Legion in DC’s March, April, or, just checked, May solicitations. In DC’s frazzled state, it’s difficult to imagine the LSH franchise being resurrected after such a lengthy hiatus.

Postscript A: The Legion of Super-Heroes is supposed to be a team of 31st Century, crime-fighting TEENAGERS with unusual powers, however, following the Silver Age era, writers and artists tended to portray the characters as being much older. In this issue, Rossmo presents Cosmic “Boy” as bigger and thicker than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Jon “Superboy” Kent has a Zorro-like, manicured mustache. Ridiculous.

Postscript B: Uh-oh. The day after I wrote the above, I stumbled upon a review of “Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2,” which describes how the entire Future State Legion was wiped out by something called, “the Undoing.” Of course, the end of the Future State Legion doesn’t mean Bendis & Co. couldn’t continue with tales from the pre-Future State Legion.

“Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1″ (and some possible good news)

No, my friends, I’m NOT turning this blog into the Legion of Super-Heroes frivolity blog. Yes, I realize I reviewed LSH #12 only last week, but there’s a good reason for this latest installment. DC Comics just launched its three-month-long, “Future State” reconfiguration with this two-part LSH tie-in. It’s been rumored that several titles won’t emerge from Future State intact, including the Legion of Super-Heroes, which just completed a one-year, twelve-issue relaunch. With that in mind, let’s go ahead and see what DC and Bendis have in mind for what many (including myself) thought might be the Legion’s final tale.

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1 [of 2]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils and Inks: Riley Rossmo, Colors: Ivan Plascencia
DC Comics, January 26th, 2021

Plot

At some indeterminate point in the 31st Century following the events described in LSH #12, former Legion leader, Ultra Boy, arrives on Planet Gotham to rendezvous with Shadow Lass, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 7, and Colossal Boy. We learn that the Legion had previously disbanded and that the United Planets are in almost total chaos. On Planet Daxam, the only remaining U.P. stronghold, Chameleon Boy is brought before a council comprised of former Legionnaires Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lass, Mon-El, Polar Boy (see postscript below), Princess Projectra, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Superboy, Sun Boy, and Timber Wolf in an effort to ascertain the whereabouts of Jan Arrah, the former Legionnaire, Element Lad, who is responsible for an “incident”/”event” that precipitated the current crisis. On Planet Winath, a group of newly-empowered beings (who refer to the previous cataclysm as the “elemental rapture”) bands together as a pseudo, rogue Legion to exploit the chaos and also oppose Arrah and the crippled U.P., but are thwarted by the former Triplicate Girl (one of her identities was killed in the crisis) who is searching for Element Lad. She is joined by Blok who is on a similar mission. Brainiac 7 invites the duo/trio to join the reconstituted Legion and capture Arrah and also recruits a reluctant Bouncing Boy. On one of Planet Trom’s moons, Arrah interrogates his prisoner, Lightning Lad, who had attempted to kill the traitorous ex-Legionnaire. The proceedings are suddenly interrupted by Lightning Lass along with a contingent of Legionnaires including Blok, Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 7, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Duo Damsel, Ferro Lad, (see postscript below), Monster Boy, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Superboy, and Timber Wolf. Argh! We must wait one month for the results of this showdown!

Comments

Bendis doesn’t provide a lot of information about the cataclysmic attack upon the galaxy and the Legion orchestrated by the traitorous Jan Arrah. I’m expecting more details in “Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 [of 2].” All of the Legionnaires are presented in different permutations including alternate uniforms and different physical characteristics, with a reconstituted Brainiac 5/7 being the most radical. Rossmo’s pencils are nowhere near the caliber of regular LSH artist, Ryan Sook. A redesigned Superboy stays noticeably in the background in this book. I counted a few Legionnaires in the mix who I could not identify. Silver Age Legion fans will note that the death of one of the triplicates hearkens back to similar grim circumstances in “Computo the Conquerer” in Adventure Comics #340 (January 1966). It was sad to read the first issue of this two-part Future State series knowing DC is probably going to pull the plug on the Legion following the second installment.

Postscript

After writing the above, I came across a very recent interview with LSH writer, Brian Michael Bendis, in which he reveals some of the unidentifiable characters in this issue as being members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes and that the black-suited character on the cover with a laser sword is Ferro Lad. Okay. I had thought the character on page 8 in silver and red was Ferro Lad when it’s actually Polar Boy of the Subs. The writer hints that Superboy will play more of a major role in issue #2. To my great surprise, Bendis also reveals that DC definitely plans on continuing the Legion at some point after Future State despite the title’s notable absence in the publisher’s April solicitations. See the interview here.

Legion of Super-Heroes #12

It’s time once again for our monthly, LSH frivolity break (in fact, we’re three weeks past due because of DC’s ongoing publishing issues), so let’s climb aboard our time cube and travel to the 31st Century for another LSH adventure in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #12:
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils: Ryan Sook, Inks: Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, January 19, 2021

Plot

At the end of LSH #11, Superboy and Saturn Girl arrived on New Krypton and confronted planet-destroyer, Rogol Zaar, as all of the other Legionnaires lay strewn about on the battlefield, bloodied and vanquished. As we pick up the action in #12, Superboy engages Rogol Zaar, but he too is subdued. Saturn Girl uses her mind powers to “psychically wake” the entire battered Legion corps, who then engage Rogol Zaar. Just as the Legion appears to be gaining the upper hand, Mordru the Sorcerer appears along with a large contingent of Horraz pirates and a full-scale battle ensues with multiple vignettes highlighting individual Legionnaires and their unique powers. The combined forces of Rogol Zaar and Mordru prove too much for the heroes and defeat looms. Mon-El suddenly appears, returning from his self-imposed exile, to buy the Legion a little more time. Saturn Girl, Dream Girl, and White Witch then confront Mordru with their combined powers, but the showdown is interrupted by Dr. Fate who easily subdues the evil sorcerer. A defeated Rogol Zaar is then returned to the Phantom Zone. As Element Lad leads the effort to rebuild New Krypton, a few Legionnaires ponder whether the preceding battle was the “Great Darkness” that had been foretold and conclude that was not the case. Gold Lantern returns to Earth to retrieve Brainiac 5 for the victory celebration, only to learn that his ring is NOT a Green Lantern ring (gasp!) and that those who issued it to him are not elders of Oa (double gasp!).

Comments

Writer Bendis did a nice job with this showdown between the Legion and Rogol Zaar and Mordru and he tied up some dangling loose ends with the return of Mon-El, Dr. Fate, and Blok. Ryan Sook’s pencils are top-notch as usual. The entire 34-person Legion roster was included in this issue with appearances by Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawn Star, Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Matter-Eater Lad, Monster Boy, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Rose Forrest, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Timber Wolf, Triplicate Girl, Ultra Boy, and Wild Fire. The as-of-yet-unidentified-skeleton-in-a-containment-suit character was also present. The fact that Bendis has not identified this anonymous hero after twelve issues must be his idea of an insider joke.

Well, folks, this issue wraps up the first year of the Legion’s comeback. My hat is off to DC and the creative team of Bendis, Sook, Von Grawbadger, and Bellaire for a very entertaining ride. There was some speculation on the web that DC was pulling the plug on the LSH after this issue, however, a full-page “Future State Checklist” at the end of this book lists “Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1 [of 2]” on sale, tomorrow, January 26th and “Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 [of 2]” on sale February 23rd. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee that DC will be continuing the LSH franchise after “Future State.” No titles are safe given the publisher’s severe financial troubles except for its flagship Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman franchises.

Legion of Super-Heroes #11

It’s time for our monthly, LSH frivolity break, so let’s climb aboard our time cube once again and travel to the 31st Century for another LSH adventure in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #11: Heartbreak On New Krypton
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils: Ryan Sook, Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, November 24, 2020

4 Stars

Plot

As in LSH #10, the reader bounces around the galaxy, from planet to planet…

  • On New Krypton, a small contingent of Legionnaires – Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Karate Kid, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, and Wildfire – await the return of Mon-El when Rogol Zaar and his deadly horde suddenly attack.
  • On Xanthu, Dr. Fate, Saturn Girl, and Superboy search for Mordru and stumble upon the tattered cape of Superman, Jon Kent’s father. As Dr. Fate attempts to examine the cape, he appears to, yikes, explode?!?!?!
  • On Rimbor, Bouncing Boy, Dawnstar, Lightning Lad, Monster Boy, and Timber Wolf look on as Ultra Boy accepts the position of Planet Leader from the War Council, only to dissolve the council and call for free elections.
  • On Earth, the three personas of Triplicate Girl interrupt a class given by Dream Girl, asking for clarification on the upcoming, “Great Darkness.”
  • Blok, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lass, and Rose Forrest arrive on Daxam to investigate the Horraz pirates, when they are attacked by Mordru and his minions. Blok is cast out into deep space. Rose Forrest’s loose-cannon “Thorn” persona emerges during the battle, but Mordru prevails, capturing Cosmic Boy.
  • Back on Earth, as Brainiac 5 and White Witch question Gold Lantern regarding the source of his powers, the emergency on Krypton is brought to light. In response, Brainy directs Saturn Girl and Superboy to immediately journey from Xanthu to Krypton and then assembles all available Legionnaires, including Element Lad, Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid, Matter-Eater Lad, Star Boy, Sun Boy and the as-of-yet-unidentified skeleton in a containment suit, to be teleported to that planet as well.
  • Superboy and Saturn Girl arrive on Krypton, only to find that Rogol Zaar has vanquished ALL of the other Legionnaires.

Comments

The dizzying array of planetary scenarios featuring almost the entire Legion roster (I didn’t spot Violet or Projectra) is a bit disconcerting. Some readers will walk away from this issue with the feeling that Bendis tried to force fit way too much plot into its twenty-three pages. Many questions remain regarding the discovery of Superman’s cape and the fate of Dr. Fate, Blok, and Cosmic Boy. The upcoming showdown between Superboy and Rogol Zaar will be epic.

Postscript #1: As happens quite often in comics, the cover art for issue #11 has nothing to do with the story inside.

Postscript #2: After eleven issues, we STILL don’t know the identity of the skeletal Legionnaire in the containment suit.

Postscript #3: There’s fleeting references to Kamandi and Darkseid in this issue that has Sheldon clones all atwitter.

Legion of Super-Heroes #10

It’s time for our monthly, LSH frivolity break, so let’s climb aboard our time cube once again and travel to the 31st Century for another LSH adventure in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #10: First Kiss
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils: Ryan Sook, Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, October 27, 2020

5 Stars

Plot

Via vignettes on various planets, we see the Legion pick up the pieces after its long “Aquaman Trident” saga and the subsequent trial before the United Planets Council:

  • On Gotham Planet, Superboy and Saturn Girl become better acquainted while on a date and discuss the escape of Mordru with GP Police Commissioner, Sevenbergen. Dr. Fate is summoned and he determines Mordru is on the planet, Xanthu.
  • Gold Lantern, Brainiac 5, and Blok deliver prisoner, Crav the General Nah, to the Elders of Oa and we hear discussion once again of a looming Great Darkness.
  • The Legion contingent of Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Karate Kid, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, and Wildfire arrive on New Krypton in search of Mon-El and are greeted by Zod who takes them to their teammate. After the contingent learns from Mon-El that he has three daughters, he beats an angry retreat when he finds out his rival, Superboy, is still a member of the Legion.
  • Ultra Boy leads a team of Legionnaires (Bouncing Boy, Dawnstar, Lightning Lad, Monster Boy, and Timber Wolf) to Rimbor in an attempt to return his home world back to normalcy, only to be chosen as leader of the planet.
  • Back in Metropolis on Earth, Brainiac 5 attempts to encourage reluctant Legionnaire, Lightning Lass, to remain on the team.
  • On Xanthu, Mordru the fugitive meets up with…uh-oh…(gulp)…planet destroyer, Rogal Zaar!

Comments

Writer Bendis does a nice job of intermixing the various sub-plots in the march towards the ominous Great Darkness. Knowledgeable DC fans will appreciate all the ramifications and tie-ins involved with a 31st-Century New Krypton much more than I can. It’s a bit disconcerting to learn teenager Mon-El already has three children! Say what?!?!?! While it’s entertaining to see Bendis introduce new twists to the Legion’s lore, that’s definitely an over-step. I’m already looking forward to issue #11. The deadly tag-team of Mordru and Rogal Zaar will present a serious challenge for the Legion in the immediate future.

I enjoyed Bendis’ usual snappy dialogue and after the revolving-door, guest artistry of issues #s 8 & 9, it’s great to once again settle back and savor the masterful pencils and pens of the Legion’s regular artists, Sook and Von Grawbadger.

Legion #9: Trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Part 2

Yes, it’s time for another LSH frivolity break! Last month, in Legion #8, writer Brian Michael Bendis, introduced this two-part “Trial” special, with a bevy of DC artists, each spotlighting a member of the Legion. Let’s pick up the action in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #9
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils and Inks: Ryan Sook, Wade Von Grawbadger, and twenty-one guest artists, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, September 29, 2020

Plot

The Legionnaires collectively stand trial before Madame President Brande and the United Planets Council, charged with kidnapping General Crav Nah of Rimbor and defying the U.P.’s space-time continuum regulations by bringing Superboy to the 31st Century. Brande introduces “memexes” (video clips) of Legionnaires’ auditions to prove treachery from the start, including those of Dawnstar, Bouncing Boy, Monster Boy, and Timber Wolf. Intermixed with the memexes are live-action segments at the trial, spotlighting Shadow Lass, Blok, Wildfire, Invisible Kid (returned after quitting in #5), Dream Girl, and Triplicate Girl. General Crav crashes the party, but is subdued by Legionnaires, Mon-El and Gold Lantern, while Dream Girl, Doctor Fate, and White Witch warn of an impending “Great Darkness.” It’s revealed that Crav selfishly desired the Trident as a weapon against the advancing threat. The trial is cancelled as Brande is finally convinced of the Legion’s loyalty and a romance blossoms between Saturn Girl and Superboy.

Comments

This two-part special was enjoyable with the wide-range of illustration styles provided by the guest pencillers. Quite an experiment! Bendis did a passable job of interweaving the trial storyline with the single-page focus on many of the Legionnaires. However, noticeably missing from the spotlight cavalcade were Karate Kid, Matter-Eater Lad, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, and the unnamed glowing skeletal character in a containment suit who still has yet to be identified after nine issues! Bendis evidently omitted those six characters because he simply ran out of plot and pages. Disappointing.

Well, we now know that The Great Darkness (Darkseid? Mordru?) looms large on the far horizon. But first, there’s a New Krypton in the immediate works for issue #10.

Postscript: We all wondered whether Ferro Lad survived the cataclysmic encounter with Crav Nah in #8. Not to worry. There he is on page #3 of this issue, fit as a fiddle. Bendis’s attempt to add some oomph to one of comics’ most ridiculed super-heroes, Bouncing Boy, by making him invulnerable is interesting. The Legion’s Silver Age fans appreciated Bendis’s hat tip on page #6 to the implausible Moby Dick of Space from Adventure Comics #332, May, 1965.

Legion #8: Trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Part 1

Time to take a frivolity break, so climb aboard our time cube and take a trip to the 31st Century with me as we review…

Legion of Super-Heroes #8
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils and Inks: Ryan Sook and twenty-two guest artists, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, August 25, 2020

5 Stars

LSH #7 ended with General Crav Nah of Rimbor attacking the Legion with his powerful forces and demanding that the heroes surrender in retaliation for having imprisoned him during the Trident Saga. Let’s pick up the action in LSH #8.

Plot

Chameleon Boy and his mother, Madame President Brande of the United Planets, review various video files of the Legion from a vantage point following the team’s encounter with General Nah. First off are the orientation files of Superboy, Element Lad, Dream Girl, and Princess Projectra. Cham then recalls the battle with General Nah, with one-page spotlights on Lightning Lass, Wildfire, Mon-El, Blok, Saturn Girl, Timber Wolf, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy (yup, the former leader is back), Brainiac 5, and Ferro Lad, who manages to single-handedly defeat the Rimborian leader in a cataclysmic finale.

Madame President Brande then dialogues with the Legion’s U.P. liaison, Rose Forrest, before directing the entire team to face trial for disobeying their oath of allegiance. The Legion reacts in dismay, with the spotlight on an incredulous Phantom Girl.

Comments

One of the objectives of this two-part “Trial” saga was to introduce each of the Legionnaires with an individual page. Legion newbies really needed some assistance to help become acquainted with the intimidatingly long roster. I counted 17 members who were highlighted in this issue, which leaves 17 for issue #9. I had assumed Bendis was going to include a lot more biographical data in these one-page “spotlights,” but that regrettably was not the case. Twenty-three different DC artists were each given the task of illustrating a single page of this issue. I enjoyed the variety (although some of the artwork is just downright poor), but didn’t see anything that surpassed the work of regular penciller, Ryan Sook. This installment marks the first appearance of Ferro Lad in the reconstituted Legion. His single-handed effort to defeat Nah recalls his sacrifice to vanquish the Sun Eater in Adventure #353, which was published way back in 1967. Did Ferro Lad survive this ordeal? Bendis doesn’t make it clear if FL is still around and neither does he make it clear why Madame President Brande changed her mind once again about prosecuting the Legion. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of this two-part saga, which will be another cavalcade of character spotlights and guest artists.

Postscript: As sometimes happens with comics, the cover illustration depicting two factions of the Legion in conflict, has zero connection to the plot within.

Legion #7: Showdown With the United Planets

Time to take a frivolity break and review…

Legion of Super-Heroes #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils: Ryan Sook and Stephen Byrne, Inks: Wade von Grawbadger and Stephen Byrne, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics,  July 28, 2020

5 Stars

Plot

The Legion arrives en masse at the Great Hall of the United Planets and the Legion’s leader, Cosmic Boy, begins to express his regrets on behalf of the heroes for the incarceration of General Nah, but is interrupted by Madam President Brande, who informs him that the U.P. has just declared Nah a criminal for breaking intergalactic law. Brande then castigates the Legion for interrupting the proceedings and for defying U.P. time travel restrictions and bringing Superboy to the 31st Century. The Boy of Steel interjects and is able to placate Brande.

The incident at the Great Hall further exposes a critical problem; Cosmic Boy’s lack of leadership abilities. Back at Legion headquarters in New Metropolis, Saturn Girl and Brainiac 5 confront Cosmic Boy, which leads to an impromptu team meeting in the Legion’s mess hall. Brainiac 5 proposes a proper election of the Legion’s leader (Cosmic Boy had been appointed by Brande). Ultra Boy presents himself as an opposing candidate and the membership subsequently elects him over a dejected Cosmic Boy. As the Legionnaires celebrate their new leadership, General Nah and his powerful forces unexpectedly arrive at Legion headquarters, demanding the heroes surrender to him.

Commentary

It was clear in issues 1-6 that irresolute Cosmic Boy wasn’t cutting it as the Legion’s leader, culminating in the near-crisis at U.P. headquarters and the subsequent call for an election. Legion #7 serves as a transition from the opening epic involving the struggle for Aquaman’s trident to the upcoming showdown with General Nah. Bendis does a nice job with this bit of “Legion business” downtime, including some additional interlude segments featuring Triplicate Girl, Monster Boy, and Lightning Lad. Guest artist, Stephen Byrne, ably spells the Legion’s regular penciller, Ryan Sook, throughout most of this issue. Speaking of guest artists, in the interview below, Bendis hints at some big things in store for issues #8 and #9 with 44 artists contributing, including a long-overdue, one-page introduction of each Legionnaire! Hey, we’ll finally find out who the skeleton is in the containment suit!

Brian Michael Bendis Talks Legion, Gold Lantern, & Balancing Characters
https://screenrant.com/brian-michael-bendis-interview-legion-superheroes-gold-lantern/