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/

FINALLY! The Legion of Super-Heroes, #6

The previous Legion installment, LSH #5, was published way back on March 25 and and I had to buy that issue as a smallish Kindle-download because our local comic shop was on lockdown. DC kept delaying the release of issue #6 due to complications from the quarantine. Eleven weeks later, count ’em, we finally have LSH #6.

LSH #5 ended with the news that Aquaman’s trident had been located and that all inhabitants of New Earth were ordered to evacuate. Let’s pick up the action in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #6
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils: Ryan Sook, Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics,  June 10, 2020

5 Stars

Plot

It’s the 31st Century and the inhabitants of New Metropolis and New Earth are scrambling to evacuate. Why? We learn that Horraz pirates had stolen Aquaman’s trident from the Legion’s vaults and are returning to the planet en masse intending to use the powerful relic as a super weapon. The Legionnaires intercept the Horraz raiders in space and a grand-scale conflict ensues. The pirates unleash the trident and a multi-ocean tsunami of galactic proportions suddenly bears down on New Earth. Gold Lantern uses his significant powers to slow the advancing cataclysm, but it’s not enough. Mon-El suddenly shows up and, contrary to Brainiac 5’s warnings, impetuously pulls the trident from the Horraz leader’s hands while the apocalyptic water mass bears down on the planet. Is this the end of New Earth?

The very next scene answers the question. The reader is taken inside the Great Hall of the United Planets where Madam President Brande attempts to assuage the anger of General Nah after his release from one of the Legion’s security cells. Madam President humbly thanks the Legion for not only saving New Earth, but also for “returning” the oceans to the artificial planet via the trident. Hurrah! Nah isn’t buying it and vows revenge.

Commentary

This book concludes the newly-resuscitated Legion’s first series. I really enjoyed all of the various plotlines involved, including Jon Kent’s introduction to the Legion, the clashes with the Horraz pirates and General Nah over Aquaman’s trident, the Legion’s origin, and the team’s eroding relationship with Madam President Brande and the United Planets. Brian Michael Bendis did a fantastic job writing this series. This new Legion is definitely not a gloomy, “sad astronaut” Legion, which was the overriding characteristic of previous permutations. Penciller, Ryan Sook, has taken the Legion to new heights. What an excellent artist! I am so pleased. This particular issue has several full-page illustrations portraying the intense conflict between the Legion and the Horraz pirates and Sook does an amazing job building up to a climactic crescendo. New characters, Gold Lantern and Monster Boy, received some spotlight in this issue and it will be interesting to see how Bendis develops them in the future, along with Dr. Fate.

One of the difficulties for some Legion newbies is the incredibly lengthy cavalcade of characters, but being a “list man” myself, I enjoy the complexity. Legionnaires spotted in this issue:

  • Blok
  • Bouncing Boy
  • Brainiac 5
  • Chameleon Boy
  • Colossal Boy
  • Cosmic Boy
  • Dawnstar
  • Dr. Fate
  • Dream Girl
  • Element Lad
  • Ferro Lad – FL is not actually portrayed in this issue, but Rose Forrest makes reference to him. Neither did I see any sign of FL in issues 1-5, unless he’s the unidentified character listed farther below.
  • Gold Lantern
  • Karate Kid
  • Light Lass
  • Lightning Lad
  • Matter Eater Lad
  • Mon-El
  • Monster Boy
  • Rose Forrest
  • Saturn Girl
  • Shadow Lass
  • Shrinking Violet
  • Star Boy
  • Sunboy
  • Superboy
  • Ultra Boy
  • Triplicate Girl
  • White Witch
  • Wildfire
  • Unidentified – Skeleton in containment suit – Some online LSH fans are guessing this character to be Chemical King?

Legionnaires not featured in this issue, but referenced previously in LSH #s 1-5:

  • Invisible Kid/Gentleman (may have permanently resigned in LSH #5)
  • Phantom Girl
  • Princess Projectra
  • Timber Wolf

That makes 34 total members. I’m an old LSH fan from the Silver Age days, yet it took me six issues and a lot of additional sleuthing to identify (almost) everyone. If DC and Bendis had thought this through properly, they would devote an entire upcoming issue to brief bios of all the members to help out newbie LSH followers, otherwise they’re going to feel overwhelmed and bale for a series with a smaller roster.

Postscript: After writing the above, I came across an internet article, which said LSH #6 had sold out at the distributor level because of the keen interest among DC readers regarding the debut of Gold Lantern. That is encouraging news! DC had pulled the plug on the LSH back in 2013 because of low sales (which was the direct result of the dismal, off-putting, “sad astronaut” story lines.

School’s out! Superboy finally completes his Legion orientation

Yup, we’re all allowed a little frivolity, even amidst a pandemic.

Last month, LSH #4 concluded with Superboy’s orientation being interrupted by the theft of Aquaman’s trident and the Science Police arriving at Metropolis to shut down the Legion under orders of the United Planets’ Madame President Brande. Let’s pick up the action in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencillers: Ryan Sook and Scott Godlewski, Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics,  March, 2020

5 Stars

Plot

As the Science Police surround Legion headquarters and a conflict appears inevitable, Brainiac 5 is able to talk down the S.P. commander. Brainy then instructs Superboy to complete his orientation and sends out a contingent of Legionnaires led by Ultra Boy to search for the stolen trident. Back in orientation-mode (coordinated by Computo, the Legion’s AI control system), Superboy experiences Madame President’s former appearance before the U.P. Council calling for the creation of the Legion based upon the revered heroes of the 21st century, the Justice League. In the next revisited scene, Superboy experiences Brande in conference with Rokk Krinn/Cosmic Boy, Imra Ardeen/Saturn Girl, and Garth Ranzz/Lightning Lad, requesting that they form the Legion. After Brande leaves, the trio agrees to organize the Legion, but are wary of Madame President’s motives. The three founders immediately seek to enlist Brainiac 5 of the planet Colu, who is already renowned throughout the galaxy for his intellectual prowess. Brainiac 5 surprises the trio by not only enthusiastically accepting the offer of membership, but then delivering a soapbox soliloquy by which he asserts the need to bring Jon Kent/Superboy to the 31st century in order that the heroes of both ages are aligned in the effort to defend the galaxy. As Superboy’s orientation ends, we learn that Aquaman’s trident has been found. In the final panel, an alarm sounds for the entire populace to evacuate New Earth immediately.

Comments

Bendis is doing a nice job of introducing the reader to the Legion’s origins while simultaneously interweaving the plotlines involving the Legion’s increasingly antagonistic relationship with Brande and Aquaman’s trident. A few interesting sidebars in this issue were 1) the introduction of Dr. Fate and Monster Boy to the Legion roster, 2) Invisible Kid resigning from the Legion in a huff, and 3) Chameleon Boy revealing Madame President Brande is his mother. There are also references to Sir Oliver Queen the Eleventh (aka Green Arrow) and the Watchmen that only DC Universe nerds* are going to pick up on. I’m definitely enjoying all of the plot twists of this inaugural epic. I’ve seen several Legion relaunches/reboots over the decades, but Bendis’s dialogue and characterizations are the best yet. Penciller, Scott Godlewski, decently spells Ryan Sook in the Superboy orientation frames, although Sook is definitely the master.

Personal sidebar: Our local comic shop is in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so I was forced to download the LSH #5 e-comic to my Kindle, which has a screen size of only 7.25″x 4.75.” I’m glad to have it, but it’s definitely not an ideal way to read a comic book.

*I’m definitely not a DC Universe expert (like Sheldon Cooper). I initially glossed over the aforementioned references, but later learned their significance via some internet articles.

Introducing the Legion’s Founding Trio, Redux

Last month’s LSH tale ended with General Nah’s incarceration, Aquaman’s trident being stolen, and a thoroughly confused Superboy FINALLY on his way to his Legion orientation. Let’s pick up the action in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencillers: Ryan Sook and Mikel Janin, Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger and Mikel Janin, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics,  February, 2020

5 Stars

Plot

Superboy begins his orientation courtesy of Computo, the Legion’s AI (artificial intelligence) system. He is able to experience the memories of the founding members immediately prior to the establishment of the Legion:

  • Imra Ardeen/Saturn Girl (super power – telepathy) of Titan, a moon of Saturn, is discontented with her life, yearning for greater adventure, and successfully applies to the new Young United Planets (YUP) intergalactic youth organization.
  • Garth Ranzz/Lightning Lad (super power – electrical manipulation) of Winath comes to the attention of U.P. President, R.J. Brande, because of his and sister Ayla’s activism on behalf of persecuted minorities on their planet. Both are invited to join YUP, but only Garth accepts.
  • Rokk Krinn/Cosmic Boy (super power – magnetism manipulation) of Braal is a planetary champion and is chosen by Braal’s congress to to be that world’s representative at YUP.

As the three travel together to the Young United Planets headquarters on Earth, the U.P. President, R.J. Brande, appears and informs the trio she envisions a special role for them as personal counselors. However, an abrupt attack by Horrazian pirates ends the meeting – the Legion’s inauguration – and Computo also ends Superboy’s orientation because of pressing business; the remaining Legionnaires learn of the theft of Aquaman’s trident from one of the team’s vaults. As the contingent debates whether to allow Superboy to finish his orientation or to begin the hunt for the trident, the U.P. Science Police abruptly arrive and place the Legionnaires under arrest by orders of Madame President, Brande. When Superboy questions why the Legion’s former patron and benefactor is now opposing the team, Cosmic Boy informs him that the answer was in the second-half of the orientation.

Comments

Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad were the Legion’s founding members in the Silver Age, making their first appearance in the inaugural Legion tale in Adventure Comics #247 way back in April 1958. Bendis pays his respects to Legion tradition by presenting the same trio as founders in this latest LSH permutation. I’m anxious to find out what soured the Legion’s relationship with Madam President and where this Aquaman’s trident-storyline will end up. Great story with snappy dialogue. Great pencils and colors. Bendis, Sook, and Co. have done an excellent job to this point.

Robin flies the coop as quickly as he arrived

At the conclusion of last month’s issue, the Legion was planning on sending two teams to investigate why Ultra Boy’s father and Mordru the Merciless both desired Aquaman’s trident, while Superboy was eagerly anticipating bringing Damian Wayne aka Robin to the 31st century. Let’s now pick up the action in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencillers: Ryan Sook and Travis Moore, Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger and Travis Moore, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, January 2020

5 Stars

Plot

The story begins with Superboy transporting Robin to to 31st-century Metropolis in the misguided hope that the Boy Wonder can help with the Legion’s investigation into all of the intrigue involving Aquaman’s trident. A contingent of Legionnaires – Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Shadow Lass, and Mon El – arrive on the planet Rimbor and attempt to find out why Crav Nah, the powerful leader of the planet and also Ultra Boy’s father, desires the trident. The meeting quickly turns into a violent confrontation and Mon El subdues Crav. In the meantime, another Legion contingent – Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Chameleon Boy, and Triplicate Girl – travels to Planet Gotham, where Mordru is being held prisoner, to try to ascertain why the wizard wants the trident, but without success. They are summoned back to Legion headquarters where Crav has been transported. The angry Rimborian warlord had freed himself from his bonds and was making short work of the entire Legion until Superboy KOs him. The Legion deems that Robin must be returned to the 21st century immediately and that the very confused and disgruntled Superboy MUST sit through the orientation the Legion had originally prepared for him back in LSH #1. The story ends with Crav in a Legion holding cell and disturbing news that Aquaman’s trident has been stolen from one of the team’s secure vaults.

Commentary

Bendis is doing a nice job with this story line although it was a little disappointing to see Superboy go to all the trouble of transporting Robin to the future for zero effect. It’s interesting from my Silver Age perspective to see these old characters actually act human, like frazzled Cosmic Boy’s lack of confidence as the Legion’s leader and Superboy’s frustration with being out-of-the-loop. I’m looking forward to seeing how Bendis is going to resolve the Legion’s first “intergalactic incident” involving the arrest of Crav. U.P. Madame President Brande is already quite annoyed with the Legion and this is only going to increase tensions. I’m also looking forward to a formal introduction to the new Legion via Superboy’s orientation. As an answer to a question I had last month, it appears Planet Gotham is one of the planet pods of the artificial New Earth.

Postscript: In a conversation with a group of other Legionnaires, Chameleon Boy intimates that Damian Wayne/Robin could possibly grow up to be a very dastardly, Hitler-like character. That’s entirely predictable seeing he’s the grandson of Ra’s al Ghul.

Everybody wants that trident!

Legion of Super-Heroes #2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Penciller: Ryan Sook, Inks: Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, December 2019

5 Stars

Plot

Issue #1 of the “new,” re-launched Legion of Super-Heroes ended with the Legion surrounded by a gang of angry Horrazian pirates eager to reclaim the contraband trident of Aquaman. In the midst of the battle, Ultra Boy slips the trident to Superboy, who attempts to escape, with the leader of the pirates, Tortor, in hot pursuit. Saturn Girl, with her power of telepathy/mind control, is able to induce the combatants into a stupor, but Superboy and Tortor are too far away to be affected. Saturn Girl then focuses all of her powers on the two adversaries and a mysterious flood of water – somehow brought into existence by the trident – subdues the Horrazian leader.

Elsewhere, at United Planets headquarters, the Legion’s diplomatic liason, Rose Forrest, attempts to smooth things over with the U.P. President, whose last name is Brande. Hmm. That’s a name that rings a bell with Legion fans. The negotiations between the two get off to a rocky start and devolve from there. Rose returns to Legion headquarters and informs the team of the tense tête-à-tête. It’s clear Madam President is not happy about Superboy’s presence in the 31st century or about the Legion’s possession of the trident.

The Legionnaires amble down to their “consumption hall” for a strategy meeting over dinner. Ultra Boy (aka Jo Nah) reveals his father is a powerful and dangerous leader on his civil-war-torn home planet of Rimbor. Both the elder Nah and Mordru were after the trident until Ultra Boy intercepted the Horraz pirates and took possession of the thing himself. A contingent of Legionnaires decides to travel to Rimbor to attempt to smooth things over with Jo’s dad before things escalate while another contingent heads to Planet Gotham to try to find out what Mordru had planned for the trident. Superboy is so excited about the existence of Planet Gotham that he makes the journey back to the 21st century to inform his buddy, Damian Wayne aka Robin. Looks like the Boy Wonder is headed to the 31st century!

Comments

We can predict a cataclysmic brouhaha ahead with the U.P. President, Ultra Boy’s father, and Mordru all in competition for Aquaman’s trident. I’m still a bit fuzzy regarding Gotham Planet. Is it one of the several domed cities of New Earth or is it off by itself somewhere? This was a good story with some excellent dialogue from Bendis. Also, I’m so pleased with Sook’s masterful illustrations. The Legion hasn’t been drawn this well since Curt Swan did the duty back in the 1960s.

Trivia alert: I forgot to point out Ultra Boy’s Biblical connection in my review of LSH #1. His civilian name is Jo Nah and he supposedly acquired his super powers after being swallowed by a space energy beast, which exposed him to strange radiation while inside.

Capture64
In this excerpt from Superboy #98 (1962), Ultra Boy explains the origin of his penetra-vision. Note Jo Nah being swallowed by the space beast. It would later be revealed that Ultra Boy had all of the powers of Superboy, although he was limited to using one power at a time.

After six long years, DC Comics brings back the Legion of Super-Heroes

After a hiatus of six long years and then a lengthy preliminary introduction spanning five preludes over three months, DC Comics finally relaunched the Legion of Super-Heroes as a monthly comic on November 6th. Climb aboard our time capsule as we journey to the 31st Century in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Penciller: Ryan Sook, Inks: Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, November 2019

5 Stars

Plot

The action begins with Ultra Boy chasing a Horraz spaceship through the massive sewers of Planet Gotham. After the craft crashes, UB spots its stolen booty: a capsule. But what’s inside? A powerful alien suddenly appears to take possession of the contraband. Could it be…? Yes, it’s Mordru the Merciless, one of the Legion’s most powerful adversaries! A contingent of Legionnaires – Karate Kid, Star Boy, and Wildfire – arrive at the scene and help Ultra Boy to ward off Mordru and claim the capsule. When they open it they discover…gasp…the trident of Aquaman!

Next, we join the rest of the Legionnaires as they welcome Jon Kent/Superboy as the team’s newest member with plenty of high-fives all around. The Legionnaires give Superboy an aerial tour of Metropolis and inform him the entire city is the Legion’s headquarters. Wow! Remember back in the Silver Age days when that tiny, yellow faux spaceship shell served as the team’s clubhouse? The Boy of Steel then learns that the Old Earth was destroyed, including its oceans, in an enormous cataclysm and the artificial, ocean-less New Earth was created by engineers enlisted from across the galaxy. The Legion is then summoned back to their headquarters where Ultra Boy and his contingent inform them of the recovery of Aquaman’s trident. Immediately after one of the Legionnaires wonders out loud if the trident could possibly play a part in restoring the Earth’s oceans, a gang of Horraz criminals attacks Legion headquarters intent on reclaiming the trident. Is this curtains for Superboy on his very first day in the Legion? In the final scene, the President of the United Planets expresses her outrage at the Legion’s defiance of U.P. directives by bringing Superboy to the 31st Century, not to mention their possession of Aquaman’s stolen trident!

Commentary

It’s hard to believe the Legion is back after six-years. Bendis did a nice job with the appearance of Mordru and the dangling mystery of what the recovery of Aquaman’s trident is going to mean for the artificial Gotham Planet. The Legion is immediately off to a bad start with the administrators of the United Planets, a familiar theme for Legion readers. Sook, Von Grawbadger, and Bellaire do a tremendous job with the artwork. I’m thoroughly impressed with issue #1 and I hope many DC readers will climb aboard the Legion star cruiser.

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

DC Comics geared up for the auspicious relaunching of the Legion of Super-Heroes with five prelude books spanning August through October. Last week, we briefly reviewed the first three lead-ins (see here), and today we’re going to review the final two.


Capture25Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium: Part 1 of 2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencillers: Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Andrea Sorrentino, Andre Lima Araujo
DC Comics, September 2019

2 Stars

Over the decades, DC Comics has created multiple universes, continuums, dimensions, and alternate realities. How to keep track of them all? A comic book reader these days needs a Sheldon Cooper-ish IQ to keep it all straight. One of the problems writer Brian Michael Bendis had in relaunching the Legion was in somehow connecting the team to the various future “realities” and dimensions. He attempts to do so, with the help of four different artists, via the character, Rose Forrest, who struggles with a split-personality. Her other identity, Thorn, is an angry, vigilante super-anti-hero. In the first sequence (drawn by Jim Lee), the very unstable Rose seeks help from President Supergirl. In the next sequence (penciled by Dustin Nguyen), she commiserates with an ersatz-Batman. Rose/Thorn then appears (courtesy of artist Andrea Sorrentino) in a desolate post-apocalyptic future that has something to do with something called “The Great Disaster” and a character named “Kamandi.” Finally, Rose journeys to a future reality featuring Tommy Tomorrow and the Planeteers (compliments of penciller, Andre Lima Araujo). Only an absolute comic book geek could possibly make heads or tales of all of these stops along the disjointed DC multiverse. But onward I pressed because I was confident that all of this chaos had something to do with the Legion.

Capture28


Capture26Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium: Part 2 of 2
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencillers: Nicola Scott, Jim Cheung, Jeff Dekal, and Ryan Sook.
DC Comics, October 2019

2 Stars

In Millennium: Part 1, we followed tortured soul, Rose/Thorn, as she journeyed from one dissatisfying DC alternate future to the next. Part 2 continues along the same agonizing path. In the first segment, Rose travels to the 25th century and encounters an overenthusiastic Michael Jon Carter who would go on to become Booster Gold (drawn by Nicola Scott). In the following sequence, Rose meets up with OMAC after “The Great Disaster” (pencils by Jim Cheung). Next, we see Rose freefloating in the depths of space as she attempts to overcome Thorn, her violent second identity (art by Jeff Dekal). And then, finally, FINALLY, Rose somehow comes to grips with her raging inner-turmoil and shows up in 31st Century at the founding ceremony of the Legion of Super-Heroes (pencils by Ryan Sook).


Comments: One of the main reasons why the Legion franchise progressively lost readership over the decades was because it was the mothership of the depressing “Sad Astronaut” genre. While the first three Legion preludes in “Superman” and “Supergirl” were optimistic and coherent, these two Millennium preludes were the epitome of “Sad Astronaut” bleakness and incoherent navel gazing. The only optimism in these two Millennium preludes is the last few pages of Part 2 when Rose shows up at the Legion’s doorstep. I sure hope Bendis keeps things positive and buoyant moving forward.

“I’m bewildered by the “Sad Astronaut” genre and there’s a lot of it in comic books.” – Brian Michael Bendis

Hmm. We’ll see. On the plus side, Nicola Scott’s artwork in Millennium: Part 2 is extraordinary and Ryan Sook, the Legion’s new regular penciller, isn’t far behind. After decades of uncomplimentary artistry adorning Legion tales (e.g. Keith Giffen), it will be sweet having a top-flight illustrator presenting the stories.

Next Up: The Legion of Super-Heroes #1! Yay!

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.