Adventure Comics has recently been a sort of landing place for the peripheral plot threads from Last Stand of New Krypton and the current War of the Supermen. Adventure Comics #11 continues that trend. Starring the Legion and Mon-El, this issue effectively wraps up any non-War plotlines left hanging from Last Stand.
In some ways I feel a bit for James Robinson. After starring in Superman for about a year, Mon-El's conclusion is relegated to the back pages of Adventure Comics. I understand how it is all in the timing. You couldn't put this story out until Last Stand ended. Once War of the Supermen is over, DC is going to want to really jump-start the super-titles with new directions and new creative teams. With no super-titles coming out this month, Mon-El's story had to land somewhere else. Adventure Comics was an easy home. Still, it would have been nice if Mon-El and Robinson could have ended their run in the title they have starred on.
I also think that the Legion story is crunched into too few pages ... maybe because Mon-El's pages warrant so much space. Hmmmm, this seems to be a running critique for me lately ... that I want more story than I am seeing. I guess that's a good thing. It means the writers have grabbed me.
The first story in the issue is written by Sterling Gates and drawn by Travis Moore and finishes the Brainiac/Brainiac 5 storyline that Gates has been handling here.
We finally get to see the Legion begin enlarging the bottled cities, re-establishing the future timeline that had been destroyed by Brainiac. In this instance, we get to see Chameleon Boy create 'New Durla'. One of the Durlans in the bottle is Queltop Daggle, ancestor of both Cham and RJ Brande. Cham just saved his future.
One thing I like was how Cham actually told Queltop that he was from the Legion. Despite the concern for warping the time stream, Cham let it slip and Queltop repeats it. Could it be that word ... Legion ... gets carried down through the family until it reaches Ren Daggle, R.J. Brande 1000 years later prompting him to name the Legion? Interesting and nice touch.
In the meantime, Brainiac 5 is delivering Brainiac to Colu for punishment.
Brainy wants to ask his vile ancestor some questions but before he can get the queries out, Brainiac slips from his bonds and attacks. While Brainiac is irate about losing his cities and their knowledge, he realizes that Brainiac 5's knowledge of the future will be a decent trade.
Again, I don't know if I am happy to see Brainiac become so physical a creature. Remember in the Brainiac story arc he said he hadn't left his biosuit in centuries. It just seems odd that he would become a brawler.
Maybe Brainy realized that this might happen. He has already called for back-up.
Vril Dox, Brainiac 2, shows up and takes over the prisoner transfer. The fight is over before it starts. Vril defeats Brainiac with a weapon of some sort.
I was sort of looking forward to seeing the three Brainiacs interact but unfortunately they only share one page and scant dialogue. Again, I wonder if this was one of this scenes that was shortened because page space was at a premium.
With his mission in the past complete, and the future saved, Brainy returns to his time and is greeted by the whole Legion. Remember time was destroyed a couple of issues ago. Brainy basically saved the universe.
I find it interesting that Lightning Lass always seems to be front and center in these recent Legion group shots. Is she considered one of the most popular Legionnaires? Most fun to draw? Cutest?
I thought Sterling Gates had a nice hold of the Brainiac 5 character, his dialogue reading true for me (a Legion fan for over 3 decades). Moore's art seems rough in some spots.
And finally we get to James Robinson's conclusion to the Mon-El storyline. Bernard Chang has been a good choice for the last few issues, his dramatic style perfect for the battles raging around Mon-El. This story has less action, but Chang seems to have grown into the character. The art here is spot on.
For instance, how great is this 2 page spread if Mon-El in deep space with all the cities he has saved. And it ends up being a treasure trove of Legion home worlds: Ultra Boy's Rimbor, Triplicate Girl's Cargg, Star Boy's Xanthu, Matter-Eater Lad's Bismoll, Shrinking Violet's Imsk, Timber Wolf's Zoon, ... even Chemical King's Phlon. Man, I haven't thought about Chemical King in a looooong time.
And there is one more world. What about those Lanothian telepaths. By history, Mon-El knows that the Lanothians end up relocating to Titan, the eventual home world of Saturn Girl. And let's face it, it was Saturn Girl who really was the impetus for the beginning of the Legion. It was her telepathic sense of the murder attempt on R.J. Brande that led to Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy thwarting the murder.
I think I called the Lanothians becoming the Titanians when we first met them. Of course, I thought they would land on the moon brought next to new Krypton. Should have known that wasn't right since it wasn't Titan. Anyways, this does explain away one of my DCU conundrums ... how could Jemm's race and Saturn Girl's race come from the same world. So I think this is a really neat wrinkle.
And what about that mysterious female Daxamite hinted at as being a guinea pig in Calomar's lab? Mon-El rescues her, destroying the underwater lab in the process.
I love his angry expression as he shouts 'having fun now?' It looks like he might have left Calomar to his doom as the lab fills with water.
But who is this blond female Daxamite? The only one I really know is Laurel Gand?
She turns out to be some native Daxamite who traveled to Earth to meet her inspiration Mon-El. Unfortunately she crashed and got captured. There is a note that she was part of the 2003 Human Defense Corps mini-series.
Mon-El gives her his rocket ship to journey back to the stars.
I would have liked another line or two here about who she is. Since she is from the present, I don't think she is Laurel Gand. In fact, I don't even know if Laurel Gand is in continuity. And just as fast as she is shown, she is rocketed away.
Hmm... another plot thread tied off too quickly? How did Project 7734 keep her alive to experiment on her? Did they have an anti-lead serum? And just who the heck is she?
All of this action and all of this time has taken its toll on Mon-El. His body has rejected the anti-lead serum sent back in time and he is dying. Chang is able to subtly show that in body language and expression. Very nice.
Chameleon Boy tells Mon-El that the Phantom Zone has been recreated and Mon-El must go back into it. The Zone is 'locked off' to the 21st century but not to the 31st. While Mon-El at first refuses to go back into the Zone, Cham reminds him that he has more work to do in the future.
We knew all along that Mon-El was going back into the Zone because we know that he ends up being in the Legion. But there is so much here left unsaid. Again, one of my complaints about Robinson's Superman run was the sheer amount of subplots that were brewing and all along I worried that they might not all be addressed in a satisfactory way. So we don't know why the Phantom Zone was destroyed in the first place. And now we hear that it is closed off to the present. Will we ever hear why? Or how?
Mon-El agrees and hands Superboy a note to give Billie Harper. Ugh ... the dreaded break-up letter. He couldn't talk to her in person? Isn't this just another plot thread snipped off too abruptly? Wouldn't a page of him saying goodbye to Billie be nice here, telling her how she taught him about love? Now don't all those bedroom and shower scenes with Billie seem a bit like wasted space or gratuitous?
The book ends with a satisfactory conclusion, Mon-El being pulled from the Phantom Zone by a very young Legion and Superman. One thing I did like was Robinson implies that to Mon-El that 1000 years in the Phantom Zone felt only like one day to him. I would think 1000 years of being a wraith might make even the sensible man a raving lunatic. To make time passing seem warped was a very nice little touch.
I don't want to pile on here because to be honest the last several months of the Mon-El storyline as we revved up into Last Stand have been very good. And I think this issue was a very nice capstone wrapping up some of the bigger storylines weaving through the run. So this issue will get a good grade.
But overall, I think my feeling about this Robinson in Superman would be frustrated.
Overall grade (issue): B+/B