Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #22

Legion of Super-Heroes #22 came out last week, the penultimate chapter of this series which may spell the end of the Legion for some time. With no new Legion book being publicized, with JLA3K taking its place as a future team, and with all avenues of re-energizing the franchise explored (reboots, old boots, bringing the band back together) and failed, it might be time for the Legion to take a breather.

It is sad for a Legion lifer like me to say that. I have been saying 'Long Live the Legion' since I was in elementary school, since Imra was in a pink bathing suit and Vi had an intricate green/black jumpsuit. But this book has been on a sort of treadmill for a while, probably since Waid's threeboot for me. I can't remember the last time I was excited to read a Legion comic. And that's depressing.

So we come to this issue where the Legion has to fight and defeat the Fatal Five in 20 pages in order to set up next issue's denouement, swan song, finale. As a result, the action is relatively fast with some quick defeats on the parts of the villains who have been destroying the universe unscathed for the last handful of issues. For an old-timer like me, it was great to see some of the original Legionnaires and the original Substitute Legionnaire playing such a big part.

That said, there is a fair amount of stuff left unsaid. Paul Levitz doesn't seem to have the space here to satisfactorily tell the tale of this final battle. And the art by Jeff Johnson is fine but it felt like an understudy playing the lead in a play. Shouldn't the end of the Legion get more than this?

Last issue ended with Tharok deciding to take on the Legion personally, bringing himself, the Persuader, and the Emerald Empress to Earth to execute the remaining Legionnaires. Luckily Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl arrive. As always, Imra is in control and impressive. Here she simply shuts down the Persuader's mind.

I find it weird that the Persuader, who has battled Lightning Lad countless times, felt the need to explain the properties of his axe to Garth. I am pretty sure he knows it can cut through anything.

Imra is unfortunately caught of guard by the Emerald Empress which breaks her hold on the Persuader. Just as it looks like he might behead Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass shakes off the cobwebs from last issue's fight and blasts him.

I add this only because I am a giant Lightning Lass fan and this may be the last time in a while we see her do anything. She hasn't really done much in this storyline or this book for that matter.

So if this is the end game, and Tharok wants the Legionnaires dead, why didn't the Empress just blast Imra to ash when she had the chance? Why drag her away by her hair??

Regardless, I loved this sort of Spaghetti Western close up of the combatants eyes with Saturn Girl saying that after facing off against Darkseid nothing can scare her. Nice moment.

And, as with the Persuader, Saturn Girl simply turns off the Empress' mind. Quick and easy. Too quick?

With the tides possibly turning, Tharok uses his powers to teleport everyone to the fifth member of the Fatal Five, the Promethean Giant. This seems like a copout. The Giant isn't in on this. He is like a tool Tharok is using. I thought for sure Glorith was going to return as a baddie. And whither poor Mano? Is he in comic limbo?

So this was more of a letdown than an exciting moment for me. I also have to say, there is a lot unsaid about Tharok. How did he get these new powers? How do they work? Which 'Legion witch' was the only one who could defeat him, the one he is glad he banished? I don't get it.

Now Levitz does have a sort of 'out of left field' surprise for us.Sensor Girl arrives at the Promethean Giant in a cruiser and uses her powers to clear the Giant's senses so that it can see clearly. Freed from Tharok's control by her power, the Giant rebels. Okay, that is actually a decent use of Sensor Girl's powers ... I think. I didn't know she could do that.

But even crazier than that is Sensor Girl's co-pilot. That's Karate Kid, he supposedly dead husband!

Everyone remembers his death at the hands of Nemesis Kid in the fourth issue of the Baxter series Legion. Because of his death, Princess Projectra killed Nemesis Kid, invoking her royal status to execute him, a law higher than the Legion constitution. She then left the Legion, immersed herself in mysticism, and then realized she could see beyond senses. This Sensor Girl was born.

Now another Karate Kid was brought back in Countdown but to be honest I don't remember how his story ended. Is this a *different* Val Armorr? Another dimension's Karate Kid? The original resurrected? Will we ever find out?

Pretty crazy twist.

The Empress has been shut down by Saturn Girl. The Persuader has been fried by the Ranzz twins. Validus in floating in space. The Giant is free. That leaves only Tharok.

In a nice use of his powers, Polar Boy brings Tharok down to absolute zero, a state where no energy can exist.

I will say I thought it was great that the Legionnaires who seemed to impact the ending the most were Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, 2 of the original three, and Polar Boy, the substitute who made it to the big leagues.

But just like that, the universal threat is over. The Five are defeated.

And the only thing that's left is recovering.

Until Brainy says everything that has happened is his fault. Could he somehow be responsible for Tharok's new powers?

So there have been a bunch of deaths. Some members have left this dimension. The galaxy lies in ruins. And we have one issue to wrap everything up.

It is somewhat sad to think that this is the end of the Legion as we know it. Will we hear enough of all the Legionnaires to feel like we have said 'goodbye'?

Anyways, the fight with the Fatal Five ends pretty quickly. And Karate Kid returned!

And I will ask again ... whither poor Mano?

Overall grade: B-


valerie21601 said...

IMHO I blame DC editors and higher up for interfering with the LSH way too much.

Between the nu52 happening and being forced to shorten the Earth Man and the Legion of Super Heroes storyline way too soon. DC made the Legion split apart by sending a big chunk of their most popular characters into the past, gutting the Legion.

Then DC greatly reduces the page count, replacing those lost pages with more ads and several times with 6-8 pages of PREVIEWS of other series and graphic novels few people bought and read, wasted. It would have been better spent on adding pages to the current story lines character building and long planned stories.

So sad the Legion was so badly hurt by people who believed they know the comic book buyers and fans the best and believe they will buy ANYTHING DC puts only because the DC logo is in it.

DC this is directed to you. Allow the creators to create and allow artists to do their art. Create QUALITY stories, make QUALITY art. Reduce the 52 in half your putting out way too many series, too many special events at once. We only have so much disposable income and with the economy getting worse and worse. We will become picker and picker as time goes by. We will look for other comic book series that give us the entertainment we crave to escape the hard times we are going through personally and when it comes to the real world elsewhere for it.

Put out quality FIRST and the fans will come and SPEND big time on your comic book series and make you number one.

Dave Mullen said...

Between the nu52 happening and being forced to shorten the Earth Man and the Legion of Super Heroes storyline way too soon. DC made the Legion split apart by sending a big chunk of their most popular characters into the past, gutting the Legion.

Being the future world of the DCU means every time DC reboots or fiddles with their history the Legion suffers, that's the problem.

The best thing to happen with the legion in modern times is the linking back to Superman's history by Geoff Johns, that anchored them and made them relevant again to readers who might well see their worth given the tie to Superman and the 21st century age of heroes. But that lasted barely five minutes before DC pushed the reboot button and washed away the Superman/JSA stories that reintroduced them to readers, even Legion of 3 Worlds. So what is there to anchor this concept to the mainstream DCU without that anchor?

Legion of Super-Heroes is a low priority book to DC, it always has been unfortunately.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

It is a shame that Legion has been a low priority. I also get the sense that the powers that be think the property is stale which is sad. There is so much potential there.

And Val, I completely agree. All I ask for is quality stories and quality are.

Dave Mullen said...

It is a shame that Legion has been a low priority. I also get the sense that the powers that be think the property is stale which is sad. There is so much potential there.

Yes, but if the will were there I believe it can still work, IF they link it back to Superman again. Now like me you might say that's impossible really given the new continuity doesn't have Superboy and Clark was not very powerful at that age, but DC just brought out the Batman/Superman book which runs roughshod over what we thought we knew and blows its nose on it, so clearly they are willing to break some eggs if they feel there's a story/book there.

I'm in two frames of mind about it all. Despite the current situation and the Justice League 3000 replacement I could easily see Scott Lobdell willing to go there and play with the Legion, do a Superman/Legion story, we know from Grant Morrisons run that there is still a tie between the two so give it a couple or so years and I think they might give it a go.
But on the other hand, as I say, the fundamental problem that has drained the life from the Legion is that it is the future - DCs addiction to reboots and revisions mean that every time the book might find its feet it gets knocked down by the latest flamethrower attack on Superman's history. No anchor means no hook or interest from the audience.

Elise said...

Maybe I'm being too optimistic, but Justice League 3000 isn't necessarily a replacement in universe (obviously there's no faith in the Legion selling on its own merit). Because the Legion always takes place 1,000 years in the future, it can now take place in 3013. Even before, it was 3008, not 3000. 8 or 13 years isn't a lot of space, but wouldn't it be cool if Justice League 3000 was the last Justice League before the Legion (a proto Legion)?

I admit I'm grasping onto this because I'm a fan of the Vidar family. I would pick that book up if Green Lantern turned out to be Universo before he lost his ring.