Monday, November 11, 2019

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #1

I have been a Legion of Super-Heroes fan for all of my comic life.

I consider Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #211 to be my first comic.

I reviewed Legion books here and over on the Legion of Super-Bloggers.

I am very protective of the property of the Legion. I want them done right. I also have been craving a Legion book on the shelf. It has been too long.

So when Brian Michael Bendis decided to bring the Legion back, I was thrilled. I have liked what Bendis has been doing on Superman and Young Justice and Naomi. And I trusted his reverence of the past to treat them right.

Legion of Super-Heroes #1 came out this week. I will admit I read it with trembling hands. I love the Legion. I was hopeful.

To get to the point, I very much liked this issue. There are familiar names and familiar faces. There are some familiar places and a possible homage. But it also feels very very new. This is a new team. This is a new Earth. It felt nostalgic and innovative at the same time. That is a thin tight rope to walk.

On top of that, Ryan Sook is on art and makes the book so beautiful I wanted to eat it. Everything just crackles here. It is luscious book to look at. And, as a premiere, Sook is given plenty of splashes and double splashes to work with!

On to the book!

We start out with a flying car/small ship careening through the streets of Gotham. A flying boy wearing a familiar Ultra Boy shirt is tracking them, forcing the ship to crash. No doubt that's Jo Nah. But we don't hear yet about his needing to switch powers ... not yet.

Out walks a glowing being wielding energy blasts.

It is Mordru, the demon gangster!

Mordru ... the gangster?

Well okay. This isn't your father's Legion. If there is a way to make old timers like me know things are different, you show us a mobster Mordru in the firsty couple of pages.

But before I shiver out of the bracing waters of change, you let me take a breath, showing me things aren't that different.

Here is Star Boy, Karate Kid, and Wildfire! All of the Legion of Super-Heroes! And they seem to have powers and general looks similar to their old looks.

My favorite Legionnaire is Wildfire. To see him all Kirby-krackled, blasting Mordru? Let's just say I was smiling!

And Jo is able to bash Mordur in the face and grab the contraband the sorceror was trying to abscond.

It is Aquaman's trident ...


We then cut to Superboy arriving to the future to join the team.

I loved this page. The pale penciled faces are a great way for Sook to show that conversation is happening telepathically. The more solid lined figures in the time bubble are 'really there'.

Just a great visual trick. Loved it.

And, I have to love that Jon is worried she can read all his thoughts. He is an adolescent male after all. Who knows what jumps in his head at any time.

He is greeted by a throng of Legionnaires, a veritable ...well .. Legion.

One thing I like is a tech called The Frichtman Tag, sort of caption box saying name and power of the Legionnaire which follows them so people know who is who. Makes it easy for people meeting the team.  Also makes it easy for readers!

The conversation is easy and funny.

Superboy comments that Titans adventures usually involve 6 people, not this army.

And when Superboy notices they are under a dome, he says look while pointing up, causing a starstruck Brainiac 5 to say 'up in the sky'! Wonderful. That would be like me quoting Morrissey in a conversation if I ever met him.

It turns out Earth cities are domed. But this doesn't stop Jon from worrying about the city being in a bottle. Kryptonians don't like bottled cities.

He flies off with the team to learn more about his surroundings.

We get a quick peek that Rose (of Rose and Thorn) is there in the future looking for Jon. That is a nice hook from the Millennium mini-series. But is she a team member?

It turns out that Earth has been mostly destroyed. It is a bunch of domed cities held together by some energy gravity well. It just speaks loudly of the destroyed Earth/flotilla of cities we saw in the 5YL run.

Superboy is stunned and wonders if the team should go back in time to save the planet. I love how they say they already did. That means this is the best case scenario. It also means the Legion saved these cities. I hope we see that story in an Annual or a flashback!

But shades of 5YL? I'll always be happy.

We then see the team flying back the the Legion headquarters in a shot that just completely reminded me of the one panel glimpse of the Legion we got in Waid and Ross's Kingdom Come.

I admit, I often see things where there isn't something. But this looks pretty close. Intentional homage? I hope so.

The team gets an alarm that something is happening at their headquarters so they speed to battle.

It turns out it's the away team from the beginning arriving with the trident, a weapon of uncalculable power.

During this, we learn that Ultra Boy's father is the highest ranking military person in the UP army. Jo lives on Earth with the Legion. And that the trident might be able to bring back oceans of water.

But I also like Jon learning a bit about the past. He loves that the 'original Batman' line which means there is one after. Perhaps he is thinking about Damian?

And I like how he still gushes about his mother and father.

But before more introductions and discussions can happen, the Horraz, the muscle traveling with Mordru at the beginning show up again to battle. They want the trident back.

Looks like we're about to get an old school Legion fight!


I was very happy about this.

Old and new.
Funny and serious.
So many heroes!
And some Legion homages and tropes.

Maybe I am just eager for a Legion book so much that anything would have been good. But this felt right.

I wonder what other Legion fans thought!

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

"Well okay. This isn't your father's Legion."

Neither the Threebot was. Bad precedent.

"But I also like Jon learning a bit about the past. He loves that the 'original Batman' line which means there is one after. Perhaps he is thinking about Damian?"

I reckon he's hinting at the rumors that DC is replacing most of their flagship heroes at once. Apparently Jon is taking up the Superman mantle, and Luke Fox will become the next Batman.

Anyway, this Fourboot looks, ah, interesting. It's definitely different. But it has a kind of Threeboot "Crash and burn shortly after the original writer leaves" vibe. We'll see how it goes.

Todd said...

Overall an enjoyable issue. Talking to a friend he notes that while it's great that there may be potential stories and characters to show "in good time" it might be nicer to massage some readers with some text snippets or just a rundown of members. My main complaint about the Threeboot is there was so much time spent going into character history (like Triplicate Girl). While it can make a fun story idea, it did not add anything to her overall characterization or set up any additional stories. We want names, we want powers. While Star Boy was present we learned nothing about his powers. Does he Just have mass powers? Does he have any of his expanded powers or some new power set altogether?

Martin Gray said...

Great review, and if you’ve read my own, you’ll know we’re on the same page. We have a Legion!

I’m sure you’re spot on about the Kingdom Come homage, that’s too close not to be intentional.

Kinofreak said...

Problem is that this another new Legion in a new continuity. Why can't they build on the original and create a new legacy? Like JSA/JLA or Star Trek Next Generation? Superman inspired the "old" Legion, his son inspires the next generation... So simple... An ideal jump on point for. old and new readers. Now we may get something too complex for new readers and not relatable for old readers. And why? Because it is Bendis.

Kinofreak said...

He connected a Millennium of eras, why couldn't he connect one more?
Do we need another Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison to connect all Legions? By the way - a Morrison Legion is something I'd like to read...

SimB said...

I agree with both Mighty and yourself Dr Adj, that panel took me straight to Kindom Come a mile away!

Anonymous said...

Been wanting a legion book for a while... but Bendis?
My hopes and dreams shot up and shot down so quickly.