Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Review: Legion oif Super-Heroes #2

It is a conundrum that DC has been dealing with for the last 2 decades ... maybe 3.

How do you update a continuity heavy IP like the Legion that will both bring in new readers and satisfy the old guard? The threeboot? The retroboot? None have been able to figure it out.

Somehow you have to acknowledge all that has come before and not ignore the old stories. Because the Legion fandom (what exists of it) is very particular about continuity. And yet, you also can't drown the new readers in a dense pre-existing world that probably no longer exists.

Now I'm not ready to anoint the Brian Michael Bendis/Ryan Sook take on the team as that bridge but Legion of Super-Heroes #2 was another good step in that direction. And our point of view character is Jon Kent. I mean 'Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes' has a nice historic ring to it. The Legionnaires we have met all seem to be close enough to their historical counterparts to have a ring of truth. But with a true Legion of characters, we have barely scratched the surface.

So here we are with a team of 'the best of the best', acting as an independent peace keeping force bound by their own code, recognized by the UP but perhaps in a grudging way, trying to do what's right. But they're also kids figuring stuff out. I like it.

Add to that the stunning art by Ryan Sook and so far I have little to complain about.

So let's look at this issue.

One thing Bendis seems to like is an opening page motif. Whether it is planets in Man of Steel or desks in Action Comics, there is a theme. Here I hope we are seeing the Legion theme, an individual Legionnaire giving us a quick recap.

And who better to start us off than the historical soul of the team, Cosmic Boy.

 And we drop right into the action, the Legion fighting Tortor and the Horraz over the mystic object of Aquaman's trident.

It is a good scrap too! We get to see the Legionnaires fighting the horde. And we see some of their individual attacks. Remember folks, this is someone's first Legion title. Not everyone knows what Shrinking Violet or White Witch can do.

As for Jon, he asks who he should punch. But instead, Ultra Boy hands him the trident and tells him to protect it. Why, because 'you're super, man.' Or is it that he's Superman ... at some point.

Nice little interaction.

Another thing we see is that this Legion isn't exactly a well-oiled machine. Or maybe even well known.

Saturn Girl first tries to bluff Tortor into standing down.

And then she performs a psychic 'Sleep' attack (everyone better get out their Interlac cards, because it is sprinkled throughout the book). Unfortunately, it isn't a surgical strike as it puts many of her teammates under as well as the bad guys.

A new team still learning how to fight and work together. I'm on board.

 And then somehow Superboy or Tortor or both activate the trident releasing a very large volume water into the square effectively ending the fight and nearly drowning everyone.

I like how one Triplicate Girl is giving mouth to mouth to the other.

And Superboy's sheepish look is perfect. 'Did I do that??'

 Last issue we saw that the UP President wasn't exactly thrilled with the Legion.

In a very tense interaction with Rose Forrest, the Legion's liaison to the UP, we see that up close. The President isn't exactly happy that the Legion is playing with the timeline. And she wants to be kept in the loop ... or else.

As for Rose, she doesn't take kindly to threats and fires some back, even implying she'll beat up the President if provoked. After all, the Legion is independent and bound only by their own bicodes.

"Long Live the Legion."

Yeah, I have been waiting a long time to read that again.

Now I wouldn't mind a Legion team working hand in hand with the UP. But if you want to make this a modern take, some legislative tampering makes sense.

 Meanwhile, at the headquarters, Brainy tries to unlock the mysteries of the Trident. Does it hold the oceans? Open a portal to the oceans?

One thing Bendis knows how to do is character interactions. And we get a lot of it in this issue starting here. I think Bendis has a good handle on Brainy, a super-smart, somewhat dorky, and maybe socially insecure teen trying to work with the group.

 As for Rose, she returns with her report.

Yes, she threatened the President. But she was also threatened.

Oh, by the way, the Legion needs to play the game a little with the hierarchy. Maybe the actually need to let the UP know what they are doing, especially if they don't want a response.

Not that the UP or the President is blameless. We learn the President has thoughts of weaponizing the team. And why wouldn't she ... an army of super-powered teens? That is a weapon.

She's no Shvaughn Erin but I think I am going to like Rose as the liaison. She is the adult in the room, even if she is addled. I wasn't sure if I would be on board. But so far, so good.

 With the UP issue swirling and the Horraz attack and Ultra Boy worried his father will come after the trident, the Legion calls for the team to congregate in Heaven, the cafeteria and meeting room in the headquarters.

Here is where we really get a sense of the size of this team and we start to see snippets of personalities. Bendis is going to have a lot of people to juggle. Can he do it as well as Paul Levitz did?

And Planet Gotham, funded by Quayne Intergalactic. Quayne has to be a Queen/Wayne conglomeration right? How great that Jon calls Gotham a 'dumpster fire'!

 When Ultra Boy confesses that his father, a person of ill repute on Rimbor, had the trident until Jo grabbed it, the Legion springs into action.

Cos will lead a diplomatic mission to Rimbor. Others will try and track down Mordru. Missions and teams!!! EEEEEE!!!!

As a Wildfire fan, I love how he tries to invite himself to the Rimbor mission only to get shot down. I wonder if he will be a hothead like he was in his earliest Bates/Grell era stories. No wonder Cos doesn't want him on this more political mission.

And then more character building. Jo won't go into details but he acknowledges his dad is a bad guy. How interesting that others say they understand completely. Who else has evil parents here, I wonder??

As for Superboy, he is 'grounded'. He won't be on any mission teams. He has his orientation to finish.  But first, he is going to go solo and head back in time to invite Damian to the team.

I'm pretty tickled by this. I know we barely know anything so far about these members, this team, this world, this universe. But so far this 'feels' like a Legion book. And certainly I  have been hungry for a Legion book for so long.

Plus nearly perfect art by Sook.

Long Live the Legion!

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

I couldn't find a flow when reading this issue.

Maybe it was too late in the evening, I was tired. But I felt my energy draining as I read the conversations.

I'm thinking, this is probably how it feels like being dyslectic.

Maybe I'll reread it earlier in the day if I find time. For now I didn't enjoy it, the writing style drew energy rather than gave energy.

Martin Gray said...

I loved it too, and yeah, missions! I hope in time we’ll see that members are off on jobs not related to the main story, to give us an idea of the scope of the team’s brief.

I am intrigued! Where did Ryan Sook lose a point?

Steve said...

I loved the panel with Bouncing Boy on the attack. He's been relegated to either comic relief or morale officer for way too long. Chuck brutally took out multiple bad guys there and it was awesome!