Friday, February 21, 2020

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #4

Legion of Super-Heroes #4 came out this week and finally we got a snippet of the team's origins, close enough to the classic to feel familiar, different enough to feel fresh, suspicious enough to make a conspiracy theorist like me wonder some things.

I loved it.

We are slowly meeting the Legionnaires and this issue we get concentrated doses of the original Legionnaires Three. We got snippets of information about Blok and Triplicate Girl. And we got a sort of newish interpretation of one of my longtime favorites Lightning Lass as well.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis is slowly immersing us in this new Legion mythology. There are some storylines brewing in the background. But mostly it feels like the stage is being set here. As a lifelong Legion fan, as someone who has understood the issue of keeping old rabid fans happy while opening up this mythology to new readers, he really is walking the tightrope. I have to give him proper respect for doing this, a seemingly impossible task.

The art on the issue is broken between Ryan Sook doing his usual stellar work on the present timeline. Mikel Janin pencils the flashback sequences. The whole issue sparkles artwise. I am so impressed by this book. And one particular panel gave me goosebumps. When you strike a chord with a jaded reader like me, you have succeeded.

On to the book!

I am a big fan of the opening splash pages of this book.

They serve as a recap page, getting the reader up to speed on what has happened in the book so far.

It also is recapped by a different Legionnaire giving us a little taste of that character, both origin and personality. Here we meet Luornu Durgo, once again Triplicate Girl. I love the sort of playful feel of the character, with her funky shades and wide smile. Her 'I/we' speak gives us insight on how she views herself/themselves.

So far so good.

The time has come for Superboy to finally watch the Legion Orientation presentation. So it's off to United Wisdom Plaza, a place built for communication, information and education.

I love Jon's folksy desire to learn everyone's name even though those floating Fritchman tags are around. It is what his dad would tell him to do. I can hear the original Pa Kent also saying the same.

I also love how he said that Lois isn't happy about all this.

In fact, I hope Jon isn't forgotten in the main Superman books. I hope we see some scenes, even if brief, of Clark and Lois missing their son. And I hope we see the reverse as well, Jon missing his home as well.

In the plaza we meet Computo, a sort of AI? With Computo, Jon is able to enter a sort of telepathic/empathic link to the memories of the three original Legionnaires.

Of course, the name Computo is a big one in Legion history. Is this a creation of Brainiac 5? Will we see some of the old history leak through?

But it is this leaning into history while forging a new path is going to be key.

We then get specific flashbacks looking at when the original members were recruited to something called the United Planets Youth Delegation for Peace (henceforth UPYDP).

The first is Saturn Girl. Unlike the rest of Titan which seems perfectly happy living within a telepathic hive mind, Imra wants to strike out on her own.

You can see how she is happy to be offered this but also concerned that her family doesn't understand her.

The monochromatic background help force the feel of this being a mental space not a physical space.

And then we head to Winath with a little information. We learn how single births are called Children of Validus, perhaps teeing up a Mekt story in the future.And then we meet the Ranzz's.

It seems like Garth and Ayla are social justice warriors. Here Ayla won't allow the Science Police to round up or detain what seems to be refugees.

She crackles with energy and yells things like 'we are Winath'!  And she is willing to fight the troops.

Garth is there as well but he doesn't seem to have the same forthrightness, the same proactive nature as his sister. He follows her lead.

 Ultimately, the science police fall back. That is being hero.

I'm a huge Ayla fan. I'll need to see more but I like what I see so far. She is brave, powerful, and willing to stand up to injustice.

At the Ranzz home we get a look at life on Winath.

Three sets of twins sit at the table! Hmmm ...

Garth and Ayla are also invited into the UPYDP Ayla storms off calling the UP a corrupt group.

Perhaps wanting to break away from his sister (and maybe getting out of her shadow?) Garth signs up.

Great scene. Ayla is fiery! And I like how Garth seems to be a pretty cool, collected character.

And then we see how elite and bleoved Braalian athlete Rokk Krinn is also asked to join.

In a new twist, only 1% of Braalians can control magentism. It makes Rokk more special in a way. Next, interesting that he is a celebrity on his world, as he was in the old when he was a magno-ball superstar. But this piece where his father wants him to be a leader. That is new.

Interesting again.

Like in the original origin, the three end up on a flight with RJ Brande.

But here, RJ Brande is the female UP President. Interesting that her head of security is a 6 year old named Commander Blok.

Brande says she is looking for more than a UPYDP. She wants to create something new for the frustrated and empowered youth. Perhaps she is already thinking of something like the Legion.

Or given what we know about her now, perhaps she is hoping to put together a group of powerful kids she can control while having them exist under this progressive idea. Hmmm ...

I don't trust this Brande. And the idea that her security guard, perhaps a naive kid, joins the Legion makes me wonder if he is an unwitting dupe.

Like in the original, the ship is attacked by people wanting to assassinate Brande. Here it is the Horraz, the criminals we have met before.

The original three spring into action.

Here is the goose bump page. To read the Legion origin story again, the see our big three spring into action again ... and for the first time ... made me so happy!


And yet after that original flush happened, I began to wonder. Wouldn't it be interesting if Brande was behind a planned assassination attempt to throw these three together. The fact she is unconscious behind our team makes it less likely. But it would be a way to manipulate.

But that was then. Things aren't as nicey nice with the President these days.

Before the story finishes, Jon is brought out of the program. The Science Police have surrounded the team to shut them down.

Nice cliffhanger.

I ate this whole issue up with a spoon. This feels like the Legion. I haven't been able to say that for a long time.

Characterization, plot, art ... it all works.

Long Live!

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

These Triplicate Girl(s) make me smile. There can never be too many Triplicate Girls. Have they always been funny, or has Bendis just hit the bullseye in how he is handling her/them? They're just so -- chipper is the word that comes to mind.

So, I've searched for a few of the plot points you mentioned, and can't find them in the book:

- single births are called Children of Validus
- head of security is a 6 year old named Commander Blok
- security guard, perhaps a naive kid, joins the Legion

Is any of this in the Interlac?

Ah - without getting out my translation guide, and it's just by matching the number of letters, with the "of" catching my eye, but it looks like the last few of the pink words say "Children of Validus." Well done, Anj! You've got Easter Eggs in your post. A little something thrown in for your fellow Legion of Super Bloggers perhaps, like a secret decoder ring.

I have to get to work on the rest of this.


Bostondreams said...

Offtopic, but perhaps impactful news: Supposedly, DiDio is out at DC.

Martin Gray said...

Lovely review. Oh yes, this is feeling very Legion, I felt the same as you when the founders leapt into action (full marks for ‘Legionnaires Three’). Bendis is doing a good job making us suspicious about RJ Brande... I wonder whether eventually they’ll adopt the traditional avuncular form.

I really like Jon with the Legion... OK, I’d prefer him not to have been aged up, but I’m enjoying how he’s being used.

Speaking of ageing up, isn’t Blok going to be a little young for the team!

The Horraz. The HORRAZ!