Monday, April 6, 2020

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #5

Legion of Super-Heroes #12 came out a couple of weeks ago and is probably the strongest issue of the title so far. This really felt like a Legion book, something I have been waiting for, it seems, for some time. It has it all/ Some origin story. Some action. Some secrets revealed. Some people joining. I ate this issue up with a spoon.

Brian Michael Bendis writes a great team book with great moments for a number of characters. But this issue is stolen by Brainiac 5. We get to see Brainy in his home element, hear about his powers, see him stop a violent altercation, and see him eek out a secret, one that is a classic Legion secret with a nice update. And we are starting to see some of the individual personalities of the team start to bubble up. In particular, while brief, this sounded like Ultra Boy! Hooray!

The art is done by Ryan Sook and continues to be glittery. I love Sook's art and this issue is no exception. It all just seems flawless. Just go look. My words won't work.

I also love how this book might also be a little backdoor History of the DC Universe title, with just a dash of meta-commentary. So much goodness.

If you are an old school Legion fan, I think you'll love this book. This old timer does.

On to the book!

As usual, we start with a recap page. given by a Legionnaire. This issue it is Computo, looking enough like Danielle Fouccart to make me happy.

And, also as usual, we get a background about the Legionnaire, in Interlac. I think it says something about my level of Legion nerdiness that I don't need the key to read this. Computo is an AI who picked the name herself, laughs at pop culture fear around AI constructs, and was in charge of setting up the food court in the LSH HQ.

Loving these sneaky Who's Who entries. Where's Wildfire's?

Last issue ended with the Science Police coming in to shut down the Legion, at gunpoint if needed.

Nice splash page here showing the different Legionnaires and their responses. Dr. Fate is clearly still learning her powers as she can unleash a spell she doesn't know she can turn off. Monster Boy assumes a Frankenstein form (last issue he was Gojira!).  And love Cos standing up as leader.

I have to say, if Monster Boy's powers are the ability to become any monster, he might become a fave quickly.

And then Brainiac 5 shows up, or at least a hologram of him does, and he diffuses the situation with some calm talk.

The Science Police don't have the authority to shut the Legion down. They are outmatched. But most of all the Legion and the Science Police should never fight.

This whole scene shows a new aspect of Brainy's character, one fleshed out a bit later in the issue. I don't know exactly how I feel about it ... but this is a new Legion so I am willing to give it a shot.

We also get snippets of other Legion personalities in a scene like this. Bouncing Boy is strong. Triplicate Girl implies she was arrested by the Science Police on her home world. Invisible Kid shows up and throws a tantrum over his code name. Jo has a bit of a temper. And the squad gets broken up into small teams for missions.

Sigh ... it's the Legion!

And then that little new Brainy ability is shown again.

With a soulful stare that is unwavering, he gets Chameleon Boy to admit that President Brande is his mother. He wanted into the Legion on his own merit so hid the fact. Also, he admits his mother is scared right now and all of her political actions are coming from that.

Now R.J. Brande was Cham's father in the old Legion timeline so this is another interesting updating.

But with the SciPo standoff done, Jon goes back to the orientation.

We see how Brande was so impressed by her rescue by Garth, Imra, and Rokk that she has decided youth is the future. They need to create a team of super-heroes, a true Legion to inspire and right wrongs.

And why not swing for the fences, showing the JLA (nod to Morrison/Porter) and the New Teen Titans (nod to Wolfman/Perez). Such a nice meta-commentary by Bendis ... maybe ... picking two incarnations of the team that were truly heroic, two of the best runs for those teams in DC's history.

See what I mean about this being a bit of a history book.

We then flip back to the Legionnaires Three. They have been offered the Legion gig and are thinking about saying yes. But Imra senses that the President's motives might not be pure. Brande is self-serving.

They decide to do it and invite Blok .. on a whim? ...

Just like that there are four Legionnaires.

Brande maybe not trusting the Legion or their youthful exuberance has a whiff of the Threeboot. So maybe this is a nice melange of all the Legions, although the main imprint seems to be classic.

And then onto the invite for the fifth Legionnaire, on Colu.

And here is where we get the big Brainiac reveal. He has just reached 12th level intelligence which means he understands the scientific AND emotional truth of any situation.

Unlike prior Brainy's who never seemed to understand emotions well, or struggled with his own emotions, this one has them down pat. It is how he could talk down the Science Police before. I think this is a very different Brainy as a result. But at least, hopefully, we won't see the 'I go bananas every so often' Brainy here.

But there's more. Something Crisis-y is on the horizon. Reality is threatened from the past. And the Legion needs Superboy there to prepare for it.

Oooohhh ....

And then, the metacommentary!

It isn't a single moment in the past. It is something more pervasive. The Legion needs to prepare Jon to go back.

Because this broken Earth has been rebooted and rewritten. (Remember, Earth was sort of like this in the 5YL book. Bendis is trying to fold all those realities here.)

And if the Legion doesn't firm up the past's history, the heroes can be retranslated and misunderstood like 'those Watchmen'. Because Watchmen has harmed the DCU, from here on our world. The lesson of Watchmen, and even Kingdom Come, has been misunderstood.

So maybe we'll get a different, more inspirational future.

All this scares Jon. And it should.

What a great issue.

A nice melding of Legion continuities. Some nice updates to classic Legion lore. A new twist on Brainy. And glittering art. Count me in!

We all wanted a good Legion book. We're getting one!

Overall grade: A


Bostondreams said...

Great review and good book. I did NOT care for the 'one true Superman' bit...but otherwise good!

Martin Gray said...

I didn’t like that line either, but I’m taking it as character, not canon.

Great issue! I really like this new Brainy, I’ve read several hundred stories with him as an emotional dope, rounded ‘intelligence’ should encompass emotional as well as intellectual reasoning. It’ll all make him a better partner for Kara!

Bostondreams said...

Good points on Brainy and the idea that intelligence should mean more than intellect (maybe good ol' Bruce Wayne could learn that too).

Sort of related, speaking of intelligence: I would love to see something done with Brainiac II/Vril Dox II. He was in Justice League I think last year as they expanded into Odyssey, but hasn't been seen since. L.E.G.I.O.N. was always one of my favorite books.

Justin Steiner said...

I was a bit worried after the first issue, but this series has gotten better and better. I really should go back and figure out the Interlac too. Was good to see Bouncing Boy in a more prominent role and the Brainiac V was great, as you said. I'll celebrate my 40th anniversary as a Legion fan later this year and this iteration is making me happy.