Monday, June 15, 2020

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #6

Every now and then a comic crosses my path that reminds me why this hobby remains a crucial part of my life. You know what I mean I'm sure. That sort of issue that is a perfect mix of words and images. Great words. Superior art. A plot that reminds you that heroes exist. And twist maybe you weren't expecting that works. The kind of issue that even at an advanced age like me makes me get goose bumps.

Legion of Super-Heroes #6 by Brian Michael Bendis and Ryan Sook is such an issue.

I am a lifelong Legion fan. I have been waiting a long time for a Legion book that feels both classic and fresh to cross my path. I crave a Legion book I can get behind. I have been aching for it.

Classic and fresh? Sounds impossible.

But so far this book's creative forces have been walking that tightrope. A true Legion of heroes? Lads and Lasses? Superboy? RJ Brande forming them? A United Planets? Mordru?  A Ferro Lad mention!Classic check check check.

New heroes? A not so nice Brande? A shattered Earth? A Ferro Lad mention! New.

And here in the 6th issue we finally get to see the force of the Legion when the team is unleashed. We get double page spreads where we see our heroes battling the Horraz. I don't want to understate this. Two page spreads of delicious Ryan Sook art showing the team bashing and blasting. So scrumptious I almost ate the book.

Add a little plot twist that maybe I should have foreseen but didn't which just sticks the landing of this issue.

A Legion book I can get behind. Amazing.

On to the book.

Bendis has been using the opening pages of the issues to introduce us to individual Legionnaires and providing a little bit of recap.

Here Brainiac 5 is warning everyone that the Horraz are attacking the Earth and this could be a devastating assault worthy of a planetary evacuation. This isn't a drill.

But the real meat is in the green interlac text which gives us some background of the Legionnaire.

The upper text:
Querl Dox, Brainiac 5, is one of the Founders of the Legion of Super-Heroes. One of the architects of new Earth, the sole architect of the Legion of Super-Heroes special headquarters, a web comic creator, the author of the Science Police doctrine, the lead designer in the new United Planets headquarters facility  on planet Daxam

A web comic creator??

The lower text:
He is 17 Earth years old.
His Coluan intellect achievement scale is not public record which means his mind is registered with the United Planets as a deadly weapon. He has taken the initiative to join the Legion of Super-Heroes which has remained a controversial move inside the Coluan collectives.

His mind is registered as a deadly weapon! Amazing!

Now give me my Wildfire page!!

The Horraz has returned and are wielding Aquaman's staff which somehow holds within it the Earth's oceans. The villains hope to flood the world and destroy it. No wonder Brainy wants people off the surface.

Bendis does a good job of slipping in other information for the readers. No text boxes or identifiers here. We learn that Monster Boy can't control the monster he becomes when he is endangered. Perhaps his body somehow senses which monster it needs in each situation?

Nice natural factoid dropped in dialogue!

Brainiac seems very focused on how the team battles the Horraz. He definitely doesn't want the trident messed with. He wants a coordinated attack.

What I love is that this is truly a threat to the world. So the whole team mobilizes.

Ultra Boy gets blasted.

This is a job for Superboy ... and Saturn Girl.

How great is it to see an El standing with the Legion and jumping into the fray!

And as the action unfolds you get little snippets of the character's personalities as well.

Wildfire remains a little bit of a hothead. I like to use the word gadfly because somewhere in some comic that's what Wildfire called himself.

He razzes Saturn Girl here. She wants him to hold still but he is flying trying to evade attacks as he brings Ultra Boy out of danger. Just perfect.

The Horraz end up overrriding Computo to send out the following statement about how they plan to destroy the Earth.

One thing I know. If overriding Computo is that easy, I worry. Computo is never as nice as you expect.

Green text:
You can read about the Horraz lifestyle on their Wayne memexe
Roaming rates may apply.
Void where prohibited.

The Horraz unleashes the oceans from the trident.

All looks lost.

And then the Gold Lantern arrives to stem the tide, literally. Brainy talks about shunting the water, transmuting the water, and all other ways the flood can be abated.

What power does the Gold Lantern have? What part of the emotional spectrum ... or other spectrum ... is he on?

And then those pages of the team in action.

Wildfire. Ultra Boy. Shadow Lass. Cosmic Boy. Dawnstar. Saturn Girl. Lightning Lad. Lightning Lass. Star Boy. Bouncing Boy. Dr. Fate.

Here is a snippet showing our original three deep in battle and Jon being impressed by their heroics.


Sometimes I just love comics.

Meanwhile Brainiac 5 is trying to coordinate it all from Earth.

Mon-El and Jon both converge on Tortor, grabbing the trident and once again getting the torrent of water.

We know that Mon-El isn't too happy about Superboy joining. We even hear that he thinks Jon is going to be a snob.

We don't see exactly how the battle winds up. But we do see the fallout.

In the United Planets headquarters, President Brande tells General Nah of Rimbor that he better get in line with the UP. Because, thanks to the Legion, the Earth's oceans are intact again. Brainy somehow got the trident's floods to complete the Earth's attached city domes back into a true planet.

That lesson ... of the Legion bringing hope through strength and intelligence ... should teach Nah a lesson. The Legion isn't to be trifled with.

Of course, he's from Rimbor. It is instead a declaration of war.

But look at that panel at the top.

An intact Legion, cheering (you can practically hear the 'Long Live the Legion') around the trident. The word hope lingering over them.


Yes. Yes. Yes!

More of this.

I can only gush so much. The book is beautiful. This is the Legion.

Kudos to all involved. And everyone needs to run out and buy this book.

Overall grade: A+


Martin Gray said...

I rather enjoyed this too, but the editors might have changed the cover copy so it wasn’t quite so misleading; presumably plans changed.

Anonymous said...

The original solicitation reads:

(W) Brian Michael Bendis (CA) Travis Moore (A/CA) Ryan Sook
Meet the latest crop of Legionnaires: Gold Lantern! Monster Boy! Doctor Fate! Each a new face in the DC Universe, each with dark secrets, and each with a reason to be part of the Legion's goal to bring the values of the Age of Heroes to the 31st century. And one of them has a surprising connection to Jon Kent, a.k.a. Superboy. All of this and the tensions between the United Planets and the Legion of Super-Heroes have gone public! The future of the DC Universe continues to unfold!

So, we didn't get any of that.

Perhaps the space needed to be used to complete the first arc's story for the first TPB, leaving their "secrets" and "connections" to the next arc. Covers aren't redrawn too often. The main covers, and sometimes the variant covers, are published at the same time as that solicitation text.

Sometimes when there's a change in the creative team, Diamond used to list the change on their page describing product updates. But Diamond has been stripping all new information about DC off their website, and I don't know if there will ever be any comparable information available to readers. There is minimal information available at the UCS website and no information at all, just a retailer login screen, at the Lunar website. DC is only putting out a PDF version of their DC Previews magazine, now renamed DC Connect. As a static document, it won't be updated with changes.

It's a time of transition. I feel frustrated, because I used to poke around during the month before pre-ordering things, taking note of changes and last minute announcements of variant covers. But I don't know how long it'll be before this kind of information is available again.


Martin Gray said...

Thanks TN, I know that redrawing a cover is a big expensive faff, but changing the copy, as I suggested they might have done, is a lot easier; they could have even gone copy free, just replaced the words with a colour patch.

Anonymous said...

True, Martin. In this case they could even replace just 3 letters - change "Meet the new recruits!" to "Spot the new recruits!"

But seriously -- cover text is always hyperbolic and almost never exactly (or even closely) describes the interior.

I'm not sure the regular editors write the text. It's a speciality, like headline writing.

It might be the production department (who do everything else to put a book together that isn't the obvious script, art and lettering, like covers, ad placement, promo pages, pinups and bonus material...).

Even if they have the finished issues, they wouldn't have time to read them. They're cranking out 100 periodicals and 20 collections every month. And they probably don't have the finished work, which tends to be ready with days or even hours before printer deadline.

It seems like a fun but high pressure job. Like Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory.

It's a miracle more doesn't go wrong.


Martin Gray said...

I don’t know, maybe things have changed, maybe you know that things at DC are different, but I spent years working in UK comics (original material based on licensed properties such as My Little Pony and Polly Pocket and reprints of DC stuff) and no way would covers leave the office bearing text we’d not written.

Anonymous said...

The production designers are DC staff too, though. Are you saying the writers/editors credited with the interior pages were also writing the text on the covers?

I know that for the recent Catwoman special, Ken Lopez and Darran Robison are the credited production designers, and they designed the variant covers and the special interior pages featuring Catwoman's look through various eras.

I don't think Bendis or any of the other writers, or the editors, write the text for the DC covers. The text is essentially promotional content, and it's usually completely over-the-top text.

Up until a few years ago, it was rare to see dialog balloons on covers, a style from the Silver Age which Marvel was the first to stop. But now those balloons are all over DC covers again, and the text in them is generally tongue-in-cheek. Guess we don't know exactly who writes them, but it's someone with a sense of humor.

DC Nation used to feature interviews with some of these behind-the-scenes folks.


Martin Gray said...

‘ The production designers are DC staff too, though. Are you saying the writers/editors credited with the interior pages were also writing the text on the covers?’

I’d place a decent bet on that - I’ve worked in newspapers, magazines and comic books for nearly 40 years and that’s always been the case, everywhere - production designers can always suggest blurb copy, but it has to be OK-ed by the editorial side.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying this!

I'm not sure if this should raise or lower my opinions about DC's editors :).