Monday, August 31, 2020

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #8

Legion of Super-Heroes #8 came out last week and was a powerhouse of an issue. 

A sort of jam piece where every page focuses on one Legionnaire and is drawn by a different artist as the fight between the Legion and King Crav and the Rimbor gang comes to a head. For someone like me, a long time Legion reader, seeing these glimpses at different Legionnaires and hearing a bit of their origins, learning a bit about their powers, this was a complete treat.

As I have said before, writer Brian Michael Bendis is walking the tightrope of this book. There is enough classic Legion stuff here for an old timer like me to love. There is a feeling of a hodgepodge approach to the team here with elements of several incarnations mashed together. And there is enough new stuff here to make me intrigued. And this approach of giving each Legionnaire a page is a great way to introduce new readers to these characters.

But the real treat here is the art. This is a real heavy hitting lineup of artists each bringing jaw dropping art. It would be easy to post each page here. But I have to pick and choose carefully. Please go out and get the issue! It is amazing!

On to the book!

Want to grab my attention? Give me a Doc Shaner opening page. I love Shaner's work and here he gives us a beaming with pride, young, eager Jon. Look at that grin! Incredible.

But I have to wonder about that Interlac at the bottom. The beginning has to be a note to the letterer and not meant to be translated.

"In Interlac on the side: Jon Kent is the creator and founder of the United Planets.

Named and designed after ancient earth’s United Nations, Jon Kent was the one to convince the first order of the United Planets to come together.

Conner Kent did none of these things."

Interesting to add the Conner line at the end meaning that Superboy is a known being in the 31st century.

But "In Interlac on the side"? That has to be a note to the letterer.

The issue is conversation between Chameleon Boy and his mother, the President of the UP. She is wondering where the idea of the Legion went wrong. And so we see them scroll through a number of the Legion tryouts and learn about some of the members powers.

Element Lad is still the lone survivor of Trom. But it wasn't Roxxas who killed all the Tromians; it was the Horraz. New wrinkle: he can't return something he has transmuted to its original form.

Dream Girl seems to be made of sand, is still a precog, and is still an extremely attractive being. But she may not identify as a female given her 'girl?' response.

Great art by Dustin Nguyen.

Then we learn that Projectra has many names and wants to fund the team (a throwback to the Threeboot?). 

But the Legion doesn't need her money or her haughty attitude. And Imra can see through all the illusion here. Jeckie wonders if this new environment where she is treated as an equal might not be better for her.

But then we are brought out of the back files and brought into the battle.

One thing we knew from earlier issues is that Ayla Ranzz is a social justice warrior. Here we see she has something of a quick trigger finger. She jumps into the fray with such ferocity that Imra is afraid she'll kill everyone.

And artist Sanford Greene gives a fantastic page showing that warrior skill. Love Ayla and love what she is doing here.

If Ayla is my second favorite Legionnaire, Wildfire is my favorite. The president is impressed with how powerful Wildfire is, even on a team with two Kryptonians and a Dryadian.

Look at how when Wildfire releases his energy at Crav that all the other Legionnaires are simply blown back. That is power.

But we also see how he is vulnerable, sucked up temporarily in an energy containment pod.

Mon-El can't stop Crav so the battle wages on. We then get to this nifty Dan Hipp page about Blok. This has two interlac passages.

The first:

"The Interlac narration will be something like: Blok comes from dryad where they believe justice is proportional so to Blok this attack on the legion feels like a full scale war."

The Interlac narration will be something like"? That has to be another note to the letterer.

But the second quote is more interesting.

"Blok is mentally noting which Legionnaires are actively fighting and which ones are pretending to.

It wasn’t until this moment that Blok noticed that Shadow Lass doesn’t seem to be doing anything."

Hmmm ... is Shadow Lass an agent of Rimbor? Not interested in fighting? A mole for someone bigger? Interesting. Perhaps the most intriguing panel of the book. 

Saturn Girl (on a stunning page by David Mack) knows the best thing to do is stand down  but her warning  goes unheeded by Timber Wolf.

Once again he is from Zuun, the product of his father's experiments. And he is the Lone Wolf, eager to cut loose with animal rage. This isn't your father's Legion. He has bloody talons and ready to throw down.

Brutal bloody page by Darick Robertson.

We see that Colossal Boy is again more akin to Micro Lad (from the Threeboot). His natural form is the giant to us.

And then we see Ferro Lad. He knows Crav can absorb energy thrown at him. The best way to defeat him is to overload his absorbing power. And Ferro Lad does just that with a big left uppercut.

I love seeing Ferro Lad back! And I love that Bendis has brought Jim Shooter's original vision to fruition making him African American.

With Crav knocked out, the Rimborians retreat.

Despite Rose trying to turn the President's wrath away from the Legion and towards Rimbor, the President is undeterred. 

The Legion will be brought to trial.

So happy to see Alex Maleev on the rack again!

And some people aren't happy. Mon-El has been surly this entire series.

How interesting he used to date Phantom Girl!

The Jo-Tinya relationship is one of the most entrenched in Legion lore. Her dating Mon? Maybe she has a type.

And Mon-Tasmia is the other entrenched Legion romance. So nice wrinkle here, tossing things into the mix. 

So much fun!

 Finally we learn once and for all that Mon is Jon's descendant. And he isn't happy.

What is going on here??

I have to know.

Anyways, the Legion is going to trial against the UP. 

This book has been firing on all cylinders since it started and this issue was like a high octane blast.

Everyone should be reading this book. It is a treat!

Overall grade: A


John (somewhere in England) said...

When Dream Girl questions the word "girl" my first thought was that she considered "woman" to be more appropriate, but you're right, there could be a deeper gender issue here.

The panel showing Jeckie with her chin up, looking down her nose at a totally unintimidated Saturn Girl spoke volumes about the personalities of both. This panel and the powerful page by David Mack reminded me why Saturn Girl has always been one of my favourite legionnaires. And whilst I generally enjoyed the Legionnaires series, one thing I didn't like was Jeckie being a snake. Hopefully, this Jeckie will remain humanoid.

I also noted that in some panels Cosmic Boy seems to be growing hair on the sides of his head again. I hope he does. The original haircut was awful.

Finally, I like the more formidable look of the new Phantom Girl, happily devoid of pony tails. In the old Legion stories PG had a habit of being caught solid and knocked unconscious before she could turn immaterial and do anything. I always thought there was lots of room for further development of both her personality and her power, so it will be interesting to see what Bendis does with her.

Overall, I agree: the issue deserves an 'A'.

Anonymous said...

The book is absolutely a treat.

Comichron just put out some unusually derived relative sales figures for April through July. Not actual sales numbers, just relative strength. Anyway, Legion has fared much better in these rankings than the large set of titles that have just been cancelled, so there is hope that the book will stick around.

(And there's an opportunity for a blog post: writing about the relative rankings for the many Superman-related titles for April, May, June and July!)

This was such an impressive array of artists and artwork, and a brilliant stealth approach to exposition. The artist showcase succeeds in distracting from that. You get your time and money's worth just looking at the work of 22 superstar artists in one book.


Rob S. said...

Oh, man, that Interlac! I was translating the Blok one, and thought it was a little odd (and was getting hung up on the word "narration" -- couldn't figure out what the R symbols were), but I hadn't gotten around to the Superboy section yet!

I actually have a little experience with this: I used to edit puzzle magazines, including a quarterly one called Cryptograms, with 300 different cryptogram puzzles in each issue. I'd go through books of quotations, finding appropriate ones (not just for content, but also quotes where most letters appeared at least twice, so that solvers could check one word against another). And I'd type them in, and then proofread that list to within an inch of its life. Because once we pushed the "encrypt" button -- there would be no going back, and no more chance to proofread.

Interlac shouldn't be QUITE that hard to reverse -- it's a font change, not a random-letter substitution -- but in practice, once that Interlac is on the page, no one's reading it anymore. I wonder if this will be changed for the collection?

Anyway, I completely agree -- this was a killer issue! Long Live the Legion!

Martin Gray said...

That Interlac snafu is hilarious. The page with Blok, in which there’s a big bit of intrigue around Shadow Lass, goes to prove my point that Interlac shouldn’t be used to carry any story weight many of us will have missed that? Being able to read Interlac is a super power, the rest of us are Legion rejects.

Very enjoyable issues all round, nice review Anj!

Anj said...

Thanks for comments all.

I hear you Martin. I suppose the Shadow Lass bit will end up coming out. So that gives folks who go the extra effort of translating a little foreknowledge. That said, it does seem unfair.

Definitely like the Imra/Jeckie interaction a ton.

And good pick up on Co's hair!

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Nice catch on that letterer's error. It reminded me of something similar that Roy Thomas wrote about in the introduction to a Marvel Masterworks Sub-Mariner volume. Regarding Sub-Mariner #6 (1968), Roy wrote:

"At the end of my script, I typed: LETTER AS IF CARVED INTO ROCK: IMPERIUS REX! In those days the lettered work was often mailed directly from the letterer to the inker, so when the finished artwork came in to proof, I was startled when I got to that final panel. There it was, the above phrase in all capitals-all eight words of it-lettered as if carved into the rock on which Namor stands. The first six words were duly removed, of course, and the area blacked in."

On the last page Saturn Girl telepathically tells Superboy and Mon-El (and the rest of the Legion to meet at the MOONEY teleport. Has the Mooney Teleport been mentioned previously? Anyway, it's nice that Jim Mooney had a teleport named after him.

Daxam1978 said...

What a brilliant issue!
Evan doc shaner's art is one of my favourites,
Really liked joelle jones art too.
Ryan Sooks explosion double pager is awesome.
General Crav is one tough
All this & the return of Ferro Lad~what an ish!