Friday, February 26, 2021

Review: Future State Legion Of Super-Heroes #2

Future State Legion of Super-Heroes #2 came out this week and I feel like Brian Michael Bendis and Riley Rossmo hit this one out of the park. It must be hard to fully flesh out a completely new timeline in just two issues. But you get the sense that Bendis knew where these characters were heading and with dialogue and plot twists, you can sort of fill in the gaps. (As a fan of 5YL, I am used to mentally filling in time gaps with the Legion.)

As I have said with the 'regular' Legion book, Bendis is walking the tightrope of bringing back classic themes and characterization from the prior runs while making this new and fresh. So last issue, when Element Lad was revealed as the big bad, I thought this was a nod to the Abnett/Lanning run. Of course, there was one more twist and a doozy making this very original.

Rossmo's art is unique and quirky but somehow fits this odd 'possible' timeline. Dystopic, frenzied, action-packed. In particular, Rossmo gives us several splash like pages where we see the same character in multiple action shots, showing how it unfolds in the environment. Gorgeous.

Okay. Now while I liked this story, I do hope that the main title does not pick up where this left off and instead continues that timeline. We haven't learned enough about that team to jump forward.

On to the book.

We start in 'classic' style with a recap page showcasing a Legionnaire. This time it is Bouncing Boy.

The interlac translation:

Charles is one of the few Legionnaires from new earth. Born in the mutated colonies of Detroit, Charles discovered his powers in a very young age. He has been raised and mentored by an artificial intelligence that honed his power set into something of the same omega power level as Superman and the fallen Mon-El

Bouncing boy is often referred to as the most powerful legionnaire.

So there is a lot to unpack here for this classic Legion fan. One of Bouncing Boys charms is that his power is so goofy and so easily underestimated that the respect he gets is one earned. His ultimate (in other timelines) marriage to Duo Damsel was a lesson to me then that everyone, no matter how quirky, can find love. So I don't know if his being an omega level mutant (Jean Grey territory) and the most powerful Legionnaire is going to change him too radically.

Yes, this is a new Legion. So I guess I should expect big changes.

The Legion has reunited and heads to confront Element Lad. 

Here is one of those 'splash' pages showing all the action unfold. We see Element Lad running from the Legion in one big environment. While Rossmo does add some borders to help guide the eye, it's one action shot. Wonderful.

I did find it interesting that we learned that it isn't just Element Lad who brought on this ruin but all the Trommites. In this timeline, Jan isn't the lone survivor. Roxxas hasn't slaughtered them.

Despite several pages of great action, it turns out the whole thing is a mental projection by Saturn Girl into Jan's mind. None of that is really happening. It turns out that Element Lad has been waiting for the Legion to find him and attack. 

But more importantly, we learn that he isn't the real villain. Another Legionnaire has betrayed the team.

I had guesses at this point. For one, Shadow Lass given her lack of joining in the Legion's fight against General Crav.

With this revelation, the team realizes they need their true leader back. They need Rokk.

Initially we see Shadow Lass approach him. Perhaps his ex-lover can convince him to rejoin the team.

But Rokk sees through the ruse. This is Chameleon Boy, posing as Shadow Lass.

Nice subterfuge. And nice sense by Rokk. Just shows how savvy he is. I like small moments like this. It also clues us in that Rokk and Tasmia have broken up at some point.

And I love Rossmo's take on Cos here. Older ... harder. He looks lime someone who has lived through stuff.

It turns out the unknown traitor is Saturn Girl.

She left Titan because her thought were too passionate. The collective allowed her to leave. But then used her as a mole to slowly work their way in to everyone else's mind, specifically Jan. 

They built up the Trommite's suspicions and hate and made them the weapon for them to cleanse 'impure thought'.

A few things to comment here.

I like that we get an explanation for Imra's helmet, designed to keep her from automatically intruding into other's minds. I guess the skull is just decoration.

Second, I think this can be looked upon as a metaphor of sorts. In essence, fake news whipped a group into a frenzy and made them run loose and cause havoc. Whatever side of the political spectrum you are on, skewed news is never good. Hooray for Bendis for making a sci-fi story commenting on current events without beating us over the head preaching.

Lastly, the art here is great showing the collective as a sort of interconnected geometric shape. All clean lines and angles.

The Legion ends up bringing the fight to Titan with Imra being the tip of the spear. She attacks Titan from the inside, telepathically.

What is great here is Rossmo's artistic representation. Suddenly that clean geometric shape is frazzled, blurry lines, messy.

And I like how Imra calls them on their nonsense. Titans minds can be used to 'expel chaos' or it can be used to 'help people'. This is a hero's decision. Do you use your power (super or political) to help raise people up or beat them down.

I love the way Bendis writes characters. I love his plots. But the endings of big threats is my only minor quibble. A planet full of telepaths who took over a world is a big threat. It is dealt with quickly (as often is the case with Bendis' big bad). While Imra battles them internally, the whole moon is encased in a prison sphere and removed from the United Planets. Then Saturn Girl is teleported out.

It seems a bit to easy that while a conversation happens, a whole world is imprisoned. And don't they have any defense systems? Monitoring? I know this needed to end in 2 issue. But it seems a bit fast, even if I love the Imra confrontation part of the scene.

With the Trommites apologetic and the universe in disarray, the Legion comes together again. They'll help repair the UP, one planet at a time if needed.

Great ending splash, inspirational with the Long Live The Legion motto even!

I am a sucker for great Legion stories and this is one. As I said, I felt like I knew enough about this new timeline from context clues and character moments that I wasn't lost. Seeing the Legion save the universe is wonderful. And I loved the art.

Of all the Future State books, this has been my favorite. I just hope we jump back in time. 

Overall grade: A

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

Great review of a terrific comic. That’s a fair point about the defat of Titan being perhaps a tad speedy, but if you’re distracting a world mind and have a legion of partners working from another angle, maybe it’s doable. I’m just delighted to see a Future State story that’s self-contained with good characters and a satisfying ending.

I reckon the Interlac about Bouncing Boy is a Chronicler’s Error, there ain’t no Omega Mutants in the DC Universe, and he got his powers by drinking pop!