Monday, August 29, 2022

Review: Justice League Vs Legion Of Super-Heroes #5

Justice League Vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes #6 came out last week, the penultimate issue of this mini-series. That means we have one more issue to wrap up this story which for the first 4 issues seems to have been treading water. Entering this issue, there is still a lot unknown. We haven't seen the two teams fight. We don't know why the Gold Lantern is so key to the plot. We don't know who or what is behind the Great Darkness. 

Penultimate issues are always tricky for me as a reader. Because I am always judging them to see if the story is set up in a way where a reasonable conclusion is probable. This book has had so much sort of non-movement and this issue still has so many unanswered questions, I just get the sense I am going to be disappointed.

Brian Michael Bendis knows his strengths for sure. There is fun dialogue here with some interesting character moments. But there isn't a lot more for me to go on. The villain is finally presented but in a way that makes me think we won't learn the how's or the why's of his machinations. 

Scotty Godlewski's art continues to shine here. Part of the fun is the aged up and aged down heroes, some dramatically so. This is definitely aided by colorist Ryan Cody bringing in the grays and bright colors. 

But in the end, I wonder if this is going to be a quickly forgotten mini, saddled by being overshadowed by Dark Crisis and the 'real' Great Darkness. It would be a shame if this incarnation of the Legion is dropped and forgotten.

On to the issue.

We start out with the usual recap page being narrated by one of the Legionnaires. I have liked these as a device, especially in the Legion solo book, as a way to re-introduce us to these characters.

I think this one is a little interesting. Classically Rimbor is a place of chaos and criminality. A wretched hive of scum and villainy. So I think it is interesting to hear Jo talk about how 'lack of control' is bothersome to someone from Rimbor. I suppose that there was some 'order' on Rimbor before, rules of engagement and such. And this Bendis' Rimbor has been ruled by a King. So maybe I need to rethink Rimbor these days.

Throughout this mess, the JLA has been trying to figure out the connection between this disaster and the Gold Lantern. With the teams finally reintegrated, Batman demands that the Gold Lantern ring be investigated.

I do like the brief turmoil it causes between the teams. Why should the Legion give in to ancient heroes when this is their business. Pretty cool for Timber Wolf, historically a sort of hothead, to stand up for the team. 

And I do like Brainiac being flummoxed by the Gold Lantern energy and actually wanting a fresh set of eyes. Although what does he thinks 21st century tech will tell him about the ring that he hasn't seen?

Plus, the whole 'Gold Lantern is the key' plotline has been built enough. I don't know why he is important. We have 22 pages left. 

While the investigation of the ring is happening, the Legion of Doom headquarters explodes out of the Great Darkness rift. It is a sold moment. Well drawn, big and bold. But it is another moment that seems to come out of nowhere for no good reason.

As usual though, Bendis peppers it with snappy dialogue. Black Canary has had some of the best lines. "A Justice League ... but the bad guys." Funny. 

The HQ has absorbed some of the Darkness energy. But I don't know why that is important either. Will it all be tied up next issue?

You might remember that last issue when the teams were scattered throughout time that I wondered why. Yes, the side missions were fun little interactions but they didn't seem to push the plot forward.

Now Saturn Girl sparks up an idea. Maybe the teams were sent where they were on purpose. Maybe those times were clues.

Would a villain trying to destroy time actually give the heroes some clues to help stop them?

I thought this was a fun idea. It seems they were sent to places where heroes first emerged. (Although the dinosaur time seems outside that idea.)

It was nice to see Saturn Girl take a position of authority.

Unfortunately, even when the missions are reviewed there doesn't seem to be a pattern or any clues.

I include this set of panels because of my love of Leviathan. The team ran into the Leviathan HQ in the Great Disaster timeline. 

But it isn't Mark Shaw's Leviathan. It's Talia's. 

Event Leviathan and the impact of Leviathan himself feels like a lifetime ago. I had a theory.

As I said before, Bendis knows his strengths.

The character moments always shine. 

Naomi is still a rookie here. This whole adventure has been crazy and time is falling apart around her. She has every right to be scared and worried.

I love that Imra, probably about as old as Naomi but more of a veteran, talks to her like a mentor and leader. Seriously, best moment in the book. Godlewski really shines in these character moments. Great expressive work here.

After five issue, Luornu finally decides to merge her selves together. 

She finally comes up with a name. Vandal Savage.

So the 'clues' idea about the side missions was a feint I guess? Or not important?

Then we get a classic Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 or Zero Hour moment. The pages go white.

And out comes Vandal Savage.

He decided to simply destroy the age of Heroes. And all the torment going on was because he wanted to see the heroes squirm. Hubris never pays off well for villains. Savage should have learned that by now.

So it's Vandal Savage. But how is he doing what he is doing? And is there a link to the Gold Lantern? Will we ever learn about him and his true origins?

I honestly haven't minded the Bendis Legion. I think if it had some more time on a monthly it would have actually grown into itself and flourished. I don't think there is any Legion book on the horizon after this. So once more we are in limbo with this team.

It is a shame. Because I don't know if this mini-series is a fitting conclusion for the team. 

And I don't know if there is enough time in the one remaining issue to answer all my questions.

Overall grade: C+


Martin Gray said...

I came out of this one feeling more positive than you, buoyed by the fact that there was some movement, but I likewise don’t see a satisfying conclusion coming.

Still, if you squint really, really hard, we got a tiny ‘Vs’ moment!

John (somewhere in England) said...

In the old Legion stories, the number of legionnaires was limited, sometimes to only one or two members, which gave the writer a chance to develop them as personalities and allowed less-prominent characters to enjoy the spotlight for a while. The current Legion stories have consistently featured the whole team and good character moments have been restricted to a handful of individuals. In their current incarnation, most members of the Legion are still complete strangers to us.

Anj said...

I fall into this trap all the time with 'second to last' issues, always judging it on whether or not I think the last issue can tie everything up.

I should judge it on its own merits. And yes, there was movement here.

Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Man, I do HOPE this incarnation of the Legion is dropped and forgotten.