Friday, January 29, 2021

Review: Future State Legion Of Super-Heroes #1

Remember when DC completely rebooted the universe in the New 52? 

It's sort of a trick question. You might recall that the Batman books and the Green Lantern books, which were selling like hotcakes at the time, didn't reboot at all and just chugged along.

Or maybe you remember the 'One Year Later' jump forward in time with Infinite Crisis where all books jumped forward a year in their timeline, keeping the foundation of the books intact but giving us some plot mysteries.

I was reminded of those a little when I read Future State Legion of Super-Heroes #1. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is guiding the main Legion book. And this Future State book takes place on that timeline somewhere. As he has said, it might be a year, a week, 5 years in the future from Legion of Super-Heroes #12 which we just read. So this is our current Legion, living in the current universe and timeline, just nudged forward. As a result, I felt this book had a bit more skin in the game than the other 'possible futures'. In my mind, this is simply the next issue in the current volume.

And, as he has been doing in the current book, Bendis sort of picks through all the Legion histories, finds the good bits, and adds it to his plot soup. Whether intentional or not, this book had some undertones of the 5YL Legion book as well as the Abnett/Lanning Legion Lost book. That completely works.

Add to that the wild and innovative art of the Riley Rossmo and this is a very solid book. Rossmo brings a style that is wild and stylized but gritty enough to fit this sort of more dystopian future. I once described Frank Robbin's art on Marvel's The Invaders as 'beautiful ugly'. I think that works here too.

On to the book!

We start in the ruins of Planet Gotham, the new Earth. 

Shadow Lass is picking through the ashes when Ultra Boy shows up.

For whatever reason, the Legion has been disbanded. And Jo wants the team back together. 

Initially, Tasmia is irate at the request and attacks Jo. That is, until Saturn Girl shows up and calms her down.

I couldn't help but think of the 5YL Legion #1 issue where Cham is trying to convince Rokk to get the team back together. As a huge fan of the 5YL book, I loved this.

A couple of other Legionnaires have also heard Jo's call.

As I said, Saturn Girl shows up as does Brainiac 7. It seems that Brainiac 5 has given himself a new body, one that he can will into new shapes and forms. (That sort of reminded me of the Brainy in the Legion cartoon.)

Brainy says the team needs to confront 'him', the 'most sensitive' Legionnaire. That definitely made me wonder if the bad guy here was someone from within ...

Rossmo's look of spindly legs and insane cuboid Brainy works here. But nothing says Rebel Legion like Imra sporting a skull painted helmet. Nice touch.

Meanwhile, Daxam is now the home of the remaining UP. Gotham isn't the only planet effected by this scourge. Daxam was hit first ... by'The Elemental'. (God help me I can read interlac without a key.)

Rokk seems to be in a position of power here, perhaps President. Or maybe temporary leader. And he is asking Cham where Jan Arrah is.

Hmmm, the most sensitive Legionnaire needs to be confronted. The Elemental is destroying the universe. And Rokk wants to know where Jan Arrah is. The writing is on the wall here. Element Lad, as he was in the Abnett/Lanning book, is the villain here.

Check out the characters in this page though. A helmeted armored Superman? Is that Jon? Mon-El?

A green skirted woman with a flower in her hair? That is a more classic Vi than what we have seen here. 

And is that a non-suited Wildfire? Or Sun Boy?

So much to mull over!

Meanwhile, on Winath, we see that not everyone is against what Element Lad is doing.

A sort of Legion of Substitute Heroes is applauding Jan's work saying it has elevated people into something more. I assume he means that the lower classes are freed a bit by this societal upheaval and not that Jan has bestowed power on them. So we get Fire Lad, Double Header, a female Porcupine Pete, and maybe Infectious Lass.

Despite this zealotry, Luornu is there to try and talk sense to these people.

But now she is Duo Damsel. One of her bodies has been killed in this threat (very old school Legion there).

While she hasn't merged since the death (it hurts her more), she can still kick butt. And the two of them lay the smack down on this Substitute group.

Again, Rossmo's work is just visually engaging. I mean, this action spread is tremendous. Just beautiful!

After laying the smack down, a rather humanoid and dapper Blok shows up to say the team is reforming and Luornu is needed.

The Horraz, Bendis' organized crime fleet in this Legion, seems to like what Jan is doing. Their pirate ships swoop into the wrecked planets and pillage whatever is left.

I can only imagine what it feels like to be a Legionnaire and see the universe crumble around you. You still are a hero.

Here, Bouncing Boy, invulnerable in his ball mode, can't just sit back and watch the Horraz raid Colu. He is bouncing/battering his way through their fleet in space until he also gets the call to re-organize!

Rossmo's take on Chuck is both horrifying and incredible.

But this scene shows just how pro-active this Legion is.

Finally, we get the confrontation we want to see.

The Lightning Twins show up on Trom to confront Jan.

Element Lad states that he was sick of seeing the universes elements and materials destroyed by what was happening and so he took matters into his own hands.

And he looks rather diabolical here. Certainly not the 'is he stoned' guy we have seen in the book so far. But it does bring back all the 'Jan as villain' vibes from Legion Lost. Even the outfit evokes that.

But the Ranzz twins didn't come alone. Here comes the reformed Legion. There's going to be a throwdown!

I have very much liked Bendis' take on the Legion so far. So no surprise I liked this issue a lot too. The interplay between the characters is spot on. The echoes of other Legion histories while being completely new is wonderful. And Rossmo's art is just intoxicating.

Is this going to be the 'current state' when the Legion comes back? Or just a possible future? We'll have to find out!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

I really liked this too. Rossmo isn’t always my cup of tea, but suited this story, while Bendis produced a decent balance of teasing and information. This should be Bendis’s Adult Legion moment, a story that will prove ‘true’ in some ways, but be contradicted in others - remember how exciting it was in Legion of Super-Heroes #300 when Shadow Lass survived the Science Asteroid despite her death having been predicted in Adventure Comics years previously?

What it shouldn’t be is the Legion from now on, as Bendis has hinted might be the case; we’ve barely seen the Bendis/Sook team in action, haven’t even met several members. I want to stay in the bright, shiny (mostly) future and see the plot seeds planted pan out - let us see the future as it happens, not leap ahead.

Anj said...

Agree completely Mart.
Would love this to be considered Adult Legion, teased at and some things coming true.
That one cover teased Shadow Lass, Reflecto, etc.

But like you say, the new series needs more time to cultivate.

I do like Rossmo here, grimy pretty!