Thursday, September 29, 2022

Review: Justice League Vs. The Legion Of Super-Heroes #6

Justice League Vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes #6 came out this week, the ending of the mini-series, the ending of Brian Michael Bendis' time at DC, and probably the end of this version of the Legion. This mini-series has sort of tread water and limped along the first five issues. So I shouldn't be surprised that it sort of limps over the finish line as well.

Yes, I am not surprised. But I am disappointed.

I have been a Legion fan for most of my life. I have been waiting for what feels like decades for a solid Legion product to be on the shelf. And when this one was announced, with a name writer like Bendis and a solid artist like Ryan Sook being on the book at the beginning I had high hopes. When Bendis spoke about the Legion as a dream project, I had even more hope.

But the main book never seemed to gel. There were plenty of Legionnaires who never saw action or said dialogue. The book seemed to peter out a bit after Sook left the book. And then Future State pushed the book even further into the future.

Suddenly I lost hope.

Still, there was this mini-series happening. It was a Justice League book. It had a solid artist, Scotty Godlewski attached to it. And it riffed on The Great Darkness. How could it go wrong?

Well, for one, not much happened plot wise in the book. There were some nice character moments. But the plot seemed to drag. There never was much of a VS in this book as the team played acted as allies the whole time. And now we have the finale which just sort of happens. 

I should be used to Bendis setting up something immense as a threat only to sweep it under the rug quickly. But I still feel cheated.

Godlewski's art is wonderful here which makes the lack of story that much more vexing. His Jonah Hex (I know ... how did Hex get in this) is really a scarred revelation. And he draws these new Legionnaires so well. 

Perhaps the latest Crisis will bring about yet another Legion. I feel this one never got a fair shake.

On to the book.

Last issue we learned Vandal Savage was behind the Great Darkness.

This issue opens with Savage as a sort of hard but respected Sheriff in a town in the old West.

There is an odd sequence where he sees a shadow of a person which then disappears. Perhaps it is meant to make you think something isn't right with this world, something which is true.

But it isn't really explained. As a reader you have to be able to put it all together and then hope you're right. But if you aren't thinking hard about how to explain this scene you might wonder what it means and why it's there.

Even though we're in the Old West, Batman is somehow in the town prison. Did Savage bring the Dark Knight there and keep him alive so he could gloat?

Then we hear how this is all happens ... sort of. In the far future, Savage has made his way to Oa and pillaged abandoned tech from the Guardians. He used that tech to create the Great Darkness and manipulate time to remove the Age of Heroes.

In one panel, the plot is explained. We aren't shown it. We're told it. This Western scene takes up ten pages! Half the book! Surely some of that could have been used to for us to see some of this. Instead we get to see Savage break up a couple of ruffians in town and pummel Jonah Hex for being a big part of Savage's life.

But then a revelation. 

This whole Sheriff thing, the whole history that Savage actually won, turns out to be an illusion. Savage was inside the Gold Lantern ring and fed that scenario. All this so he would admit to the crime before the panel of Guardians of the universe.

How did the JL and Legion actually defeat the Great Darkness time eating cloud? We don't know. Instead Batman just tells us they did.

I will remind you we had ten pages of Sheriff Vandal Savage. And we are simply told the villains were defeated.

I'll remind you that in the Legion main book, the 'Guardians' of the Gold Lantern never looked like the classic blue skinned Guardians. But now, suddenly, they do. And they sentence Savage to be removed from reality. 

The Savage manifest a power ring and battles Gold Lantern. It is nice to see the Lantern step up and fight. He seems quite confident here, something not always true.

And at the very least, Savage wielding an evil ring explains why a 'Gold Lantern ring' has been hinted at as the cause of the Great Darkness all along. But it might have been nice to have a character remind us of that.

But Savage disappears. The Guardians remove him from reality after all.

Gold Lantern's actions do impress them enough to wonder if it is time for a Corps.

I really was hoping we'd get an explanation about the Gold Lantern and the source of his power. In the end, I guess he is just like a Green Lantern. So he somehow feels way less special and different than I anticipated.

Now I do like when I see heroes interacting socially. So we get a couple of pages of the Legion and the League hanging out and talking. Godlewski really shines here.

But did they really earn a celebration? Were the heroes effective at all in this mini-series ... I mean on panel.

I suppose defeating the Darkness and trapping Savage is worthy. But we didn't see that.

And then we get a sort of epilogue where Savage is picked up by Jonah Hex again. Is this the first time they met? Is Savage caught in some type of time loop making him hate Hex?

I don't quite know what it all means. But certainly a lot of page space was spent on it that I think could have been used better on the plot.

So here we are.

I was so ready for the Bendis' Legion to be great. I really liked the first issues of the main title. I was ready to devour a Legion book. 

Instead I think this Legion is going to end on this flat note.

Am I being too harsh?

Overall grade: C-


Martin Gray said...

Harsh? You are a prince. This series was sloppy as heck, with Bendis just writing characters and scenarios he likes without properly coming up with a story. I wish I’d saved the money, spent the cash on a classic trade and given it to a library.

That shadowy figure made about as much sense as that time a possible Lwgion shimmered into the Superman book, never to be explained.

Let’s de-boot this Cosplay Legion and bring back one of the better versions.

Scipio said...

"Am I being too harsh?"

I think you are being to harsh to the letter "C".

This sounds like gibberish I would have been embarrassed to have improvised in schoolyard playtime.

There are horde of underemployed writers who'd kill for the kinds of changes Bendis wastes. Hordes of talented fans who'd write better, for free. AIs that could do a better job if you fed them the story principles of Abner Sundell and a list of the Legionnaire's Who's Who entries.

Let's go back to the practice of not putting the writer's name on the stories, so that their quality will have to the selling point instead of the fame of the writer.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

Vandal Savage in the old west is a great opening sequence. Too bad Bendis put it at the end of a Legion of Superheroes miniseries instead of at the beginning of a Jonah Hex miniseries.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review.

I was big fan of the Legion up to and including 5YL. I started reading this newer version's series but got bored early on and never finished reading it, although I bought all the issues including the variants. That series started with way too many members.

I bought this series because I thought it might be good with the JL. I read the first issue when it was first released then didn't return to the series until today when I read them all in a row. I'm glad I did because I see there are holes in the series that I may have not seen if I'd read the issues a month apart. Clues in their experiences- lead to nothing. TG's merge leads to the answer- what?! Savage created a ring made up of Guardian abandoned tec? Sure, simple! Black Canary was in the 1850s? When? Stupidly, I scanned earlier issues, which I'd just read, and found nothing of her travel to the wild west.

For me, the best parts of this series were the dialogue and moments between two or a few characters, the social settings, and the aging and de-aging. Some of the age differences were only referenced visually so it was fun to scan the scenes for any changes. I really like the art.

I feel that the teams and villain were excellent choices. Nothing really happening in the first 4 issue and how the villain was discovered were disappointments.