Legion of Super-Heroes #4 review

It’s the 31st Century, Superboy Jon Kent has joined the Legion of Super-Heroes and it’s time to learn how the team was founded. His guide? The AI known as Computo.

First, background on the founders, beginning with Imra Ardeen, a young woman on the moon of Saturn, Titan, where mental powers are the norm.

Then, it’s over to Winath, and one of the biggest days in the lives of twins Ayla and Garth Ranzz.

Rather than being arrested, they’re offered spots with the United Planets Youth Delegation.

On the planet Braal, Rokk Krinn – one of the tiny number of people with natural magnetism – gets news from one of his parents after winning a sporting match against metal beasties.

Some time later, the three gifted youngsters – Ayla wants nothing to do with the ‘United Mobsters of Corruption’ – are on their way to their mentorships, when they receive a surprise visit… from Galactic President RJ Brande.

Jon’s Legion orientation ends suddenly when he’s needed for the team’s latest emergency, but he does see Brande express frustration at not being able to make the United Planets work, and something of the Ranzzes’ home life.

It turns out they have two mothers, one of whom looks to be an energy being, so no need for a scary encounter with lightning beasts in this continuity, Ayla and Garth’s electricity comes plugged in. Interestingly, Ayla mentions six other siblings, and there are five more around the table, Garth and two more sets of twins. Could there be a singleton who’s not home for tea? Make mine Mekt!

Earlier in the run, when Ultra Boy mentioned that he had more than one dad, I assumed that was a thing specific to his home planet, Rimbor, but apparently not – as well as Garth and Ayla’s two moms, we have Rokk referring to his ‘Prime Father’ and Imra apparently parented by an entire community of unseen psychics. The poor gal rails against being part of a hive mind while playing the good daughter on her homeworld; I wonder if she’ll get a little wild now the stabilisers are off.

I’m very intrigued by this lady-presenting version of RJ Brande – they seem sincere but also pretty moody… then again, it’s not an unknown combination. I guess I’m just too used to new versions of characters/political leaders being bad guys in comics.

On a similar note, I very much like that the Science Police on Winath aren’t the usual thugs, just decent workaday folk.

I wonder what Ayla was actually protecting that mixed bunch of Winathians from… was there info in the Interlac caption?

And here’s an intriguing panel…

… is that a tease that Superman marries more than once in the Legion timeline, or just another example of information getting lost in the ten centuries between Superboy’s time and the Legion’s? It’s great that Rokk seems to have the traditional history buff aspect to him, he even refers to the Justice League.

As regards Cosmic Boy, one thing that writer Brian Michael Bendis gets a Paddington Bear hard stare from me for is the sound effects when Rokk is using his powers – where’s my ‘SPROING!’?

Bendis does, though, get points for the compound word ‘mind-light’, that’s rather a beautiful way to imagine a telepath’s point of view.

Triplicate Girl wanting to marry Jon is a nice nod to the original’s crush on Superboy back in the Silver Age, and I like that the Trips aren’t clones, with different aspects of Prime Luornu apparently driving Yellow, Blue and Pink.

What’s more, and fantastic, Superboy says ‘Great Scott’, like Superman did in a thousand stories way back before the Crisis and never since… that made me smile hugely.

One thing I’d really like sorted out is the place of Rose Forrest in the Legion. She’s not appeared for a couple of issues so we still don’t know how she fits in beyond being some kind of liaison. Does the LSH know of her background as the dual personality crimefighter Thorn? Are they monitoring her mental health? Computo says Superboy is the first person from his century to experience them; I’d have expected Rose to have been updated this way, but apparently not. Perhaps Bendis will have Rose and Computo commune at a future date and Brainiac’s creation will come out changed… (portentous ellipses for elderly readers, there).

We probably get about half of the Legion origin in this issue, which is fine by me – I enjoyed the opening with Rokk, Garth and Jon chatting, and I’m glad the trident business isn’t forgotten. What we do get, I like – a few changes to the old stories here and there, which is fine given this is, what, the Legion’s fifth official origin (original, post-Mordru, Zero Hour, Threeboot… I’m probably missing a couple!). There’s enough of the traditional stuff to keep me happy, enough new business to prevent me being bored, and plenty of nascent Legion spirit. Good job, Brian Bendis!

And good job penciller Ryan Sook and inker Wade Von Grawbadger, on the present day material, and Mikel Janín, on the flashbacks. The join is hard to spot, thanks to the artists sharing a naturalistic sensibility, and Jordie Bellaire colouring the whole book with her usual intelligence. Favourite scenes include the presentation of the Titan mindscape, and the Braal tournament (I don’t think that’s Magnoball Rokk is playing!). Plus, the Science Police design is wonderfully creepy, like something Keith Giffen would have created for the Five Year Gap Legion.

The letters of Dave Sharpe are brilliant, points once more for the Interlac… is it weird that I don’t really mind not knowing what’s in there? And well done to editors Brittany Holzherr and Brian Cunningham for all the unseen boons they give this book.

Lastly, kudos to illustrator Travis Moore and colourist Alex Sinclair for a cracker of a cover, it’s looks great and sets the tone for another fine issue.

Long live the Legion!

7 thoughts on “Legion of Super-Heroes #4 review

  1. Somehow this issue had me spellbound, and that’s rare with a comic book. From the appearance of Computo and how he/she/it operated, to the flashbacks – I was overcome with how creative and awesome it all was. Till now I’ve found the Bendis Legion to be overly bright and goofy, but it just moved into exotic, alien directions.

    The large blasts of Interlac – LARGE blasts – added to the alien feel. Like a chirping computerized interlude.

    I think I’ll work out the Interlac. But it will take time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I finished most of the “translation.” Some of this is merely interesting, but some could prove important.

    On the opening page:
    Headlines (under which are news stories)
    Message waiting (4 times, next to each of which is a > playback button)

    Above a plaza on New Earth:
    UNITED WISDOM PLAZA. A place built for communication, information, education.

    On Winath:
    Winathian’s overbeing is called Validus, the lord of lightning. Single births are considered the children of Validus.

    (Seems to me it should be Winahtians’.)

    When the President arrives:
    The president’s security team is led by a Dryad. Commander Blok of the 47th. He is six years old.

    Finally, I met my match with the sheer volume of the hard-to-read, small blue on blue text on the page where the spectators are cheering for Rokk, so I skipped it, exhausted even looking at it. Based on the appearance of numbers, I’d guess it’s a play-by-play narration of the fight, including points as they are scored.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, TN. I’m so lazy, your work is fantastic. I was reading when the Interlac alphabet was introduced and have always been too lazy to learn it… my brain is terrible at this sort of thing.

      Like

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