Legion of Super-Heroes #7 review

The Legion of Super-Heroes are an impulsive bunch. Having survived the threat of the Horraz and restored Earth’s water with a magic trident, they crash a meeting of the United Planets Council to, well, apologise for being so darned impulsive. Team leader Cosmic Boy makes an impassioned speech, but it’s not his words that calm President RJ Brande.

Afterwards, Saturn Girl has a word with her co-founder. Telling Cosmic Boy he did a rotten job with the UP Council, she points out that he was chosen as leader when there were just three Legionnaires. Now there’s a full team, wouldn’t he like to see a proper election?

He would not. But Brainiac 5, whose tendency to just issue orders while Cos is standing right there annoys Rokk, forces the issue.

Colossal Boy reckons Superboy, as a living legend, should lead but Jon bats back that a 31st-century native should have the job. Step forward Ultra Boy.

By the end of the issue a vote has been taken and a leader chosen, just in time for a returning threat.

Down the decades the Legion series have occasionally been under fire by critics who bemoaned the fact that the teenage members acted like adults. Writer Brian Michael Bendis has fixed that, ensuring that while there are some enviably level heads – Cosmic Boy and Bouncing Boy, for two – an awful lot of members are believably daft. Proper teenage silly.

And the most annoying of all is Saturn Girl, constantly reading minds, whether it be Rokk’s or those of the members of the UP Council, and spouting off. She seems to have not one ounce of emotional intelligence – she thinks Brainy should always have the last word as he’s the smartest – but is ready to tell others where they’re going wrong. She’s Lucy Van Pelt with a flight ring.

Ultra Boy makes a good speech, but he should have gone along with Rokk’s suggestion of a campaigning period – a spur of the moment vote is no better than picking a leader from a tiny pool of three.

And how interesting that Brainiac 5, whose perceived interference precipitated the snap election – which likely isn’t even legal according to the team bylaws mentioned by Brainy – doesn’t step forward. Does he reckon it doesn’t matter who’s the official leader, he’s in charge?

We get a couple of scenes away from the big meeting that dominates this issue. There’s a fun moving day as Lightning Lad brings his family to live on Earth; sister Light Lass’s objections around privacy seem rather petty considering that her moms and siblings were in danger back on home planet Winath.

And there’s a page of chatter between Triplicate Girl and Monster Boy (apparently his given name is Arune, likely after Bendis’ old Marvel Mickey Arune Singh) in which we learn Luornu is convinced RJ Brande wants to kill the team – literally.

There’s lots to like in Bendis’ script – Superboy reminding the UP of their roots; the sheer chaos of a Legion team meeting; Cosmic Boy’s dignity in the face of constant undermining of his leadership/basic personality; the mischief of Matter-Eater Lad.

I’d like to see the Legion grow more professional as time goes on, but at the moment they’re new as a big movement, and would likely be stepping on one another’s toes with some regularity. Still, I must admit to being very surprised that having been a member since the start, Imra is so casually heavy handed with her powers…surely there are protocols around when it’s acceptable to use ESP in non-battle scenarios?

I think that I’ve said this previously, but one thing I would love to see less of in Bendis’s scripts is the use of Interlac – keep it to signage, background information, the Mission Monitor Board. Don’t make knowing it essential for understanding and full enjoyment, let’s stop filling panels with screeds of the stuff.

The art this issue maintains the quality with which we’ve been spoiled. Stephen Byrne, late of the Wonder Twins series, steps into the 31st century, picks up Ryan Sook’s character and costume designs and looks like he’s been drawing them for years. Little bits of business such as Saturn Girl’s eye rolling and Cos’ defensive body language bring the players to life. The detail he puts on Cosmic Boy’s tunic – the lines, the shininess of the chest plates – is admirable. And there’s something delightfully Silver Age about his approach to Jon, an openness and honesty that’s pure Superboy.

Regular artists Sook and inker Wade Von Grawbadger do handle the opening recap age, giving us their Wildfire. As well as the story so far, it provides an insight into Wildfire’s origin with the Legion. His most intriguing line? ‘You can’t contain me or my voice.’ Does Wildfire have an inner Tyroc?

Colourist Jordie Bellaire makes the future look rather refreshing, with lots of serene pale tones for Legion headquarters, though she does go for moodier hues for the UP meeting room. And Dave Stewart’s letters – those I understand, at least – look great. I really like that he’s toning each Triplicate Girl’s speech bubbles to match their hair. Plus, it interests me that when a ‘Superman’ logo is used, it’s the TV cartoon version. Whatever could it mean?

A solo Ryan Sook is behind the moody cover, showing the Legion members surrendering to UP forces – details such as the lighting and the subtle reflection of Chameleon are bloomin’ impressive.

I liked this issue an awful lot, and the next couple of instalments look set to be what I’ve really been waiting for, an introduction to every member (seriously, who is that green Atomic Skull type?). Bring it on. Oh, and…

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

  1. I don’t think Imra was wrong about Rokk. This Rokk is pretty much a total screw up as leader, making me like him for the first time ever. Every other version of Rokk has just been so perfect it was impossible to like the character…

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  2. I’d like to see the more complex Frichtman tags they had in the beginning – the ones used here are just icons, generally matching the logos on their shirts, and don’t give out any information.

    I’d rather have those – which are helpful – than the Interlac, which is pointless for most of us who don’t try to read it.

    So, having watched last week’s Comic-Con@Home video about “Humanoids Legacy,” which Bendis, Mark Waid, Mark Russell and Tula Lotay participated in, I checked out a few pages of Incall – something apparently essential and highly influential that I was ignorant about. One can immediately see the influence here – the futuristic building designs and color scheme of Legion look to me like a direct steal of Incall. Call it an homage I suppose.

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    1. Congratulations and thanks, TN, this is the first video in a comment I’ve had. I look forward to watching this after work. It’s unfortunate that I read ‘Incal’ and see ‘Incel’.

      I agree about the tags, if we have to have them let’s have some details – but I would really prefer a proper old-fashioned role car at the start of the story, name, planet and one line of powers.

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  3. I can’t take credit for the embedding of the video – I just pasted in the YouTube URL, and WordPress magically did the rest.

    I was aware of the unfortunate word too – but apparently The Incal is a 40-year-old French sci-fi graphic novel starting off a series of books.

    Let’s see what kind of magic we get when I paste in this URL:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incal

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  4. Loved this issue!
    My favourite of the series so far. I *loved* that we got a giant hanging out scene in the cafeteria that can stand up there with some of the best Levitz party scenes.
    So many character moments this issue!
    Something to consider regarding Imra – she comes from a planet of telepaths. I’m assuming that reading minds is a natural form of communication for her and allows for a deeper connection with folks (thus her bluntness and desire to cut through the meaningless chit chat that is such a natural part of how people tend to communicate).
    Can’t wait to read next issue!

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  5. Another terrific issue — and I’m even starting to be able to sight-read interlac! Nice joke underneath Wildfire’s page: ENERGY RELEASE GENERATOR IS NOT A THING.

    One big problem with the Interlac, though — the vertical line before letters is meant to indicate capitals, IIRC. And when things are written in all caps, the symbols get SO much busier and more cluttered than they need to be. Turn the caps lock off, and we’ll get cleaner, easier-on-the-eyes interlac!

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  6. On the substance of the book, though, I don’t think Rokk is as level-headed as you see him…(or, likely, as he sees himself). He seems to picture himself as a good leader, and he certainly has the impulses of one. But he can’t quite manage it, either in keeping a cool head when the election is called, or by taking a moment to assess recent political events before addressing the UP. He *will* be a good leader someday…but for now, he’s learning some lessons. And I’m great with that! These guys *should* be green! Enthusiasm, guts, and idealism should take them far. But every now and then, I’m excited to see those virtues come up wanting for need of maturity and competence…because I know they’ll acquire both in time, and it’s exciting to watch them learn.

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  7. Fascinating appraisal of Rokk’s leadership style. I think he’d be better if he had support rather than people tearing him down, he’s bright, he’s willing to step forward and face some really scary politicians… there’s potential. Did you see Bleeding Cool, someone in the comments section on Hannibal Tabu’s review (‘Mark Madsen thing’?) reckons Rokk is gay. Reading it again, I do see the parallels with Bendis’ writing of Iceman and Jean.

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  8. I got the same feeling that Rokk might be gay from their conversation. I don’t necessarily think that it’s exactly parallel to Jean & Bobby, though — I don’t think it’s so much a closet thing, in Rokk’s case, as more of a teenager’s natural shyness about someone he’s attracted to before he’s ready to admit it. The fact that it’s a same-sex attraction is incidental; it’s having ANY attraction that’s awkward, because he’s shy and they’re all at that age.

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  9. I reread that scene last night after my last comment, and I’ve gotta re-assess. I’d forgotten some of the details. It *does* sound like he’s closeted. I hope that’s not the case in this shiny, positive 31st century. I still suspect it’s something different, but analagous in some way — something to do with Rokk’s relationship with his dad, and his dad’s expectations of him. But I don’t know.

    We’ll see, I guess. Seems like a weird choice. I still have a lot of faith in Bendis & Sook & co.

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    1. Spot on, Rob, I could see there still being problems with acceptance of gay teens on small backwater worlds, but Braal looks to be up there with Earth in terms of progress; I wonder if Bendis will get back to this.

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  10. strange to see RJ BRande so against the Legion based on this review could there be something more going something dark like The Dark Man?

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    1. The Dark Man would be an excellent behind the scenes manipulator what with all the shenanigans he put into motion against The Legion

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      1. hope Bendis or another writer brings her back but just wondering is there any new legionnaire that interests thee?

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