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…