Legion of Super-Heroes #8 review

The latest issue of the Brian Michael Bendis/Ryan Sook reboot has the usual amount of the former and very little of the latter. That’s because it’s gimmick time, with Sook and inking partner Wade Von Grawbadger contributing a gorgeous big battle spread, while every other page features the work of a different artist. To make the changes from page to page less jarring, or at least to provide some motivation, each – well, most – spotlights a different Legionnaire. The jam concept therefore gives Sook a rest while providing Bendis with an excuse to let some of the little-seen members step forward and introduce themselves.

And I’d say the super-sized creative team pulls it off, providing visual novelty without sacrificing narrative.

The issue opens with someone watching a holovid-thingie of 20th-Century member Superboy introducing himself to Legion fans and recapping recent events, but that’s not what the spectator is interested in. They demand to see the Legion ‘auditions’, and the first wannabe to show up is Jan Arrah.

He makes the team and is christened ‘Element Lad’ by the judging panel of Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy. Bendis reveals a limitation on his powers that I don’t recall coming up with previous versions, and it could make for interesting times. Jeff Lemire draws this page with real skill and his Element Lad is on model so far as Sook’s design is concerned. Which is a shame – when a team has a member called Monster Boy it’s unfortunate that your Shaggy-from-Scooby-Doo choices make you the least attractive member…

Of course, looks aren’t everything. Princess Projectra has visual appeal to spare as drawn by Joëlle Jones, but she needs to work on her approach to teamwork.

Just before this set of panels, someone uses the phrase ‘very unique’, but I couldn’t bear to show it

As for Blok, frankly, I have no flipping idea what’s being said on this animation-style page illustrated by Dan Hipp… have I mentioned how much I hate Interlac as part of the narrative?

I don’t know it and have no wish to pause my reading to negotiate some online key. And presumably the problem is worse for non-English Language users, who will have to translate twice. Please bin it, Mr Bendis.

As the Blok bit shows, the issue isn’t all auditions – we segue from them to what’s prompted United Planets leader RJ Brande to summon her son, Legionnaire Chameleon Boy, to her side. This is where we pick up from last issue’s cliffhanger – which had new team leader Ultra Boy confronted by his very angry father, the chieftain of Rimbor – in a powerful Liam Sharp page.

And so it goes. The membership gathers to fight Crav and his super-powered goons, with an impressive array of artists by their metaphorical side. Along the way Bendis drops in bits of information, such as which two members are dating – for about ten seconds, anyway, as hero dumps heroine in a moment of pique drawn by Young Justice artist John Timms.

A warning to the curious – do not attempt to pronounce ‘fowqnut’ out loud

Husky bare chest apart, I really don’t like this new Mon-El – see also how he treats Jon Kent. Yes, he may have his reasons, but there’s no need to be so brusque.

There’s a great gag that calls back to Ferro Lad’s comic book history, a neat nod to the Mark Waid/Barry Kitson run in the large form of Cosmic Boy, a pep talk for a downhearted Cosmic Boy and lots, lots more, mostly coloured by the brilliant Jordie Bellaire – two of the artists do their own pages – and completely lettered by good ol’ Dave Sharpe.

Ryan Sook provides full colour art for the cover and it’s gorgeous, although why the Legion is fighting among itself, I have no idea. Then again, it does look to presage an upcoming romance…

The Trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes Part 1 is a treat, its script blending characterisation, revelation and confrontation, its pages a feast for the eye. And as that title implies, the fun continues next month – I dunno DC, couldn’t you have stuck the two parts together and given us an amazing annual?

Then again, maybe one of those is still to come…

19 thoughts on “Legion of Super-Heroes #8 review

  1. Given this issue’s multi-artist stunt, I was quite pleased to see how well this issue cohered. I was expecting 22 pages of vignettes, rather than one single story (which, granted, incorporates a few flashbacks). So for that alone, bravo!

    My favorite pages were probably the Projectra page, the Tinya/Mon page, and the Wildfire and Ferro Lad pages. But it’s good stuff all around. And rest assured, I’ll be going back to translate that Blok page…because as much as you hate the ‘Lac, it’s one more way I have fun with the issue. Some programmer should make an Interlac function for one of those automatic translation apps, where you can just point your camera at it and see English. One more way that we’re already living in the future.

    Other plusses: Superboy realizing that he can’t really say “space” or “aliens” anymore. Dream Girl saying “Girl? Sure.” as if gender/age had no real meaning for her. Computo and Brainy’s discussion. Rokk getting it together. There’s so much here to love.

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    1. Exactly, I thought we’d be getting a Who’s Who in the Legion-style deal, and was prepared to judge it on that basis, but here we’re still in the story. I’m hugely intrigued by the likes of Projectra – is she not actually rich? – and Phantom Girl – why does she have an actual halo? What’s the deal with Mon-El? Was Cham his mother’s spy?

      So many enjoyable questions!

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  2. Yeah, Interlac blows monkey chunks. I really hate how some readers will call it a language when it’s just a substitution cipher. I don’t bother with it either and never have. If important plot is in there, oh well.

    My favorite pages were Cos and Jeckie. I love how Bendis isn’t going with helpless princess or tough as nails monarch. With Cos, I was always so bored with the most perfectest Legipnaire ever. Cos near tears at his rejection made me want to just hug him!

    And I have no idea why, but near the end of this book I majorly teared up. God, I love this team and this take!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From what Anj has been telling me about the Interlac translations this issue, Steve, ‘monkey chunks’ is putting it mildly… I won’t spoil his post, but review watch Supergirl’s Comic Box Commentary on Monday!

      It’s great this book is giving you the feels!

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  3. Great review.
    Yes, Jan’s look isn’t the best. Zoinks!
    I Do love the hodge podge continuity here. As you point out, some classic her.so e Threeboot there.

    Overall, it is a treat! And this artistic jam issue is fantastic.

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  4. I really wonder about Mon-El. His history in the Phantom Zone seems like a weird thing to excise, especially to make way for a simple Kryptonian ancestry story. (Though it *does* handle the -El surname, which has always been a little weird, IMO. “It’s the name I was given when I had amnesia, and I decided to keep it.” What’s up with that?)

    But if Superboy is his great-great-great-great-grandfather, well… that still could leave 800 or so years unaccounted for. And Mon is upset at Superboy for *something*…who’s to say that reason doesn’t have anything to do with the Phantom Zone? Time will tell, of course… but I wouldn’t completely write off the Phantom Zone yet.

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      1. But have you ever really thought of what a millenium spent watching the real world but not being able to be seen or touched would be like? Realistically, Mon-El should have been the most unstable character bar none in the original Legion run. They never even thought to give him any knowledge from those years, like auditing advanced science classes throughout the cosmos or intimate knowledge of of a fellow Legionaire’s home planet history even they didn’t know. It was just used as a blip to get Mon into the Legion with a tiny acknowledgement near the end of Levitz’s second run when he was faced with a return to the Phantom Zone.

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  5. I always assumed he went mad at one point, and eventually found peace… I suppose that’s what Bendis has done with Rose. It must have been horrific to be stuck there with all those evil Phantom Zoners.

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