The Legion of Super-Heroes #9 review

On trial for being more proactive in United Planets affairs than President RJ Brande would like, members of the Legion of Super-Heroes defend themselves. At the forefront of the legal battle is Shadow Lass. Tasmia Mallor tells the delegates from member worlds that “… the Legion is a brilliant idea well executed by its members’. MadamHonour President notes that ‘The Legion are accused of breaking the Space Time Continuum and unlawfully kidnapping a member of the elite Council of the United Planets.”

Who will win the day? Not the Legion if this piece of evidence footage is anything to go by.

Art by Legion legend Mike Grell

The recruitment of Dawnstar makes it look like the Legion plans to work against the UP from within.

Then there’s the conversation as Bouncing Boy is recruited.

Art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

Monster Boy delights Legion founders Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy with his girth and tongue.

Art by Nick Derington

Balance comes as Blok reminds Brande of his loyalty.

Art by James Harren

Then Wildfire’s story is heard…

Art by John Romita Jr and Klaus Janson

… and Timber Wolf’s testimony is even more powerful.

Art by Nicola Scott

Continued from last issue, the Trial of the Legion sees writer Brian Michael Bendis revealing more about the members of this new version of the classic team, while a gaggle of Substitute Heroes join regular artists Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger. As the vignettes move the overarching story forward – Dream Girl names a classic threat, Warlord Krav’s intentions are unveiled and Brande’s motivations get ever muddier – Bendis drops nods aplenty to classic continuity. These include the White Witch’s civilian name, the throwback outfits worn for the Starhaven visit and that ruddy great space whale. And classic film fans will likely get a big kick out of the newly expanded version of Bouncing Boy’s given name.

It’s not just Bouncing Boy’s name that impresses, Bendis ups what he can do with his abilities in a nicely logical way. Another reimagined Legionnaire, Invisible Kid, seems to be more Glaucoma Guy, given his viewpoint.

Art by Computo’s stat machine based on an original scene by Joe Quinones

I wonder if this is a nod to the classic Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #203, Mike Grell’s first issue as penciller, in which original Invisible Kid Lyle Norg joined the Choir Invisible.

Story by Cary Bates, art by Mike Grell

Other observations: Dr Fate is a natural politician; Mon-El remains appalling; and there seems to be a thing between Ultra Boy and White Witch.

The only plot point I don’t like comes on the final page, but at least it’s beautifully illustrated by Mitch Gerads, who even does his own colours.

The rest of the issue is coloured by Jordie Bellaire, who does a wonderful job of balancing the multitude of colourful 31st-century types, her choices ranging from eye-searingly bright to delicate depending on her artistic partner. And Dave Sharpe employs an impressive variety of fonts, balloon shapes and even colours – in Triplicate Girl’s case – to aid the storytelling.

Art by Riley Rossmo

The art ranges from gorgeous to John Romita & Klaus Janson, with my favourite pages being that cheeky Mike Grell business, Arthur Adams’ scary-as-heck scene with Ultra Dad, and Jenny Frison’s White Witch a la Joan of Arc. The nature of Bendis’ story ensures the game of artistic musical chairs work, with the only bump in the road being the transition between story pages 11 and 12, as time-jumping captions attempt to disguise whatever went wrong.

That’s one creative cover by Ryan Sook, Waid Von Grawbadger, Mikel Janín, Travis Moore, Jordie Bellaire and the DC Production Department – oh, to have these comics in the real world. And an extra pint of kono juice to whoever dug up that splendid Cosmic Boy logo from the Eighties!

While these last two issues didn’t quite deliver on the promise of giving us a look at every member of the latest Legion, most get a moment, and I had a ball with Bendis’s script and the ever-changing art. Plus, some story points were clarified, others underlined and a coming menace set up. Even that final page – it’s really icky – doesn’t take away from a first-rate read. Recommended.

28 thoughts on “The Legion of Super-Heroes #9 review

  1. I love this iteration of the Legion so much.. Original/Retroboot will always be my favorite but I find this one so much better than the Archie Legion or the Threeboot. I’m told I missed the Archie Legion’s problems being fixed during a time I stopped reading comics altogether but I have no desire to read what I missed. Waid’s Legion had so much potential and so many great deviations from what came before but it felt like he was being held back and interfered with by TPTB a lot. Does anyone really think Supergirl was his idea? And look at how Shooter’s amazing take with the raw material Waid had left was truncated unnecessarily.

    Anywho, we disagree on two big things. First off, I loved the Legion despite Grell. I have never liked his art and it’s only gotten worse. Just check out an Annual he did for X-Men Forever (or whatever the Claremont alt history was called). The other was Mon-El. Lar Gand was a big sack of boring for ninety percent of his existence. He was either just one of the Big Trio with Clark and Jo or Shady’s unlucky boyfriend. Yes, there was that one off story with his fears during election time featuring Validus and the few stories when he freaked out finding out the anti-lead serum wearing off might mean mo’ Phantom Zone. This Mon-El is interesting and could move story (which OG Mon-El barely managed with a Lantern ring and finding out how big a ho his GF was). Heck, I’d even buy a Phantom Zone backstory with his mood swings!

    Oh and Shady did get improved here too. Shallow mean girl who wants a powerful man in her bed no matter what his morals appears gone. Now if Bendis could just explain how whatever empowers Shady as planetary champion allows her to keep that power when she never does any planetary championing. I kept expecting her to eventually lose it but I guess it never occurred to Levitz.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always liked Mon-El. Hey, he was Superboy’s big brother, and so uncomplaining about his stay in the Phantom Zone… we didn’t need psychological complexity back then, Big Yellow Fasteners were enough! Did you not even like Mon taking on The Time Trapper in 5YL #4?

      Good thoughts on Shady!

      Now please, ignore that lack of interest and find the Abnett/Lanning/Coipel trade collections; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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  2. Oh, man, I liked so much about this issue. I’m loving this Legion, through and through.

    Though I wish we knew more about Monster Boy, and how his powers aren’t exactly a duplicate of Chameleon Boy’s. That’s one of my biggest questions.

    I love the powerup (and full name) for Bouncing Boy! And he has a doctorate!

    Dream Girl’s dream is ominous indeed. And I love how we finally learn Crav’s motivations, Perry Mason-style.

    The Grell page, with its retro-fashions, really got me. Those aren’t costumes so much as just what they were wearing the day they went to Starhaven. And Big Shadow makes a good point about the wings… hmmm.

    As for your comments about the Invisible Kid page, I remember those old panels well! The Death of Invisible Kid is one of the first Legion comics I ever read, and I tried that pen trick again and again as a kid!

    I’m also digging the rivalry between White Witch and Doctor Fate, even if it’s only in the Witch’s head.

    And as for the last page… I’m interested in where it goes. Nowhere long term, I expect. But are we looking at Jon’s first kiss? I think we are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm, I can’t remember. Maybe he pecked that nice little alien girl from Hamilton…

      I did the pen squinting too!

      And that Timber Wolf logo popped up unexpectedly in the 5YL omnibus that arrived this week, via a reprint of his mini-series… what an odd thing to include.

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  3. I cannot believe Bendis is going to do a new approach to what I think is one of the greatest Legion arcs ever. I somewhat enjoyed the ‘sequel’ of sorts in the 5YL run, but I am worried about how Bendis will approach this. Do you think its something of a fakeout for long time Legion fans? (Though to be fair, folks new to the book may have no idea what is being referenced).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Knowing Bendis, the Great Darkness won’t come anytime soon, necessarily. He seeded plots in Avengers that lay dormant for years, and some never came to pass. This version of Dreamy could easily be seeing another reality.

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      1. And as it says in the book, the very existence of the Legion and its deeds might prevent the Great Darkness from happening.

        But yeah, Bendis is setting this new run up for a tough comparison when he invokes the name of what’s widely understood to be the greatest story the team’s ever had. That said… how many X-Men books have gone to the Dark Phoenix well? Sometimes you gotta play the hits.

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  4. Loving this run.
    Loved this issue as it moved the current plot, hinted at the upcoming plot, gave us characterization for many members, and of course delicious art.

    The Frison page is gorgeous. The Lotay page is scrumptious.

    I also hope Dawny hasn’t had her wings ripped off a la Angel/Death or even Dawny/Bounty.

    BUt this was a great issue. Feels like these 9 issues were the primer to get us settled into this new continuity and team and now we move forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And as it says in the book, the very existence of the Legion and its deeds might prevent the Great Darkness from happening.

    But yeah, Bendis is setting this new run up for a tough comparison when he invokes the name of what’s widely understood to be the greatest story the team’s ever had. That said… how many X-Men books have gone to the Dark Phoenix well? Sometimes you gotta play the hits.

    Like

  6. So much to enjoy in this ish.
    Nicola Scott’s art was my favourite & the bouncing boy page was great~but fan of chuck.
    After 5 years of no LSH its just awesome to have a new series with witty dialogue,cool worldbuildind & incredible artwork!

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  7. Yeah, really miss letter pages.
    Recently got Superboy and the legion no.200~
    Wedding of Bouncing Boy & Duo Damsel, a great ish wrote by one of my favourite bronze age writers Cary Bates.
    1973~1983 probably my favourite era of LSH.

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      1. By Moy? I went off comics for a few years in the middle of that run but I’d already dropped that book. Every reason it was called the Archie Legion was a turn off for me, especially after the wondrous 5YL Legion…

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      2. I pretty much loved it, generally more when they did their own thing and we got new characters like Kinetix, XS and the wonderful Monstress (I have no good words for Snekkie). And the darker turn that came with Abnett, Lanning and Coipel was terrific.

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