Twenty years ago, DC gave us a mini-series, Legion Worlds, exploring the planets of half a dozen members of the Legion of Super-Heroes. This issue recalls that, as new Legion creators Brian Michael Bendis and Ryan Sook take us on a tour of the 31st century. It’s a chance to develop storylines, characters and relationships, and one the writer and artist grab with both hands.
Dr Fate could grab it with six. They’re summoned to Planet Gotham to help Saturn Girl, Superboy and Commissioner Stevenbergen track down rogue sorcerer Mordru the Mad/Terrible/choose your own title.
New Legion leader Ultra Boy, meanwhile, is on Rimbor with colleagues, hoping to broker a peace following his planetary chief dad’s recent attack on the United Planets.
Said father is being delivered to Oa by another LSH sub-team, this one headed by Gold Lantern, who has a question for his bosses.
And at Legion HQ on Earth, Lightning Lass and Brainiac 5 discuss diplomacy and a friendship is born.
The most attractive spot we see is New Krypton, where Legionnaires are looking for Mon-El after he quit the team in a snit over the addition of 21st-century native Jon Kent.
This month’s superbly soppy cover had me expecting a big romance issue, but newly canoodling couple Imra and Jon soon get down to business (not, not that kind of business, get your mind out of the gutter!). It is interesting that the cover line, ‘First Kiss’, refers to Imra being from a society where people live in their heads. Physicality is new to her… I bet she’s loving combat training, presumably with Karate Kid.
We see a little of the new Val Armorr’s personality as he gives us the regulation recap. Bendis makes him a man of contrasts, steeped in martial technique but needing to get away and decompress after a big fight, specifically, that throwdown with Ultra Boy’s dad.
Speaking of Jo Nah, he’s faced with a problem when, having defeated his own father, the warlike folk of Rimbor declare him their leader.
There’s a warlord of a different stripe on New Krypton. See that lovely old white-haired chap?
Blimey, I never saw that coming. We knew Kryptonians were long-lived but still around in a millennium? Zod really has embraced clean living. And Mon-El is his descendant – that goes some way to explaining his moodiness. But there’s a much better reason he’s not especially keen to spend time off planet with the Legion.
Another surprise. Bendis gave us a similar moment in Young Justice, with Conner Kent apparently a daddy, but that was a feint. This looks like the real thing. The big question is, what happened to the children’s mother? Given Mon-El is dating Shadow Lass, I presume she’s dead or otherwise gone.
So, Mon El is awkward around Jon. The Legionnaires were keen to keep Jon off Krypton. Great-grandfather Zod hasn’t seen Jon for 1000 years. Mon’s grandma thought the LSH would be good for him. A member of the Zod family going by El.
I suspect that at some point in the 21st century Jon wed Zod’s granddaughter, making him Mon’s dad.
This issue is full of interesting scenes that enrich the Legion’s world. Bendis looks to be having a wonderful time introducing his cast – Sgt Blok has not one, but two, standout moments – along with environments old, like New Krypton, and new, Xanthu.
The latter is the setting for the cliffhanger which sees that man Mordru greet a very old villain, Rogol Zaar, the creature who killed Krypton according to Bendis’ retooled Superman lore. If the writer plans to roll back on that retcon, rather than have him destroy another Krypton, I’ll welcome the baddie’s appearance.
If nothing else, Sook makes him look imposing. Sook makes the whole issue look amazing – I’m used to his character redesigns now and able to enjoy them for what they are, rather than fixate on how different or similar they are to previous ones.
Take the new Lightning Lass, for example – we’re nine issues in and only now do I notice she has heterochromia – eyes of differing colours. Online pal Ric had not only spotted the subtle detail, he’d noted that Ayla’s brother Garth has the mirror version of those peepers. And he shared a picture of David Bowie in Ziggy Stardust mode.
A lightning bolt – surely a deliberate homage by Bendis, Sook and colourist Jordie Bellaire? (He even looks a bit like Seventies Ayla.)
Then there’s Chameleon Boy, who reacts to the cuteness of Laraz with a nod to a couple of super-pets. Here’s one-of ‘em.
New Krypton really does look idyllic, thanks to the talent of Sook, veteran Legion inker Wade Von Grawbadger and Bellaire. The other worlds are differently memorable, from hot-toned Rimbor, matching the residents’ fiery passions, to light-filled Oa, now home to golden Guardians of the Universe.
And we’re introduced to each world via majestic vistas foregrounding its name in Interlac and English. It may be the work of Sook, Grawbadger or the DC production department, but it’s most likely letterer Dave Sharpe, who does a fine job throughout the issue – I especially like the pastel pink and blue of Imra and Jon’s thought balloons when they’re in the mindscape. It reminds me of the charming way Marvel would tone bubbles in the early Silver Age.
Legion of Super-Heroes #10 is a terrific superhero comic, vast in scope, intimate in its emotional tapestry. There’s so much to love in this issue, so much still to talk about. What caught your eye?