Legion of Super-Heroes #10 review

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.

A future Superman Family! Any guesses as to who they are? Is that a long-lived Natasha Irons with the hammer? Tom Strong’s daughter, Tesla? Future Kelex?

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.

I miss the Big Yellow Fasteners, but boy, Mon-El suits that beard

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?

15 thoughts on “Legion of Super-Heroes #10 review

  1. I loved this issue too and this take on the Legion. My preferred version of time travel helps me cope with losing the Retroboot and 5YL and to accept this one wholeheartedly. I think DC shows a gross misunderstanding of time travel theory by putting every Legion on a different Earth. The way I see it, if certain things happen on a Tuesday, you wind up visiting the Archie Legion. Things happen the next day and you wind up with 5YL and so on. They’re all out there waiting for us, it just depends on if current events have allowed you to travel to the one you want. (It also helped me cope with the classic Guardians of the Galaxy being able to visit the present despite Vance Astro making it impossible to be the Marvel Universe’s future. I just pictured them traveling back to before young Vance’s future being changed and then back up to to the different future from there)

    My favorite panel of the issue was the look on Jo’s face when he was asked why he couldn’t lead his planet and the team. I suspect Bendis is making Jo the way he is now to contrast with the Retroboot. Think he knows he’s using pretty much the same characterization Jo had before Levitz starting writing him as a man who hid his immense brains and talent behind the facade of a jock bro?

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    1. I like that theory too. I certainly believe all DC continuities are out there in Hypertime or whatever… we’ve seen timelines vanish ‘for good’ and there they are, in a crossover ten years later!l

      I hope this version of the LSH lasts long enough for us to see Jo grow into his responsibilities, or ‘responsibilities’. He has to choose his own path.

      Similarly, if Mon El was only there because Zod nagged him, he should try reserve membership.

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  2. I think it’s more that Mon-el *was* coupling with Shadow Lass. Before he was coupling with Phantom Girl (remember? We saw him break up with her at the end of issue 8).
    The Bendis Legion seems to be pretty casual with its coupling. 🙂
    I’m not mad about it, though, as out will make for interesting character dynamics down the line.

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  3. One thing that kind of amazed me… I can see a little bit of Christopher Reeve’s serenity in Sook’s depiction of Zod. Such a difference a thousand years makes.

    Also, the whole “coupling” thing–it’s easy to read sex into that word as that’s how it’s largely used today. But it seems like it’s being used in the future for dating, whatever the physical nature of the relationship. Simply pairing off.

    I loved this issue, and can’t wait to see more!

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  4. It does look like some member of the Irons family gets together with some member of the El family at some point. The hammer and the crest of the house of El.

    She’s evocative of both Natasha Irons and, by dint of costume alone, Kara Zor-El.

    That could be The Very Same Kelex. He/She/It probably doesn’t rust. Might need re-charging from time to time.

    As for Zod’s age, it’s plausible he’s made a time jump.

    Streaky!

    Those location titles are fantastic. They look great, are cinematic, and are – finally – a primer on Interlac (and not just a dry table, but organic lessons). We might eventually absorb the character set. But I’m not prepared to tackle the paragraph on Page 1.

    All around a great issue. I think it must have helped Sook a lot to get two months mostly off, to recoup some time. These are elaborate pages.

    There’s a massive interview with Stuart Immonen just released at The Comics Journal – apparently he pencilled a Legion run, and Wade Von Grawbadger is brought up a lot too.

    I think I’ve had problems posting URLs here, so here’s a link to that interview, but in a broken format:

    /www . tcj . com/fighting-characters-are-just-dynamic-geometry-the-stuart-immonen-comics-journal-interview/

    Well that long article title may also be flagged as spam, but I hope not.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the ever-insightful comments, and the link to the Immonen review – boy, that’s a meaty one. What a talented chap; I never realised he did such indy-looking work… and I wish I could get that Tintin book in English.

      But how could he not mention my letters in the Nextwave collection?

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    1. You know, I hadn’t even thought of those two as a couple since this timeline’s version started. I can’t speak for any others but I think this time they’ve just made both so different there’s not an automatic connection. I’ll always prefer with Proty in Garth’s body anyways…

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