Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1 review

A dead Triplicate Girl.

A traitor within the Legion.

The disbanded team getting back together.

Brian Michael Bendis and Riley Rossmo’s contribution to the Future State stunt is pretty much a greatest hits of the Legion. Even the roll call of characters is classic. Shadow Lass. Bouncing Boy. Duo Damsel. Superboy. Blok. Saturn Girl. Lightning Lad and Lass. Colossal Boy. Ultra Boy. Brainiac… 7?

OK, Monster Boy does look to be on the final spread, along with a couple of characters I can’t identify…

…. hey, give me a break, we’ve barely seen some of the new Legionnaires created by Bendis and artistic partner Ryan Sook in the year or so since they relaunched the Legion, and here’s Rossmo redesigning them. Were it not for Bendis identifying them in his fast-moving, fun script, I’d be utterly lost.

Not reunited in the team, but in the story are several other former members – Timber Wolf, Kid Quantum, Mon-El, Wildfire and Your Guess Is As Good As Mine Kid. Rossmo has really gone to town here, meaning that some looks I hate, others I love. Like a Shrinking Violet who looks like she’s Straight Outta Oz.

And Cosmic Boy, in the tightest, shortest shorts ever seen on a superhero.

The weirdest redesigns are reserved for Saturn Girl, who gets a bulbous spacesuit with a creepy skull on the helmet; and Brainiac 7, who, well, take a look…

Poor Querl Dox, that’s not a look that’s going to get him a date with Supergirl.

So what’s the story? Hints and mysteries, my friend, hints and mysteries.

But mainly hints. The United Planets is gone. President RJ Brande is dead. Element Lad went mad and destroyed the galaxy (these things happen).

How they relate to the most recent Legion series isn’t explained, but I’m delighted to see this is the same team – at one point it seemed this side story would be set in the 41st century. I doubt I’d give a stuff about a bunch of strangers adopting the Legion name, but these do seem to be the Bendis/Sook bunch. I’d guess we’re about a decade further on than usual, the Legion were disbanded or fell apart, but now the gang has to get back together to save, well, whatever’s left after whatever rampage Element Lad went on. There’s been a Rapture event that has given some people super powers and – most intriguing of all – theres a reference to the Legion we’ve been reading having lasted just 100 days!

I doubt we’ll learn the ins and outs next issue, I suspect this is all about Bendis, a kind fellow, writing scenes that play to Rossmo’s strengths.

Weird character designs – Duo Damsel looks like a bean-headed cartoon strip kid, while Brainy’s robot body morphs madly across the page, and Bouncing Boy is a scowling Humpty Dumpty.

Dreamlike, fluid movement – Duo Damsel’s fight against a very uppity Legion of Substitute Heroes is pure comics fun to look at.

And personality. Rossmo gets an amazing amount of expressiveness into Cham’s ‘mirror mirror’ moment.

For the most part, Bendis lets the visuals speak for themselves, but there’s a spread with Bouncing Boy that’s obviously intended to show what a formidable force he is, but it’s so covered in dialogue that the essential flow of the scene is killed. Mind, Rossmo gets in his own way by repeating and repeating and repeating the same headshot.

Ivan Plascencia adds extra vibrancy with his colours – I rather wish he’d handled Rossmo’s cover image, which succeeds as a tribute to pulp paperbacks, but doesn’t leap off the shelves. The logo is great, though, well done DC Production Department’s Darran Robinson. Dave Sharpe’s letters are clear and unobtrusive and likeable. Well, apart from when he’s doing Interlac. I freaking hate Interlac.

Still, I enjoyed this issue loads more than most other Future State books I’ve tried – it’s not full of characters taking on others’ names, it’s not replete with killer drones… it’s just a bonkers tale that may or may not ever happen. I can’t wait for part two.

Long Live Some Legion or Other!

7 thoughts on “Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1 review

  1. I really hated the art but I’m a story guy. It takes Kaare Andrews level art to turn me off enough not to read a book. I did love the story an amazing amount. Chuck Taine as near space one man defense? Wow. I didn’t like the one hundred days thing but timelines change. If their actions can stave off whatever the New Great Darkness is, they can also push this future off and off without even realizing.

    I just hope there’s a Legion book when this whole mess of an Event ends.

    BTW, I have enjoyed three-quarters of the Marvel Big Events since the Big Two began having them near constantly and almost none of the DC ones. I can’t even remember the last one I read start to finish. How’s your percentage?

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  2. Whether or not I enjoy Rossmo’s art depends on the project; this one, full of heroes with oddly shaped bodies, seems more suited to his approach. That Batman/Deadman team-up in a recent giant also fitted the Rossmo vibe, for me, anyway.

    As regards events, I’ve read a more more DC than Margel, which went so quickly to the ‘buy 20 summer annuals’ approach that I fell off around Atlantis Attacks. With DC, I enjoyed most until that Grant Morrison one with weird New Gods, Final Crisis?

    Have you listened to the DCOCD podcast, it could be your cup of tea. It’s going through the DC events, one by one.

    https://www.waitingfordoom.com/dcocd-1

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    1. I read Doomsday Clock but before that, the last Big Event with its own series I finished was Flashpoint and before t hat it was Amazons Attack. Most don’t sound interesting to me or I am turned off for the first issue. Some I read the last issue so I won’t be surprised by how my comics will be ruined going forward. ‘Sides, I don’t do podcasts.

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  3. Next week is the week I go to my LCS, but I couldn’t wait for this one, and bought it digitally. Some really neat stuff — as you say, it’s got a lot of 5 years later energy. But Bendis & Rossmo are playing pretty close to the vest how far in the future this is. I’m betting it’s closer than we think.

    And, of course, you’ve seen the hints that Legion won’t re-set after this. In a recent interview with Den of Geek, Bendis has suggested that we’ll see Legion adventures out of order — so we might be with the Future State crew for a while, then go back to before the Legion was formed, then see another early adventure, then go even farther ahead. I’m not sure how crazy I am about that approach, but I won’t dismiss it out of hand, considering how much I liked this issue.

    I do hope he gets around to telling some smaller stories focusing on just a handful of Legionnaires, too. But I want to explore this universe from every angle possible. I always want to know more.

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  4. Welcome to the land of Digital Impatience!

    As for the idea of moving up and down the timeline, no thanks. To paste my comment from over at Anj’s place, this should be Bendis’s Adult Legion moment, a story that will prove ‘true’ in some ways, but be contradicted in others – remember how exciting it was in Legion of Super-Heroes #300 when Shadow Lass survived the Science Asteroid despite her death having been predicted in Adventure Comics years previously?

    What it shouldn’t be is the Legion from now on; we’ve barely seen the Bendis/Sook team in action, haven’t even met several members. I want to stay in the bright, shiny (mostly) future and see the plot seeds planted pan out – let us see the future as it happens, not leap ahead.

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