Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 review

The Legion of Super-Heroes is back together and they’ve tracked down the traitor Element Lad. Knowing he led his people, the Trommians, on a wave of destruction across the galaxy, the Legionnaires thirst for vengeance. The only question is, do they kill Jan Arrah?

It won’t be easy. Born with the power of transmutation, Element Lad can keep the members at bay.

It seems odd that the Legionnaires are facing him one at a time, rather than piling on… but there’s a reason.

Element Lad and his people have been framed and the identity of the real traitor-within-the-Legion is truly shocking.

I’m not giving this one away, in case you’re on the fence about buying the second Future State special focusing on the 31st Century’s greatest super team. The issue is so good that if you’re buying the comic, you should enjoy the revelations and characterisation in context. Suffice to say that writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Riley Rossmo build brilliantly on the terrific first issue. After the set-up, the consequences prove enthralling, as Bendis puts a sinister, but plausible, twist on one Legionnaire’s homeworld. I was mentalling yelling at three pages as Bendis deliberately delayed the reveal, knowing he was playing me, but it made the twist all the sweeter.

Best of all, when the truth comes out it’s not followed by anger and recriminations, but understanding, empathy and unity as the renewed Legion of Super-Heroes vow to help and heal where they can.

Incidental pleasures include Imra’s ‘thought theatre’, the extent to which Cosmic Boy knows his fellow members and an expansion of the team that will please veteran readers especially.

Bendis provides some especially good dialogue, my favourite line being: ‘What a lovely insult that would be if it ended there…’ I could imagine Joan Crawford or Bette Davis mouthing that line in a Forties melodrama.

As for the art, it’s prime Rossmo, gorgeously coloured by Ivan Plascencia. His new takes on the Legionnaires, while occasionally grotesque, are always intriguing. I find myself wondering how a person changed so much – what’s with Imra’s large right arm, for instance, and why does Shadow Lass look like she’s a 1950s cocktail waitress? While we still don’t learn who everyone is – I’m terribly intrigued by ‘Tuning Fork Lass’ – there is confirmation that the Super-Guy is Jon Kent.

And dig that new look – pulp hero complete with pencil moustache! It’s weird how much I like it.

Rossmo’s layouts are excellent, especially as the explanations drop, and I love his use of whatever 21st-century Zip-a-Tone is. The page above, with members fighting Jan, is really clever in its dropping of chemical symbols to represents Jan’s moves, something I’ve never seen in my >cough< decades of Legion reading.

Plascencia’s colours are thoughtfully chosen and sensitively applied; the graduated tints used for the planetary skies are especially good, while Imra’s mental landscape is suitably intense.

Letterer Dave Sharpe has a heck of a job, the first page alone is as wordy as some books these days, so I’ll excuse him the single typo I spotted. Also, it made me laugh. Keep an eye on the member names…

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 is the most satisfying comic I’ve read in DC’s current publishing event, a joy from beginning to end. Don’t miss it.

13 thoughts on “Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 review

  1. Bendis is notorious for the journey being better than its end. Not this time. He really sticks the landing here. That reveal was very stunning and very plausible. It makes complete logical sense too. And honestly? I choked up reading the second half and have done so again reading this. Bendis is my favorite writer and I feel so justified in that right now?

    Aaaand we disagree on the art. Dialog is the only way I could identify most of the Legion and it I found the art ugly and unpleasant. I’m trying to not imagine how much more this story could have been effective with good storytelling, continuity between panels, and character design. I would have preferred Leifeld to what we got…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG I freaking hated FSLSH. And Bendis’ ability as a story teller is HORRENDOUS. Every character is COMPLETELY interchangeable and they all have the same exact voice. RIP LSH until someone competent at storytelling can take you to the heights similar to lets say Levitz. Would LOVE Neil Gaiman to do a Legion story one day so everyone would know just how deplorable of a writer Bendis really is.


  3. Thanks very much for dropping by, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this. I like Gaiman but he doesn’t hit a home run for me every time out – I really didn’t enjoy A Game of You in Sandman, or his Batman story with all that ‘goodnight moon’ stuff. I’m trying to remember, didn’t the Legion appear in a panel or two in the original Books of Magic?


  4. I thought the story was great, and it’s hard to imagine that this doesn’t tie up Legion for now. I don’t see this story continuing on from this point, and it would be hard to see a continuation of the regular Legion book knowing what we now know. (Even if Future State stories are only a possible future, this story clearly reaches back so far into the past that I can’t imagine a timeline where the fundamental plot point had simply never happened. I suppose things didn’t have to play out this way, though – there could have been a future with an earlier discovery and intervention before things got this bad. But I doubt it.)

    Then we have Riley Rossmo. Perhaps there are more polarizing artists, but none that I’m following these days. I guess you love him or hate him. For me, it’s a lot of work getting through any book he’s drawn. I have to work at figuring out the panel order (I very often get it wrong and have to try again till the story makes sense); and I can’t make out a lot of backgrounds. Too much chaos. The digital version’s guided view might eliminate the sequence problem or at least assist.

    Rossmo does love his screentone! Usually when I notice an artist using it in some panel, I enjoy looking for it in the rest of that book – it’s usually used sparingly. But by now I well know how much Rossmo uses/overuses it, and it’s too much of a good thing. It’s hard to find a panel where he doesn’t use it at least a little, and in most panels he applies it in quite a few places. Looking for it is about as rewarding as looking for where an artist might have drawn a line.

    The Rossmo cover is a mess of a sketch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve disliked Rossmo’s art a lot more often than I’ve liked it, and sadly, guided view doesn’t help – the ComiXology folk are as confused as the rest of us about getting around the page, and GV is always a bit rubbish when panels vary in size and shape… the big Bouncing Boy scene last time was a bugger.

      And yet I do enjoy his work here; his having the freedom to create the visual world from scratch means I’m not riled by distortions to existing looks. Even the Zip-a-Tone makes me happy.

      As for the story, well, Bendis says the book is returning, but the question really is, when? And also, when?


  5. When and when indeed.

    I wondered if whoever does the GV would be able to get it right, but stripped out my thoughts to try to keep my comments from ever-expanding. Can’t put too much blame on them – it’s a lot of mental work to get his art flow right, and ordering it might even exceed the capability of the software they use.

    I wonder if it’s Comixology, or DC production people, who set up the GV.

    Maybe I’ll buy the digital version out of curiosity to see how they tried to handle it.

    I do take your point that Rossmo had more freedom to play in this future. Brainiac was the most extreme change, I suppose. Eventually I decided that any shape I didn’t recognize, if it was colored gray, was probably him.

    BTW my guess is Imra lost her right arm, and that’s a prosthetic.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, this is one of my favorite Legion comics in recent memory. People complain about Bendis not being able to end a story, but in these two issues he and Rossmo establish a dire point in Legion history, raise the stakes unimaginably high, deliver a fantastic swerve and absolutely stick the landing. Loved it.

    And now I’ll have to re-read it to find that typo! (I *did* find one place where I think a character was misidentified, and it confused me.)

    Liked by 1 person

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