In the 31st century, the Legion of Super-Heroes have been warned that a Great Darkness is coming. Today, it arrives.
On a different ‘today’, in the 21st century, a Justice Leaguer also feels something dark pulling at her.
And if there were any doubts the incidents were connected…
Soon – in a very relative sense – new Superman and onetime Legionnaire Jon Kent brings the two teams together.
If you’re a fan of the Silver and Bronze Age team-ups between the JLA and JSA, this spread likely put a big smile on your face. It’s a delightful nod to the socials the heroes of two earths would have before some cataclysm broke up the party. Here the point is information sharing rather than a catch-up, but there are still plenty of great character moments.
It’s been a while since writer Brian Michael Bendis gave us a story of the new Legion he created with artist Ryan Sook, but it turns out to have been worth the wait. The story feels more focused, presumably because here he’s writing for a six-issue mini-series – his ongoing Legion book threw up far too many mysteries and not enough answers. The Great Darkness Saga was the original Legion’s finest moment, so this new version of the Darkseid thread has a lot to live up to. The actual story is titled ‘The Gold Lantern Saga’, so surely we’re going to get to know at least one member pretty well.
And in the absence of a roll call, Gold Lantern’s narration sketches in some of the main players nicely.
That’s good comics writing, balancing character and situation nicely to jolly the story along.
So far as the JLA goes, I’m a tad tired of Bendis’s Black Canary’s reaction to most situations being ‘@#$%§’, as if she’s a newbie with a terrible vocabulary, but a million points to Bendis for this Batman moment.
(Every single DC release this week, around a dozen, features Batman or his allies.)
Another nice touch is Bendis leading oldtime fans to think he’s having something happen to a character that’s happened to earlier versions, then zagging.
And I love this chat, encapsulating the exasperation I felt for the entirety of Crisis on Infinite Earths, when we were told the Anti-Monitor was striking in all times and places at once, something which couldn’t possibly have been the case
The Great Darkness effect occurs three times, and with each one someone queries ‘Did – did we do something wrong?!’ I can’t figure out why they might. Is it a gag that’s not landing for me?
While I was never down with the ageing up of Jon Kent, I nevertheless enjoyed how Bendis wrote him, as a super-sunny soul; it’s great to see that Jon with his pals again. I wonder why it’s Jon’s dad who’s on the cover, though, as he’s not in the issue.
Said cover is by illustrator Scott Godlewski and colour artist Ryan Cody, and it’s beautiful, a Bronze Age-style ode to the joys of superhero comics.
The art inside is pretty darn wonderful too, with Godlewski expertly coping with Ryan Sook’s often complicated Legion character designs. His Justice Leaguers look similarly fine, and I really like his Jon in the new costume.
One thing I’m forever harping on about is spreads taking up space unnecessarily in today’s relatively expensive comic books. Here, though, Godlewski and Cody’s two-page panel showing the future being infected by the Great Darkness is mighty powerful.
The storytelling is clear from start to finish, with Godlewski going by the most direct route to hit a dramatic beat, without ever being dull. After so many fill-ins, it’s about time he received a series all his own to spotlight his talents.
Cody is a new name to me, but I hope to see more of their work, which is beautifully balanced and easy on the eye.
Letterer Dave Sharpe is an old hand, but lately he’s been getting ever more playful with his contributions, with hand-lettered (apparently, at least) breakout dialogue really enhancing the pages and reading experience.
So far, there’s not a sniff of ‘Vs’ about this project, but presumably the two teams will fight for some daft reason at some point. I hope Bendis gets it over with quickly, as he writes cooperation and friendship so well.
If you enjoyed the last Legion series at all, or missed it but are open to a new take on the Future Teens concept, you won’t get better than this.