Justice League vs the Legion of Super-Heroes #3 review

Things are looking black for future teens the Legion of Super-Heroes and time-tossed inspirations the Justice League.

It’s a big black cloud reaching from the 21st to the 31st century, with unknown properties. Legion brainiac Brainiac 5 counsels caution – who knows what will happen if they interfere? And is it a natural or maniac-made event? Batman has mechanical major domo Computo show him all-known time-tinkerers from the Legion’s and his own age.

And then…

When the smoke clears, everyone has vanished bar Chameleon Boy and Batman. The cosmic kerfuffle brings the Science Police to Legion headquarters.

And elsewhere, and when.

And…

Plus…

Wot, no DC Comics guest star for Ultra Boy and Aquaman? Surely world’s first boy Anthro is behind the next rock? I guess we’ll find out next issue. This one is entertaining enough, but I’m disappointed to see Kamandi and Batman Beyond show up… it sometimes seems that there are fewer than ten time periods in DC history – caveman days, cowboy times, the Second World War, today, after the Great Disaster, OMAC days, the 31st century and the End of All Things. OK, we get the very occasional Arthurian romp, maybe a trip to the futures of Abra Kadabra, Booster Gold and the Reverse Flash, but basically it’s the same old scenarios. It’d be such a treat to see superheroes react to Roman days, the Dark Ages, the Plague Years, whatever the heck is going on in the 23rd century…

Seriously, I’m so tired of Kamandi. Every other week he meets a superhero from another time and no one ever leaves him a shirt. He appeared in the micro-series introducing the current Legion, Millennium, as did Batman Beyond (is that his official name, I suspect not, but I like it anyway). Maybe there’s an in-story reason, a guiding hand.

If so, I just hope writer Brian Michael Bendis gives himself enough room to get to that. We’re halfway through this series and while I’m fine with there being nothing of the ‘Vs’ about the meeting of heroes – good guys fighting is a tad tired – old Bendis habits have me worried, such as time-wasting back and forth chat in which no one really says anything. Three issues in we really should have some sense of what this series is about beyond Legionnaires and Leaguers greeting one another and being surprised by everything. Bring on Mordru, or the Time Trapper. Felix Faust. A face of Evil. Have the heroes formulate a plan, show some teamwork, even.

The comic is a breezy read, beginning with a proper recap, some cute character moments and the odd surprising choice – the three Legion founders seem to be set for a mini-adventure with not a Leaguer in sight. And if Bendis is going somewhere with the Legion members’ worrying reliance on Brainy to solve everything, that’s great.

The issue looks excellent thanks to artist Scott Godlewski and colourist Ryan Cody; the settings and characters look specific, the storytelling is precise… that opening spread of the two-timing Great Darkness is clever and effective. There’s a lovely energy to the figurework, a momentum to the stacking of panels. And the colour choices are smart and attractive, with the Kamandi sequence especially well ‘lit’ by Cody.

Dave Sharpe is a highly regarded letterer and he shows why he has that reputation again here, not just with his well-chosen fonts, but for his balloon positioning. A Bendis book is a chatty book, and Sharpe always finds the best spots for the words, never getting in the way of the artwork. There is a typo, but I suspect there was a time squeeze – life imitating art.

Godlewski and Cody’s cover is a decent image, but it’s a shame to spotlight just one character when this series is a teaming of two groups. And Batman? I know he sells, but still…

This series has been failing to hit a monthly schedule but when it does come out, it’s a thoroughly pleasant read. I would, though, like to be knocked out, surprised by something, see some of the teases – such as the supposed threat of Gold Lantern – pay off. If we’re having to live with delays, let’s see a book that truly dazzles with its ambition and delivery.

Am I asking too much?

21 thoughts on “Justice League vs the Legion of Super-Heroes #3 review

  1. I’m enjoying the experience immensely without expecting it to go anywhere. Bendis’ Legion is fun but is realistically hitting more like his Moon Knight and Spider-Woman rather than Avengers or X-Men. I’m just gonna enjoy it until someone returns us to classic Legion.

    And more than just certain time periods, DC doesn’t understand alternate futures. Why can’t all five Legion futures exist for Earth Prime? If certain events have happned, it should be a toss up which Legion you get when you future travel, not all on different Earths in the multiverse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good Lord, that’s a brilliant idea. So smart and logical! If only someone at DC we’re paying attention. Instead of courting solely the younger folk, DC could give the many older fans a bit of what they fancy. Who knows, maybe the millennials will like it too.

      And your ‘just go with it’ attitude is a great approach.

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  2. The Legion was inspired by Superboy! So was Jon Kent! Otherwise, I look forward to reading this series when all the issues are out, since it can’t be timely.

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    1. Am I in the wrong iteration? I thought in this version the United Planets was inspired by Jon and the Legion was inspired by the Age of Heroes of which Jon was part.

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      1. You’re correct. My initial reply was longer and was truncated to just the whinging and moaning. I don’t like that Jon Kent inspired the Legion and was commenting on that aspect of the new LOS. . .especially when Jon himself is inspired by Superman. Sorry for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. If by breezy you mean read in a couple of minutes, then totally agree with you. At this point I’ve accepted that this book will be a prelude or a teaser of the next prelude or teaser and aren’t expecting too much from it. At least it’s pretty, though the colour scheme seems puzzlingly muted.

    The bits that stuck:
    After all the fuss over Superboy time-travelling in the Last Legion book why does Computo broadcast it everywhere? Confusing move.
    I don’t know if there’s a current Batman Beyond book at DC, but if this was continued in an unannounced crossover where the three founders & McGinnis got some proper page time then I wouldn’t be mad.
    Two pages were spent discussing Gold Lantern without telling us anything, which was irritating.
    A Leviathan nugget, maybe this will confirm my theory about a major Legion villain.
    Again we get told Brainy’s smart & Mon’s an insecure descendant of Superman. Nothing we didn’t know before. Ultra Boy even gets asked about his powers, but I guess they will remain forever a mystery.

    This all may seem a little negative but truly this book just didn’t move the excitement needle either way for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I kinda do mean ‘read in a couple of minutes’ – that goes for so many comics these days. Bring back sun-plots, set-ups, characterisation…

      You’re right about the Computo business. I just took it as a recap gag, with Computo addressing us readers as ‘Citizens of New Metropolis’.

      I think there is a Batman Beyond mini on the go at the mo.

      The Gold Lantern nothing pages are what I was thinking of when I was moaning about old Bendisisms!

      Oh, please tell us your Leviathan theory!

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  4. I’d just enjoy the ride, be entertained and not expect a heck of a lot else. It seems like Bendis’ tenure at DC is pretty much done. Or at least his time as one of the main architects with an exclusive contract. Maybe he’s got another project for the company lined up after this and Naomi Season 2, but it feels like these two mini-series are the wrap up of his Superman/Justice League/Wonder Comics/Legion runs. Even as I typed that I realized that his League vs. Legion series brings all of those properties together, including, as you noted, the characters that appeared in the two Millennium issues he wrote to re-introduce the Legion. So if this is the end or a end, it’s fitting. And as much as I enjoyed seeing Bendis play in the DCU, it seems like the company/other writers have already moved on. When was the last time anyone made a big deal over Superman revealing his Clark Kent I.D. or it became a major plot point? Is it even really mentioned anymore? Is there any more Legion – at least the Bendis version – after this? Bendis created, then dismantled Leviathan, so that concept is done. Has the Wonder Comics imprint basically folded? No new projects from it announced. And Bendis’ League was recently “killed off” by Joshua Williamson for Dark Crisis. Seems like Naomi is his main DC legacy, and I haven’t checked to see whether the tv series is doing well and haven’t heard if there will be any Bendis-written Naomi books after the Season 2 mini wraps. So League vs. Legion does kinda feel like a wake. Not in a bad, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” way. Just a “final statement” kind of a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not seen any announcement about Bendis leaving DC but you’re right on every point, I’ve also assumed he’s off to concentrate on creator-owned projects. That’d be a shame as I’d love him to give us a Metropolis-set book, with the Planet staff and the likes of Red Cloud.

      The business of Clark’s dumped secret ID actually came up in Kal-El, Son of Superman, this week, in relation to the targets now sitting on Ma and Pa Kent’s poor grey heads.

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  5. I’m enjoying every page of this book, since I love the characters, and am enjoying the art, and I usually dig Bendis’s authorial voice — but this does feel a bit like the book’s treading water. That said, if we’re getting Kamandi — whom I will never be unhappy to see, no matter how often he appears — and Batman Beyond, I hope we get treated to Tommy Tomorrow and President Supergirl, too.

    And thank you for posting the double page spreads! For some reason, spreads on my Kindle app are really tiny and I can’t zoom in, so seeing them here makes them much more legible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With me it’s more a case of being intrigued by the cast members, so few have had enough page time to count as characters. Chameleon Boy was cute here, and Brainy is fun… I just wish we’d see some of the smarts and personality traits that were shared among the Levitz Legion.

      Yell if there are any spreads on anything we’re both reading that you need, whether I’ve reviewed it or not.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Rob, when I read comics on my Kindle and hit a double page spread, the only workaround I’ve found is to open it on my phone’s Kindle app and expand the spread there and then return to the PC’s Kindle.

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      1. Thanks, Steve! That’s infuriating, but certainly better than nothing! I’ll give it a try next time!

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  6. Thanks, Mart! I’m not using Comixology to read a lot these days — which is honestly a big change in plans for me, but their interface went from excellent to a nightmare, so it’s their own fault. So now it’s either paper or waiting for the DC or Marvel app for me, unless there’s a new Legion issue out I can’t wait for and I can’t leave the house because I’m quarantining! Stupid plague!

    And as much as I love the new kids, every time I dip into the old Legion (as I just did today, reading the hardcover of the Tabloid), I think “ahhhh…. continuity!” It’s like a warm bath. Those kids all took their time exhibiting the personalities we know and love, but they started emerging before I was born, so by the time I was reading, they were already set.

    I’m beginning to think the Legion is like Dark Shadows, an American soap opera from the late 60s/early 70s. It started out as a spooky modern gothic soap opera, with nothing supernatural going on, but a spooky mood. But along the way they introduced a ghost… and when that got people talking, they introduced a vampire, Barnabas Collins — who grew so popular that he wasn’t killed off at the end of his storyline, but instead took over the show.

    People have tried to reboot Dark Shadows over the years, for good reason — it’s spooky, soapy fun! But all the reboots start with Barnabas Collins. They have to — he’s why people remember the show. But he didn’t appear until episode 210, well into the show’s run! So many other things had been established, giving the show a lot of accumulated texture before Barnabas turns over the apple cart.

    Legion reboots similarly want to hit the ground running with a giant group. It’s hard to blame them — that’s what the book’s known for. But in introducing 25 characters at once, you barely introduce any of them at all. I think Bendis & Sook & Godlewski have done a pretty good job, overall, at least at the task they’ve laid out for themselves. Some Legionnaires are still mysteries, but others — Brainy, Cham, Ayla, Imra, Mon-El, Monster Boy — I feel like I have a decent grasp of their general characters — even if I’m not clear on every aspect of their powers or origins. But it’s an impossible task, and there’s never enough time to do it in.

    I do feel like Bendis will be leaving this series, although still working on the Legion TV show. I’m hoping another team comes in and picks up the reigns from this one, and continues telling stories about this team. I want them to accumulate the history that the originals did — and that takes time, and stories.*

    *SHORT stories! One story told over six months is much less rewarding than 6 shorter adventures told at the same time. History builds so much faster in 8- or 20-page increments. If the Legion can’t have its own title, give it a regular spot in a Superman helmed anthology like Batman: Urban Legend! A year of 10-page backups could do wonders for this team!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Back-ups are a great idea of we can’t have a full-length book… build an appetite for an ongoing as more readers join the party. Ideally, though, I’d like a monthly series with stories no longer than three issues, as a general rule. Two stories in some issues for, as you say, team building.

      An American pal sent me a Best of Dark Shadows DVD but I’ve still not watched it. I think you probably had to be there… is Noght Force’s Baron Winters named after Victoria Winters. Thinking on, I saw the film!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have a Legion in general question: Anyone ever read a story that explained why feaudal, pre-warp Orando was in the United Planets? That never made sense to me. Talok VII also baffled me with it’s nomadic desert culture with little to no advanced science but then I read Shadow Lass’ earliest stories and they had cities and advanced technology. Future stories just were set elsewhere on the planet.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t have the answers. Jeckie once made a reference to her late father wanting her to bring back ‘good’ to Orlando from her offworld adventures. We can probably extrapolate from that that he was a visionary who wanted to bring his world into the 31st century, so joining the UP makes some sense. Maybe he also did it for protection, given the likes of the Khunds… that might work for Talok IV, too.

      OK, I’m reaching, but I’m trying!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My cynical head canon was always that Orando was home to some valuable mineral or ore the UP needed. Obtaining it was more important than valuing the mental health of its inhabitants or the stability of their formof governemnet. Also, a feaudal feifdom could not possibly be a planetary governement. Orando either had one small inhabited landmass or peoples on other lands that never knew Jeckie’s people had ties off world.

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