Justice League vs the Legion of Super-Heroes #4 review

So here were are, two thirds the way through a series titled Justice League vs the Legion of Super-Heroes and the only sense in which the teams are at odds is that they seem to be vying for the Most Useless trophy.

The League wins. But only just. Batman is the only Leaguer actively confronting the Great Darkness business, as everyone else stands around being either silent or inane. But he doesn’t do anything but ask procedural questions.

For the Legion, Brainiac 5 at least tinkers with Naomi’s phone and makes a connection to Computo, after one of the comic’s more entertaining moments.

Brian Bendis is writing this and it reminds me of his Avengers Disassembled serial in which hundreds of heroes stood around Avengers Mansion, all agog, as awful things happened. Here, though, Bendis doesn’t have much happens at all. A black cloud, this week’s version of The Great Darkness, expands and occasionally tosses folk backwards or forwards in time. People age or de-age. And people talk a lot but say very little.

How can a comic book featuring – there’s no ‘starring’ here – two of comics’ greatest teams be so ruddy boring? How can a comic that has been pushed back months in terms of on-sale date have two typos? What were series editors Michael McCalister and Paul Kaminski doing?

One potentially interesting thing is the return of Rose Forrest to the Legion storyline, but rather than joining the team in tackling the problem, she’s encouraging them to run away from danger.

I would say she’s patronising the Legion members, but they really are one big lump of uselessness.

The art of illustrator Scott Godlewski and colourist Ryan Cody provides a lot of what pleasure this issue offers; take, for example, the full page from which I extracted the Rose panels.

Ignore the fact that Bouncing Boy shouldn’t be changing directions without making contact with a surface, and it’s an exemplary page. The biplane entering the 31st century from the 20th is proper comic book goodness… letterer Dave Sharpe may deserve co-credit here, but the sound effect is so much a part of the art that I can’t make a firm guess.

There’s another positive on this page, a Legionnaire being useful – White Witch has saved the pilot, hurrah. Sadly, she can’t save the plot, which meanders with no obvious point. There’s no bad guy, the threat is boringly nebulous, while the Leaguers and Legionnaires are interchangeable. Golden Age Green Lantern guest star Alan Scott does show some personality in a beautifully drawn and coloured vignette…

… but it’s Wildcat’s. Seriously, when did Alan ever speak like a Noo Yoik tough?

As for Alan’s scene partner Gold Lantern, for whom this story is named – it’s ’The Gold Lantern Saga’ – he continues to be a waste of space, shiny window dressing.

Let’s accentuate the positives. Wildfire not liking Black Adam. A bit of intrigue involving Mon-El’s attachment to the flight ring he doesn’t need. Batman’s intelligence leading to his being the most hopeful figure in the colourful crowd. How Rose introduces herself to Batman.

And yes, here’s one of those typos I mentioned

Hang on, that’s not a joke?

OK, a definite positive is the cover by Godlewski and Cody, which makes this issue seem interesting. Godlewski doesn’t pull off the final page, though, with his choices failing to sell what’s meant to be a big moment.

Drat. I keep coming back to the downers. I need to get out of this review. Please, tell me why this comic is a lot better than it seems. Find your joy!

17 thoughts on “Justice League vs the Legion of Super-Heroes #4 review

  1. This book is just a continuation of Bendis’ Legion book. No Robin as guest this time but Batman and his teammates. And the same rambling, storyless dialogue as the Legion series.

    Personally I thought Sook’s art was much better – the people in this mini are way too cartoonish for me.

    The sooner it is over and Bendis exits DC Comics the better.

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  2. Canary: “I apologize if I’m reacting poorly to the end of all things.” I mean, Let’s TALK about this! Let’s all – JLA & LSH just talk a lot about it and do nothing. Let’s keep the Gold Lantern quiet though, he might clue us into why this is called the Gold Lantern Saga. And above all, let’s not investigate this Great Darkness thing – we wouldn’t want to spoil the Ending. Now really – they have two months to write this (ever since this Monthly mag went Bi-Monthly). I was hoping for something more exciting.

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      1. Dream team? I mean… I’m never gonna say no to Levitz/Giffen, but I think that ship has sailed. I’m not sure that there *is* a dream team I’d like to see. I prefer stylized art (cartoony in the way that Darwin Cooke was cartoony) as opposed to hyper realistic (like say… Liam Sharpe). But the writing is key. I want someone who can not only balance characterization with multiple storylines, but also someone that *wants* to write this way. And honestly? There doesn’t send to be much of that type of storytelling going on anymore, anywhere. It’s four or five months of a single story, with few characters or subplots going on.

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  3. I’m the biggest Bendis fan but I get the disgruntled vibe. Two of my favorite writers have book series where the plot based on conversation ninety-nine percent of the time too so I guess this is just a thing for me. (One is EM Foner’s Union Station books. Read them, they’re awesome!) The art can’t be helping it for y’all either despite the nice words. It’s scratchy and incnsistent. I’m not a big fan of the interchangeable generic house style artists DC rotates around but it would have sold this story better. Pretty much nothing happened but I liked the way nothing happened.

    Oh and Chuck has a flight ring. It makes sense to me for him to be who investigate sthe falling plane seeing how he is Plastic Man level invulnerable in bouncing mode. Only White Witch would have been able to do it as well but she’d need to turn her defenses on. Chuck’s are always on when he triggers his power.

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  4. As usual, we agree. On many things.
    I want to love this book. But 4 issues in, I feel like nothing has happened.
    I like the dialogue. I actually like Black Canary’s snarkiness. And yes, Wildfire and Mon-El’s ring are nice moments (I have a theory). But overall, I feel like I didn’t need this issue at all. This is padding for a 6 issue trade. The team is exactly the same place at the end as they were at the beginning of last issue. Not good.

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    1. Tell me your theory! I agree it’s probably a wedding ring, but can’t remember if we actually saw who he was married to that time we visited Daxam and he was super grumpy!

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      1. I *thought* he was involved with Tinya, but that issue with all the babies seemed to imply he was with Shady… even though she seemed to be connected to Cosmic Boy earlier in the series. So… who knows?
        I thought the Light Lass/Lightning Lass thing was going somewhere, too, and it appears that was just a big bunch of nothing so… shrug?
        I like to think of this series as a sort of silver age type of story telling, with lots of blanks getting to be filled in by the fans.

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  5. I don’t have much more to say than you do here, Mart. I’m enjoying it for what it is, but it promised a lot more than what we’re getting. I really like this new Legion, but I want to see them DO something! Things happened in the main Legion book, though not at the pace some liked. But not much is happens here.

    Also, I’ve got a question about Naomi’s cell phone. What does Brainy call out to Mon-El before he dismantles it?

    And a theory about Mon’s ring — could his flight ring be connected somehow to his cure for lead poisoning? Although the idea of it being a wedding ring is an interesting possibility.

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    1. I’m simply not invested in this new team, the books come out so choppily, the characters are mostly background players. Doing something might help!

      Why DOES Brainy call out to Mon? There’s nothing on panel, do you think perhaps he was meant to be using his heat vision or something but it either wasn’t drawn, or indicated by colour?

      This Mon-El is a descendant of Jon, isn’t he, so not a Daxamite? Then again, he my have some Daxam I’m him. I got nothing, just a lot of woolly comic stories!

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