Justice League Vs the Legion of Super-Heroes #6 review

The fifth chapter of this six-part mini-series closed with the villain revealed as Vandal Savage and the removal from reality of the Legion of Super-Heroes and Justice League.

The finale opens with Vandal Savage living his best life as beloved sheriff of a cowboy town, and running the world’s worst Bed & Breakfast.

Who can rescue the Caped Crusader? Maybe a man who was a hero to some, a villain to others?

Nope. Jonah gets thrown in the pig trough. But then…

It’s the Legion and the League! How have they come back from unreality? How have they defeated the Great Darkness that was threatening all time and space?

By the power of Off-Panel.

I’ve been disappointed previously by the end of stories written by Brian Michael Bendis. Event Leviathan, for instance. His Justice League run. But they at least tried to convince us with on-panel antics. Here we’re told that Stuff Happened but shown nothing. Apparently last issue’s disappearing heroes scene was actually Vandal Savage thinking everyone was vanishing, while he was being Black Mercied in a Yellow Lantern ring. Brainiac 5, who has spent five issues being clueless, outsmarted Vandal Savage after all! The villain had to believe he’d won because ‘multiple levels of confession’ were needed from a man who had openly attacked the United Planets.

Why am I even laying this out? It’s just nonsense. If Bendis ever had a plan to explain what the Gold Lantern is all about – remember, this whole mini is subtitled The Gold Lantern Saga – he’s tossed it in the waste bin. We learn bugger all, though the Guardians of the Universe are impressed by the Legion’s shiniest member.


The Guardians of the Universe do not say ‘okay’. They’re serious souls with grandiloquence in their veins. They do not do casual banter.

My moaning about a single word may sound petty, but this single ‘okay’ is indicative of the sloppiness of this series. There’s a big threat that amounts to an amorphous cloud of plot contrivances. Vastly experienced and powerful heroes who stand around and scratch their collective arse. And a master villain whose plan makes no sense: Vandal wants to stop some thousand-year-long ‘Age of Heroes’ from ever happening but if there’s one thing superhero comics hammer home again and again, it’s that heroes always rise. Here, we don’t even get to see that – despite being on the back foot throughout, the good guys win when the bad guy isn’t looking.

It’s not even clear what’s going on in Vandal’s fantasy… a mysterious dark figure comes into view then vanishes. Batman is actually Gold Lantern? And Vandal is back for an epilogue despite being ‘sentenced to non-existence’?

I’d love to know the secret origin of this series. Did DC offer Bendis one last hurrah as his tenures with the League and the Legion came to an end? Did the writer then ask artist Scott Godlewski what he wanted to draw, and he said ‘Kamandi, Jonah Hex, the usual guys who show up in a time-spanning DC tale’? Did editor Michael McAlister go for a very, verrrrrrrry long lunch. Did he return, finally, and say, ‘Brian, we need at least one action scene,’ and Bendis came up with this.

Dearie, dearie me. The readers, and the characters, deserve better. This comment made me laugh.

No, you didn’t. The characters in this comic did nothing. They looked good doing nothing, because Godlewski knows how to construct a page and make folk look appealing, and colourist Ryan Cody does great work polishing the mood, especially in the Western scene (which is just as well as it takes up half the issue). Dave Sharpe’s lettering makes the words look more interesting than they are. And the cover by Godlewski and Cody is a nice take on Kevin Maguire’s classic Justice League #1.

But it all amounts to nothing. There have been nice moments here and there throughout these six issues but more and more, with each instalment failing to deliver a satisfying experience, the Gold Lantern shine has diminished.

It’s a shame that Justice League Vs the Legion of Super-Heroes seems likely to be the end of Brian Bendis’s time at DC. I’ve enjoyed a lot of his work – Action Comics and Young Justice for two – and would love to have see him go out with a bang.

What’s ‘a whimper’ in Interlac?

28 thoughts on “Justice League Vs the Legion of Super-Heroes #6 review

  1. As I’ve stated before here, would love for Bendis to dish some dirt on his time at DC though he seems like too much of a nice guy/professional to do so. It’s always so interesting to me how his tenure mirrored Kirby’s, from the “Bendis is Coming” ads that similarly heralded “The King’s” arrival back in the 1970s, to the quiet, anti-climactic departure, with some good stories told in-between (thought certainly not matching Kirby’s DC legacy). Some of this I think is just due to comics being comics. Bendis, it seems, like tons of other creators before him I love including Kirby, is not the big draw/not as influential as he was when he took over The Avengers at Marvel in the early 2000s and stayed for years, influencing the Marvel U and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And at some point that likely impacted his time at DC. For example, maybe his sales weren’t what the company expected? Superman revealing to the world he is Clark Kent didn’t give those books a “Death of Superman”-style boost in interest/sales?
    But also let’s not forget what a mess DC editorial has been the last few years. Directionless. I’d say Bendis was also a victim of that – welcomed as an architect, then shown the door when somebody decided it was time for yet another Crisis/architect. I mean, it seems like Geoff Johns a few years back was the guy tapped to bring back the Legion via “Doomsday Clock,” then he had some falling out or other, Bendis launched HIS revamped Legion, and now Johns is back in someone’s good graces and working on Legion-related stuff again that does not seem like it’s Bendis’ version.
    All in all, I’m glad Bendis brought his voice to DC. I’m glad he got a shot at the Justice League. I’m glad for his run on Superman/Action, his Batman Universe, his Leviathan series. Like his time on The Avengers, Bendis told some decent stories but oten couldn’t deliver the spectacle. And there was just too much banter. But all in all I’ve enjoyed his books and wish him the best and hope DC gets its act together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A Bendis tell-all would indeed be great, but as you say, he’s far too nice a guy, and far too savvy.

      Yep, Editorial has been a mess, but still, a professional writer of Bendis’ experience has to know that there are certain things you should achieve in a comic book story… an ending that pays off the set-up at the very least. It frightens me that Bendis actually teaches comic book writing.


  2. Bendis’s tenure on the Legion has been insipid, poorly developed and badly delivered. But his treatment of the Legion pails into insignificance compared to his destruction of Superman. Revealing Clark as Superman, having their son stolen and abused for many years before he comes back and is shunted off to the future without any help or time to readjust was unforgivable. Goodbye Bendis. Hopefully DC will erase all your work from canon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pretty sure Mr Oz and Rogol Whosit are already official forgotten… now, if only Jon gets returned to the proper age at the next reset. The upcoming Super Sons video can’t hurt.


  3. You really weren’t kidding about the off-panel plot handwaving. I’m guessing part of why is that after Triplicate Girl told them who did it the job of detaining Vandal & tricking him into confessing in was the Legion. The League’s abilities were mostly redundant here, and a fuller explanation would probably show that up sharply. Though an attempt would have been appreciated.

    The old west setting confused me. Has Bendis (or anyone) previously established the Age of Heroes begins with Jonah Hex, or is this a new bit of DC lore he threw in at the last minute?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never been aware of the Age of Heroes being anything other than the LSH nodding to the current day DCU, it didn’t feel like an official thing. I think Bendis did indeed just fancy a piece of Jonah fun


  4. I noticed there are def some characters that Bendis just liked using in his DC books. Adam Strange popped up a few times in “Superman” and “Action.” And he created Jonah’s descendent, Jinny, for the “Young Justice” book, so having Jonah pop up makes sense. Speaking of, it’s gonna likely be totally ignored, but, technically, future last boy on Earth Kamandi, who Bendis also used, is actually living in the present-day DCU thanks to Event: Leviathan and Bendis’ Justice League run… I always hoped Bendis would pick that thread back up and maybe had he hung around he would have but, alas, not to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s an interesting point about Kamandi. In the old days the next writer to use Kamandi would explain him right back to post-Great Disaster, but you’re likely right, it’ll all be ignore.


  5. Wow… when you said on Twitter that this went nowhere, I wasn’t prepared for how little this issue actually did. This just… failed. It wasn’t telling a story so much as showing scenes that happened NEAR the story.

    The one quibble I’d offer a little defense against was the characterization of the Elders of Oa. These aren’t the Guardians of the Universe we know — and for all we know, possibly aren’t even descended from them. We don’t know what their motivations are. We don’t know whether they would lie about removing Savage from existence. So I have a hard time quibbling that they wouldn’t say “Okay.” They’re one more dangling plot thread we know little about, and probably never will — which is even more frustrating than a little mischaracterization.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey Martin,

    Just to give Bendis the benefit of the doubt, maybe if/when you have a chance, re-read this series and his League annual that lead into it in one or two sittings. Maybe you’ll enjoy it more. That’s my plan. It seems like the delays really killed any early momentum this series had, and I haven’t taken the time to re-read previous issues, just jumped into the new ones as they came out. And sometimes – not always – if a final issue leaves a sour taste in my mouth, I need to mull the whole thing over for a few days, maybe re-familiarize myself with the earlier issues, and I get it/enjoy it more. Or at least I may appreciate what the writer attempted, even if I thought it failed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would you do it and report back? I’ve such a massive backlog of collections to read that I can’t work up the enthusiasm for giving something the benefit of the doubt when I know that nothing much happened and the heroes were all pretty useless! I’d rather use the time for finally getting to Sandman Mystery Theatre, or The Golden Age. I really do appreciate the suggestion… maybe in a few years!


      1. I’ll probably take a crack at it. If so I’ll let ya know. Funny – about 10 or so years back I bought a slew of “Sandman Mystery Theatre” trades, started in, then just got daunted by the backlog of some 70 issues and got rid of ’em. Nice to know you’re trying, though, and also have a to-be-read stack. Right now I’ve got “The Kents,” “J’emm Son of Saturn,” some early “Justice League Europe,” a few issues of the “5YL Legion,” Simonson’s “Orion” and Simonson’s “Hawkgirl” to get through. But all of those are wayyyyy shorter than “Sandman Mystery Theatre” at least 🙂 I fear I have a short attention span.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve read all of those bar The Kent’s – didn’t look like my cup of tea, despite the creative team – and Orion, of which I have a trade collecting the first few issue.


      3. You need to read Golden Age right now. I hope it has been SPOILED for you. It has an age old trope that’s so beautifully done, with a little misdirection then* bam* when you least expect it. It was my favorite DC arc of the 90’s. I liked it even more than Kingdom Come.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed so much of the Bendis time at DC – liked his Superman, Action and Young Justice, liked his Legion, even liked his first season of Naomi. His Batman Universe story was great fun.

    But the last couple of years his writing has just not worked for me at all, and the loudest complaint people make about his dialog writing – that everyone speaks with the same voice – really rings true. When nothing is working, that’s all I can see – the bouncing dialog.

    Naomi Season 2 was a waste, his Justice League run was awful, and this book really had no reason to exist.

    Will one of the Triplicate Girls stay old? Who knows.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I enjoyed his League run in part because it was a bit of an extension of what he was doing on Superman/Action, which I fully recognize wasn’t everyone’s cuppa. I do think his League run was “weird” in that it was, in the grand scheme of things, inconsequential. Which didn’t used to be a bad thing, but in 2022 everything has to lead into some sort of CRISIS or EVENT so just doing a solid/fun superhero book without any tie-ins to any other series is kinda weird, especially for a guy whose work at Marvel was often at the HEART of major EVENTS. Again, it all speaks to kind of the oddity of Bendis’ tenure at DC. For the guy who turned the Avengers around and really helped catapult that team/concept into the maintream and the movies, his arrival on the League should have gone over/been heralded far better/more than it did/was. It may just be what I mentioned earlier – the Bendis of the early 2000s versus how fandom responds to Bendis of the early 2020s… Just my armchair fan ramblings/observations. We’ll never know until he talks about it or someone writes a “DC in the 2000s” history book and there’s a section on the Bendis years…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And if he does write such a book, I’m buying you a copy! It really would be fascinating to hear the story behind the stories, both the good ones and those where there was apparently a big change from what was intended.


  9. I liked it but I hd very low expectations even before issue one. Bendis had already shown he had no idea how to deepen such a large cast outside of ones that came with built in characterization despite superficial changes to their appearance. I also think DC editorial snubbing him for the past two years or so hurt the project. He does have his writing tics but a Brevoort level editor can fix that and this was not handled by even a Augustyn level one.

    Oh and mention of Johns made me think of a failing Bendis and he hsare. Neither can stick a landing. Bendis tends to peter out and Johns just continues his Current Big Story in his Next Big Story.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “I also think DC editorial snubbing him for the past two years or so hurt the project. He does have his writing tics but a Brevoort level editor can fix that and this was not handled by even a Augustyn level one.”
    A great observation. Makes me wonder if Didio was still around what might have been. Didio had his pros/cons as well, but, if I recall what I read correctly, he was the one who sealed the deal to get Bendis to come to DC. So you’ve gotta wonder if/how Didio’s departure impacted Bendis’ plans/tenure.
    I know that Mark Waid has very publicly had issues with Didio, which is why he was gone from DC for so long and is now back. I am curious if that was the case with Geoff Johns. I had always thought Johns and Didio were compatible – they both lead the DCU for so many years. But I’m starting to think that maybe they had a falling out over the New52 and never made up? That would also explain why Johns is back, and Bendis is gone… Not that he and Bendis have issues, but maybe Didio was hoping Bendis would take Johns’ place at DC as an architect/big seller… Again, all mostly speculation from my cozy fan armchair…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I definitely agree that part of what made Bendis’s last year at DC fizzle was lack of confidence from the higher-ups. Didio was his champion, and he would have supported him; the new regime pretty much left him out to dry.

    I think Bendis himself said that his relationship with DC was more a relationship with Didio, who at the time represented DC. When Didio left, it’s not surprising Bendis followed once his commitments were done. (That said, as far as I know, he’s still working on the Legion of Superheroes HBO Max show.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder if that will come off. Maybe Bendis has a series bible full of stuff that never made it into the comic to share with the Writers’ Room and we’ll find out who some of the supposed characters are. Maybe Shrinking Violet will speak!


      1. At this point, considering the tumult at HBO Max, I really doubt it will. But it’s such a low-publicity item at this point it will probably get quietly shelved rather than publicly cancelled.

        Or it’s possible that, since it wasn’t very far along yet, there’s no sizeable benefit to canceling it for a tax writeoff, or whatever accountant’s voodoo led to the killing of Batgirl.

        Liked by 1 person

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