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?