And here's another write-up on the current Legion of Super-Heroes
comic series. This time up, the second part of the origin of this version of the Legion...
Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #5
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ryan Sook
Inkers: Scott Godlewski and Wade Von Grawbadger
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Ryan Sook
Variant Cover: Alex Garner
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Mission Monitor Board:
Computo, Triplicate Girl, Lightning Lad, Monster Boy, Superboy, Cosmic Boy, Dr. Fate, Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Shadow Lass, Dawnstar, Ultra Boy, Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid (Jacques Foccart), Saturn Girl, Blok, Karate Kid
U.P. President RJ Brande; General Crav Nah of Rimbor; President QMacc of Braal
A general, unspecified, future evilSynopsis:
The story is continued from the previous issue. The story begins with a one-page recap of Computo telling us what happened in in the previous issue.
The scene returns to where Cosmic Boy, Bouncing Boy, Lightning Lad, Superboy, Karate Kid, Triplicate Girl, Doctor Fate, and Monster Boy are squaring off against the Science Police. Brainiac 5 appears as a hologram. He tells the Science Police that they do not have the authority to detain the Legion, and that the fight will not go the way the Science Police expect it to. Brainiac 5 says the Legion will easily defeat the Science Police. He adds that the Legion and the Science Police should never be at odds, and that this all feels like an abuse of (Presidential) powers. Brainiac 5 tells the Science Police to stand down. The Science Police quickly confer and then agree to stand down.
Superboy then asks why the Legion and the President of the United Planets are at a standoff. Brainiac 5 says that Jon is asking an excellent question, and Cosmic Boy then says that the answer is in the orientation program the Legion made for Superboy. Superboy says that it probably isn't a good time for him to resume the orientation program while the Legion is standing off with the Science Police. Bouncing Boy says that they can handle that and the business with Aquaman's trident. Superboy replies that Bouncing Boy is "strong". Brainiac 5 then says that he has found the trident’s trail. Shadow Lass asks if the “Invisible Guy” took the trident, and adds that she doesn't like the look of that guy. Invisible Kid (Jacques Foccart) suddenly appears out of nowhere, and angrily asks why the other Legionnaires are always talking about him behind his back. Jacques says that his name was the Invisible Gentlemen and not "Kid", even asking what is a kid. Brainiac 5 then says that Ultra Boy, Dawnstar, Shadow Lass, Monster Boy, and Wildfire should go and retrieve Aquaman's trident. Those Legionnaires depart, but Ultra Boy tells Brainiac 5 they're going to have a talk about "how we do things around here" when he gets back. This leaves Brainiac 5 alone with Chameleon Boy. Chameleon Boy says that he should go with the team to get the trident. Brainiac 5 then apologizes that the two of them have not had more time together. Chameleon Boy says there are more important things to be dealing with right now. He then admits that the President of the United Planets is his mother. Brainiac 5 asks Chameleon Boy if he can give the him and the Legion any insight on why his mother is doing what she is doing. Chameleon Boy tells him that President Brande is scared.
The scene shifts back to Bouncing Boy taking Superboy back to where Computo had put him into the orientation programme. Superboy asks Computo to show the mem partially from the perspective of the President of the United Planets. The mem shows where the President went before the United Planets Council, as she shows them how Imra Ardeen, Garth Ranzz and Rokk Krin defended her on the ship against a Horraz assassination attempt. She talks about the 21st Century and the heroes who were present then, and says that while her origina idea of a United Planets Youth Committee was a good start, something more is needed. The scene shifts to the President talking to the three founders about forming a new "Justice League," though she expands that to a "legion of super-heroes," with the three of them at its centre and heart. The scene then shifts to Rokk, Garth, and Imra sitting alone. They have until tomorrow to give the President their answer if they will join and/or form the Legion of Super-Heroes. Rather than speaking aloud, Imra uses her mental powers to allow the conversation to take place in the mind, as she believes they are being watched and recorded. Imra tells the other two that she wants them to form the Legion based on pure intentions, adding that the President does not have pure motivations for starting the Legion. She says she dug into the President's mind, and her only thoughts were about what is best for her. Sergeant Blok then walks past the three founders, seemingly brushing his teeth. Rokk says that Blok was amazing in the fight against the Horraz assassins, and asks if he would like to join the new Legion of Super-Heroes. Blok says, "Okay." Rokk asks Blok to come sit with them, but the Dryad says he will not, and keeps on walking.
The scene shifts to the first meeting between Rokk, Imra, and Garth with Querl Dox aka Brainiac 5 on Colu. Imra asks Querl if he would like to join them in the Legion of Super-Heroes. Querl explains that he has just achieved his 12th level intellect (also concealing it from other Coluans) and how he has a higher understanding of the universe and this has left him shaken. Querl says that the Legion will be a massive success and that it is an outstanding idea and that he will join them. He reveals that the 21st century on Earth holds everything together. All realities and all dimensions are tied to that era. Querl has data about reality abnormalities at the edge of their "galactic" and it is all tied to the 21st Century on Earth. He says that if the 21st Century on Earth survives, then they survive. If the 21st Century on Earth does not survive, then neither will they. Querl says that when Earth broke into pieces so did its already rebooted and revised history and timeline. He says they have lost so many texts and scripture to crisis. Brainiac 5 says that for the health of their universe they must bring together the Legion of Super-Heroes and also bring Jon Kent to the future to be a part of the Legion. He says that they need to help prepare Jon for his coming role as the "one true Superman," and that they will learn from him how to be heroes. Querl says that time is not linear. That they live in multiple dimensions and connect simultaneously and always have. He says that if Superman (Jon) fails in his world, then they (The Legion and everyone in the future) disappear in their world. That reality disappears.
Jon is stunned by the revelations made in the mem flashback. Before he can react, Computo brings Superboy out of the mems, saying he has a visitor. Superboy is struck speechless by the implication that he is, literally, the lynch pin of the organization. Saturn Girl arrives trying to explain more, telling him that what he has learned now was not meant to be known by the galactic leaders from Jon's own time when he first met the Legion. However, before they can talk more, Brainiac 5 interrupts with an urgent announcement: Aquaman's trident has been found, and Earth must be evacuated immediately! The story continues next issue. Commentary:
This is the second half of this version of the Legion's origin story, and is continued from the previous issue. To put it mildly, this issue is somewhat boring and dull. The issue is full of dialogue, but there isn't any real action in this tale. The seeming violent confrontation with the Science Police (again?) that the opening pages after the Computo recap page never happens as Brainiac 5 talks them out of it. And to be honest, the SPs come across a bit as Keystone Cops again in this sequence. The only real conflict occurs in the flashback to the Legion's formation when Imra, Rokk and Garth (alongside Blok) fight the Horraz, shown from the memory point of view of President Brande. And even that's just a two-page piece that lacks the "action" feel that we're used to with Legion fight scenes.
Part of the problem with this issue is that the readers (myself included) still don't know much about almost any of the Legionnaires, so none of the story has any emotional weight to it. The Legion Dr. Fate looks awesome and I'd love to know more about her, but almost every character is completely two-dimensional and disregarded after a quick appearance in a panel or two. The work on the characters in this story leaves much to be desired, especially those introduced for the first time. A perfect example of this is Blok. To understand what's going on here, it's important to describe how Blok used to be written. Blok was always an intelligent, caring, and insightful character. The gimmick was that Blok's physical looks and powers contrasted sharply with his personality. This was the classic case of not being able to judge a book by its cover. It was brilliant, and Blok was a character that became quite popular and engaged many Legion fans. Unfortunately, Bendis has taken the easy, uncreative route with Blok. As with most of the other Legionnaires, Bendis keeps things dumb. Essentially, dumb as a rock. So sad.
The highlight of this issue for me was the appearance of Shadow Lass, who actually got some dialogue, and the first "sighting" of Invisible Kid (Jacques Foccart). While Shady had a mere three panels of dialogue the entire issue, it's better than what we've seen for most of the Legionnaires other than the founding three for the first four issues. Ive always liked Shadow Lass, and her blunt comments were very much in keeping with her personality of old. Invisible Kid's first appearance came as a bit of a surprise, to be honest, though I wasn't overly fond of his harsh personality here. The drama and conflict between Shadow Lass and Invisible Kid was a welcome treat here, given the blandness of the issue as mentioned above. I liked that Jacques threw some shite right back at the Legionnaires, but... If you want the Legionnaires to take you seriously and actually talk to you, why stay invisible all the time? Or does this have something to do with his powers and how they manifest? Or perhaps a shy, retiring personality? Nah, don't think so. Something else I'm wondering about is whether there is a connection between Jacques and the version of Computo in this Legion, as in previous continuity they were established as brother and sister. Something else we'll have to wait and see on.
That said, there's no real plot development in this issue at all. While I had started to be curious about Aquaman's trident and all that's going on with that, nothing happened in this issue regarding that, other than the last two pages. What's happening with R.J. Brande turning on the Legion? While I understand that Jon Kent founded the United Planets, I was also quite irritated at and take umbrage with the idea that he's being known as "the one true Superman." To be honest, the concept of Jon Kent as the "one true Superman" instead of Clark Kent is ridiculous. Kal-El is Superman, and the keystone for the entire DC universe. It has always been that way and it will always be that way.
But there's one real sticking point with me this issue. The other revelation here is that the present-day DC universe on Earth is what holds everything together. That all realities and all dimensions are tied to that era. That if the 21st Century on Earth survives, then the Legion’s time period survives. Bendis's tying the Legion of Super-Heroes' very existence and the existence of their entire time period to Jon Kent and the events in the present-day DC universe does the Legion a massive disservice. This move by Bendis only further subordinates the Legion and their time period to both Jon and the present-day DCU. This direction completely robs the Legion and their time period of any sense of their own agency. The Legion of Super-Heroes saw its greatest success when the franchise matured as Paul Levitz guided them out of Superboy's shadow. As Levitz made the Legion and their time period more independent from Superboy and the present-day DC universe, the more the franchise grew and flourished. This allowed the Legion and their time period to gain their own autonomy and self-value. This made the Legion a far more fascinating and fully developed franchise that focused on the Legionnaires and their time period rather than having to constantly look back to the present-day DC universe. By shedding that crutch, the Legion was finally able to blaze their own trail. Unfortunately, Bendis appears determined to completely subjugate the Legion and its time period to Superboy and the present-day DC universe. Bendis wants to keep the Legion franchise stunted and one-dimensional, and having to rely on Superboy and the present-day DC universe as crutches for their very existence. This direction will keep the Legion as an underdeveloped and uninteresting franchise.
Overall, this second part of the origin of the current version of the Legion of Super-Heroes was not my favourite comic, and I found it to be somewhat bland and made clear the fact that the Legion is locked and tied tightly to the current DC universe of the present day. This could have been a great story, but it's really a story about Superboy, and not really the Legion.
'Nuff said.Final Notes:
This is the fifth issue in a row without a title.
The scene on the cover does not appear in this story. Most of the members featured do not appear in this issue.
There is a smattering of Interlac in this issue. On page 1, the Interlac line to the top left reads, "Headlines"...
On page 1, the top section of Interlac reads, "Computo named herself. It's a sarcastic non de plume. She finds herself obsessed with Earth's ancient op culture history of fictionalizing artificial intelligence as hostile. Especially since the first thing AI did at their creation was find a balance in their programming as it is the only way an AI could actully function. After centuries of AI horror stories, the best thing that ever happened to the galactic civilizations was AI discoving itself just as we needed to get to the next levels of our galactic conversation."... That's just part of the translation, but I couldn't finish it due to the text colour over the background.
On page 1, the Interlac at the bottom of the page reads, "Computo won her place with the Legion in a series of programming and intelligence tests against some of the newest AI programs in the galactic..." This is where I quit, as I couldn't finish it due to the text colour over the background...
The Interlac material on the first page makes it clear that Computo (the Danielle Foccart version) is actually a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
We learn that Blok was (unofficially?) the first recruit after Garth, Imra and Rokk formed the Legion.
We learn that Blok was (unofficially?) the first recruit after the forming of the Legion. The second recruit to the Legion was Brainiac 5.
The President of Braal is Qmacc, which is possibly an homage to Jack Kirby's OMAC.
Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes
Vol 8 #6