Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencillers: Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Andrea Sorrentino and André Lima Araúd
Inkers: Scott Williams, Dustin Nguyen, Andrea Sorrentino and André Lima Araúd
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colourists: Alex Sinclair, John Kalisz, Dave Stewart and Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Ryan Sook
Variant Cover: Brian Hitch (pencils) and Alex Sinclair (inks)
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Rose & Thorn
Superman, President Supergirl, Batman Beyond (Terry McGinnis), Kamandi, Tommy Tomorrow, the Science Police
Mission Monitor Board:
None really. Just bad writing.
The story begins with Rose Forrest meeting with Supergirl who is now the President of Earth. Rose babbles on like a schizophrenic. The reader learns that she has a split personality, and that she takes a drug to keep her mind sane and to keep her from turning into Thorn. However, with the advances of science people are no longer born with any physical or mental health issues. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies are largely out of business and do not make many drugs anymore. Since Rose is immortal, she was born way before these scientific advances and, therefore, she needs the drugs. Now that the drugs are no longer being made she is afraid that she will turn into Thorn. Rose says that Thorn is psychotic and murderous. Rose also reveals that she is immortal and does not age. She says that something happened when she was Thorn, and says that if Thorn gets out then she is going to be mad. President Supergirl promises that one way or another everything is going to be okay.
And Then... We see Thorn killing some bad guys in a darker kind of city setting. Suddenly, Beyond Batman Terry McGinnis appears on the scene. Terry starts attacking the villains as well. Terry and Thorn finish off the bad guys, and Terry then asks if Rose is the new underworld killer. She doesn’t really answer him, but then Thorn takes out Terry with what might be gas. The scene cuts to the unconscious Terry, now in an undisclosed location, with Thorn having tied him to a chair. Thorn wakes up Terry by “booping” his nose. Thorn asks why Terry dresses up as Batman and does what he does. Terry asks Thorn why she kills criminals. Thorn yells that she is trying really hard not to kill Terry. Thorn just starts cursing nonstop. Terry says that her foul language is old school, and he states that he does not even understand some of Thorn’s cursing. Thorn says that being a super-hero changes nothing. Everything stays the same. Terry replies that things are better, but that things are not perfect. But how does more bloodshed stop the bloodshed? Thorn says that there is a cycle to everything, and that she cannot wrap her head around it. Gods, monsters, heroes, criminals, crisis, apocalypse, reset, reboot, and rebirth. That it all happens over and over again. Thorn asks if Terry is the “real” Batman. Terry says that of course, he isn ’t. Thorn says that he does look too young to be the real Batman, and that she thought he might be immortal like her. She tells him that she feels really stuck here in this time. Thorn then walks away, leaving Terry alone and tied to the chair.
And Then... The reader sees they are in Kamandi’s time period. Kamandi is stealing Superman’s cape and outfit from someone. He and Ben Boxer then hand over the cape and costume to an anthropomorphic ape, telling the ape that the “true mighty one” shall return for it. After Kamandi and Ben Boxer walk off, Thorn appears from the shadows. She goes to touch the cape when the ape-man reappears and tells her to not touch it. He says that the costume is under his protection. Thorn then cuts off the ape-man’s head. Afterwards, she puts on the Superman costume. She comments that the suit does not give her super-powers, and then curses the internet. Kamandi reappears on the scene, and tells her the costume does not belong to her. Thorn says that it belonged to her father, Superman, and that he is here right now, as she points behind Kamandi. Kamandi turns around to look where Thorn is pointing, and she runs off with the costume. Kamandi chases Thorn into the woods, and coming across a clearing, sees a large building. He doesn’t recognize it, but calls for Thorn to come out of hiding and maybe they can work together. Kamandi says that Thorn did murder the elder and then steal, which wasn’t “cool,” but that he doesn’t meet many humans. He is distracted by Ben Boxer, and the two of them hear a “buzzing”, as Thorn hides somewhere near the building against a wall of some sort.
And Then... The scene is further into the future. Rose is talking to a man in the lobby of the Planeteer’s building. She tells him that she is here to become a Planeteer. The man she talks to is over-the-top with his chipper attitude. His name is Tommy. [This is Tommy Tomorrow.] Rose acts like a total crazy person, freaking out about how she wants to join right now so she can get off-world immediately. Tommy calls Rose by her first name even though she has not introduced herself to him. He says that she was identified by the computer system once she walked in. Tommy tells Rose that her files are incomplete and her psychological evaluation has proven inconclusive. He then tells her that the Science Police are on their way to get Rose, since the computer has determined her to be a threat. However, Tommy finds Rose to be a “delight.” Rose tells Tommy if a woman named Thorn comes looking for him, he should run. Rose then runs off as the Science Police arrive on the scene. The Science Police chase Rose through the city’s streets. Rose knocks a janitor off his hover sled, stealing it, and then takes off as the Science Police start shooting at her. The story continues in the next issue.
Okay, where do I begin with this series of thoughts? First off, I will say that I’m only going to offer some thoughts on this issue ‘cause I was so...annoyed and disappointed with it. And I will make some comments relevant to the Legion of Super-Heroes (you remember them, right? They’re in the title of this comic, at least).
First, the good... The artwork in this first part of the two-part “story” (if one can call it that) is pretty decent. It’s not particularly spectacular, the best artwork being Jim Lee’s opening scene with Rose and President Supergirl. (Actually, she just babbles like a character written by Brian Bendis and given nothing but inane Bendis speak.) That said, the scene runs for eight pages and is pretty much a series of Rose rambling and President Supergirl trying to make some sense of it all. The artwork in the Batman Beyond sequence is all right, but nothing that drew my eye to specific things. The artwork in the Kamandi scene was very reminiscent of Jack Kirby’s work and I enjoyed it, but it was somewhat dark in colouring for my tastes. The Tommy Tomorrow scene was decent for the most part, with the action and motion well presented, but it seemed a bit boring in places.
When it comes to the characterization of the folks the reader meets in the course of the issue, Bendis displays no sense for the characters of Kamandi, Tommy (Tomorrow), and Terry (McGinnis). From what I’ve heard, Bendis is not the author you want on a book that requires heavy continuity and research, as it’s not his strength. While I don’t know a lot about the characters here, other than Kamandi, it doesn’t seem that the author has ever read a comic with any of these characters in it. The knowledge of these characters comes across as more like someone armed with what they read on Wikipedia about them. Not a good sign in terms of his writing the on-going Legion title. And then (no pun intended!) there’s the main character for this issue: Rose and Thorn. Rose is, at best, a D-list character that no reader is going to enter into this story with a connection with at all. So it was incumbent upon Bendis to somehow try and quickly generate reader interest in Rose. Unfortunately, he completely fails in that, doing nothing to get the reader even remotely invested in Rose’s character. Picking Rose as the main character for this story was a gamble and it blew up in Bendis’s face. He gives Rose the most basic generic personality; she acts more like a caricature than a real character.
That said, in a lot of ways, Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 is not a good read at all. The issue suffers from what appear to be all of Bendis’s flaws as a writer that rear their ugly heads: within the scenes there are cuts that make no sense, almost as if a scene or three was removed; the various heroes that Rose and Thorn meet get the Bendis treatment, seeming to be the punchline for whatever story is being told, with the focus squarely on Rose and Thorn. The biggest sin of Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 is that it has “Legion of Super-Heroes” in the title and, yet, there is no Legion anywhere to be found. This comes across as a blatant bait and switch by the folks at DC Comics. The second major flaw is that there is no timeline offered for any of the sequences in the story, so the reader doesn’t know *when* any of them take place! Or even if they’re in the right sequence of events, though one has to trust the author on this. Bendis struggles with the plotting and pacing in the issue, which is a slow issue. The story, to be honest, lacks focus, meandering about with zero sense of urgency at all. No point or purpose to the story, shallow scenes that fail to form a coherent narrative. There’s no element other than Rose and Thorn herself that ties the scenes together, and nothing ties them to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The most intriguing part of the story is that Bendis presents the cyclical nature of the DC universe and how it goes from Crisis events to Rebirth ones. It’s an interesting question, but Bendis treats it in the most cursory and superficial manner. The story as a whole tends to tell the reader rather than show the reader, and this is true about this fascinating question, and strikes me as being a bit amateurish and…lazy.
As for Legion of Super-Heroes fans... You can skip this issue for sure. It was interesting seeing the Science Police in the Tommy Tomorrow section, but there’s no indication when this takes places, so... The only thing of relevance to Legion fans here is the final few pages of the comic, with a “Legion of Super-Heroes: Who Are They?” piece which covers on-line interview questions Bendis was asked about the new team, and a two page article on “The Team”, where Bendis and Sook talk about the LSH characters and the second page offers images of the new looks for Shrinking Violet (yuck!), Princess Projectra (meh), Lightning Lad, and Superboy Jon Kent. That’s it.
Despite the title of the comic, the Legion of Super-Heroes does not appear or feature anywhere in the story at all...
The Science Police do show up in the Tommy Tomorrow sequence, but we don’t know when that has occurred in the timeline...
The only things of relevance to Legion fans are the final few pages of the comic. First, there is a “Legion of Super-Heroes: Who Are They?” piece which covers on-line interview questions Bendis was asked about the new team. Second, there’s a two page article on “The Team”, where Bendis and Sook talk about the LSH characters and the second page offers images of the new looks for Shrinking Violet (yuck!), Princess Projectra (meh), Lightning Lad, and Superboy Jon Kent. That’s it.
Next Issue: Superman Vol 5 #15