Superman Vol 5 #15
“The Unity Saga: The House of El, The Conclusion: Part Two”
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson (pg 17), Evan “Doc” Shaner (pg 18)
Inkers: Joe Prado & Oclair Alberts, Brandon Peterson (pg 17), Evan “Doc” Shaner (pg 18)
Letterer: David Sharpe
Colourist: Alex Sinclair
Cover: Ivan Reis (pencils), Joe Prado (inks), Alex Sinclair (letters)
Variant Cover: Adam Hughes
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham
Adam Strange, Supergirl, Superboy (Jon Kent)
Mission Monitor Board:
There are twenty-eight (28) Legionnaires present: Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl (addressed by name); Lightning Lad, Princess Projectra, Shrinking Violet (based on material in LSH: Millennium #1); Blok, Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Karate Kid, Matter-Eater Lad, Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Timber Wolf, Triplicate Girl, Ultra Boy, Wildfire, Light Lass (based on other places where designs have been shown); the other four are Monster Boy, Gold Lantern, White Witch and a Doctor Fate
None, other than Galactic animosity, time-travel glitches, stupid corporate decisions
The issue begins with Superman looking at Rogol Zaar, currently captured in a stasis bubble. Adam Strange enters the room, and much to his surprise, Superman hugs him. Adam Strange asks if it’s true that teenagers from the 31st Century really showed up. Superman said that it is true. Adam Strange then congratulates Superman on the concept of the United Planets, and wonders why he didn’t think of it so much sooner. Superman says that it was actually all Jon’s idea...
The scene cuts back to earlier, just after the Legion of Super-Heroes have arrived. Cosmic Boy says they are there to celebrate the moment that the United Planets was formed. Superboy says it hasn’t been formed yet, and Supergirl adds that they have just asked the various leaders if they want to create a United Planets. Brainiac 5 hurriedly starts tapping away on his tablet. The Legionnaires all ask Brainiac 5 if they have arrived too early for the once-in-a-lifetime visit to the most important moment in galactic history. The assembled leaders asks what is going on and if this is "some primitive Earth humour theatre." Ultra Boy hisses to Brainiac 5 that they are really stepping right on the moment now. Saturn Girl asks if they should go away and come back. Brainiac 5 says that this moment is happening. Cosmic Boy says that they came to celebrate history and tripped and fell on it instead. Ultra Boy asks if the moment is now forever and for all time the Legion doing this. Brainiac 5 says that they only missed the moment by about four minutes. Lightning Lad says that this moment is about sharing and they wanted to add their voices to the moment. Triplicate Girl says that they want to say that the United Planets is still in existence in their time.
The assembled leaders are surprised that the United Planets is so successful that it is still in power in the 31st Century. The Legionnaires reply that they are a sort of delegation from the United Planets of their time, that each Legionnaire repsents one planet and power. The assembled leaders are so impressed that the United Planets is so successful and lasts so long into the future that they all agree to form the United Planets. The Khunds asks who will speak for Earth, and Superman says that he will speak for Earth in these matters. All the leaders officially agree that there is now a United Planets. Saturn Girl uses her telepathy to congratulate Superboy, telling him that no one really knows how hard this journey has been for him, and that if it’s any consolation the vote will be unanimous. The leaders then ask what they should call this day from this moment forward. Superboy says that they shall call this day Unity Day.
Back in the present, Adam Strange tells Superman that he has an incredible son. Superman replies, however, that he is sad about losing him to the universe again.
Back at the moment of the formation of the United Planets, the Legion assures Superboy that they want him to join them as a member in the 31st Century. Superboy asks them if they want him to live in the 31st Century. They say that he can if he wants to do so. He tells them he’s not sure what to say, and asks if the Legion needs his answer right that second. Saturn Girl says that everyone is just excited and loopy from the time travel, and that she will come back tomorrow and see if he has an answer then. Wildfire then asks if Superboy would introduce him to his aunt [Supergirl]! The Legionnaires then head back to the 31st Century. General Zod then asks Superman where Jor-El is.
...and back in the present, Adam Strange tells Superman that the United Planets has sentenced Jor-El for his crimes against the galaxy, that Jor-El created Rogol Zaar and set him loose on the galaxy, that the U.P. has decided to place him in a time sphere and send him back to Krypton at the moment before it exploded. The scene cuts to Jor-El arriving back on Krypton. He sees his younger self and Lara holding one another as the world is destroyed around them. The older Jor-El tells his younger self that Kal-El does it, that he brings the universe together. Krypton then explodes.
Meanwhile, Superman and the House of El say goodbye to the newly formed officials of the United Planets. Zod then approaches Superman and says that the United Planets has agreed to create a new outpost for the Kryptonians. Zod says that he and his wife and son will go there and start a new Krypton. Zod says that the U.P. is not just about peace for the universe, but also peace between the House of El and the House of Zod. Zod tells the Man of Steel that the House of El is welcome on New Krypton any time.
Superman, Superboy, Supergirl and Krypto then fly off to return to Earth. As the four approach Earth, Superman says that Jon will have to have a chat with his mother about this Legion of Super-Heroes thing. Jon says he meant that he has to have a chat with Damian about it.
Okay, once again I will reiterate here that I have no comments to make about the Unity Saga storyline here and what is going on in the tales running through the Superman family of comics, except as it relates to the Legion of Super-Heroes. I don’t read the comics, other than the Legion appearances, and have no idea of what’s been going on in the Superman titles. So, with that out of the way...
Before I talk about the Legion itself here, I want to say this about the formation of the United Planets. The establishment of the United Planets in the story was anti-climactic and was handled in a cursory fashion. Bendis breezed over the formation of the U.P. in a most convenient and superficial manner, something that was not fitting for such an old and iconic DC Comics institution. There was no sense of tension and conflict that leads up to the birth of this iconic organization. There was no sense of gravitas to the U.P.’s creation that would make it a truly momentous occasion.
And that leads me to the Legion part of the story itself. Granted they were seen more in this appearance than in their Superman Vol 5 #14 appearance, but it’s not a vast improvement. Bendis does a horrible job introducing the new Legion of Super-Heroes to readers here. This is the first issue where readers get a sense of this new version of the Legion. Bendis treats the Legionnaires here like walking punchlines. He has them stooge around, for lack of a better term, for several pages. The Legionnaires are treated like comedic relief. With Brainiac 5 getting the time travel to this momentous day and event off by around 4 minutes, and then making all manner of puns around it, the author is telling the reader not to take these super-heroes seriously. Another disappointing aspect of the Legion in Superman Vol 5 #15 is that none of the Legionnaires displayed anything that resembles a unique personality. They all get the same generic external voice, at least to my "ear." To be fair, Bendis shoves a lot of Legionnaires into this issue and they get very limited panel time. Also concerning is that we are just at the initial debut of the Legion of Super-Heroes and Bendis cannot get even the most basic aspects of the Legion correct. He has Lightning Lad say that each Legionnaire represents one planet and one power. This has never been true. As far as each Legionnaire representing one planet is concerned, Light Lass and Lightning Lad are both from Winath. Andromeda and Mon-El are both from Daxam. Superboy, Supergirl, Colossal Boy, Invisible Kid, Sun Boy, Bouncing Boy, Ferro Lad, Karate Kid, and Wildfire are all from Earth. I guess that Bendis may be instituting a ton of retcons to all of these characters’ histories. That remains to be seen. As far as each Legionnaire representing just one power is concerned, there are plenty of Legionnaires with multiple powers. Superboy, Ultra Boy, Mon-El, Timber Wolf, Wildfire, Blok, Dawnstar and Colossal Boy are all Legionnaires who have more than one power. The only thing that I can infer from this is that perhaps Bendis actually meant the "power" in the sense of a power bloc or a planetary system of influence or some such. Again, we shall see.
That said, I can’t say I disliked this story, or at least the part of it that involved the new Legion of Super-Heroes. I’m not a fan of how the Legion has been kind of shoe-horned into this whole Unity Day saga, where I don’t have a good idea of the bigger picture. The pages where the Legion appears are straightforward enough, but they basically just come in on an on-going ceremony, get all google-eyed, and then depart after inviting Jon Kent to join the Legion as Superboy. And then there’s Brainiac 5... he can’t accurately set a time travel device. I assume he’s the same Brainy we know and love who got into the Legion for his intelligence and super-smartness, but his calculations were off? Not a very good first impression.
The artwork this issue is very nice, and I loved some of the posturing of characters and the facial expressions. I’ve been a fan of Ivan Reis’s work since he pencilled the Ghost series, and Joe Prado’s inks are very good here. In some ways, I wish they were going to be doing the job on the regular Legion title.
I will conclude this "review" by saying that Legion of Super-Heroes fans can pretty much skip purchasing Superman Vol 5 #15. While the Legionnaires may be on the cover, it’s false advertising. The Legion are only in ten of the twenty-three pages of this issue, and in those page they’re present largely for window dressing, hyping the forthcoming Legion book, and for humour.
Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #2