Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #2
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ryan Sook
Inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger and Ryan Sook (pp. 11-13)
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Ryan Sook
Variant Cover: Jim Cheung (pencils) and Tomeu Morey (inks)
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Mission Monitor Board:
Cosmic Boy, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, Brainiac 5, Lightning Lad, Superboy, Saturn Girl, Element Lad (?), Phantom Girl, Wildfire, Star Boy, Triplicate Girl, Element Lad (?), Light/Lightning (?) Lass, Chameleon Boy, Dream Girl (?), Blok, Mon-El, White Witch, Dawnstar, Colossal Boy, Bouncing Boy
Rose Forrest, MadamHonor President Brande, Robin the Boy Wonder/Damian Wayne (cameo)
Tortor, leader of the Horraz and the Horraz
The issue begins as Cosmic Boy provides the reader with a recap of the events of the first issue. The story starts with the Horraz, led by their leader Tortor, attacking the Legionnaires. Tortor demands that the Legionnaires give him Aquaman's trident, but they pretty much refuse. The various Legionnaires attack the Horraz with their powers and abilities. Ultra Boy gives the trident to Superboy for safekeeping and he must be the one to use it. When Superboy asks why, Ultra Boy responds, "Because, you're super, man." Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad tell Saturn Girl to put the Horraz to sleep, but she tells them that it's not going to work the way they expect. At their insistence, she does so. The mental blast does work, putting everyone to sleep except for herself, Superboy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Karate Kid (?) - and Tortor. Tortor and Superboy struggle for possession of Aquaman's trident as they fight in the air. Suddenly, the trident glows yellow and a massive tsunami of ocean water engulfs the area. The water quickly begins to recede, leaving the Legionnaires all standing around, stunned at what just happened. Triplicate Girl Purple gives Triplicate Girl Orange mouth-to-mouth. Superboy says that he doesn't feel like he did that.
Meanwhile, on Daxam, in the United Planets Great Hall, the President of the U.P. is throwing a temper tantrum about the Legion bringing Superboy into their time period, as it violates the temporal rules by which they're supposed to operate. Rose Forrest arrives, and greets President Brande. She is the official liaison for the Legion of Super-Heroes. President Brande is annoyed and pretty mad that the Legion broke the law by bringing Superboy into their time period. Rose attempts to defend the Legion's actions as harmless, but she is unsuccessful in her attempts to mollify President Brande and then leaves the Great Hall.
Back in Brainiac 5's lab in the Palmer Pavilion at Legion Headquarters, Brainiac 5 is examining Aquaman's trident. He confirms that the trident is the genuine artefact and really was Aquaman's trident. Superboy learns that Atlantis was the first city to go during the events that destroyed Earth, and when Superboy asks why they can't go back to the 21st Century and ask the Atlanteans what happened to the trident, Brainiac 5 tells him that it would be about something that hasn't happened yet (their time). Brainaic 5 also makes a lame joke about how he thinks the 14th Star Wars movie was the best movie ever made.
Rose Forrest arrives back at Legion HQ, and joins the Legionnaires. Wildfire, in an unexpected move, asks her, "Who are you, again?", to which Rose replies that she's the Legion Liasion to the United Planets. Rose thinks the President is angry because the Legion went back in time to recruit Superboy without asking permission or communicating their intention to her. The Legionnaires, for their part, believe they have absolute authority on who they ask to join and do not see a problem. The Legion's charter allows them to operate completely independent of the U.P.. Rose counters with the fact that the Legion bringing Superboy to their time period was childish shit. She tells them that when the Legion does childish shit they shouldn't be surprised when the U.P. reacts accordingly. Cosmic Boy then calls for a meeting in Heaven.
It turns out that Heaven is the Legion's All Purpose Consumption Hall, featuring the unique cuisine and rare foodstuffs from each of the United Planets. Ultra Boy tells his teammates about his father, Father-One, who is a nasty and powerful man on Rimbor. Ultra Boy's father also has a lot of power in the United Planets. Ultra Boy tells them that Mordru hired the Horraz to steal the trident and Ultra Boy tracked them down to Planet Gotham. Wildfire comments on how Planet Gotham is the safest planet in the galaxy. Superboy is stunned by this fact. We learn that Planet Gotham was the first fully made artificial planet. Saturn Girl adds that it's all in the orientation program, if only Superboy would ever get around to viewing it. Superboy comments that Gotham was "a garbage fire," but that comment seems lost on the other Legionnaires. Ultra Boy says that his father has just discovered that his son joined the Legion of Super-Heroes, which is a group that Father-One vehemently opposes. And that his father's warring passions about re-acquiring the trident will be tempered by his dislike that his son is a Legionnaire. However, he won't come to Earth and the Legion, as that would show weakness. Ultra Boy says that they will go to him.
Cosmic Boy says that he will take a diplomatic team to Rimbor, consisting of himself, Colossal Boy, Mon-El and the White Witch. Wildfire says that he is in on that diplomatic mission, too. Cosmic Boy says that Wildfire is not coming. Lightning Lad decides that he'll take an investigative team, consisting of himself, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy and Triplicate Girl to try and find Mordru's trail on Planet Gotham. They are going to find out what Mordru was planning on doing with the trident and where the trident came from. Superboy wants to go with the team to Planet Gotham, but Saturn Girl tells Superboy to stay at Legion Headquarters and view the orientation program. Before the Legion teams depart, Ultra Boy apologizes for not telling his fellow Legionnaires about his father. Jo says that he is embarrassed about being from Rimbor. Jo's fellow Legionnaires reply that they totally understand and that Jo would be surprised at how many of them can relate to his situation.
Before the Legionnaires leave, Saturn Girl tells Superboy to stay at Legion headquarters and view the orientation program. The Legionnaires depart, leaving Jon Kent alone. Superboy then thinks about Planet Gotham and says that he has got to go get "him."
The scene cuts to Gotham City in the present day. Robin (Damian Wayne) is on a rooftop, talking to Batman about a tip about Leviathan not paying off. Suddenly, Superboy teleports onto the scene in a time bubble. Superboy says, "Welcome to the Legion of Super-Heroes. You are going to freak!" The story continues next issue.
As a long-time Legion fan, I'm of two minds when it comes to this issue. To begin with, this comic is definitely not written for older fans like me. On the other hand, I'm not sure who the book is being written for, because I think that if the Powers That Be at DC managed to grab some long-time Legion fans to the table while also bringing long-time Bendis fans as well as newcomers to the Legion to the table, the current series would be a hit. And let's face it, I want this series to continue since I want there to be a Legion book out there. With that out of the way, what can I say about this issue?
First of all, this issue is a pretty lacklustre way to follow up the first issue of the new Legion title, bearing in mind the problems that first issue had. To start with, Bendis's dialogue is too stunted and too childish for my taste, and quite a few of the Legionnaires (notably Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5) are coming across as not all that bright. I can't say that I'm too fond of some of the Legionnaire characterizations we're getting in these stories so far. We'll come back to that. When it comes down to it, Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #2 is painfully shallow. One of the hallmarks and strengths of the Legion franchise is that writers would deliver complex issues with multiple plotlines involving as many Legionnaires as possible. Paul Levitz was known to juggle a dizzying array of short, medium, and long-range plot lines that would keep every single Legionnaire on the roster busy. Unfortunately, Bendis gives the reader one main plotline involving the trident and then supplements that with two minor plotlines involving President Brande being mad at the Legion and Superboy bringing Damian to the future. There really is not that much going on after two issues. Bendis has only found a way to keep a small handful of Legionnaires active and operating with purpose. There is just so little actual content and depth to this second issue.
The best part of this second issue was the neat moment where Superboy accidentally and unknowingly uses Aquaman's trident to summon a massive tsunami. The problem with the two-page spread of the water lacks for any details of characters in it, and where did the waters flow to? And what exactly happened to the Horraz bad guys? That said, I am curious as to why both Mordru and Ultra Boy's father want Aquaman's trident. While the trident is an interesting and somewhat neat plot device, I really hope that Bendis makes it more than just a MacGuffin. And I can't say that I'm all that crazy about the Legion being tied so closely to the 21st Century. That is definitely a bit of a flaw here, given the Legion stories take place 1,000 years in the future and should focus on their own time, rather than earlier periods in DC history. I was also pretty pleased with the sequence in Heaven, the Legion's All Purpose Consumption Hall. Ryan Sook's artwork here was superb, the table spread being quite neat, even if we don't know what most of it was, but the Legionnaires' chat around the table was very good (possibly the best writing by Bendis so far) though it was marred by some dumb comments and some inane behaviour on the part of several Legionnaires.
My least favourite sequences are the huge battle scene with the Horraz, since while it includes the creative credits for the issue, it doesn't have a story title with it. I also have a few problems with the following pages of the battle scene, as it's difficult to tell who's doing what, and am not sure if this was the writer's fault or the penciller/inker's fault. The six pages of Rose Forrest arguing with the U.P. President and reporting back to the Legionnnaires was annoying on two levels. First of all, why is Rose there?? I had thought the whole point of the Millenium mini-series was to introduce the time hopping Rose Forrest who wanted help from the Legion or some such. Now, without any explanation or scene showing the reader how it came about, she is the official Legion Liaison to the United Planets? I don't get it. And why is the U.P. President angry at the Legion? There's obviously something else going on there that we're not privy to, but the writer gives up nothing other than a snobbish, snarky attitude.
The really odd thing about the series so far, and it comes across in this issue as well, is how Bendis is unintentionally making so many of the Legionnaires in this issue come across as... well, bubble-headed idiots. I don't understand why he's doing this and whether it's intentional or not, but "witty" Bendis dialogue isn't that funny to me. This approach to writing dialogue causes certain characters to act completely out of character. A good example of this is Brainiac 5. By having Brainiac 5 stooge about for laughs takes away his unique personality and runs counter to his established personality. Brainiac 5 is not the only character who suffers from this, as Bendis is having Cosmic Boy getting some of the laughs which runs counter to his Type-A personality. Cosmic Boy, Superboy and Brainiac 5 all take turns sounding like dumb characters in this issue. However, Superboy is definitely the worst, Jon being written as nearly brain-dead at certain points. Jon Kent is bringing nothing of value or substance to the story. And the business of the orientation is getting to be annoying already, so... That brings us to President Brande. R.J. Brande was a great character, and it's a shame that Bendis has taken that character and given us this caricature in the President of the U.P.. Brande was the beloved founder of the Legion, and later revealed to be the father of Chameleon Boy, and Brande's character deserved far better than what Bendis has given us so far with this version of the character.
Lastly, I will say that the Frichtman tags have been a bust so far. It's annoying as hell to have to read the tags *backwards*, from behind the characters, and to be honest, the tags are blending into the sequences in the panels too much and are actually pretty much rendered useless for the reader. And frankly, what is the point of having 30+ Legionnaires being seen in so many panels when only around ten or so are getting any dialogue or action? While we have seen lots of Legionnaires, we have barely gotten to know any of them. I can understand why the entire team would be there to welcome Superboy in the first issue, but I wish we could spend an extended time with just a small handful of the team, so we could really get to know their personalities. It seemed like there was a chance that would happen here when it opened with the smaller team battling for the Trident, but then Rose showed up and took the focus away. Perhaps this will happen next issue, with Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad leading smaller teams on missions to Rimbor and Planet Gotham, but we'll see. I was also quite annoyed that there were quite a few details dropped about Ultra Boy but so much of that was lacking any context that it left me feeling more confused than anything.
This second issue of the new series, like the first, lacks a title for the story.
Bronze Age Interlac is used several times in the story. The first time, on page 1, in the upper left corner, the text reads, "Headlines". The second time, on page 6, when Saturn Girl puts the Horraz (and the other Legionnaires) to sleep, the word "SLEEP" appears. The third time, on page 11, the U.P. President tells her aide, "I asked for the damn Legion of Super-Children and instead I get this?" On page 13, when Rose yells the U.P. President "Long Live the Legion," she responds with, "Yeah, sure." I haven't deciphered the Interlac on page 17, right under the description of Heaven. If anyone has, please drop me a line here...
The President of the United Planets is named Brande. However, she does not resemble R.J. Brande in any way, shape, or form...
When Ultra Boy explains that his father is unpleasant, even for a Rimborian, Timber Wolf tells him that his father was a wolf. Whether he means this literally or not is debateable...
Planet Gotham was the first fully artificial planet made, by Quayne (a combination of "Queen" and "Wayne"?) Galactic, and that it is the safest place in the galaxy...
When Ultra Boy apologizes for his father, Chameleon Boy is one of the members who commiserates with him about fathers.
Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #3