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Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #3

Time for another write-up on one of the current run of the Legion of Super-Heroes series. And away we go!





Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #3
March, 2020
"Untitled"
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencillers: Ryan Sook and Travis Moore
Inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger and Travis Moore
Letterer: ALW's Troy Peteri
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:
Dawnstar, Superboy, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Shadow Lass, Ultra Boy, Mon-El, White Witch, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Triplicate Girl; Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Colossal Boy; Bouncing Boy, Dream Girl, Gold Lantern, Wildfire, Princess Projectra (?), Matter-Eater Lad, Light/Lightning (?) Lass, Sun Boy, Phantom Girl, Timber Wolf, Monster Boy, Blok (these appear in the background, without speaking parts)

Guest Star:
Robin the Boy Wonder/Damian Wayne

Supporting Cast:
Planet Gotham Police Commissioner December Sevenbergen

Opposition:
General Crav Nah; Mordru


Synopsis:
The issue opens with Dawnstar explaining somewhat about her homeworld of Starhaven, how it is connected to the 13th Century on Earth, how excited she is about Superboy being a part of the Legion, and how important it is that Superboy is now with the Legion.

On Rimbor, Ultra Boy's father-one, Crav the General Nah, is angry that his men were not able to acquire Aquaman's trident, and beats up a few of them for good measure.

In a time bubble, Superboy (Jon Kent) and Robin the Boy Wonder (Damian Wayne) are travelling in a time bubble to the 31st Century. Jon talks about how cool the Legion is, how cool the future is, and how much Damian will like it. They arrive in the 31st Century and step out of the time bubble in front of the Legion's headquarters. Dawnstar arrives on the scene, saying that the Legionnaires left at HQ have been searching for Superboy, chastizing him, and that Jon was supposed to be in the Orientation Pavilion. Superboy tells Dawnstar that Robin is the perfect person to investigate the mystery of Aquaman's trident. Suddenly, Robin has a physical reaction to the future, as he gasps for air, and then passes out. Superboy asks Dawnstar if there is a medical bay around, and if they still have medicine.

Meanwhile, on Rimbor, the Legion team of Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Shadow Lass, Ultra Boy, Mon-El and White Witch arrive. The Legionnaires ask Rokk what he wants them to do, and tell him to just come out and say what he wants of them, rather than making them have to guess what he wants. When the others learn that Cosmic Boy and Shadow Lass are dating (and thus a couple), Mon-El does not seem happy about it and White Witch and the others discuss whether there should be dating updates provided regularly to all Legionnaires.

Father-One and his entourage enter the area in a storm (literally). General Crav Nah tells Ultra Boy that he is proud that his son actually showed up, and for that he has his respect. When Crav asks where his Trident is, Ultra Boy sidesteps the question and says that he represents all of Rimbor as a member of the Legion. Crav reacts in anger, saying that one-half of Rimbor has been in a constant holy war with the other half of Rimbor. The planet is a world divided, but he intends to rectify that. When Jo tells his father that unity is the only way for the planet to survive, Crav says that Jo is also a traitor and a thief. Cosmic Boy then steps in and introduces himself to the General. Cosmic Boy says that they are there to help. Crav says that that is even more insulting, and punches Cosmic Boy, sending him flying. Colossal Boy grows to giant size, and punches Crav but this doesn't take him down, amd then Crav tells the Legionnaires that he is the duly elected leader of the planet and that they are all traitors. He then knocks Colossal Boy down. Mon-El then takes action, punching Crav and knocking him out, while White Witch subdues all of Crav's soldiers. Ultra Boy tells the Legionnaires that they are now in serious trouble; according to Rimbor law, Mon-El is now the ruler of Rimbor. When Cosmic Boy asks the other Legionnaires what they do now, Colossal Boy says that as the elected leader, Cosmic Boy has to tell them what to do next.

Elsewhere, on Planet Gotham, the team of Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy and Triplicate Girl arrive near the Q Wayne Foundation. The Legionnaires marvel at how clean Planet Gotham is. The Commissioner of Police, December Sevenbergen, arrives to greet the Legionnaires, who ask for permission to question Mordru about Aquaman's trident. In his cell, Mordru is suddenly faced with Tortor, the leader of the band of Horraz the Legionnaires encountered earlier, offering to help him escape and asking him questions about the Trident. However, this is all Saturn Girl invading his head. Mordru forces Saturn Girl out of his mind, showing Saturn Girl a terrible nightmare of the Legion lying defeated (perhaps dead?) on small rocks in space at the feet of an unknown villain. Saturn Girl collapse as Mordru shoves her out of his mind. Lightning Lad says that, since the psychic interrogation didn't work, they need a new plan. He asks Commissioner December to wake Mordru so he can question the demon. December says that Mordru has uncatalogued mystical powers and she is hesitant to do that, to which Lighting Lad replies that he makes lightning and asks if that makes December feel better. She says that it does not. Chameleon Boy then says that this might be a job for him. Lightning Lad asks what Chameleon Boy's plan is, but he replies that he was hoping Lightning Lad had an idea. However, they are interrupted by a message from Dawnstar, saying that they need Saturn Girl's team back at headquarters immediately. Dawnstar says that Mon-El arrested General Crav Nah.

At Legion Headquarters, the now conscious Crav is attacking the Legionnaires, beating them left, right and centre, as Saturn Girl and the Planet Gotham team teleport in. Saturn Girl attempts to use her power on Crav, to put him to sleep but the powers don't work on him, though Brainiac 5 and Wildfire do fall into sleep instead. Superboy attacks Crav Nah from behind and takes him down with one punch. Robin, who is also present, asks, "That was a bad guy, right?" to which Superboy replies, "I hope so." Mon-El talks about how Crav was probably still dopey from his having knocked him out earlier, and thus Superboy was able to knock Crav out now. Superboy asks Mon-El who he is, but when Superboy tells him that he looks like someone from a show (though he won't get the reference), Mon-El gets mad and flies off in a huff. Superboy asks if he said something wrong, and as Triplicate Girl is about to tell Superboy how Mon-El is related to him, Saturn Girl gets angry at Superboy.

Imra asks if Robin is Damian Wayne, and when Superboy says he is, Saturn Girl tells him they have to put Damian back into the past. She uses her powers to wipe Damian's mind of the 31st Century, and then commands Damian to fall asleep. Superboy asks why Damian can't stay, commenting that he'd noticed a lack of Bat-themed people anywhere. Superboy asks the Legionnaires exactly why he is there. Cosmic Boy responds that they have been begging for Jon to watch the Orientation presentation. He tells Superboy that the orientation is their perspective on how and why Superboy is needed in the 31st Century. While Cosmic Boy prepares to take Superboy with him, saying that it's time to properly introduce Jon to the Legion of Super-Heroes, Saturn Girl picks up the unconscious Robin and prepares to take him back to his proper time. As Comic Boy and Superboy fly off, Superboy asks who the "cosmic barbarian" they brought back from Rimbor is. Cosmic Boy says that it is just Ultra Boy's father. "We’re all in a lot of trouble. Can't even deal with it right now."

At the same time, Ultra Boy, Brainiac 5, Shadow Lass, Dawnstar, Chameleon Boy and Colossal Boy are placing Crav in a prison cell. Chameleon Boy refers to Damian Wayne as "Baby Hitler." Brainiac 5 says that Chameleon Boy is making an unfair comparison - that they are working to avoid the outcome where Damian Wayne turns bad, and that their entire existence is dedicated to rooting for Damian's success. Ultra Boy says that they don't need to worry about Damian Wayne, they need to worry about the fact that they are in the middle of an intergalactic incident.

To make matters worse, the Legion's alarm is triggered by Computo. Computo tells Brainiac 5 that the trident has been stolen. Crav then says that the Legionnaires stole the trident first, that before they kidnapped the warrior leader of Rimbor. He promises first son Ultra Boy that he has ended his Legion of Super-Heroes.


Commentary:
This is the third issue of the new Legion series, and to be honest, by this time, I really wanted to like the story. To be honest, there was something on each and every page that I didn't like. But I'm not going to go into detail about it all, as to be honest, it's just repetitive all the way.

There was some good in this issue. Crav Nah, the General, is an interesting character. Aside from being something of a badass, his brusque demeanor and his bravado come across really well, and he is one of the few characters in the series thus far who has a unique external voice and personality. That said, he is stereotypical in many ways, but I'm looking forward to how he develops (if he develops) as the story goes on. The prison scene on Planet Gotham was also kind of good. It was refreshing that Mordru quickly ferreted out Saturn Girl's plan and then overpowered her and threw her out of his mind. Bendis needs to establish Mordru as a real threat, something he didn't do in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #1, and he comes across as a more powerful adversary here. Ryan Sook, Travis Moore, and Wade Von Grawbadger combined to deliver another superb issue in terms of the art. The lines are clean, the art looks smooth, and I really like the design for Crav Nah. The tattoo on his chest is the same design/symbol as Ultra Boy's logo. Sook, Moore, and Von Grawbadger do an excellent job drawing all of the Legionnaires this issue. All of the characters have excellent facial expressions, which does help to fill the story with an emotional context and help pull the reader into the story. The artwork is just as good in the dialect scenes as it is in the action scenes, and to be honest, I find the multi-page scenes work better with these artists, especially with the intensity of the dialogue.

In terms of the bad, well... The plot and story continue to be a mess. The story continues to be shallow. We are three issues into the new Legion title, and author Brian Bendis has still only given the reader two plotlines - and neither of them has been developed or progressed at all. We have the trident plotline and the Damien Wayne plotline, and that's it. Simply put, that is way too few plot lines and way too little plot progression for the third issue of a new title. It is also way too few plot lines and way too shallow of a story for a Legion of Super-Heroes title. The true strength and uniqueness of the Legion of Super-Heroes is just that: they are *legion*, they have a massive roster. This large roster always meant that the writer could and would construct numerous plotlines in order to keep all of the members of the Legion busy. The result was a comic title that offered the reader a complex read with lots of story content and plot progression. Furthermore, involving a lot of Legionnaires in various plots lent itself well to character development even at the micro level. It's not an easy task, and let's face it, writing the Legion of Super-Heroes is probably one of the hardest tasks in mainstream comics. But, that is what a writer signs on for when they take over the Legion of Super-Heroes. And plenty of writers from Jim Shooter to Paul Levitz have shown how the job gets done right. The best scene of the issue is probably the five-page scene on Rimbor, with the Legion taking down Crav. There's a good deal of plot progression here, we learn a lot about how things political and social work on Rimbor, and it offers some good plot progress. The five-page scene on Planet Gotham, by contrast, allows Mordru to flex his power muscles a bit, but doesn't really contribute anything new to the story and there's no real action in it.

And then there are the two plots. The matter of Aquaman's trident doesn't really get any development in the issue, other than the scenes with Crav Nah. It almost comes across as a MacGuffin that trident does, with the characters running around and shouting about the trident with no real reason or more importantly, purpose. Every-bloody-one wants the trident, but no one seems to know why, except perhaps Mordru and possibly Crav Nah. I don't feel all that invested in the trident plot, and am not sure that most readers of the title are, to be honest. As for the business with Damian Wayne, it's a waste of time as far as I'm concerned, though the last third of the issue makes it clear that Robin will have a future impact on the DC universe and that there's a relationship of some sort between Mon-El and Jon Kent. One reason I dislike the plot is because it continues to bind and restrict the Legion to the 21st century DC universe. Author Bendis has already tightly bound the Legion to the present-day DC universe with the inclusion of Superboy and clearly placing all of the focus and attention on Jon Kent instead of the Legion. He's gone out of his way to show that nearly everything in the 31st Century is directly due to and linked to Superboy. The creation of the United Planets? Because of Superboy. The creation of the Legion? Also because of Superboy, in some fashion. By making the Legion and its setting in the 31st Century so...dependent upon the present-day DC universe, it merely serves to shackle the Legion. This approach completely robs the Legion of its agency and what made the Legion special in all of its earlier incarnations. It's less unique and more derivative and unoriginal. This approach also robs the Legion’s setting of the 31st Century of *its* own uniqueness and independence. The Legion shines when the spotlight is placed upon the Legion and the 31st Century. The franchise flourishes when the Legion is their own independent franchise with their own rich and unique setting and history that stands on its own feet.

One of the most irritating elements of the issue was some of the dialogue. "My son is a member of THAT Legion of Super-Heroes?!" "I am Crav, the General Nah! I am your chosen warrior! Where is my trident? Where is my son?" Just...irritating, especially considering the reader already knows from last issue that Ultra Boy's father was going to be angry that he didn't get Aquaman's trident. I could go on and on about the dialogue, but I'm not going to. *sigh* That said, one of the other strengths of the Legion of Super-Heroes comics in the past has been, as mentioned, the diverse roster of characters and the strong, engaging chemistry that exists between them. It is completely lacking in this version of the title. Author Bendis continues to write Jon Kent as a complete and utter buffoon, dumb and bubble-headed. However, his version of Superboy is also the most vanilla personality that is possible. As for the Legionnaires, Bendis has completely failed to give any of the Legionnaires their own unique external voices, and they do not have well-defined personalities either, being pretty generic and bland to this point. However, more to the point, author Bendis seems incapable of juggling more than a few characters to any degree in a single issue. I'm not all that knowledgeable about his work for other comic companies, but part of me wonders if Bendis is just unable to write team books. Oh, and speaking of relationship plots... I was also quite disturbed by the fact that Cosmic Boy acted all "in control" when he clearly has no idea of Rimbor social customs. I wasn't sure why Ultra Boy didn't take the lead and speak for the team. It makes Cosmic Boy and Ultra Boy both look like idiots, and really didn't make Cosmic Boy likeable. He is *not* the Rokk Krinn who sounds like a Legion founder and the first team leader. The follow-up scene, when Cosmic Boy admits he has no idea what to do and the others chide him for it, irritated me no end, and I have to say that I'm disappointed with this portrayal of the character. The revelation that Cosmic Boy and Shadow Lass are dating rather turned me off. While I'm a devotee of the Mon-El/Shadow Lass pairing that is a staple of the past Legions (which was possibly hinted at in the dialogue), what bothered me most in this scene was the mindless banter aboout how Legion members should be updated on who is dating whom. I don't know why that should ever be something that members of a super-team need to be officially updated on, but the silliness of it was just...ugh! There is some sort of relationship between Mon-El and Superboy hinted at this issue as well, but with Mon-El flying off in a huff it doesn't really get addressed here. Hopefully we'll learn more about it later on. I did find it intriguing that this is the second time that Saturn Girl tries to put the villain of the story to sleep with her abilities, and not only doesn't the power work on the villain in question, but it works again on both Brainiac 5 and Wildfire, as well as a few other Legionnaires!

Last but not least, there is *no* mention of Rose Forrest in this story, she who was (nominally) the "hook" that was supposed to bring readers into this book from the recent Millenium mini-series. She appeared in the previous issue, #2, so I had thought her purpose being there would be explained sooner rather than later, but I guess that is another disappointment I'll have to live with...until I see what happens next issue.

I won't even talk again about the Orientation Program, which rears its ugly head for the third issue in a row! This is really dumb, to be honest. Get it over with already!


Final Notes:
Once again, this issue's story does not have a title.

There is a smattering of Interlac in this issue as well. On the top of the first page, just above the trident image, the word "Headlines" appears. At the bottom left of the first page, the Interlac text reads, "Dawnstar merchandise available now. Think here." The large block of Interlac text in the upper right corner reads, "Dawnstar tied with Lightning Lass as the most popular Legionnaire among children of the Galactic. Dawnstar has been the most outspoken member of the team on the subject of what the role of the United Planets should be. While President Brande has made a strong case for a firmer hand, Dawnstar feels that power will only corrupt. "It is the only lesson history has taught us over and over." ". The Interlac text in the plates at the bottom of the first page is somewhat obscured by the words that Dawnstar is saying, but what can be made out is, "Message from Dawnsrat." followed by "....Waiting".

The most interesting thing that we learn in all this first page Interlac is that there is a Legionnaire named Lightning Lass. I had assumed because there is a Legionnaire in a uniform that features a feather that she would be Light Lass, but it seems not.

On page 13, under the words Planet Gotham, the Interlac text reads, "Do not feed the ..." I can't really read the rest of that entry due to the colours of the letters on the background. *sigh*...

We learn that Dawnstar's last name is Gr'Ell, though she still does come from Starhaven. Her last name is an homage to Mike Grell, the artist who helped create Dawnstar's look and appearance. However, just how do you pronounce her last name? :)...

One of the Interlac features on the first page makes it clear that Lightning Lass is also a Legionnaire. However, to this point in the series she has been portrayed with the feather symbol on her costume and her powers are consistent with her being Light Lass. Consistency error or what? :(

Planet Gotham's Police Commissioner is December Sevenbergen. I assume this is an homage to long-time Legion editor Karen Berger...

There is a Dini City on Planet Gotham. Another homage, this time to Paul Dini...

Lightning Lad is shown consistently with two different coloured eyes. No reason is given for this, but it's an interesting twist to the character.





Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #4
Tags: comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion read, lll, long live the legion!, lsh, review
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