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Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #6

Here's another read of issues of the current series of the Legion of Super-Heroes. This time out, it's the conclusion of the first story arc.

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #6
August, 2020
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ryan Sook
Inker: 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:
Brainiac 5, Monster Boy, White Witch, Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, Ultra Boy, Dawnstar, Wildfire, Shadow Lass, Superboy, Saturn Girl, Colossal Boy, Gold Lantern, Bouncing Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dr. Fate, Lightning Lad, Light(ning) Lass, Mon-El; Triplicate Girl, Star Boy, Blok, Shrinking Violet, Matter-Eater Lad, Karate Kid, Computo (cameos)

Supporting Characters:
Rose Forrest; U.P. President R.J. Brande; Crav Nah, the General

Horraz Pirates and their leader Tortor

The issue continues from the previous issue. The close-up is on Brainiac 5, who is using the Legion Social Network to send out a Legion Emergency Distress Call to everyone on the planet to evacuate New Earth.

In New Metropolis, Rose Forrest, Monster Boy, White Witch and Element Lad are attempting to help the civilians escape south to the West Lawn, where Ferro Lad (!!) is waiting to help everyone. In Brainiac 5's personal laboratory on Subbasement 15 of Legion HQ, Brainiac 5 and Chameleon Boy confirm that the Horraz pirates have the Aquaman trident and are preparing to attack Earth with it. Meanwhile, Monster Boy tells White Witch and Rose Forrest that he doesn't get to choose which monster he changes into during emergencies, and that the Earth people are just going to have to get over their prejudices. Rose Forrest confirms that the Horraz have arrived, and Brainiac 5 says that they have Legionnaires at every outpost and an assault team in the air.

A Legion team consisting of Colossal Boy, Ultra Boy, Shadow Lass, Wildfire and Dawnstar begin their counterattack on the Horraz, but Ultra Boy is hit and rendered unconscious. Superboy and Saturn Girl arrive on the scene as reinforcements, and Saturn Girl awakens the unconscious Ultra Boy being carried by Wildfire; he is now quite angry. Meanwhile, Tortor (the leader) of the Horraz Collective corrupts Computo temporarily and sends out a message to the Galactic stating that the United Planets is a disgrace, their President is a monster, and New Earth is to be punished for interfering in the Horraz chosen path. Meanwhile, the Legionnaires in space are attacked by the Horraz ship(s), leading Superboy to comment to Ultra Boy that spaceships have learned to "throw a punch" in the last thousand years. Ultra Boy observes as the Horraz leader emerges from his ship's hatch, holding Aquaman's Trident. Superboy tells Ultra Boy that he can end this at superspeed, but the two are surprised when a yellow blur races past them - Gold Lantern! As the Horraz observe this, Tortor unleashes the Trident's power!

Gold Lantern is able to keep the power of the Trident and the unleashed oceans in check for several moments, but the Horraz pirates emerge from their ships to launch their own direct attack. While various Legionnaires do what they can to help people, Wildfire, Ultra Boy, Shadow Lass, Dr. Fate, Dawnstar, Cosmic Boy, Superboy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Light Lass take the attack to the Horraz, and keep them at bay at and around Earth's atmosphere. Mon-El flies into the fray, racing up to Tortor, and grabs Aquaman's Trident from him, despite Brainiac 5's warning not to do so. There is a massive explosion of water...

The scene shifts to the United Planets Great Hall on Daxam. The released Crav, the General Nah, accompanied by some Legionnaires and Rose Forrest arrives to confront U.P. President Brande and the United Planets. He argues before the U.P. Council that the Legion attacked and imprisoned him, and that he wants, nay demands, retribution. President Brande tells him that he should take this as a learning experience, to stop and think about what has happened. She tells him that the Legion of Super-Heroes took his dangerous partnership with the Horraz, his selfish and illegal chase for Aquaman's Trident, and turned it into one of the great moments for the Galactic. She shows him the hologram - and New Earth has had its oceans restored! The Legion is now looked upon as beacons of Hope. General Nah is not impressed. He storms out, claiming "The future is War."

And so, the story arc about Aquaman's Trident comes to a conclusion, and seems to be wrapped up. Last issue saw the conclusion to the two-part Origin story for this incarnation of the Legion of Super-Heroes, which gave no story advancement to the Trident plot. While it's good that the story arc has finished, it feels very unsatisfying for a 6-issue story arc, and given that the LSH Origin issues were quite decent in their own way, the Trident storyline could have been completed in four issues (obviously). If the story arc has any real problem, it was that it feels completely rushed. The fact that Aquaman's Trident restoring New Earth's oceans has telegraphed from the beginning effectively means the story could have been resolved in say, three issues rather than the six it took to tell this story (including the Legion origin tale). What was somewhat insulting was that the whole resolution is handled *off-screen*! We don't see the oceans "return," we don't see peoples' reactions to it, we don't see the Legionnaires activities during this time when New Earth's populations must be seriously panicked, and we don't see what happens to the Horraz! The scene just jumps to Daxam and the United Planets Council, and focuses more on General Crav Nah rather than the feat the Legionnaires have accomplished. What exactly did the water displace on New Earth when it returned?? Really poor writing on Bendis's part...again!

The biggest disappointment to me was the cover of the issue. Here it was promising we would "Meet the new recruits!" and depicting Dr. Fate, Superboy, Gold Lantern and Monster Boy. This led me to believe that these four characters might be the focal ones, and that we would get some good character development on them. It turns out the cover is more metaphorical, as we get a brief scene with Monster Boy (he can't change into whatever monster he chooses), a slightly less brief scene with Gold Lantern (and I gotta ask... is that page layout supposed to mean something? It resembles an ankh or the old Legion Clubhouse), and Doctor Fate appears in a couple of panels. Superboy was still front and centre, however, but I really got irked at the comment he made about spaceships having more if a punch after a thousand years. Still portrayed as a bit...dumb.

What also got to me somewhat was the fact that Bendis's script manages to pull off a big, unexpected moment of triumph without giving things away beforehand, though as I said earlier, it's been telegraphed since the beginning of the story arc, but it almost feels...unearned. Mon-El didn't seem to know what was about to happen, but the fact that President Brande did makes it feel like the Legionnaire kids are being manipulated by her.

Everything said, the artwork by Ryan Sook, Wade Von Grawbadger and Jordie Bellaire is stunning this issue. While the cover of the issue (more on that shortly) promises something great, the issue delivers art-wise in so many ways. The space battle scenes with the Legionnaires against the Horraz are very nice, with lots of Legionnaires involved and attempting to work well together (and succeed pretty well at that!), and artistically rendered with a sense of movement and the energies involved. If I had any problem with the space battle scenes, it was the fact that they don't have an epic feel, partially because the scenes show close-ups of Legionnaires essentially...posing. At least that's the way it looks to me. The panel at the bottom of page 8, showing the yellow figure racing past Superboy and Ultra Boy, is very good at showing the sheer speed of the movement, regardless of the fact that we do not actually see the characters in question. For old Legion fans such as myself, these sequences were very reminiscent of how the Legion works and should work in these space battle situations. One of the things I really like is that Jordie Bellaire has chosen a light and airy colour palette. There's nothing lost in his presentation of the colourful Legionnaires themselves, which I think echoes the sense of hope that the Legion is supposed to bring out.

Overall, Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #6 wraps up the Aquaman's Trident story arc, but let's be honest here... It wasn't very interesting as such, and played out that way. This issue of the comic was very pretty to look at, but there is so muc more that could be done with the comic and its cast of characters. And let's hope that more *is* done as the series goes forward from here.

Final Notes:
This is the sixth issue in a row that does not have a title for the story...

There is a smattering of Interlac in this issue. On page 1, the text in the upper left corner (also rendered twice more on the page) reads, "This is not an exercise. This is a Legion crisis. Follow emergency protocols."...

On page 1, the Interlac in green text in the upper right corner reads, "Querl Dox, Brainiac 5, is one of the Founders of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He is one of the architects of New Earth, the sole architect of the Legion of Super-Heroes special headquarters, a web comic creator, the author of the Science Police doctrine, the lead designer in the new United Planets headquarters facility on planet Daxam."...

On page 1, the green Interlac text at the bottom left of the page reads, "He is 17 Earth years old.
His Coluan intellect achievement scale is not public record which means his mind is registered with the United Planets as a deadly weapon. He has taken the initiative to join the Legion of Super-Heroes which has remained a controversial move inside the Coluan collectives."...

On pages 2/3, the white Interlac text at the middle top of the two pages reads, "Evacuate Earth immediately!"...

On page 7, the green Interlac text reads, "You can read about the Horraz lifestyle on their Wayne memexe
Roaming rates may apply.
Void where prohibited."...

Although the evacuation order is given, there is no mention to where the people of New Earth are supposed to go. Flying away from Earth during an attack seems like you would be giving the Horraz more ships to target...

On page 2, Rose Forrest mentions that there is a Legionnaire named Ferro Lad, but we have yet to see him at all or in any group shot of the Legion...

Monster Boy does not get to pick which monster form he transforms into in times of emergency...

On page 15, in the space battle scenes, it is clearly seen that Ayla Ranzz/Light(ning) Lass is wielding lightness powers, and not lightning powers. This inconsistency is inexcusable. Can't Bendis or the editors get this business with Ayla right? :(

Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #7


John Kahane

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