Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #9
"The Trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes - Part 2"
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: See the Credits in the Commentary, below
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Ryan Sook, Wade Von Grawbadger, Mikel Janin, Travis Moore & Jordie Bellaire
Variant Cover: Andre Lima Araujo (pencils) & Chris O'Halloran (inks)
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Mission Monitor Board:
Shadow Lass, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Dawnstar, Bouncing Boy, Monster Boy, Blok, Wildfire, Timber Wolf, Invisible Kid, Dream Girl, Mon-El, Triplicate Girl, Lightning Lass, Lightning Lad, Gold Lantern, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Doctor Fate, White Witch, Ultra Boy, Superboy; Star Boy, Ferro Lad, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Matter-Eater Lad, Sun Boy, Brainiac 5, Shrinking Violet
U.P. President R.J. Brande
Legion-U.P. Liasion Rose Forrest (cameo)
The story continues from the previous issue. The issue begins with a one-page close-up of Tasmia Mallor, aka Shadow Lass, telling us about her basic origins and giving the reader a recap of the events leading up to the Legion being put on trial. She speaks of the Legion being born from the ideas of the Great Heroes unifying their worlds to bring peace. Shadow Lass stands behind the ideas of the United Planets, but most importantly, she drops the fact that the people of Talok VIII have a "pure view" of what is just.
The reader then gets a second sort of recap page, where R.J. Brande, the President of the United Planets, declares her position. She talks about how the Legion was her idea. That their mission statement was to emulate the choices of the 20th Century's original Age of Heroes, but not the hubris and the mistakes. However, they have broken the rules and not followed the tenets of the United Planets. Accusing the Legion of breaking one of the cardinal rules of the space-time continuum by bringing Superboy Jon Kent here as part of "so-called training" and unlawfully kidnapping a a member of the Elite Council of the United Planets, she has to put the Legion on trial, possibly to disband them. And one way to figure out the motives of the Legion is to look back at who they recruited.
Once more, President Brande shows the U.P. Council selected excerpts from the audition memexes of various Legion members. She begins with the audition memexe of Dawnstar, from her homeworld of Starhaven. Dawnstar is intrigued to meet people from Titan or Braal, and even more so meeting one from each world. Imra and Rokk are impressed by her actions of taking on the Red Horraz and beating them, and want her to join the Legion. Dawnstar doesn't want to join until she hears that the Legion has complete autonomy over their actions. They work with, not for, the UP.
The next audition memexe shows us how Charles Foster Taine got into the Legion. Not wanting the name "The Bullet," he wants to be called Bouncing Boy. He tells them it's all about his invulnerability and the velocity, and that he can't be hurt at all. However, he's not one to celebrate the United Planets, having even written his doctoral in regards of the matter. It turns out Charles is a doctor meta-physical gateway science. Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl tell him that not everyone in the room likes the United Planets, and that they are together specifically to try and help fix it.
The next audition memexe deals with Arune Singh from the planet Tor-etto, aka Monster Boy. He tells Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad that he's not the same kind of "changemorph", as it's a completely different kind of transformation, not actually a change. He can turn into any monster, though on Tor-etto the term "monster" is an earned title of respect and not a perjorative. When asked what the biggest monster he's turned into is, Arune changes into what Lightning Lad calls a "Moby Dick of Space" (!!), though the others don't get the reference. Cosmic Boy says he'd like to see the President or the United Planets force them to do anything they don't want to.
The President then claims the Legionnaires were speaking words of rebellion and revolt even before they were a Legion. Shadow Lass is shocked by the low quality of the argument and the use of selected bits, but the President says she has many more files she can show them. Shadow Lass claims she has plenty that she can show the U.P. Council, starting with Dream Girl's audition, but before they can continue, Blok interrupts the proceedings. He says that he served on her personal security team, swore an oath to her and her office, and doesn't understand how she could do this after everything he gave to her. Shadow Lass says that perhaps they should play Blok's audition, but Wildfire interrupts her, and demands that they look at his audition.
Watching the three founders interview and audition Drake Burroughs, aka Wildfire, they learn that his powers aren't "fire"-related, but that he's an anti-energy generator with no body in the (containment) suit. Drake says he's not there to audition, he's there to see if they're for real. he thinks the United Planets is the greatest thing ever, and would proudly lay his energies on the line for the President and this amazing partnership (i.e., the U.P. and the Legion), but it has to be the real thing. He'll only join the team if they are truly do the real thing in defending the galaxy and maintaining peace. The three founders welcome Drake into the Legion.
The next audition memexe shows us Brin Londo, aka Timber Wolf. He has taken the three Legion founders to Zuun, or at least the remains of the scorched world. Nothing grows on Zuun, not any longer. He was made to defend the planet, but by the time he returned to do so, it was too late. Brin tells them that this is what happens when there is no one there to help the creatures who need it. He brought them to Zuun so they could experience the planet and understand how important the United Planets is and what they're fighting for. The crying Imra Ardeen welcomes him to the Legion of Supr-Heroes.
Back in the present, Invisible Kid addresses the U.P. Council. He says he was shocked to hear the President of the United Planets pain the Legion as the opposition, and thought they were in complete alliance with her. He tells them he gave up everything to join the Legion, saying his name is Jacques Foccart, the Invisible Kid, from the planet Kit-son. He joined the Legion because his homeworld exists in a different part of the visual spectrum than Earth does. He says he understands that it's hard for people to remember them because they can't see his people. Rose Forrest told him the old expression "Out of sight, out of mind" when they first met, and he says that the expression makes so much sense when it comes to his people and others, as well as the Legion and the United Planets. The U.P., the Legion, these are perfect ways to connect planets to the rest of the galaxy. To say that the Legion is opposed to the United Planets is insane; they are an extension of it. He adds that this doesn't mean all these Legionnaires don't have room to grow and evolve, and says, "To be quite frank, I am not a fan of *all* these Legionnaires." But that every one of them is a dedicated warrior to the their mutual cause. Invisible Kid says the Legion caught General Crav Nah doing a criminal act, and that the Legion should not be having to defend themselves for doing what they were expected to do. And that General Crav Nah should be standing there on trial.
At that moment, General Crav Nah suddenly returns, with Jo Nah, Ultra Boy, in chains! He tells the Council that Jo Nah betrayed Rimbor's ways, so has been cast out and be dealt with as a criminal by Rimborian law. And that each planet should deal with this Legion of criminals according to their own customs for the crimes they've committed. President Brande acknowleges Crav's return, but says he has no longer got any say on the United Planets Council . Crav says that she let "these children" destroy the United Planets, and Rimbor will return to its seat when justice has been served.
Mon-El has had enough, however, and he violently attacks General Crav, beating him up and freeing Ultra Boy in the process, but annoying everyone else. many of the Legionnaires follow Mon-El out of the meeting into the skies above. They try to reason with Mon-El, but he flies off in a huff after screaming, "I am Kryptonian Prime!" Monster Boy asks if Mon-El just quit, and Colossal Boy says that he hopes so, as Mon-El's "exhausting."
Shortly after, back inside the Council Hall, while everyone calms down, Dream Girl then steps up and tells the President and all assembled that she has been dreaming about this, all that has occurred to this point, for years, but that it's nothing but a prelude of what's to come. She tells them, "A Great Darkness is coming."
Some time later, the three Triplicate Girls have a debate or an argument, depending on how you view it, about whether they should stay part of the Legion or whether they should return to Cargg. They don't want to be arrested if the trial of the Legion goes badly, and Yellow Luornu says that it feels as if they're being used by the President. The three decide to talk to some of the other Legionnaires. Lightning Lass says she feels as if they're stuck in a theatre, and why she has problems with the Legion being involved with the U.P. in the first place. Lightning Lad says someone has to stand up to them, otherwise none of the other fights matter. Gold Lantern feels the President is punishing the Legion for doing what they were told to do. Chameleon Boy says what he told Brainiac 5, that his mother is an unconscionable coward, and that she won't even show her true face to the galactic. That distracts Blue Luornu for a moment, and she's told to focus by Yellow Luornu. Shadow Lass is trying to contact Saturn Girl about returning to the face the Council. Colossal Boy says they should go back in to the Council and apologize for Mon-El, then get the hell out of there. Doctor Fate says that's a terrible idea, and says that he's been summoned to the Great Hall. And Saturn Girl wants too know why Fate has been summoned to the Council Hall.
In the Council Hall, Doctor Fate tells the President that he has been taught not to ignore precognitive dreams, but that it's more about interpretation than anything else. He says that chaos in the Galactic has been growing for cycles, and there was almost no balance. But from the moment the Legion was announced, the balance has shifted. Regardless, the concerns brought on by Dream Girl's statement are very real, and that he has felt the reverberations of the Great Darkness but isn't certain that it is going to happen. If the Great Darkness does not come, it will be because the Legion was actively working to avoid it. And if the Great Darkness does come, the Legion will be ready and present to deal with it.
Xola Aq, aka the White Witch, has been watching what is going on as Doctor Fate talks, and is surprised that she knows more about the Great Darkness than the Lords of Order. She is the daughter of Mordru, though she hides that fact from everyone including Saturn Girl, and while she hates Mordru and she hates the President who personally recruited her, she feels that she must speak up. She says that the true reason General Crav was seeking powers such as the Trident and other artefacts including magical ones is because Rimbor already knows that the Great Darkness is coming. He is attacking and betraying the United Planets using the Legion so that he can eventually take it over himself! When Crav confesses to this, Gold Lantern encases the Rimborian king in a containment field. The President tells Gold Lantern to get him out of there and take him for ultimate justice. She then tells the Legion the trial is over, and they have exonerated themselves. Long Live the Legion!
As the Legionnaires depart Daxam for Earth, Superboy and Saturn Girl stay behind for a bit and talk. He tells her that he's grateful for having brought him to the future, Great Darkness and all aside, but has to keep remembering that she can read his mind. Saturn Girl tells him that he hasn't offended her with the constant romantic thoughts he's had towards her since the moment they met. Saturn Girl and Superboy share a kiss.
This issue continues the story from Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #8, and actually has the trial of the Legion that was promised to us last issue. Bendis uses the backdrop of the trial to once more show us some audition vids (aka memexes) of several Legionnaires (Dawnstar, Boouncing Boy, Monster Boy, Wildfire, and Timber Wolf) to highlight seditious intent on the part of the Legion, but also the nobler cause for which some Legionnaires joined the team. The reader not only gets background information on the team members (also establishing new origins for some of the characters) but also demonstrates very clearly that the Legion has never wanted to be the lapdog of the United Planets. The issue has the added bonus of dropping the hint about the next big plot that is to come, and finally gives the reader the motivation behind the actions of General Crav Nah of Rimbor that were unclear for the first six issues or so. Finally!
This means that it essentially took two issues and dozens of artists to tell the reader that the leader of Rimbor was plotting against the United Planets, and that the President of the United Planets was setting up the Legion in order to trick the leader of Rimbor into admitting that he was plotting. To be honest, I have to admit to wondering if that's all there was to this. To be honest, it sounds like a throw-away mini-plot in a set-up to a classic Jim Shooter or Paul Levitz tale, not the story itself... Or perhaps this is all about setting up the Great Darkness story. But, and correct me if I'm wrong, didn't Crav Nah already admit to this a few issues ago when the United Planets challenged him about Aquaman's Trident?
There is plenty of characterization in this issue, moreso than we've seen in the first seven or so issues of the new title, some of it good and some of it pretty bad. I mentioned in the discussion of the first part of this story that Shadow Lass wasn't fighting General Crav Nah and his Rimborian forces and posited that she might be a traitor or some such. However, the mention here on the first page that Talokians see all things in stark terms and that it gives them a very pure view of what is just made me wonder whether Tasmia actually thinks that General Crav Nah has a just cause. If that's the case, intriguing things could be ahead. Wildfire provides the reader with an interesting perspective, one that is somewhat different than his earlier incarnations, in that he's very pro-active, and joined the Legion on the condition that they do the "real thing" and truly defend the galaxy and maintain peace. It's a refreshing twist to the character, yet it still sounds like the Wildfire who often wanted to jump in on the action and had something of a hot temper. Then there's Timber Wolf. Timber Wolf's original origin story was fitting for the Silver Age of comics, but here he is portrayed as having been created too late to "defend" a now scorched homeworld of Zuun (notice the difference in spelling here, too). His stating that it's all about helping "the creatures" that need it is a wonderful statement and sheds some new light on Brin Londo. This makes me wonder if he is going to be the Legion's ecological warrior and defend nature and all that good stuff. By far, my favourite characterization this issue was the page on Xola Aq, aka White Witch. The revelations that she was personally chosen to join the Legion by the President of Earth, that she is Mordru's daughter, a fact that she is concealing from all the others (especially Saturn Girl), and how much she hates Mordru, the President, and a third something (perhaps the Legion?) spoke volumes about the character, and adds a good deal of personality to the character. The fact that she revealed the truth of what the Rimborians were up to was nice and made a lot of sense here. Just great stuff.
The page featuring Jacques Foccart's Invisible Kid was, interesting in terms of the monologue by the hero, shedding some light on him and his people, but was graphically almost like a joke pulled by the artist - and it should be noted there's no credit for the artist of this page! That said, I thought that this page had two well-made points to it: All of the Legionnaires have a lot of room to grow and evolve, and to quote the second point, "I am *not* a fan of *all* these Legionnaires." That said, it's still really annoying that the readers don't get to actually see Jacques for the most part, though it's explained here. But, if that's the case, why bring in Jacques as Invisible Kid at all?
On the negative side, the dialogue at times seems to be an absolute ramble, making me feel like Bendis is only using the dialogue and monologues from the Legionnaires to take up space. I am beginning to find it seriously grating that Triplicate Girl, her unique design this time out aside, only ever seems to argue with herself all the time. And I'm starting to wonder about the character because we haven't seen a single issue yet where Luornu has merged back into a single person. Makes me wonder if she really has the power to split into three girls, or is she actually three girls who share a mind? And then there's Mon-El... I was disappointed to learn earlier in the series that he's now a Kryptonian, rather than a Daxamite, but am seriously annoyed that he's rather grating, something of a whiner, and very impulsive. It's pretty clear that this is not the level-headed Mon-El who spent a thousand years in the Phantom Zone, and I really don't like this version of him. And I seem to be not alone in that sentiment, as the other Legionnaires aren't that fond of Mon-El that much either.
In terms of characterization, the biggest problem I have with this issue, and with the first part of this story as well, was that I assumed that each Legionnaire would be getting one page devoted to them in the two issues. The Legionnaires that haven't been focused on at all are Shrinking Violet (who doesn't even appear in the comics all that much), Karate Kid (who seems to be a racial stereotype to this point), Sun Boy, Star Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, and the green skeletal person I'm assuming is Chemical King. In some ways, that feels like a waste of artists and their abilities on depicting Legionnaires, and that's a shame.
And then there's the matter of Saturn Girl and Jon Kent's relationship that seems to be starting out for real here. While I understand that one can't expect the same couplings of Legionnaires in every continuity, and while I know that Imra has been attracted to other men in previous incarnations of the Legion (the almost wedding with Rokk and the affair with Jo Nah are two that come to mind), I have to ask: why? Imra knows of Jon's attraction to her, but hasn't given any indication of being attracted to him. I have to wonder if Imra has been manipulating Jon Kent throughout the series to this point, and whether this is just another way of her keeping him under...close observation. I'm also somewhat bothered by the fact that there's been no evidence there's anything at all between Garth and Imra. Not even a hint as to whether they're friends. But Jon and Imra? To be honest, I'm not fond of this development at all.
I also have to say something here about continuity this issue, though it has been a complaint over the series as a whole. On the Dawnstar page (page 4), Mike Grell draws her with her classic costume and the true feather wings. Even though Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy have the current hairstyles, they are both wearing classic costumes, Imra her bikini and Rokk his black corset look. Either the editors just let Mike Grell get away with this, perhaps as an homage to the classic Legion, or the editors are just not doing their job very well here. Another continity glitch occurs in the story when Ultra Boy is clearly shown in the Great Hall just to the left of and slightly behind Shadow Lass on page 3, yet supposedly on page 13 shows up in chains when General Crav Nah arrives to confront the Council. Obviously no one was paying attention here either, eh editor? And how does Triplicate Girl go from being in the Great Hall to being in Metropolis again (page 17) and then being back in the Great Hall again? Just baffling the editorial discontinuities that are happening in this series.
Needless to say, I can't end the discussion of this issue without mentioning the art once more. First off, here's the listing of artists this issue.
The artwork this issue, as with the previous issue, features one artist or pair of artists per page of the issue, and once again is a bit of a mixed bag, though there's some tremendous stuff this time out. Here are some of my thoughts about the issue's artwork. Right off the bat, what can you say about Mike Grell's art on page 4? It's absolutely delightful as a bit of Legion lore, makes one question why they went with the electronic or holographic or whatever they are wings the current Dawnstar has. Just a priceless piece of art, that makes it clear Grell could easily come back to the Legion again and wouldn't have missed a beat. Ivan Reis and Joe Prado do a good job on page 5's Bouncing Boy bit. There's a sense of innocence and youthfulness to the page, and Bouncing Boy looks truly "inflatable" in this set of panels. as a bit of Legion lore, almost like giving a finger to Bendis and editor Cunningham, in that he draws Dawnstar in her old, original costume with the real, feather wings and Imra in her bikini outfit and Cosmic Boy in his black corset. Sure, he gave them the new hairstyles, but still, this is just priceless...and I loved it. I have to mention Nick Derington's page 6 simply for the Monster Boy as the Moby Dick of Space bit and the homage to the classic Legion tale. Lots of fun. I'm not crazy about James Harren's page 7, as the whole page comes across as a bit cartoonish, reminding me of Dan Hipp's work in the previous issue. Blok comes across very blocky once again, and there's no room for expression on the poor Dryadian's face the way he's drawn here, despite the emotional sequence that is happening. Nicola Scott's page 9, taking place on the world of Zuun and giving up a Timber Wolf insight, is quite superb. The feel of desolation in the first panel is just eerie and creepy, and the tears on Imra's face in the bottom panel just makes everything more emotion fraught to the reader. I've got nothing to add to what I said earlier about the Invisible Kid material on page 10. The artwork by Jim Cheung is quite slick and has a good feel to it. But, man that is a *lot* of punches thrown by Mon-El! Gary Frank and Tula Lotay bring an interesting perspective to Dream Girl on pages 13 and 14, and she is quite aetherial in both, but Tula Lotay's piece of art is just...stunning. And is that a Boom Tube that the reader sees there? Hmm... I am not thrilled about Riley Rossmo's art on page 15 and Gene Luen Yang's work on page 16. Both seem very manga and cartoonish to me, and are probably my two least favourite pieces in the two issues overall. The Doctor Fate artwork by Kevin Nolan on page 17 and Michael Fiffe on page 18 are both pretty good in different ways, but I had thought this Doctor Fate was female based on earlier issues. Another continuity glitch, perhaps? And then the White Witch... Jenny Frison does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the character on page 19, and it's a marvellous piece that would look good as a poster.
In the final reading, the second part of the Trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes isn't really a trial per se, but more an attempt by author Bendis to bring to a conclusion the entire Aquaman's Trident plot and set up the Great Darkness plot (whatever that will be in this incarnation of the Legion), but also explain the motivation for Rimbor's actions in the first six or so issues. In essence, the trial is a set-up for catching General Crav Nah in his web of lies and betrayal, but it also offers a few new revelations and some insights to a few of the Legionnaires. The issue, like the first part, was a mixed bag in terms of both the story and the artwork.
This issue marks only the second in the current Legion series to actually have a title...
The Mission Monitor listing above is based on the image of the characters on page 3, and all those who appear (or not, as is the case with Invisible Kid on page 10) in the story itself. Notably absent is Computo, who is only depicted this issue on the cover, and the once more absent Chemical King (?). On page 3, I don't recognize the character standing next to Gold Lantern and below Bouncing Boy, but it looks like a Green Lantern!...
The Interlac on page 1, above the image of General Crav Nah reads, "Headlines"...
The Interlac on page 1, in the upper right hand side, reads,
"The trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes is being broadcast live to the entire Galactic. It is being translated into 97 different base languages and 700 different dialects. The only planetary system not running the trial live is Rimbor, who has accused the Legion and the gathered United Planets of egregious criminal behavior."...
The Interlac text on the bottom of the first page reads,
"It is unknown whether Rimbor Leader Crav, the General Nah or his son and newly elected Legion leader Jo Nah, Ultra Boy, will appear before this court."
"Rimbor very publically denounced their seat at the United Planets after the Legion of Super-Heroes intercepted what they believed to be an illegal interaction between Rimbor and the Horraz."...
The Interac text at the bottom of page 2 reads,
"As stated in the United Planet Bylaws, the President acts as prosecutor for any case brought forth to the body."
"RJ Brande is a skilled litigator who successfully negotiated peace between New Krypton and Thanagar. Her approval rating across the galactic is 66%."
"The Legion's approval rating is 87%."
"She is constantly checking."...
Monster Boy is actually given a full name here, Arune Singh, of the planet Tor-etto. When the Legionnaires tell him they already have a "changemorph," the reader learns his powers are a completely different kind of transformation. However, the reader never finds out why the Legion is allowing two "changemorphs" on the team...
The reference on page 6 to the "Moby Dick of Space" is a homage to the Super-Moby Dick of Space that the original Legion first encountered in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #332, in which Lightning Lad lost his arm (though it was restored later). It is ironic that Lightning Lad mentions it, and the other two Legionnaires don't get the reference...
Timber Wolf's homeworld of Zuun is an ecological wasteland. In a new origin, he was taken from Zuun and experimented on, giving him powers, to make him a soldier and warrior to defend the place, but by then it was too late...
Jacques Foccart is Invisible Kid here, but he now comes from the planet Kit-Son. This is an homage to former Legion artist Barry Kitson. It is a world that exists in a different part of the visual spectrum than that of Earth...
On page 14, when Dream Girl says, "A Great Darkness is coming," one can see what might be a Boom Tube in the background...
White Witch is Xola Aq, though in this version of Legion continuity, she is the daughter of Mordru and was brought into the Legion by President Brande herself. Her name is the homage to the original story in which White Witch appeared as The Hag in Adventure Comics Vol 1 #351-352. In that story, she was enchanted to become evil. She was revealed to be Mysa Nal, Nura (Dream Girl) Nal's sister, who had pursued a different (magical) path. Whether she is still really Mysa Nal in the current series remains to be seen...
Next Issue: Action Comics Vol 1 #1026