Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #11
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ryan Sook
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Ryan Sook
Variant Cover: Nicola Scott (pencils) & Annette Kwok (inks)
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Mission Monitor Board:
Mon-El, Shadow Lass, Wildfire, Phantom Girl, Karate Kid, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl, Superboy, Doctor Fate (seemingly killed), Ultra Boy, Dawnstar, Triplicate Girl, Dream Girl, Lightning Lass, Blok, Cosmic Boy, Gold Lantern, Brainiac 5, White Witch; Invisible Kid, Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, Monster Boy, Timber Wolf, Computo, Ferro Lad, Star Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Sun Boy, Element Lad
Legion-U.P. Liasion Rose Forrest, Thorn
Rogol Zaar and his space dragon; Mordru
The story continues from last issue. The issue begins with a spotlight splash page on Mon-El. He explains that he is a Kryptonian, the great-to-the-6th-grandson of Superman and Lois Lane, making him the great-to-the-5th grandson of Jon Kent. He is not happy that Superboy Jon Kent is living in the 31st Century, saying that he was supposed to be there as a time stream cultural exchange but that it's looking more and more like it's all about finding a partner for Saturn Girl. He thinks that both Brainiac 5 and Saturn Girl are hiding something about Jon Kent's timeline, and that he didn't quit the Legion because he feels threatened by Jon Kent. He left the Legion because things were getting too heated and no one was listening to anyone else. He knows that he's coming across as a "big drama baby man," but that can't be helped.
On New Krypton, Chameleon Boy and the team of Legionnaires dispatched to retrieve Mon-El are talking to Lor-Zod still somewhat gobsmacked by the news that Mon-El has three children. Lor-Zod says that Kryptonian life is a fertile one, to which Wildfire says that if he was Kryptonian he'd be fertile, too. Phantom Girl is still reeling from the news, saying that everyone warned her not to get involved with him. Colossal Boy mentions that his people are born as adults, not children, and tells Chameleon Boy that it doesn't work that well. There isn't time to dwell on matters, however, as Rogol Zaaar arrives riding what appears to be a space dragon with an armada of spaceships as well. Zaar proves that 1,000 years hasn't diminished his powers, and wades through the Legionnaires taking them out very quickly, even heroes like Wildfire, and then takes on Lor-Zod. It's a very one-sided battle, and is over quickly.
On Xanthu, Saturn Girl, Superboy and Doctor Fate are following Mordru's trail and find the cavern system where Rogol Zaar was staying. In the cave, they come across Superman's original cape, which puzzles Superboy who finds it weird. They debate whether the cape is real, and Doctor Fate offers to conjure up some examination spells to determine its authenticity. When Fate does so, he explodes and is seemingly destroyed.
On Rimbor, Ultra Boy announces to the War Council that he has decided to accept the leadership of Rimbor after having defeated all other potential candidates. His first act is to disband the "glorified" War Council and call for free and fair elections across Rimbor. Needless to say, there is a good deal of opposition, some calling him a usurper and that he's ruined everything, but he deals with them in a physical manner that deters further opposition, and then adjourns the Council. The Legionnaires who accompanied him to Rimbor are impressed with Ultra Boy's efforts, notably Dawnstar who says she finds him very impressive. She gives him a very seductive look.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, Triplicate Girl seeks out Dream Girl, where she/they reveal that Blue Luornu has been dreaming or having a vision about the Great Darkness. She doesn't want to re-merge with Yellow and Pink to share the nightmare with her sisters. Triplicate Girl tells Dream Girl that Carggites don't dream and they aren't precognitives. Blue didn't tell the others, since she might have been thought to be deviant. Dream Girl is told that Triplicate Girl is three forms sharing one Cargg consciousness. When they come together, all of their separate experiences become one. Dream Girl suggests they take the matter to Saturn Girl to investigate the nightmare, which Blue Luornu doesn't understand, on a psychic level. Before they can pursue anything, they are alerted by Computo that (New) Krypton is under attack!
On Daxam, Rose Forrest is leading her team of Cosmic Boy, Blok and Lightning Lass in an attempt to track down some leads. The reader doesn't know who she's meeting or why, but it's a very seedy bar. As they walk through the bar, Blok talks to Rose about the fact that she's over 1,000 years old, while Ayla Ranzz is approached by a priest of Darkseid proselytizing to her. She dissuades him. Rose tells the Legionnaires a bit more about the Age of Heroes that the Legion seems to revere so much. Sitting at the bar, Blok attracts some attention as he's known in these parts from his time when he was stationed on Daxam in his capacity as a protector for the President. That's how he knew of the seedy place. They are interrupted by Mordru himself, who with a mere wave, removes Blok from the combat by teleporting him into deep space. The fight against the remaining Legionnaires goes very poorly, and it is only accentuated when Mordru abducts Cosmic Boy and causes Rose to turn into The Thorn.
At Legion Headquarters on Earth, Brainiac 5 and White Witch greet Gold Lantern on his return from space. Brainiac 5 asks if he would allow White Witch to metaphysically analyze his power ring. When Gold Lantern asks what's going on, Brainiac 5 asks if the Elders of Oa have told him where the new Lantern powers come from. When White Witch asks if there was some sort of tutorial or educational experience on how it work, Gold Lantern says there was not. He suggests that they can always ask the ring itself, but Brainiac 5 says that might be a bad idea, as it could possibly alert the Elders of Oa. Gold Lantern says he assumes they are always watching, but Brainiac 5 says he took care of that. Before they can pursue the matter further, they are interrupted by Legion Alerts going off like crazy, as the various teams report the situations that have befallen them. Brainiac 5 alerts the other Legionnaires present, and they prepare to teleport to New Krypton's capital city. He asks Computo to see if she can locate Doctor Fate and Blok, given what's happened to them. Brainiac 5 also asks Saturn Girl and Superboy to meet them at New Krypton as quickly as possible.
As they race through space, Superboy is confused that there even is a "New Krypton" and asks Saturn Girl when they were going to tell him about it. Saturn Girl says when *they* were ready to do so. United Planets protocol; each planet gets to set their own rules. The Legion was just honouring Krypton's ways. They were waiting for the nonsense with Mon-El to work itself out. As they move closer to New Krypton, Saturn Girl receives a garbled message from Brainiac 5 that she's to get Jon Kent away from the planet. But it's too late. Jon eventually sees him on the planet as he and Saturn Girl alight: Rogol Zaar, standing amidst the flames and burning ruins, the bodies of Legionnaires and Kryptonians all around him. Definitely to be concluded...!
To be honest, I'm not sure what to have made of this issue of Legion of Super-Heroes. The story was definitely entertaining in its own way, had the Legionnaires split into groups and planet-hopping with the best of them, but gave me as a reader a sense of doom and deja vu in terms of some of the plot elements. Classic Legion stories that were full-issue pieces had a three-plot/sub-plot format to them, and the same can be said this issue and in the previous one. The plots here didn't have equal weight to them, for the most part, and let's face it, the Great Darkness business which is merely a sub-sub-plot for now will certainly surge and come to the fore when the current storyline is over (which seems to be in the next issue, by the ending blurb of "To be concluded..."). That, of course, may have to do with Brian Bendis's departure from the Superman line of comics, of which the Legion is considered one, but that remains to be seen. However, that said, given that there is no solicitation for a Legion of Super-Heroes book in March, after the events of the Future State stuff that is coming, that does not augur well for the continuation of the Legion title.
I'll address a few things in this sort-or review. First off, there's the main cover by Ryan Sook. It looks great, but is rather deceptive. It shows Cosmic Boy, distraught in the arms of Shadow Lass, as the two of them sit in darkness, watching out the window as Superboy and the rest of the Legion fly outside having the time of their lives in the bright sunny sky. It's a cover with great lighting, which does more than make it look cool, but also highlights some emotional themes currently going on in the Legion (even if those themes aren't present in this issue.) As I say, it's deceptive, because nothing like this happens in the issue, and the caption at the bottom of the page, while technically true, is more of a red herring than anything else when accompanied by this cover.
The opening splash page is a Mon-El feature, but to be honest, Mon-El comes off as a little immature, hot-headed, and somewhat envious. This is not a good turn for Mon-El, and makes him quite unappealing to me in this incarnation of the character. The reader does learn that his grandfather here is actually Lor-Zod, the son of the original Zod, despite what was said in the previous issue. I can't help but wonder about the continuity on the editor's part again. That's also evident in the sequence at Mon-El's home, with Lor-Zod and the babies, and how Phantom Girl is the one that Mon-El was coupling with, rather than Shadow Lass as had been stated in the previous issue. (I'll come back to that continuity thing a bit later.) That said, I do think there's something to what Mon-El says about Brainiac 5 and/or Saturn Girl hiding something about Jon Kent's timeline, but regardless, he comes across somewhat childish in the story, and that doesn't instill the other Legionnaires with confidence in his words.
I noticed that there's a dearth of Interlac this issue, other than the material on page 12. I have to wonder whether there were enough complaints from readers about the dense Interlac passages that perhaps they won't be as common any longer. Still, the Interlac on page 12 was in a horrible font colour on the background that it was and is a struggle to read it, let alone translate it.
Speaking of that scene, the whole thing with Triplicate Girl and Dream Girl had some interesting character development and background on the Durgo sisters. But it also has me wondering about whether the Great Darkness that's coming this time around isn't a physical assault like the original one was, but perhaps more of a psychological one. Blue Luornu's vision seemed to send her into somewhat of a despairing situation, and perhaps that will lead to the inability to act, and perhaps be more controllable. I have to wonder if Blue Luornu is already a symptom of this new curse...
Up until this issue, Mordru has really come off as a pretty tame villain for the Legion, and hasn't seemed that much of a badass. However, in this issue alone, Mordru seems to have blown Doctor Fate to bits, essentially killing him, and with a wave of his hand transported Blok into the depths of space. I can't believe for a minute here that the readers have already lost a Legionnaire in Doctor Fate; after all, the Helmet of Nabu is pretty much eternal, and has the power to bring Fate back. In the case of Blok, it all comes down to whether Dryadians need to breathe and can survive without a spacesuit in space. And let's not forget that Mordru also seems to have triggered the transformation of Rose Forrest into the Thorn persona in the scene as well.
My feelings about Rogol Zaar still hold from the review of the last issue. I don't know whether any Legion fan cares about Zaar, Bendis's pet ultimate Superman villain, given that he had nothing to do with the first nine issues of this comic series. The only reason I know who he is is because I read parts of the Unity Saga storyline about the House of El involving the Legion (in a very minor fashion), but what about Legion fans who've never read those stories and are unfamiliar with the character? I feel sorry for them. This was aggravated for me by the fact that once again, Rogol Zaar took down the Legionnaires off-panel just to set up the big stand-off between him and Jon Kent. You would think that writer Brian Bendis would have a plethora of Legion villains from the team's past to draw on, and it just adds to the whole idea that this Legion version is based on and tied to the 21st Century comics and their stories, rather than being about the Legion in the 31st Century, making their own history. Meh.
I mentioned the editing and continuity issue earlier in this review. I've been wondering whether part of the problem with the editing of Brian Cunningham in the last 6 or so (recent) issues of the comic, and the lack of continuity has been due to the fact that Cunningham was one of the folks let go during the DC Bloodbath several months ago. I have to think that he wasn't very pleased about the decision at all, and perhaps his attitude has been one of seeing a sinking ship and not feeling any real loyalty to said comic any longer. I would like to think that he would be professional about his final period editing the title, but I could see this being the case.
I was quite fond of the interior artwork by Ryan Sook this issue. The book has a nice flow to it, the pencil work is just gorgeous to look at (as it was in the previous issue as well), and Wade Von Grawbadger's inks are the perfect complement to Sook's pencils. I found the issue panels to be lacking backgrounds in places, but the sheer amount of detail in Mon-El's home on pages 2 and 3, the lower levels on Daxam on pages 14 and 15, and the final two-page spread on New Krypton as Superboy and Rogol Zaar face each other amidst the devastation and the flames is just beautiful. And I have to say that the space dragon or whatever the heck that creature is was an inspired piece of work, striking me as a cross of a dragon, a Fellbeast from Lord of the Rings, and something out of a Moebius work from Heavy Metal! Creepy, and inspired. The scene on Daxam was handled quite nicely, and I loved how Sook changed the panel borders to thorny spikes when Rose began to change into Thorn. However, I had a problem with some of Jordie Bellaire's colours this issue. The scene on Xanthu on pages 8 and 9, in which Doctor Fate seemingly dies is a bit too...blue...to really make out the action going on. I understand that it's meant to show the dimness of the cave they are in, but still...
The story is to be concluded in the next issue...
This is the ninth issue out of eleven in the series that does not have a title for the story...
Mon-El's opening splash page makes it clear that the Zod we saw in the previous issue and this one is Lor-Zod, the son of the original General Zod, who used to be Chris Kent (Clark and Lois's adopted son in the pre-Flashpoint universe)...
Colossal Boy's people are born as adults. When Chameleon Boy asks how that works out, he tells Cham that it's not great...
The space dragon-like creature that Rogol Zaar rides, on pages 4 through 7 could potentially be one of the Zatarki, the Space Whales referred to in the Interlac on page 12, perhaps enlarged by the magic of Mordru or some scientific means, and is another homage to the classic Super-Moby Dick of Space story from Adventure Comics Vol 1 #332...
When Superboy finds the old, tattered cape of Superman in the cave on Xanthu, on page 8, this is a hint that the villain is Rogol Zaar, as it indicates he's got a long-term hatred of the Man of Steel and his family...
The Interlac at the top of page 12 reads,
"The oceanic event that led to Earth regaining its oceans has attracted schools of Zatarki, that are lovingly referred to on New Earth as Space Whales, to what was once known as the Indian Ocean."...
In the second panel on page 12, it appears that the memexe record that Dream Girl is using to teach her student discusses some aspect of the event involving Kamandi, and the Generations Shattered and Generations Forged comics that are due to be released shortly...
Triplicate Girl tells Dream Girl that she is three "forms" that share one Cargg consciousness. This seems to indicate some form of telepathic bond, despite their refusal to admit to Carggites being psychic or having the ability to dream, and lends doubt that she is one person who can triplicate herself...
Next Issue: Generations Shattered Vol 1 #1