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John Kahane

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Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #12

Time for the first of today's Legion of Super-Heroes comic reads. First up, the last issue of the new series. Enjoy! :)

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #12
March, 2021
Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Ryan Sook
Inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger (pages 1-15, 19, 21) and Ryan Sook (pages 16-18, 20, 22)
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colourist: Jordie Bellaire
Cover: Ryan Sook
Variant Cover: Matt Taylor
Editors: Brittany Holzherr and Brian Cunningham

Mission Monitor Board:
Saturn Girl, Superboy, Karate Kid, Shadow Lass, Colossal Boy, Chameleon Boy, Star Boy, Brainiac 5, Ferro Lad, Phantom Girl, Wildfire, Princess Projectra, Element Lad, Gold Lantern, White Witch, Matter-Eater Lad, Shrinking Violet, Triplicate Girl, Dream Girl, Chemical King (??), Sun Boy, Lightning Lad, Ultra Boy, Cosmic Boy, Monster Boy, Timber Wolf, Dawnstar, Blok, Lightning Lass, Bouncing Boy, Invisible Kid (Jacques Foccart), Mon-El, Doctor Fate

Supporting Characters:
Lor-Zod, the people of New Krypton

Rogol Zaar; Mordru; the Horraz

This issue continues from the previous one. The story opens with a one-page close-up of Saturn Girl. She explains to the reader that everything that's happening right now is her fault. She says that her powers include influencing people when she gets excited and telepathically communicates with others, so she has to be careful not to unduly influence people. She says that she thinks that she used her powers to "convince" the Legionnaires to go back in time and recruit Superboy/Jon Kent. Then she brings the reader up to speed on the return of Rogol Zaar after having disappeared centuries ago, hell-bent on revenge against New Krypton and Superboy.

In space around New Krypton, Superboy attempts the direct approach against Rogol Zaar, but this proves to be ineffective, Zaar literally mopping up with the Boy of Steel and rendering him unconscious. He then tosses Superboy down to the surface of New Krypton, causing an explosive effect of atomic bomb proportions that takes out the influx of other Legionnaires that arrived as well. Saturn Girl attempts a mental attack on Rogol Zaar, willing him to sleep, but Zaar tells her that he knows her kind and is prepared for her, so is unaffected by her mental commands. However, this is merely a ploy on Saturn Girl's part to keep Zaar occupied while waking up the unconscious and injured Legionnaires, helping them heal somewhat, and they join the attack on Rogol Zaar.

The attack on Rogol Zaar seems to go well at first, as Phantom Girl opens a portal that send Zaar straight into the hand of Colossal Boy who throws him as far away as he possibly can. The Legionnaires begin to re-group, but Colossal Boy is attacked and struck down from behind - by Mordru! Chameleon Boy tells the Legionnaires that Rogol Zaar is not working on his own, and that it was Mordru who awoke Zaar from his millennia of sleep. Mordru and a large contingent of the Horraz join the fray, and it is all-out battle between the Legionnaires and the forces of Mordru and Rogol Zaar.

Superboy and several others strike Rogol Zaar, not really having much of an effect on him, while another contingent of Legionnaires are unable to get through Mordru's mystical defenses. Timber Wolf and Wildfire attempt to team up against Mordru and Gold Lantern offers the other Legionnaires without shield protection to get behind him. Gold Lantern attempts to grab Mordru, but he keeps teleporting in and out of this plane of existence. Lightning Lass thanks Lightning Lad for making her join the Legion, as she's started to finally enjoy working with the Legionnaires. Ultra Boy and Cosmic Boy are working together, fighting the Horraz, despite their recent differences. Karate Kid and Bouncing Boy are also dealing with Horraz in their own way, the latter even saving Invisible Kid. The White Witch, Dream Girl and Saturn Girl prepare to combine their powers in a way that can allow them to end a multiple-player battle, but it requires concentration and that they not be distracted. However, Saturn Girl is distracted as Rogol Zaar takes the fight to Superboy once more and is handling him relatively easily. Before she and the other two female Legionnaires can do anything else, Mordru encases them in a mystical cage, and then has his new servant Blok start to attack the Legionnaires.

As Rogol Zaaar is about to behead the Boy of Steel, to Saturn Girl's horror, Mon-El returns from his brooding and enters the fray, smashing Rogol Zaar away from the Boy of Steel. As Rogol Zaar grabs Mon-El, Superboy recovers and joins the fray and the two distant relatives double punch Zaar, sending him flying. Meanwhile, White Witch is confronting her father, Mordru, with the help of Dream Girl and Saturn Girl. However, much to everyone's surprise as well as Mordru's, Doctor Fate re-appears from the dead and easily dispatches Mordru, banishing him from "this place" for all time. Meanwhile, Mon-El and Superboy hit Rogol Zaar with at least 68,547 times using their super-speed, rendering the Kryptonian villain semi-conscious. Lor-Zod and the other New Kryptonians arrive on the scene, and after the Kryptonians judge him guilty, Rogol Zaar is transported into the Phantom Zone by Lor-Zod.

With the battles all over and done with, Triplicate Girl asks who's going to clean up all the mess? The answer to that is Element Lad and Gold Lantern, who step up to help the New Kryptonians clean up and start making repairs to all the damage and destruction that has been done. Cosmic Boy and several of the other Legionnaires wonder if this was the Great Darkness that has been foretold, and whether the Legion has halted it. Brainiac 5 tells them that according to his calculations, no, this was not the Great Darkness, but that perhaps the Legion is actively keeping it at bay.

Approximately a week later, Gold Lantern returns to Earth to report in and to talk with Brainiac 5, who has been waiting for him. After securing Gold Lantern's ring, as he wants to keep this between them and isn't sure whether they're using the ring to keep tabs on him, Brainiac 5 tells Gold Lantern that the power ring he is using is *not* an actual Green Lantern power ring and that the aliens who gave it to him are not the Elders of Oa. The two of them swear that they will investigate further. Bloks interrupts them to say that they're missing the libations.

The issue closes at a huge party to celebrate the successful defense of New Krypton. As the Legionnaires celebrate, Dawnstar surprises Ultra Boy with a big kiss. The story continues in Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #1, sort of.

And so what may be the final issue of the current run of Legion of Super-Heroes (Vol 8 #12) came out the week of January 18th. It's an interesting issue, with a story that continues from the previous issue, an is something of a whirlwind while wrapping up relatively neatly all the plot lines and story elements that have been cooking or stewing in this title since it first came out. That in itself is something of a problem, to be honest, as everything in the issue wraps up so quickly (for example, Doctor Fate takes out Mordu in one panel!) that I have to wonder how much of this is due to the need for Future State to start when it does (the week of January 25th).

Given that this may well be the last issue of this run of the LSH title, it's sad that while there are some excellent personal moments for almost all of the Legionnaires, it builds a couple of future plots that may never see fruition, depending on how things shake out. The writing in this issue is far better than what we've seen from Brian Bendis through the first 11 issues of the comic, but once again the writer cuts a few corners in terms of the two main bad guys being defeated very quickly and several things that obviously happen off-stage.

This story is pretty much a jumble and large chunk of combat scenes, some panels plainer in what they display combat-wise while others are less so. This is the first issue of the series where we see the full fighting power of the Legion and the team battling together against Rogol Zaar, Mordru, and the Horraz. While I have gotten tired of the Horraz as being a "typical" opposition the Legionnaires have faced through the course of the 12 issues there is a logic for them being here, as they are the (willing) servants of Mordru. For the first time since the series started, the Legionnaires worked as a team but they had to of course, given who the opposition was.

Writer Brian Bendis must have been paying attention to the fans' comments about how weak Mordru came across in the first six issues of the title, because the villain lived up to his name from earlier continuities through these final issues. I was surprised when Blok appeared in the issue, under Mordru's control, though he didn't accomplish much here. That said, I was less than surprised when Doctor Fate came back from the seeming dead. His last few appearances have made him come across as male, while in the earlier issues in the series Fate came across as female. The fact that the Lord of Order dealt with Mordru in one panel was a disappointment, but again I think this stems from the writer's need to wrap up this storyline in this (potentially) final issue of the title. Rogol Zaar, on the other hand, is relatively unknown to me. What I know of him comes from my experience with him in the Superman line of comics at the very beginning of this Legion's run when he took on the Man of Steel, General Zod, and other members of the Supes family. Zaar's motivation for wanting to destroy New Krypton and kill Jon Kent and presumably Mon-El made plenty of sense. What wasn't clear to me was how Mordru learned of Zaar's existence, how he was able to find Zaar, and what his deal with Rogol Zaar was. While I think that he was defeated too easily in the story, given the difficulty Superman and his allies had against him in the earlier, present day storyline, I'm glad that he's been consigned to the Phantom Zone, and I hope that we readers never see him in any Legion title ever again.

As I mentioned, there are some lovely personal moments with the various Legionnaires. To start with, there's Saturn Girl. The reader learns her powers include influencing people when she gets excited and telepathically communicates; thus, she has to be careful not to unduly influence people. She fears that her convincing the Legion to bring Superboy into the future was a result of that power. I find this somewhat interesting, and it makes me wonder how much people, including her fellow Legionnaires, can trust her. She is obviously in love with Superboy Jon Kent, and this acts as a distraction at several points during the story. Overall, this is not a Saturn Girl I love, but I'll give writer Bendis credit - he made her interesting to read aboout. While it's not a great personal moment, the top panel on page 7 with the (pretty much) entire Legion assembled and the "Long Live the Legion!" cry is a good, team-building moment. I liked the idea that Timber Wolf and Wildfire appear to be good fighting friends. It makes sense, as they are both protective in their approach, seem to feel underappreciated by their teammates, and also have a somewhat aggressive, impulsive streak. The bit with Lightning Lad and Lightning Lass was kind of nice, to finally see that Lightning Lass is appreciative of her brother having gotten her into the Legion and to stay. It's also a nice touch that the Ranzz twins' lightning powers are differently coloured. Finally, there's the party scene at the very end where we see what appears to be Supergirl talking and/or dancing with Timber Wolf. I say "appears" because I suspect that the figure is merely one of the New Kryptonian females wearing a Supergirl set of clothes. The party panel does show a lot of the Legionnaires' personalities in minor, subtle ways. And the bit with Dawnstar laying a surprise kiss on Ultra Boy was, but to me, disappointing. Ultra Boy has always belonged with Phantom Girl, and I'm still convinced he should be with her.

Speaking of Tinya, I am a huge Phantom Girl fan, but to be honest I didn't like the finally revealed truth that her powers this time out is to open portals for instant teleportation, rather than making Tinya be able to go intangible. While the portal ability is useful, it doesn't beat the intangibility power that she used to have. I did like the fact that Shadow Lass adopts a warrior visage of sorts when she goes into battle. It makes her seem more ferocious than she has ever been, but I can't help wonder why this was felt to be necessary. Again, it comes down to the fact that not enough has been learned about most of the Legionnaires, including Shadow Lass.

As a final coda to this commentary, I will say that I was pleased that there was no Interlac in this issue, but given the fight scenes this should not come as a surprise as there really was no place or time for it. Other than perhaps on the first page devoted to Saturn Girl. That said, I suspect that a few months ago much of the Saturn Girl revelations might have been encapsulated in Interac on that splash page, but as it was, I found the page too busy with the word balloons.

The artwork in this potentially final Legion story in the series was, to put it simply, superb and grandiose. The sweeping, epic nature of the fight against Rogol Zaar, Mordru and the Horraz was superb, and there's an energy to the fight scenes that the readers haven't seen a lot of in the title to this point. I have to say that while Wade Von Grawbadger does an excellent job inking Ryan Sook's pencils, Sook's inks over his own pencil work is just stunning. The art this issue was very clean and crisp, shining off the pages of the story, and made the tale even better in that regard. None of artwork stands out, I'll admit, as it's all just soooo good, but will say that the two-page spreads on pages 4 and 5 and pages 10 and 11 are just superb.

Overall, this was a pretty good issue even with the minor problems that it suffered from. The issue showed the potential that this Legion of Super-Heroes book could have had, but just didn't live up to the potential until this seeming finale. That said, I still prefer the classic Legion to this current run, but hope that the title continues in some fashion after Future State.

Final Notes:
This appears to be the final issue of this run of the Legion of Super-Heroes comic title. The story will continue, sort of, in the Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes two-issue series...

It is very clear that Phantom Girl can no longer turn insubstantial, but is a creator of portals that allow her to move people or objects through them...

The revelation that White Witch is Mordru's daughter is made here and surprises the Legion. However, this was actually revealed to the reader in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #9 in a casual, matter-of-fact manner in a narration box during the Legion's mock trial.

Next Issue: Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 #1
Tags: comics hut, legion of super-heroes, legion read, lll, long live the legion!, lsh, review

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