Friday, January 22, 2016

Threeboot: Legion of Super-Heroes #1

Hello all! Welcome to the Threeboot Legion reviews by me, Anj! I have touched on the book in prior posts but bear with me as I do a bit of an intro before I jump into the review. As this might be someone's first encounter with my reviews, a warning. My reviews tend to be lengthy, so settle in.

It was December 2004. I was seriously entrenched in adult life. And it had been 10 years since I had read a Legion of Super-Heroes comic. The devolution of the 5 Years Later comic, the reveal that Cosmic Boy was Time Trapper, and the ultimate reboot of the team in Zero Hour had done something I didn't think possible.

It had soured me on reading a monthly LSH book. I still loved the team. But it was clear I was going to find my joy in back issues.

And then the news came out that there was going to be yet another complete reboot of the Legion. Mark Waid and Barry Kitson were going to be giving us the 'Threeboot' Legion (as this was the third incarnation of the team), a fresh look at the team.

I was ready.

I was ready for the Legion again. I was ready for flight rings and Bgztl and everything else. I trusted these creators. And, as an adult - worker, spouse, father - I basically needed some old school escapism from my comics and the Legion had always provided me that. And this book gave me that.

But I also wanted something progressive, something mature, something dense. And this book's concept of what the Legion means also grabbed me.

Is this the best incarnation of the Legion? I don't think so.
Is it a very good incarnation of the team, at least at the outset? Without a doubt.

So settle in for the next year as I cover this book.

The cover above is straight from my collection, autographed by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson.

The book opens up with a series of splash pages covering through the history of Earth and how it is usually defined by acts of violence. Whether it is medieval battles, World War II, or the super-heroics of the 21st century, changes have always been punctuated by war.

Until all the fighting was done.

And then there was a sudden age of absolute peace. This opening montage is closed by this page where a more current cityscape is changed to the more futuristic, rounded world of the Legion. And even the font changes from a more typewriter style to a more computer font.

Things are different. And you would think better. That peace has been maintained through security, safety, and order.

But the youth of the future are tired of it. They are want to live their lives, not be hemmed in by social norms in the name of safety. Like many ages, the times they are a-changin'. And the young are the catalysts.

It is an interesting take on the Legion. The team has been a sort of establishment in the past, working hand in hand with governments, and upholding law and order. That said, socially, the Legion and the book have always pushed boundaries bringing in race, sexuality, and gender into comics very early. So a socially conscious team felt right.

After this exposition, setting the historical stage, we get a couple of pages of two Science Police officers talking about the team. We get some exposition about the Legion.

There is a core team of Legionnaires, numbering 15-20, with codenames and super-powers. We hear some familiar names.

But we learn the the concept of Legion is more of a philosophy or youth movement. Anyone below 18 can declare themselves an honorary Legionnaire, espousing a certain attitude about moving forward, shaking the establishment, and doing what's right.

That is also a very interesting concept, another hook to grab me.

On a side note, it turns out these two men are in the same room but still talking to each other via screens. I think it speaks to how cold and sterile this future world is, a place where human interaction immediately feels foreign. Also, was Waid prescient of our current world where people in the same room are texting each other?

It is on page 9 that we finally get to see the team in action. And it a great splash of Colossal Boy ripping off the head of a giant robot gone amok. That is old school. But we get new costumes and a new brash attitude and that is fresh.

We are only 9 pages in and I could already tell that this book was going to try to do what a reboot should do. Respect the past but evolve.

I might add that this book did wonders to reignite my comic crush on Ayla Ranzz, once again Light Lass.

I love the viewpoint of this page, looking down on the team. This is a great way to introduce us to some of the team, a visually engaging action splash page with multiple members of the team.

But this isn't your daddy's Legion. They are an independent team doing what's right as citizens. In fact, the Science Police don't like them and try to rein in the team. The Legion doesn't fight the officers but they do razz them a bit. Star Boy makes their equipment super-heavy, effectively ending the possibility of a squabble. And the mission team takes advantage of the opportunity to thumb their nose at the police, grabbing helmets as souvenirs.

Did I mention that this book reignited my comic crush on Ayla Ranzz. Here we learn she is a bit saucy, having dated Ultra Boy. He even fires a double entendre about how Light Lass can make things 'rise'.

The squad goes back to headquarters where we see exactly what that Legion youth movement looks like. There is a throng of kids outside the Legion headquarters. They are all there cheering the team, hanging out, talking politics, and hoping to change things.

This really is a belief system.

And we also learn, pretty quickly, that not every world is happy about these young rabble-rousers. The Legion banner has united the youth of Lallor into a powerful voting block. Daxam has outlawed the Legion concept. Dryad is begrudgingly accepting the team.

The old Legion was an inspiration but we didn't always see it on a street level. This team is an absolute inspiration to the youth of the universe. We see it.

The Legion as a political power? Fascinating.

But let's be real. We really want to read this book for the super-heroics. Waid has the returning team meet the latest member, Invisible Kid. He gets brought into the headquarters and long time readers see a lot of familiar faces. Chameleon Boy. Karate Kid. Dream Girl. Triplicate Girl. Shadow Lass. Phantom Girl.

Again, Waid shakes things up. Invisible Kid is back to being Lyle Nord, a white character. But Star Boy is now black. And Triplicate Girl has all three bodies. Things are similar but different.

And do you see Ultra Boy skimming a spinner rack for a comic??Brilliant.

How do you describe this sort of anti-establishment ethos from the team? Well at one point it was summed up with the three word phrase "Eat it, Grandpa!"

Cosmic Boy is once again acting as the leader of the team and he is trying to set up a working relationship with the United Planets and the Science Police. But it isn't easy. He wants there to be open lines of communication. He wants the team to think before they act.

But those two concepts don't jibe well. How can you be anti-establishment and work hand in hand with establishment?

This uneasy relationship is immediately put to the test.

The honorary Legion on Lallor (remember the new  powerful voting bloc) are being attacked by the Lallorian army as being dissidents. They are being maimed, killed.

The Legion can't abide by this. Innocent kids are being attacked for waving the Legion flag. So a squad rushes in to defend them.

Suddenly Cos is put in an ethical dilemma. If the Legion shuts down the Lallorian troops, they are in direct opposition to the Science Police. They could be considered criminal. And yet, how can they stand buy and watch innocents being killed?

(By the way, I like Element Lad's new costume, covered in alchemy symbols.)

So what decision can Cos make.

It is Sun Boy who boils down the conundrum. The Legion are an inspiration. They have always declared themselves independent, fighting their own battles.

If Cos is scared about the future, he can call off this fight. But is that what he wants?

Kitson does a good job here showing the weight of this decision. First we see Cos looking down at the massive crowd. Then we zoom into the alien Sun Boy talked to, disseminating the Lallor news, a smaller group. Then we zoom on to her disappointed face. This decision impacts individuals and the masses.

Cos says the only thing he can say when faced with this decision.

'Eat it Grandpa.'

This Legion will fight for the future. They will defend their principles even if it means ticking off the police.

So ... this really isn't your grandfather's Legion.
And yet, it feels all so familiar.

Waid is amazing.

The 'Eat it Grandpa' scene would have been a fine place to end this first issue. It would have been a brilliant 'raised middle finger' moment.

But Waid is smarter than that.

Instead, he brings us back to Earth where the crowd outside the Legion Headquarters are celebrating. (Is that Rita Farr?) Star Boy tells Invisible Kid that the crowd stays outside the headquarters to act as a wall to protect the team. There was a time where the Science Police was going to attack the headquarters, a time where the Legion would have lost that fight. And hearing of the attack, these kids formed a human shield, blocking the attack. Social disobedience at its most classic!

So there is this symbiotic relationship, this community around the Legion. Even the non-powered can protect the powerful. I thought this disclosure added weight to Cos' decision to defend the young Lallorians.


So this book did just what I was hope a first issue should do, let alone a new Legion book. It sets the world stage. It introduces us to the team. And it gives me some major hooks to look forward to. There isn't a cliffhanger at the end of this issue. Instead, there is this new take on the team as an independent group with political leanings. This is a young Legion helping inspire the young. Waid injects a fair amount of humor into the book, something I haven't highlighted here. And each character already seems to be unique in outlook.  And it is beautifully drawn.

 Suffice it to say I was back in the Legion fold.

Anj and the Legion! Together again for the first time!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. At this rate, I'll be caught up before 10-boot.