Friday, September 16, 2016
Threeboot: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #31
Review by Anj
Recap: The Dominator War is over. The Legion has returned to Earth as heroes, having spearheaded the attack on the Dominator home world which ended the conflict. But afterwards, Cosmic Boy was asked to head to the future and join a super-hero team. Unfortunately, Cos didn't tell anyone before he left. And so the Legion, while picking up the pieces of Earth, has a new mystery ... where is Cosmic Boy? Oh, and with Cos gone, who is their new leader?
The Mark Waid/Barry Kitson era of the Legion of Super-Heroes is over. After 2.5 years of trying to bring a fresh take on the team, Waid and Kitson are gone. Under their tenure, the team worked through two major plotlines - Praetor Lemnos secret war against the UP and then the Dominator War. Within those arcs, Supergirl was added. We met a new Wanderers, led by Mekt Ranzz. We saw Sun Boy leave the team to start his own. We got the idea that the Legion was a youth movement.
Was it successful? Could it ever be successful? Was the comic world and the Legion fandom ready for a completely new team? It seems like the answer was no. As for me, I was impressed, most during this review reread. While I thought the first arc was too long, Waid certainly understand super-hero comics and this team in particular.
But enough about the old. Tony Bedard comes on board as writer here and starts the 'Quest for Cosmic Boy' storyline in which the team strikes out to find their lost comrade. Bedard is one of the creators who I trust. I am always happy to see his name on the covers of properties I love - like Legion and Supergirl. And he had the even more unenviable task of following Waid on the book which seemed to be struggling for acceptance.
The art on this issue is by Kevin Sharpe who brings a Kitson-like look to the book with a dollop of sexiness on the female team members. The lines are crisp and the book looks clean, a nice style for the Legion.
But would this new team be able to do the Herculean task? Could they satisfy the old guard Legion fans while bringing in the new?
The book opens inside the head of Brainiac 5. We see him walking through the rubble of a city, findign the surviving citizens of the war and talking of how the Legion defeated the Dominators. It seems like a real scene until we see Querl hoist a giant rock over his head while the people adore him. This is his dream power fantasy. That is an interesting look at Brainy's persona. That someone who has such a feeling of superiority about him regarding his intellect still dreams of having physical super strength.
But then Dream Girl shows up in his vision and tell him that things are going to get dark again. She needs to tell him her prophecy.
Here we see Dreamy get sort of romantic and physical with Brainy. And certainly Sharpe plays up how attractive she is. This is another sort of intriguing bit to Brainy's character. Is he in a romantic or even sexual relationship in his head with a ghost? Odd ... but innovative ...
I'll say it again. At this time, fans of a classic interpretation of Supergirl came to the Legion book to read her. They certainly weren't getting this selfless hero in her own title. I love this page. Wonderful.
While in Brasilia she 'rescues' a man who has fallen off a building. Turns out he pitched himself off to make her grab him and get her attention. He needs to speak to her.
It's UP Special Prosecutor Tenzil Kem! And she is the Legionnaire he needs to talk to because she has won the Legion election, garnering 54% of the vote. Incredible! Supergirl as Legion Leader.
Now long-term Legion fans know that Tenzil Kem is Matter Eater Lad. And Tenzil has always been portrayed as something of a jokester. So to see him here, at least initially, played as a straight laced cop seemed wrong.
Supergirl calls a meeting at a makeshift Legion headquarters to discuss her new role and the team's first mission.
Kem wants to track down Cosmic Boy and prosecute Rokk for war crimes. Remember, everyone thinks Cosmic Boy destroyed the Dominator Homeworld. He is guilty of genocide. I love the reaction of the team, upset that this is even considered and angry they are affiliated with the UP.
But even more interesting is the reaction to Supergirl winning. Not many are happy. She isn't from their time. Some more veteran Legionnaires wanted to win. Even Mekt thinks he should fill the power vacuum and take over.
This is shows the internal strife within the team we have seen since the beginning of the book. This truly isn't your father's Legion.
And remember, the primary antagonist to Cosmic Boy for leadership was Brainiac 5.
He tells Supergirl that using his intellect he has narrowed down three primary locations where Cosmic Boy might be hiding. He suggests the team try to find him.
There is some inherent distrust of Brainy here. He didn't seem to like Cos. He has wanted to run things.
But Supergirl thinks she has him figured out.
But first she has to quell the rebellion and dissatisfaction over her winning. In a nice move, she she announces herself with some authority, telling everyone to stop it. She is in charge here. And she is going to send out three squads of Legionnaires to try to track down Cos.
Sharpe draws a very nice Kara throughout the book, strong, healthy, and with a powerful presence.
Even though she picked the away teams, others tell her to be on guard about Brainiac 5. He can manipulate people without them knowing it. He is narcissistic. Even though she picked the teams, he may have somehow nuanced the makeup of the away teams without her even realizing it.
A Brainy/Kara rivalry rather than romance. This isn't your father's Legion.
The team is formed because, as Atom Girl says, it must be a job that needs the three most badass Legionnaires. It seems strange to put all three of them in one squad. Unless something nefarious is going on.
They head to Lallor where they are immediately set upon by the planet's police. They are accused of being assassins sent to kill the President. Not good.
Vi's positioning here looks so uncomfortable. I feel that is there just for me to ogle and not for any other reason.
But the distrust of Brainy is deep as Projectra and a healing Invisible Kid wonder about Querl's motives. Did he eliminate Cos? How does he know where to look? It all seems suspicious.
Perhaps the only way to defeat the Legion is from within?
The next group is Supergirl, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl who head to the Gobi rainforest (hooray weather control!).
Garth wanted to be leader (he was interim for a while). He is angry at Supergirl. He thinks Brainy is pulling all the strings. Things are tense as this feels like a wild goose chase.
But the funny thing is they aren't alone. Someone is waiting for them.
Two rescue missions set up by Brainiac 5. Two missions where heroes are in peril.
The last group is sent to Winath and is the tensest of the groups.
Star Boy was Cosmic Boy;s second in command. Sun Boy is a leader of his own team. Mekt is the leader of the Wanderers. They will naturally despise each other. It is clear that Brainiac Five knew this was a tempestuous group. This doesn't feel random.
But what will they find on Winath?
This was a good opening issue for the new team as it is filled with changes which seem to spring naturally from what came before. The split team trope is a classic one for JLA and Legion stories. But the internal strife of the team is really the catalyst here. There was a lot to mull over.
Too bad Cos didn't tell anyone where he was going or all of this could have been avoided!
Still, kudos to Tony Bedard for keeping me interested. Last issue could have been a jumping off point. But right now, I am invested to see how this all plays out.