Friday, November 3, 2017

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #8

The New 52 Legion continues to baffle me as a run because it seems to take 2 steps forward and then 2.5 steps back. The series as a whole has been hit or miss. There have been interesting subplots introduced followed by weird rest issues followed by side missions. Each story has had their ups and downs. Interestingly enough, I enjoyed last issue more on this review reread than I did the first time I read it. And I actually was thinking maybe I had wrongly labeled the New 52 series as being underwhelming. Maybe the passage of time would make me rethink things.

Then I reread Legion #8, reviewed here, and remembered how the engine of this book always seemed to be sputtering. One of the things that Paul Levitz did well, when at the height of his Legion power, was juggle the huge cast. Those stories and issues flowed well. There was always a big plot chugging along with some subplots. And occasionally there was a solo or spotlight issue but because momentum was moving forward they didn't feel awkward.

Here, after giving us a good 2 parter focusing on Dragonwind and setting up some plots, we get another offshoot issue. We get an Invisible Kid solo story with new villains who he shouldn't be able to defeat but he does. Then we get a founders' story, always a nice touch. 

But when these two stories, sort of unnecessary to the main proceedings come out of nowhere, it feels jarring. And that I remember was my big complaint with this title as a whole. There was no flow. The subplot of creating a New Fatal Five would have unspooled in one page teases for years in the old days, slowly grabbing the spotlight. Here Levitz sort of hammers it into place.

The art by Steve Lightle and Yildiray Cinar is very nice. And I never mind seeing Night Girl. But other than that ... well, I'll let you read my 2011 review ...
My reviews of Legion of Super-Heroes since Paul Levitz took over have been for the most part tepid.

I wonder if I am being too tough.

The thing about the Legion is that it was my first comic love, a comic that I looked for on the spinner rack back in the late 70's, one of the first comics I aimed to buy monthly back in the sweet spot of the early 80s, those years around The Great Darkness Saga. I keep expecting to get that sense of wonder and spectacle that I got as a tween. And there isn't going home again.

That said, I do feel that the Legion as a concept is in a tough position. There are gray beards like me who love the heavy continuity and scope of the book. We love the big cast and the huge rogue's gallery. But it is hard to get new readers if you stay laden down by continuity. But if you 'reboot' Legion, you alienate the built in but small and aging market.

Legion of Super-Heroes #8 came out last week and remained a sort of lukewarm read. There were some nice moments. There was a new plot thread hinted at. There was a nice story with the original three. And some continuity was worked in. So those things worked.

And the issue also had art by Steve Lightle (who simply rocked my world on the early Baxter issues) and Yildiray Cinar who was on the last volume. So that was a plus.

But I wasn't necessarily 'wowed' by anything here. And after the 'Stonehenge' rest issue, and the 2 part Dragonwind story, and now this 'rest issue', it feels like the book is sort of aimless right now. The promise of a big Dominator arc is helping me stay attached.

The first half of the comic is the Lightle story called '1 of 5'.

In it, a group of thugs invade the medical center on planet Zardon to find the 'gold master for nano-amp #108'. I don't recognize any of these guys, a sort of 4-armed Blue Devil/Venom mix, a 3-eyed guy, and a sort of Dumb Bunny variant/Kangaroo girl with a power glove.

Despite the power levels of these guys, the Bunny and Venom characters are taken out by Invisible Kid. I liked that he thanks Shadow Lass for the Legion combat training. It shows that there is more to the Legion than just their powers. You would think Jacques would be outclassed here.

Unfortunately, the three-eyed man escaped with the tech.

In a nice continuity touch, Jacques asks if it is the Computo circuit being used to help Jacques' sister Danielle. Long time readers know Danielle was 'possessed' by Computo, became a villain for a bit, then got control of her powers and became a Legionnaire (although that may have been in the 5YL run).

But does everyone know that?

Mon-El and Ultra Boy get called in to try and re-acquire the 'nano-amp'. But despite apprehending the 3-eyed alien, the amp itself has been rocketed away to an unknown destination. And the amp is the technology that was used to create Tharok, the mastermind of the Fatal Five. Someone is trying to 'recreate' the Five.

I have to be honest, I don't know that exact condition of some of the original Fatal Five. The Empress is dead but Vi absorbed some emerald energy in the annual a year ago. Validus is now a toddler. Is the original Tharok out there? Mano? The Persuader?

There really isn't anything like a Legion/Fatal Five brawl. So I am interested to see where this goes.

The second half is the Cinar story and focuses on the Legionnaires Three.

This story opens with an exhausted Cos depressed that he can't find the Legion Lost members. I am glad that the predicament of those heroes isn't just forgotten here. But Garth and Imra know that Rokk needs a break and come to take him out for a night on the town.

Even Brainy realizes Rokk is overworked. He doesn't want Cos overtired and off his game. I love that Brainy says that he has been there. No one has been overtired to the point of insanity/paranoia like Brainy. But being aware of the problem is the first step.

And I love that Brainy mocks Cos' attempt to find the lost team.

In some ways it is a set-up by Garth and Imra. They bring Cos to a dance club where Night Girl is waiting.

It implies that Rok and Lydda aren't together right now. And I have to be honest, if that is true I had forgotten it. Those two should be together.

You know what we need ... a Legion wedding!

The weather satellite in the area is out of control with rain so Lightning Lad has to show he still has his powers and short circuit it. This is some solid work by Cinar, probably my favorite page of the issue.

I tend to underestimate Garth's power level until I see him light it up.

In the end, all ends well. Garth (who Imra says gets extra frisky around lightning storms) comes back for a last dance and we see that maybe Cos and Night Girl have reconnected.

I think that these three are sort of the legacy of the Legion so I was happy to see them getting some attention. Again, with a book with as a big a cast as Legion, you need to jump around to make sure that everyone gets enough screen time.

So overall this was a nice story and this was a nice issue. The art was very good, the nods to continuity were solid, and we are on the cusp of the Dominator arc. So not bad.

But I wasn't really wowed. And I really want to be wowed by the Legion.

Overall grade: B-

I'd probably give this a C today because I think in the context of the title it pulled me out of prior proceedings. The stories themselves are fine ... just sort of superfluous.

What did you all think? 


  1. The back-up story's the only real interesting part in this for me.

    But yeah Rokk and Lydda broke up at some point because Rokk decided he had to "Give up" his personal relationships to focus more on the Legion.

    1. IIRC, he forced her to be an Academy instructor out of the active roster.

  2. I love Cinar's art. And seeing Rokk & Lydda reconnect was great. I'd love to see a story with the 5 Founders (Losh & Subs): Garth, Imra & Rokk, plus Lydda & Brek.

  3. The art choices were great and definitely a strength here. The sales at this point were stable for 2 issues, having dropped 2000 units on issue 5 and 2000 units on issue 6. Unfortunately, that was just under 20,000. That was probably your core Legion readership right there. And looking at sales figures at the end, they probably pissed off another 5000 readers. But we aren't there yet!

    First of all, I see no problem with Jacques taking down three actors at the same time. At this point, he should be capable enough combining his power and training. It's quite an improvement over his earliest appearances. Also, he really hasn't done much since this series started. I think the line about Danielle would have been fine had he not mentioned Computo. Googling Computo and the Legion brings up far too much information for the new or casual reader.

    This issue also starts the whole Mon/Jo double team. I don't really care for putting the two most powerful characters together like that. We see these two quite a bit over the next few issues and it feels like some characters are completely forgotten.

    The 2nd story is part one of my biggest gripes about Paul. I know Imra and Garth and their importance to the Legion, however, I don't think we needed to see them. We don't need to check in on them periodically when some characters can barely get a panel. And you are right, it caters to the long term readers, not new readers. We have to remember that new readers now born in the 80s and probably have little backstory on Cos and Lydda. This is not their Legion. By the way, we don't really see a resolution of this for Cos and Lydda. I give the first story a B- and the 2nd story a D.