Friday, February 23, 2018

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #22

The end is near.
It's not good I fear.

The New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #22 is the penultimate issue for the title. The fight with the Fatal Five ends very quickly and rather neatly. Almost too easily. It made me wonder why the team would let the galaxy unravel so much if the answer to beating the villains was so quick to obtain. After all, a bunch of teammates have died! How could they let it happen.

There are some wrinkles here I liked. The use of Sensor Girl's power was nifty. Imra, Ayla, and Brek are big parts of the win. And how the hell is Val Armorr there??

But this was the death knell. The book and the team hasn't come back since. 

And I have to say, I am an easy grader. I think maybe I was feeling bad for the book back then.

Legion of Super-Heroes #22 came out last week, the penultimate chapter of this series which may spell the end of the Legion for some time. With no new Legion book being publicized, with JLA3K taking its place as a future team, and with all avenues of re-energizing the franchise explored (reboots, old boots, bringing the band back together) and having failed, it might be time for the Legion to take a breather.

It is sad for a Legion lifer like me to say that. I have been saying 'Long Live the Legion' since I was in elementary school, since Imra was in a pink bathing suit and Vi had an intricate green/black jumpsuit. But this book has been on a sort of treadmill for a while, probably since Waid's threeboot for me. I can't remember the last time I was excited to read a Legion comic. And that's depressing.

So we come to this issue where the Legion has to fight and defeat the Fatal Five in 20 pages in order to set up next issue's denouement, swan song, finale. As a result, the action is relatively fast with some quick defeats on the parts of the villains who have been destroying the universe unscathed for the last handful of issues. For an old-timer like me, it was great to see some of the original Legionnaires and the original Substitute Legionnaire playing such a big part.

That said, there is a fair amount of stuff left unsaid. Paul Levitz doesn't seem to have the space here to satisfactorily tell the tale of this final battle. And the art by Jeff Johnson is fine but it felt like an understudy playing the lead in a play. Shouldn't the end of the Legion get more than this?

Last issue ended with Tharok deciding to take on the Legion personally, bringing himself, the Persuader, and the Emerald Empress to Earth to execute the remaining Legionnaires. Luckily Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl arrive. As always, Imra is in control and impressive. Here she simply shuts down the Persuader's mind.

I find it weird that the Persuader, who has battled Lightning Lad countless times, felt the need to explain the properties of his axe to Garth. I am pretty sure he knows it can cut through anything.

Imra is unfortunately caught off guard by the Emerald Empress, which breaks her hold on the Persuader. Just as it looks like he might behead Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass shakes off the cobwebs from last issue's fight and blasts him.

I add this only because I am a giant Lightning Lass fan and this may be the last time in a while we see her do anything. She hasn't really done much in this storyline or this book for that matter.

So if this is the end game, and Tharok wants the Legionnaires dead, why didn't the Empress just blast Imra to ash when she had the chance? Why drag her away by her hair??

Regardless, I loved this sort of Spaghetti Western close up of the combatants eyes with Saturn Girl saying that after facing off against Darkseid nothing can scare her. Nice moment.

And, as with the Persuader, Saturn Girl simply turns off the Empress' mind. Quick and easy. Too quick?

With the tides possibly turning, Tharok uses his powers to teleport everyone to the fifth member of the Fatal Five, the Promethean Giant. This seems like a copout. The Giant isn't in on this. He is like a tool Tharok is using. I thought for sure Glorith was going to return as a baddie. And whither poor Mano? Is he in comic limbo?

So this was more of a letdown than an exciting moment for me. I also have to say, there is a lot unsaid about Tharok. How did he get these new powers? How do they work? Which 'Legion witch' was the only one who could defeat him, the one he is glad he banished? I don't get it.

Now Levitz does have a sort of 'out of left field' surprise for us. Sensor Girl arrives at the Promethean Giant in a cruiser and uses her powers to clear the Giant's senses so that it can see clearly. Freed from Tharok's control by her power, the Giant rebels. Okay, that is actually a decent use of Sensor Girl's powers ... I think. I didn't know she could do that.

But even crazier than that is Sensor Girl's co-pilot. That's Karate Kid, her supposedly dead husband!

Everyone remembers his death at the hands of Nemesis Kid in the fourth issue of the Baxter series Legion. Because of his death, Princess Projectra killed Nemesis Kid, invoking her royal status to execute him, a law higher than the Legion constitution. She then left the Legion, immersed herself in mysticism, and then realized she could see beyond senses. This Sensor Girl was born.

Now another Karate Kid was brought back in Countdown but to be honest I don't remember how his story ended. Is this a *different* Val Armorr? Another dimension's Karate Kid? The original resurrected? Will we ever find out?

Pretty crazy twist.

The Empress has been shut down by Saturn Girl. The Persuader has been fried by the Ranzz twins. Validus in floating in space. The Giant is free. That leaves only Tharok.

In a nice use of his powers, Polar Boy brings Tharok down to absolute zero, a state where no energy can exist.

I will say I thought it was great that the Legionnaires who seemed to impact the ending the most were Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, two of the original three, and Polar Boy, the substitute who made it to the big leagues.

But just like that, the universal threat is over. The Five are defeated.

And the only thing that's left is recovering.

Until Brainy says everything that has happened is his fault. Could he somehow be responsible for Tharok's new powers?

So there have been a bunch of deaths. Some members have left this dimension. The galaxy lies in ruins. And we have one issue to wrap everything up.

It is somewhat sad to think that this is the end of the Legion as we know it. Will we hear enough of all the Legionnaires to feel like we have said 'goodbye'?

Anyways, the fight with the Fatal Five ends pretty quickly. And Karate Kid returned!

And I will ask again ... whither poor Mano?

Overall grade: B-

More like a C don't you think? C- ??

But wait. There's one more issue coming. 

And then, a requiem. 


  1. From what I recall, it was Tinya that Tharok was terrified of. I think it was a throwaway line from him in the issue when she phased back to Bgtzl. Also, I don't think that's meant to be Val. The caption panel lists his alter ego as "Unknown" -- more likely he's the new KK "called to" by Jeckie in one of Jiminez's Academy stories. (It was just a panel or two -- and a plot point definitely left dangling.) But why Levitz opted to include a new legacy character on the brink of the book's end is beyond me. Maybe he had other plans for the team that DC didn't?

    1. I remember something somewhere, or imagined, that Levitz had said he was reimagining KK as an eternal warrior. Resurrection power? IDK.

  2. So in this issue, Imra takes the place of Sensor Girl by defeating her enemies not with power, but with cunning. Sensor Girl becomes the Deus Ex Machina for the Promethean Giant. It's just all a little too convenient.

    I too was puzzled by the witch comment, because at first glance, is he referring to the Mysa or Glorith? Or Tinya? Part of the writing made it seem that they were trying to demoralize Phantom Girl. And perhaps if she could pull a Shadowcat stunt of disrupting electrical fields, she could be a threat to Tharok, but Levitz was never a fan of that. So it's all a big shrug emoji.

    As far as I'm concerned, Levitz did not balance out the cast at all through the run. The females were often marginalized. Plots were thin. Characterizations were spotty. It's a shame because this team had potential because it was nearly 1:1 male to female ratio and you had some real firepower on the team.

  3. Anytime Polar Boy kicks butt is a great time. That being said, it's a shame that someone at DC allowed the series to limp to such a shameful finish line.