Monday, January 20, 2020

LSH (v8) #3

Legion of Super-Heroes #3 (March 2020)
title: (Untitled)
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
penciller: Ryan Sook and Travis Moore
inker: Wade Von Grawbadger and Travis Moore
colorist: Jordie Bellaire
letterer: Alw's Troy Peteri
associate editor: Brittany Holzherr
editor: Brian Cunningham
covers: Ryan Sook (main); Jim Cheung & Tomeu Morey (variant)

reviewed by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Overall Summary: 
Superboy (Jonathon Kent) goes back to his time and "recruits" Robin (Damien Wayne) to come with him and "join" the Legion of Super-Heroes. It doesn't turn out the way he hopes it would.


Mission Monitor Board: 
Here's the third issue and we still haven't been introduced to the whole roster. Superboy in fact says, "I just haven't met all of you yet." Yeah, we know. Could you please get around to meeting all of your team-mates? PLEASE?
Here are the characters who were identified or had speaking parts, in (kind of) the order of their appearance: Dawnstar, Superboy, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Shadow Lass, Ultra Boy, Mon-El, White Witch (maybe), Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Triplicate Girl, Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, and Brainiac 5, plus various other members drawn in the backgrounds.

Supporting Characters:
Robin the Boy Wonder, Crav Nah, Dini City Police Commissioner December Sevenbergen

Opponents:
Mordru, bad writer, worse editor

Summary:
After another one-page close-up of Dawnstar talking about how excited she is that Superboy has joined the Legion, the story itself begins on Rimbor, as Ultra Boy's father-one is angry that his men were not able to acquire Aquaman's trident. 
We then cut to Superboy and Robin in the time bubble heading towards the 31st Century. They arrive and are met by Dawnstar, who scolds Superboy for not being in the orientation class. Robin suddenly has a physical reaction to the future, and passes out. 
On Rimbor, Cosmic Boy's team arrives to meet with Ultra Boy's father-one. He and his entourage storms into the room (literally) and when Cosmic Boy inadvertently makes an insulting comment, General Crav Nah attacks. Mon-El, however, slams him down, which evidently makes him the leader of Rimbor now.  
On planet Gotham, Lightning Lad's team arrives to interview Mordru to find out more about Aquaman's trident. Saturn Girl enters his mind and makes him think a Horraz officer has come to help him escape. Mordru, unfortunately, catches on to her telepathy and violently shoves her out of his mind. As they consider other options to try to find out more from Mordru, Dawnstar calls them back to Legion head-quarters. 
It seems that Cosmic Boy's team arrested General Nah and brought him back to the Legion HQ. He woke up and started fighting. Although Mon-El was able to knock him out before, now the entire Legion can't contain him. Finally, Superboy gets in a good punch. Mon-El talks to him about who punched Crav first, but when Superboy doesn't recognize him, Mon-El flies off in a....huff? 
Saturn Girl sees Robin (who is OK now, thanks to a device he received from Brainiac 5) and she instantly puts him to sleep with a mental command to forget he was there. She has a severe talk to Superboy about the problem of bringing "past" people into "the future." Superboy is confused. 
While Saturn Girl escorts Robin back to his original time, Ultra Boy and others learn that Aquaman's trident has been stolen. His father vows vengeance and destruction---! 

Russell's Review: 
I have had a rough few days this past week so I really wanted to like this story. I guess it's the closest we've gotten yet to a semblance of a real "story," which should make me happy. Unfortunately, like the man on the diet who can only look through the restaurant's glass into the buffet that he wished he could experience, this is actually my least favorite issue yet. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that there was something that annoyed me on almost every single page. In lieu of trying to make my criticisms coherent and less hateful, I think I'll just throw them all out there so you can reach your own conclusions. On the plus side, the art is purty.

The issue starts with another headshot of a Legionnaire. It's not clear what Dawnstar is doing; whether this is a monologue for some reason or if she's talking TO someone or just thinking or thinking out loud or what. Last issue featured Cosmic Boy and it wasn't clear who HE was talking to. After three issues,  I'm about done with giving writer Brian Michael Bendis the benefit of the doubt and I'm moving firmly into the "the writer should be giving the readers more information" camp. Page one is just Exhibit A.

Not a fan of dialogue such as "My son is a member of THAT Legion of Super-Heroes?!" (There's more than one?) and "I am Crav, the General Nah! I am your chosen warrior! Where is my trident? Where is my son?" We already knew from last issue that Ultra Boy's father was going to be angry that he didn't get Aquaman's trident. This scene gives us NOTHING new, and....who talks like that!?!

The next page is the Time Bubble page featuring Superboy and Robin that is reprinted above. The first time we saw two sets of eyes drawn in this way it was Saturn Girl and Superboy, and I thought it was supposed to represent the two characters making some sort of emotional connection. Here what is it supposed to mean? Is this the new Time Bubble Experience Scene? Also, we don't see Damien's eyes EVER? Not even in extreme close-up? Weird. And...the conversation about super-heroes posing? Do they? Maybe that's why I don't like this so much because MY super-heroes don't effing pose.

Not a fan of the two-page spread of Superboy and Robin standing in a basically deserted public square. Two pages of empty space. (A Legionnaire roster would have fit in PERFECTLY on the upper right hand corner; just saying....)

Dawnstar's wings are artificial??? They sure look that way. What gives? If this is true, it's a very bad redesign. 
Colossal Boy hasn't decided on his code-name yet?!? Don't all Legionnaires have to have, you know, a NAME!?!

Not sure why Bendis found it necessary to drop the bombshell that Cosmic Boy is going out with Shadow Lass, in the middle of an adventure. And Mon-El's side comment...is that supposed to mean something, or just be a subtle wink to us older readers?

Not sure why we keep getting Legionnaire icons hovering over Legionnaires we already know, but never identifying the characters we don't. For the Rimbor team we get the ID pictographs on each of the members whose names are used EXCEPT for the character who is never called out and never does anything to give us a clue as to her identity. She's probably White Witch, but, again, why isn't DC telling us?

Not a fan of Cosmic Boy acting all "in control" when he clearly has no idea of Rimbor social customs. Also not sure why Ultra Boy doesn't take the lead and speak for the team. It makes Cosmic Boy and Ultra Boy both look like idiots. As does the follow-up scene later when Cosmic Boy admits he has no idea what to do, and the others chide him for it. Sheesh.

For all the talk about added diversity and gender and species equality on this team, we get four Caucasians (three boys and a girl) hogging all the action. We get Colossal Boy, Mon-El, and Superboy knocking the bad guys around, and Saturn Girl failing to out-maneuver Mordru. On Rimbor, the two female Legionnaires DO NOTHING.

Mon-El is supposed to resemble somebody that we are supposed to recognize. Could we get a little bit more of a clue, or is it obvious to everyone except me? Here's the best look at one of my all-time favorite Legionnaires in his current iteration. Who is he supposed to be? Anybody?

The scenes on planet Gotham are a great example of what is wrong with this book. They look beautiful, but the reasons behind them are never made clear! I understand that Saturn Girl tries to mentally "trick" Mordru into explaining about Aquaman's trident, but.....how does he figure out that it's her? There is a scene (reprinted above) where he seems to look at the sky and realize the truth. So what the hell is happening? I'm reminded of the criticism of bad mystery writers, who don't share all the pertinent information before the denouement: I feel like this scene of Mordru looking at the sky is supposed to mean something, but because Bendis hasn't told us enough, we don't "get" it. It feels cheap, and badly written.

Tell me again why Ultra Boy's father going berserk at Legion HQ requires the team from Gotham to rush home?

There are TWO pages where the majority of the Legion is unable to defeat General Nah. Read that sentence again.
HOW is General Nah stopped? He's in purple hand-cuffs for two panels (as shown here) but then he isn't.  Saturn Girl is so incompetent that her mental powers don't affect him, but do affect Brainiac 5 and Wildfire? (How is THAT possible, as he is living energy without an actual brain....?)

Element Lad (featured in the panel reprinted below) can transmute things, but not, like, the air around General Nah into nitrogen or something non-breathable?

Combining these last two comments with the Rimbor team debacle: just how incompetent ARE the Legion of Super-Heroes?

Mon-El seems to have a hissy-fit because Superboy doesn't recognize him?! Sorry, Mon-El, but I don't "recognize" you either.

Saturn Girl seems to have a hissy-fit because Robin is there, but nobody else seemed to mind? If him being there was such a problem, why didn't Brainiac 5 return him when he gave him that breathing apparatus?

Superboy brings up the question on my mind (and probably thousands of other readers' minds): WHY IS HE HERE?

Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad whine about how Superboy hasn't seen their damn orientation presentation yet. I tell you, if the thing was so important, why didn't they get one of the Legionnaires who weren't already occupied to escort the Boy of Steel to the conference room and MAKE HIM WATCH IT?!?! This is ignorant.

At the bottom of page 22 we get the following comment from....Ace the Bathound?
It seems to link to the group shown on the next page, but that's Dawnstar, Ultra Boy, Brainiac 5, Shadow Lass, Chameleon Boy, and Colossal Boy. None of them feature that icon in their pictographs. Although I guess it most resembles Cham's icon. It took me totally out of the story.

And there is NO mention of Rose Forrest in this story, she who was (nominally) the "hook" that was supposed to bring readers into this book from the recent Millenium mini-series. I'm going to bring her up every month until there is some explanation for her inclusion. I'm not holding my breath.

To sum up....I need this series to get MUCH better, VERY quickly. Either that, or I need somebody else to take over these reviews. Sheesh.

Extra Interlac Feature: 
On the first page there are a few bits of text written in Interlac. I don't know what this page is supposed to represent, maybe Dawnstar live chatting with a fan? The top comments seem like a news article, but the bottom parts seem like Skype or Email messages.

Because we here at the Legion of Super-Bloggers are just nerdy enough to "speak" Interlac, we thought we would include an English transmogrification of the passages for those of you who might not be as fluent as us. We dug out our Interlac table so that you didn't have to.
 "Dawnstar tied with Lightning Lass as the most popular Legionnaire among children of the Galactic. Dawnstar has been the most outspoken member of the team on the subject of what the role of the United Planets should be. While President Brande has made a strong case for a firmer hand, Dawnstar feels that power will only corrupt. 'It is the only lesson history has taught us over and over.'"
 "Headlines" 

 "Dawnstar merchandise available now. Think here." 

"Message from Dawnsrat." 
"....Waiting"

.....the most interesting thing we learn here is that there is a Legionnaire named Lightning Lass. I thought because there is a Legionnaire in a uniform that features a feather that she would be Light Lass, but obviously not....?! 

Science Police Notes:  
  • We learn that Dawnstar's last name is Gr'Ell. Bendis sure is subtle. How do you suppose you pronounce that? 
  • There is a Dini City on planet Gotham. Boy, that Bendis sure is clever. 
  • Lightning Lad is shown consistently with two different colored eyes. 
Status: 
This issue has not yet been reprinted. Wait six months.

8 comments:

  1. I'm guessing that Mon-el is a descendant of some type based on Triplicate Girls's interrupted comment and his expectation that Jon should recognize him.

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  2. *sigh* Instead of focusing on the many, many members we have yet to learn ANYTHING about, we get yet another character who has NOTHING to do with LOSH history canon become the focus instead. Someone please get Bendis off the book because this is just more of the self-indulgent wankery he's known for.

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  3. I really wanted to like this... But this is just another NEW Legion where we have to waste time to get to know them - with the same names but completely different ... Maybe if it was set in the 32nd century and they were descendants or legacy carachters so that the OLD stories could still be 'true'... This feels like meeting an old friend who suddenly has personality disorder - the same feeling every time I read a rebooted Legion book

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    Replies
    1. I agree too. Why couldn't we have kept the original Legion, and just added Monster Boy, Dr. Fate and Gold Lantern? Though I'd prefer no Lanterns, and we already have White (or Black, though that was Earth 2, if I recall) Witch.

      Heck, while we are at it, if new members are key, just give us Lamprey, Nightwind and Power Boy already!

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  4. I just don't know who they are trying to market this series to.

    Old-Schoolers? Definately not. Since there is a huge disconnect with the original Legion.

    New Readers? Definately not. How can they capture the attention span of this generation with the hap-hazard, muddled, "WTF" is going on and "WhoTF" are these people? I guess adding Robin is supposed to bridge this? Dumb.

    Intermediate readers of the Legion? Maybe. But, what kind of sustainable audience is that?

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  5. For what it's worth, I have been reading the Legion of Super-Heroes since the 1960s and am actually enjoying the new series a lot. I stopped caring about the differences from reboot to reboot long ago. This time around, the characters are clearly inexperienced and being written more like children than teams of the past. Still, I find them to be earnest and likable. I understand why Bendis has detractors, but his take makes it seem fun and exciting to be a Legionnaire. I'm OK with that for the time being.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete