Friday, October 13, 2017

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #5

Well, here we are at Legion of Super-Heroes #5, an interesting issue to toss into the beginning of a new title hoping to grab new readers. And I have to say I am of two minds of this issue and would love to hear what people think.

This issue is a sort of 'day in the life' issue with writer Paul Levitz and guest artist (and legend) Walt Simonson taking quick glimpses at all of the Legionnaires. We see what everyone is doing on a day without a universal threat emerging. 

Is this a good thing this early into the title? I suppose if you are courting new readers having them meet everyone with little text boxes with secret identity, homeworld, and powers listed is an easy way to introduce them to the big cast. The Legion is a score strong. It could be months before a story crops up involving all of them. 

That said, would new readers care to meet people for a couple of panels only, seeing them exercise or play with their kids. Have the creators and the stories built up enough equity to engage the readers to this large team? Is it too soon to show a day off when we have only had 4 issues of a day 'on'. 

And yet, the New 52 Legion wasn't a reboot. It was a continuation. Should Levitz be worrying about new readers?

Ack. It makes my head hurt. Even in 2011, you can tell I was trying to puzzle out the utility of this issue. All that said, Simonson is a rock star in my mind. I don't know if I would like him on the Legion every month, it was great to see his take on Dreamy and everyone else.

Legion of Super-Heroes #5 came out last week and I am really struggling to come up with a grade for it; I am really of two minds about it.

One of the joys and I am sure challenges of being a creator on Legion is the huge cast in the book. The roster is twenty-something strong. So losing track of a character for a long period of time could be a problem. Writer Paul Levitz has always been able to juggle all these characters, making sure that everyone is checked in on now and then. This issue take a bit of an easy route to solving that problem. It is literally a day in the life of the Legion, a way for Levitz to check in on what all the Legionnaires are doing as the clock rolls by. And, for that purpose it works extremely well. If you are a Blok fan, or a Saturn Girl fan, or an Invisible Kid fan, you haven't seen much of them in the last couple of Legion arcs. So Levitz gives the majority of the team members a couple of panels and a little characterization to get us up to speed. And for that reason, and as a Legion fan, I thought this was a decent issue, reminding me of where everybody is.

On the down side, each vignette is short (they have to be) and somewhat scattershot as we check in for a moment and leave. If you are a Blok fan or a Saturn Girl fan you might want more than just 3 panels. So as a result, the book reads a little disjointed and doesn't seem to add up to much.

On top of that, comic legend Walt Simonson drew this book. When I heard Simonson was on board for a Legion issue I was thrilled. But Simonson doesn't get much chance to shine here, instead drawing normal 'day to day' stuff like Vi running on a treadmill or Brainy working in his lab. Where is the Infinite Man when you need him!

And for those reasons, the book felt a little flat.

There was something of a running theme of a 'vision of stones' through the book. We open with Dreamy telling Star Boy she saw an image of stones, not a nightmare but a vision. I suppose it is nice to see Thom recovering.

In one appreciated segment, we see Rokk distraught over the apparent deaths of the Legion Lost gang. The Legion has always been like a giant family so the loss of seven Legionnaires should have the team upset. At least somebody is. And Rokk is the perfect choice. He has always been the bedrock of the team.

Meanwhile, Pandora the cloaked woman ... I mean Glorith ... continues to struggle with adapting to the world of the Legion. She has locked herself into her room and written a letter to the Black Witch that she wants to return to Sorceror's World.

Luckily, Invisible Kid comes to pry her out of the room and into the social network of the team. Again, Jacques is a good choice to do this. He was certainly out of his element when he joined the team. So he would probably try to help someone else adjust.

Nice view of the hall of heroes here.

And after receiving Twilight Sparkle's letter, Queen Celestia ... oops ... after receiving Glorith's letter, Black Queen thinks Glorith needs to stay where she is, that Glorith is the Legion's responsibility now. It reeks of foreshadowing that Glorith is going to turn to the dark side. But Mysa is too busy suppressing the absorbed Mordru to have the energy to stop it.

It was nice to see these two again, even briefly. Although, to be honest, I miss the White Witch.

Just what were those stones that Dreamy saw?

Not Stone Boy. Again, a nice little moment.

And as a big fan of the original three, I was glad to see that Imra and Garth were having fun settling down as parents to their twins.

Still, Imra needs to be an active member, especially with Tellus gone. Do the right thing Levitz!

Meanwhile, Brainy is working so hard to break the 'Flashpoint' barrier of time travel that he falls asleep working in his lab.

And the big stones are Stone Henge? People have gathered there, including Sun Boy. Is this a celebration? Something more ominous?

And there were other scenes. Polar Boy returning from a night of bar hopping and amour. Cham talking to the Science Police. Ultra Boy working out some frustrations. Still, I want Walt Simonson showing something like Ayla flinging lightning at The Persuader! Or Sun Boy immolating Doctor Regulus. Not Legionnaires eating lunch and people staring at rocks.

So some decent nuggets of characterization. But nothing exciting.

I feel like the Legion right now is a comfortable read. But I was hoping for something more invigorating after the relaunch. And I don't think this book would be interesting to anyone other than the most die-hard continuity-filled fan.

Overall grade: C

I guess I appreciate Simonson being on this issue more this time around. I still wish he had more exciting things to draw.

And yes, I still think Glorith is Pandora. When do I give up the ghost?

I think C is a fair grade so I'll stick with it.


  1. While I love Walt Simonson's work, I've never seen him as a good fit for the Legion.

    The Stone Boy bit was funny.

    And (most importantly) I still to this day don't understand why they assumed the Legion Lost 7 were dead and not just missing somehow. With all of the other miracles (Ultra Boy's 'death', the 'return' of Lyle Norg, etc...), why would the team automatically jump to 'they all must be dead'? Did I miss something?

  2. This was one of the two issues from this run I chose to keep.

  3. Hello Anj! I decided to read it again as well. I am not sure if Paul was trying to shoehorn some personality on them or not. I never pegged Brek for the party boy. That was usually Dirk. The blurb on Quislet helps to explain his sudden absence. I think there should have been more focus on why Shady all of a sudden is the trainer on the newbies and why she is being so harsh on them. Re: Imra, I guess as many times as the children have been targeted she is probably better off staying at home. I'm guessing it was a filler issue because the regular penciller was already behind and Paul phoned in a script and Walt ran with it.