Friday, December 1, 2017

New 52 Legion of Super-Heroes #11

I didn't like the New 52. I didn't like the Legion in the New 52. I haven't reread this series since its inception.

And that is why this review reread has been something of a revelation. For one, reading my old reviews, it is clear that I liked the series more than my memory tells me I did. Second, I am actually enjoying it this time around and my 'overall grades' have pretty much mirrored what I thought back then.

This time, I agree with my old self that this is a fun and thoroughly entertaining issue. I like the rogue team idea. I like Brainy and Dreamy interacting. I like Mon-El knowing about the stealth team. And I love the art, especially the Portela stuff (no surprise there). Outside of a little wonky Brainy stuff, this was a great chapter of a big story. 

Perhaps best of all, I don't remember the conclusion! Why does the team member who betrays the team do it?? You'll find out when I do! 

On to the old review!

Legion of Super-Heroes #11 came out last week and continued a sort of resurgence of the title. The current Dominator storyline has been tighter and more dramatic than the earliest issues of the book. And writer Paul Levitz has concentrated the number of characters being used right now, minimizing scenes 'checking in' on the big cast of the book. This really 'feels' like the Legion right now.

The art on the book is split between regular artist Francis Portela and Andres Guinaldo. Portela simply shines on the book making him one of my favorite current DC artists. I keep hearing his time on the book might be coming to a close. If true, I hope he finds himself on another ongoing title quickly. Guinaldo's work is fine if dark and a bit more raw.

This arc reminds me of a couple of other older arcs. One is the Universo Project where Brainy and Dreamy are kidnapped. The other was the cabal of Legionnaires (including Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel) going against Legion rules and going after the Time Trapper.

The issue starts with the stealth Legion team led by Star Boy sneaking into Dominator space under the guise of a 'rogue comet' generated by Comet Queen. It is extremely taxing on the Queen, generating that much gas and tail (all while Thom adds tremendous mass). Avoided by the Dominator fleet, the comet sneaks into Dominator home world space, allowing the team to seek out the kidnapped friends.

The breakdown of this rogue team is interesting. I can understand Star Boy being on this team. I can understand Bouncing Boy and Duplicate Damsel (no longer Duo Damsel). I can even understand Comet Queen who would do whatever Chuck asked her to. But couldn't Levitz include Saturn Girl on the team instead of the recruit telepath Otaki? I have to believe Imra would be there.

In the meantime, Dreamy and Brainy continue to wait and wonder while no one has come for them. Brainy seems to grasp the political 'hot potato' it would be for the Legion to storm in.

I like that this conversation gives Levitz the opportunity to declare that Brainy does not experiment on animals or sentients (without consent). It is one of a couple of interesting new wrinkles in Brainy's character.

The incoming team tracks down Brainy and Dreamy and breaks them out of their cells. It looks like this might actually succeed. That is, until Brainy says he needs to get his force shield belt - a device which is now a 1000 yr old family masterpiece rather than an invention by Querl. Despite the danger to the team, he absolutely refuses to go telling the rest of the team to leave without him.

I have to chuckle a bit at the first panel as Thom comes crashing in like some heroic knight, grabbing Dreamy, seating her in his lap, and screaming to leave. That felt consistent with their relationship.

Even though it makes no sense, the team decides to stay and help Brainy rather than leave him alone with the Dominators.

I have come to love the steely heroism of Luornu. It is clear that the death of one of her body's at the hands of Computo has made her vigilant and focused on the safety of her friends. She simply won't let anyone else suffer. She won't leave Brainy. The Legion stands together. And Portela really shows us that, her eyes narrowed, her body poised. I want her back on the main team and not just an instructor at the Academy. Heck. I might vote for her for leader!

It turns out that Mon-El actually knew about the 'rogue team'. He has plausible deniability but put together the best ragtag team he could.

And he isn't going to have Cos berate him for being a poor leader. He tells Rokk to give him a break.

I get the sense that Cosmic Boy thinks he is the Legion Leader even when he isn't the Legion Leader. And I wonder if that impinges on the power of the elected leader.

Anyways, it is an interesting panel composition here as Mon-El curtly tells Cos to shove it. That opening panel with Mon mostly in shadow conveys some anger as well as echoing the need to a shadow type team. And the bottom panel is very good. All we see of Mon-El is his clenched fist. That's all we need to see to get that he is angry. And Cos small in the background lets us know that he feels ashamed and embarrassed for calling out Mon-El inappropriately.

So first we find out Brainy doesn't experiment on sentients.
Then we hear that his force field belt is an antique.
Now we see that Brainy can 'sense' where the belt is and then call it to him telepathically. It is shocking not only to me but to the team. Brainy calls it one of his 'tricks' but I hope we get something of an explanation.

And look at Dreamy laughing as she says 'Oh Brainy!' I am telling you, romance is in the air between these two.

But the escape takes a bad turn.

Just as the team is battling their way out, Brainy seemingly in a mental battle with a high caste Dominator, Comet Queen 'betrays' the team, knocking out Brainy. This leads to the rest of the team being overrun. The Dominators are just as surprised with Comet Queen's actions. They weren't expecting it either. So they include her in the captured, promising death to all of them.

I don't know if Comet Queen isn't acting on some hidden order by Brainy. She starts to say she was told to do that before she is attacked by Dream Girl. Could Brainy have some hidden agenda, pretending to be knocked out so he can get closer to the genetic database and destroy it? I am going to say yes. I don't think Comet Queen is capable of complex thoughts like betrayal.

So overall another good chapter in this Dominator arc. But can it all be wrapped up in next month's conclusion? I truly hope so.

Overall grade: B+

Nothing to add other than if I met Portela at a con I might be tempted to get a Dreamy commission instead of Supergirl!

Overall new grade: B+


  1. "I get the sense that Cosmic Boy thinks he is the Legion Leader even when he isn't the Legion Leader. And I wonder if that impinges on the power of the elected leader." - I always feel this way too! Poor Rokk has never learned to relax. He reminds me of Scott Summers (Cyclops, my all-time favorite X-Man) in this way.

  2. I agree that Duplicate Damsel belongs on the team as an active member. Her courage and tenacity make her a valuable asset.

  3. Hello Anj! So I actually agree with you about something: Lu here is pretty extraordinary. I never liked her before she became Duplicate Girl, now with the power upgrade, her confidence and experience shows. I too would have wanted her in active membership and would have voted her for leader.

    So to talk about powers, I do have to applaud Paul on keeping Lu with the multiples power. I feel this also showed with Sun Boy a few issues back when he handled that lava flow. So because they are slight power upgrades, I'm OK with Brainy pulling this little trick out of his hat. During his 80s run, Paul really was reluctant to update the powers of Legionnaires. It was almost like he was rebelling against any suggestion to make them like X-men characters. And he never had an Invisible Woman style revamp of any of the Legionnaires. The closest would be Sensor Girl, but it's not quite the same. Paul even showed a bit more potential with Comet Queen here. What exactly did she do to Brainy anyway?

    This brings me to some of my gripes. Why did Brainy go hand-to-hand with a Dominator without activating his force field? His primary ability is intelligence. This bit of the plot didn't make sense. I would have hoped Bouncing BOy would have resisted the weapon blast. And Otaki was taken down like the amateur she is.

    Next talking point is Otaki and Mwindaji. I figure Paul didn't want to use Imra because he didn't want her taken down so easily. I think Otaki has some potential, but her "mindsense," while it sounds cool, isn't really well defined. Also a little disappointed that she was Asian and not Hispanic for example, because we already have 2 Asian women on the active roster. And Mwindaji? Was his power super-smelling? His tracking ability seemed primarily scent based which I don't care for. His name means "hunter" in Swahili. I would think he would have been much more keen with his senses and wouldn't have cared if CQ's gases were obstructing his sight. Furthermore, he didn't really contribute anything to the team. They could have done anything to make him more interesting, like giving him enhanced athletic ability and reflexes, in addition to enhanced senses. Or just give him a bow and arrow. Imagine him like Hawkeye in Avengers, looking one way and firing a bow in another direction and hitting her target. I gather that there was a push for new characters, but these two didn't have much inspiration.

    Also not buying into this conflict between Mon and Cos. Mon's been leader before.