Friday, July 27, 2018

Retroboot Legion of Super-Heroes #1

In 2008, Geoff Johns wrote Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, an arc in Action Comics which brought back the classic incarnation of the Legion, picking up where Paul Levitz had left the team off in the Baxter series. It was tagged a 'retroboot', a reboot to an earlier continuity. Everything that had happened after the Magic Wars were sort of scrubbed away. No 5YL. No Archie Legion. No Threeboot. Instead we had Superman as a historic member of the Legion, fighting Earth Man.

For a Legion fan who prides himself on knowledge and continuity, it was a head scratcher. Was this *the* Legion? What about everything else? And was I ready to take a step back if it meant taking steps forward?

Then in 2009, Grant Morrison wrote Final Crisis, a wild, some might say incomprehensible, epic about the nature of story itself. Part of this crossover were a number of mini-series, spun out of Final Crisis but also separate. Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds was written by Geoff Johns with art by George Perez and was aimed at answering the continuity question: which Legion is 'real' or is it all of them?

About a year after Legion of 3 Worlds, DC finally put a new Legion book on the shelf. Legion of Super-Heroes #1 basically picked up right where the Action Comics story-line ended. A key character in this title is Earth-Man, the racist and xenophobic fascist. The story opens up with the fallout of his ouster as leader of Earth.

I was thrilled. Having Levitz back on scripts seemed reassuring to me. I thought we might be able to 'get the band back together' and recapture some of the magic of the '80s. But I don't know if we ever really get there.

We do get very solid art by Yildiray Cinar at the beginning of the title. Cinar brings a very solid approach to the proceedings. Nothing too flashy or stylized. But it works.

So welcome to the Retroboot!

The book opens just after the Superman and the ... story arc ends. Earth-Man has been captured by the Science Police. He is being forcibly drained of the powers he has absorbed. He is being transitioned to prison.

I find it so interesting that this book from 2010 resonates so powerfully for current times. Earth-Man was a xenophobe. He wanted aliens off Earth. He had a hard line approach about purity. And he definitely controlled the planet in all ways, including the media. Hmmm ...

You can imagine that there were some people who probably believed in his approach. And we see that here. One of the SciPo officers is taking great pleasure in draining these powers in as painful a way as possible. Another hints that important people are hoping to free Earth-Man.

It seems that this world is as conflicted as our world now.

There is fallout from Earth-Man's reign. Earth had left the United Planets but is working on re-entering.

Saturn Girl heads to her home world of Titan. She is reaching out to the leaders there. She has to remind them that all of Earth cannot be blamed for the actions of one demagogue. Hmmm ...

But Imra has more than just politics on her mind. She has brought her twin boys to the planet to try and get them exposed to her culture. She also wants to go to a room where she can be truly alone, even safe from telepathy. She has issues to mull over. Her husband Garth has gone off to look for Lightning Lord's missing twin, a major change in continuity.

I like that Imra has a central role in this first issue. As a founder, she has a sort of stability around her.

I am not a fan of buzz cut Imra. But this panel gives her an almost saintly appearance.

Meanwhile, the Time Institute has been re-located on Titan as well. Despite the death of Rond Vidar, the Institute is going to become operative. They are thrilled that they are no longer being held back by the policies of the EarthGov. A government trying to hold back science as truth? Hmmm ...

We also see Harmonia Li here. I obviously covered Li a ton in the New 52 reviews. Here she clearly hints at her elemental powers, talking about chills and winds.

I always wanted to like Harmonia Li. She always seemed close to being awesome.

Despite the removal of Earth-Man as Earth leader, he isn't completely gone. For some reason ... and I never quite understand this ... the new EarthGov wants Earth-Man to become a Legionnaire. Whether they want him close to people who can overpower him or they want to rehabilitate his image or rehabilitate Earth's image, he is suddenly made a team member of the very people he was trying to kill.

What I do like is the Legionnaires' responses. Brainy seems maddened by it. Seriously, at one point he looks completely unhinged by it. You never want an unstable Brainy.

Cosmic Boy is irritated and irked. He isn't happy that Earth-Man is there. He isn't happy with the EarthGov. He just isn't happy.

And Sun Boy is very angry. He talks about ending Earth-Man if he steps out of line.

It makes sense. When you see what Earth-Man did to the Legion, especially Sun Boy, you can understand why they wouldn't welcome him with open arms.

Regardless of anyone's feelings, Earth-Man is on the team.

Brainy issues him a Legion ring with a bit of a wrinkle. Earth-Man can't take the ring off. It is rigged with a bomb to maim him if he goes rogue. He's on the team ... but no one likes it.

This seems pretty dark for the Legion. Sun Boy actually threatens him. Brainy gives him an Amanda-Waller-ring. I suppose these are darker times so we shouldn't be surprised we are getting a darker Legion.

The Time Viewer comes on line. So what is the first thing that the scientists want to view? The beginning of time! Hasn't anyone learned anything? Harmonia Li even warns them about the myths of viewing this.

Guess what they see?

The giant hand clutching the cosmos!

Guess what happens?

A lot of badness!

You would think after countless Crises, after history with Krona, people would know not to look at this.

What do people think? Too classic of a plot point?

With the hand visualized, all sorts of mayhem erupts.

Titan begins to shake apart.

And on Oa, last surviving Green Lantern Sodam Yat sees green energy burst from the soil. An odd, embryonic, worm-like creature called Dyogene appears. It takes Yat's ring and flies off.

Remember, it was Krona seeing the beginning of the universe which caused evil to spring into existence. The response from Oa was to create a universal police force. So I do like that there was some Oan contingency plan should the universal beginning be seen again.

But poor Sodam Yat. He deserved better.

On Titan, the alarm is fired. The Legion is notified. And with cities crumbling, Imra flies to rescue her sons.

Just as she gets there, she sees them disappear in some Kirby Krackle, chronal energy burst.

They are gone.

Hmmm ... the last time we saw Garridan disappear in time, he became Validus.

And then she takes one of the last remaining time bubbles to try and find her sons.

Okay, this seems a little too quick. You would think that Imra would know that time is fluid. That waiting 10 minutes now isn't going to effect the search through time. She should know that she might need the help of her friends. Instead she just takes off.

I like how Brainy confronts Harmonia Li about all that transpired. I still think that there should have been a Brainy/Harmonia romance. It never really came to fruition. But that final panel, it kind of crackles for me.

And then ... BOOM.

Titan literally explodes.

Okay people ... have we finally learned our lesson? Don't view the beginning of the universe.

In a nice 9 panel grid, we see the reactions of people to Titan's demise. I like seeing the Legionnaires responses - Luornu crying. Black Witch and Blok crying. Dawnstar shocked.

But I also love the blank-faced Coluans. No reaction.

Anyways, it was very cool to see a 9 panel grid in a Legion book again.

We get a decent hook to bring us back.

Dyogene arrives on Earth and bestows the GL ring to Earth-Man.


The ring is supposed to find the most worthy bearer. Why would it pick Earth-Man? But is it the ring? Or Dyogene? What is the purpose of this new ring-slinger?

I don't like Earth-Man. He's a villain. So seeing him so much here, and now taken onto the team and given a GL ring is certainly provocative. But I don't know if I like it.

So I suppose it is a good issue, a decent issue. But it didn't wow me and I wanted to be wowed! But as a Legion fan, I definitely was happy to have a title on the shelf again.

What did you think?

Overall Grade: B


  1. I didn't Like Earth-Man on the team.Why not make Mordru or the Fatal 5 Legionnaires while they're at it? Giving him a GL ring was just piling on the absurdity.Having a Legion book back on the shelf couldn't make me buy this.

  2. I never understood why Levitz added a GL to the team. Especially since he was the one who BANNED the Lantern Corps from Earth in the first place (way back in LSH v2 #295).

  3. Yeah, the heavy GL-ness really got on my nerves. It’s interesting to compare your Trump-era look back with my review at the time... apart from the politics, we’re very close.

  4. LOVED the Cinar art. Did not care for Earth Man or Mon-El's upcoming bits.

  5. The Legionnaires look significantly younger here than they did at the end of the Baxter run (never mind 5YL).

  6. Thanks everyone for comments!

  7. I too felt that bringing on the GL stuff was too much too soon. Not saying that he couldn't have brought the stuff in, but to make Kirt such a focus for this series early on really put a bad taste in my mouth.

    Harmonia is one of those characters that I feel, with a little tweaking, would do well in the Legion, whether as a peer or romantic interest to Brainy. There was a backstory with her waiting to be explored, how she got her powers, her long life, and then she ultimately turns away from culture and philosophy to focus on science.

    And I do like Imra with the short hair.