Monday, February 24, 2020

LSH (v8) #4

Legion of Super-Heroes #4 (April 2020)
title: (Untitled)
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
penciller: Ryan Sook and Mikel Janin
inker: Wade Von Grawbadger and Mikel Janin
colorist: Jordie Bellaire
letterer: Dave Sharpe
associate editor: Brittany Holzherr
editor: Brian Cunningham
covers: Travis Moore and Alex Sinclair (main); Alex Garner (variant)

reviewer: Jason "Anachronistic Lad" Knol

Overall Summary: 
Superboy (Jonathon Kent) finally begins orientation and learns how the Founders met, but his session is interrupted when Brainiac 5 tells them that Aquaman's trident has been stolen, and the Science Police all but arrest the Legionnaires.

Mission Monitor Board: 
Triplicate Girl, Superboy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5
This time out for the first time it's very straight-forward who these characters are. Finally!

Supporting Characters:
United Planets President RJ Brande, Saturn Girl's family on Titan, Lightning Lad's family on Winath, Cosmic Boy's father on Braal

glacial pacing, terrible editor

This issue opens with another one-page close-up, this one of the three Luornu Durgo aka Triplicate Girl. She rambles on somewhat about how excited she is that Superboy has joined the Legion. 
Cut to New Earth, where Cosmic Boy and Lighting Lad escort Superboy to some location housing Computo, an AI mix of technology and human biology who hosts him through the collected mems regarding the origin of the Legion. 
We first see Imra Ardeen on Titan, surrounded by nothingness. She receives word that she has been granted mentorship off-world, and she is overjoyed to be leaving. 
Next we see Garth and Ayla Ranzz on Winath, confronting a group of Science Police threatening a group of....immigrants? Other-class aliens? Not sure what, but the SP when faced with brother and sister lightning masters, step away and allow the threatened group to...escape? Go about their business? Not sure. 
Later, at the Ranzz home, their mothers (?) are unhappy about what Ayla did "down on the transports." Suddenly, Science Command officers arrive, conferring an offer from the UP President for Garth and Ayla to join a UP Youth Organization. Ayla, skeptical, refuses; Garth, enthusiastic, accepts. 
Lastly, we go to Braal, where we see....not sure what. Rokk Krinn battling metallic monsters in some sort of coliseum. His father arrives and tells him that the UP has offered him  membership in the UP Youth Organization. His father, overjoyed on behalf of his son, insists that he accepts the offer. 
The three founders meet on the same spaceship, comparing recent histories, when the actual UP President RJ Brande walks in to talk to them. She begins to explain her idea behind the Young United Planets when her ship is attacked by Horraz. 
Coincidentally, Superboy is pulled out of the flashback by an urgent message from Brainiac 5: Aquaman's trident has been stolen from Legion HQ! As they prepare to return to Legion HQ, the Science Police arrive and surround them, basically placing them under arrest. 

Jason's Review: 
Let me start by saying this was my favorite issue so far, even though it was not especially good. The series began with such a strange rush of action that we're only just now getting to the origin of the Legion of Super-Heroes via the oft-teased orientation.

But now I'm the one jumping ahead, so let's get back to the start. I dig the cover featuring the founding members in their Legion outfits with past, shadowed faces in the background. And the first page, a big splash intro with all the I/We Triplicate Girl(s?), was great. The head-on images all facing us while she speaks directly to us is a perfect way to draw in the readers. I feel like this style would be especially effective on younger readers who have made it all the way to issue 4. After this page alone I feel like a Triplicate Girl book-- as an ongoing series or part of the DC Ink imprint-- would be immensely fun to read.

Alas, we move on to Cosmic Boy, Superboy, and Lightning Lad going to Computo for the long-awaited orientation. We get the new reader re-introduction to the two Legionnaires in a clever way that allows for some personality to come through. I really appreciate Jon Kent's dialogue, as he's a character I haven't read before but I get a good feel for him here. "You're really Garth from the planet... I want to say: Lightning?" And he notes that he wants to learn everyone's names without the Fritchman tags because his dad "would make it a point to know everybody's names by dinner"

The way Computer takes form seems like a strange sci-fi trope to use, especially because its "category nine humanoid biology" doesn't come across in the way it looks compiled by morphing bits and blocks. And then there's the "moments" of each of the Legion founders that Jon gets to experience...

Imra comes across as a completely relatable teen girl, frustrated by her parents and eager to leave home for the first time. Garth is a reluctant kid without a real voice of his own, but deep down he's brave. Frankly, Ayla Ranzz is the best character in this entire issue, but she storms off in a teenage huff and isn't seen again. And Rokk... this was the strangest introduction of them all. I suppose it's like the 31st Century equivalent of being a high school football star? He's one of the 1% of Braalians people born on Braal who can control magnetism, and everyone loves him because he uses this power to excel at some beat-up-the-robo-dinosaurs sport. Go, team! But his father gives off a creepy coach-and-puppet-master vibe, making sure his son's fame grows.

The kids meeting for the first time to be part of a "Young United Planets" was a very dry, boring scene that offered no character development. It turns out that Madamhonor R.J. Brande, President of the United States (that still holds meaning on New Earth?), wants to recruit these "frustrated and empowered" youths to provide "some perspective" different from her own. Call me crazy, but she doesn't have the most trustworthy face. Then comes the explosion from the Horraz attacking and the kids seemingly spring into action, ready to defend the President, when Jon is pulled out of the memory. Aquaman's trident, the MacGuffin no readers actually care about, has been stolen! And now the same President that the original Legionnaires saved has now placed them on lock-down.

All told, it feels like this series was meant for Brian Michael Bendis's Wonder Comics imprint that features Young Justice and Naomi, among others. I appreciate the forward-thinking social ideas of Luornu's I/We, the diverse cast (we haven't really met yet), and the concept of multiple moms and multiple dads, along with a "prime" mom and dad. But this issue's sluggish pacing, along with the initial story arc barely keeping anyone's attention, shows that the series has a lot of growing up to do before it becomes a monthly title I eagerly anticipate.

Extra Interlac Feature: 
There are three pages of Interlac this issue. The below translations reference the digital issue page numbering. Be prepared, the second one's a real mind-blower!

Page 4:

a place built for communication, information, education

Page 8:

Winathian’s overbeing is called validus, the lord of lightning. Single births are considered the children of Validus. 

Page 16:

The president’s security team is led by a dryad. Commander Alok of the 47th. He is six years old.

Science Police Notes:  
  • Ayla Ranzz says she has six siblings, but only five other children are shown eating at the Ranzz household. That's three sets of twins (including her and Garth) single child. 
  • Ayla and all of their siblings are also shown with two different colored eyes. It looks like the boys all have Garth's blue left and black right, and the girls all are opposite.   
This issue has not yet been reprinted. Wait six months.


  1. Yuck. Too many changes for the sake of change. I hope someone is enjoying this, otherwise it's just another delaying stumbling block on the earthquake-plagued road to an enjoyable and long-lasting "Legion" book.

  2. As a sixty five year old Legion fan from age 6, I'm still in the honeymoon stage of just being excited we have a Legion ongoing to even talk about. Ultra Boy is my personal favorite super hero so the focus on him in the first couple of issues was most welcome. I'm trying my best to keep an open mind about so many changes and I'm willing to cut the creators some slack while they get this version up and running. Color me cautiously optimistic.

  3. I am 51 and Ultra Boy is also my personal favorite Legionnaire. I love the classic Legion. When Levitz quit writing for the title and the Beirbaum's "re-invented" the Legion as a Watchmen series, I gave it a try.

    I hated it when they killed off Blok and then the series just got more gruesome and gritty. But, the one thing I really enjoyed about the Beirbaums is that they had a great love for the character of Ultra Boy. I did not enjoy the darkness of this era, but the writing was stellar, the characterizations were compelling and Ultra Boy was very important.

    With this new series, while I appreciate that Ultra Boy "seems" to be important, there is just nothing else captivating me. We don't even know who fifty-percent of the Legionnaires are. Too much emphasis on "non-Legion" stuff (Aquaman`s Trident, Robin, the girl who traveled from the past to help create this Legion and argue with Brande...). Just can't get into it.

  4. This book is a lost cause. If Bendis had just spent both issues of the Millenium lead-up series actually focusing on the members of the team instead of wasting them on a character that has barely shown up in the series since or contributed to the plot, then maybe the series would have a chance, but the only redeeming thing here is the art and nothing else. We've barely seen or learned ANYTHING about 80% percent of the cast so far.

  5. This is just diversity for diversity's sake. If you want a totally different character then create one! Don't use just names of established characters and bits of character traits. 'Hey it's Lightning Lad, but now he is a black guy and has two moms.' 'Yeah, but originally he was causcasian'. That's not even diversity done right. It implies that diversity is just a derivation... Can't Bendis do better and create a new character? Giffen & the Bierbaums made Shvaughn Erin transgender, Levitz gave us a lesbian couple. This feels like a step back. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You can bend old characters only to a certain point before they break. You have a completely new Superboy - why not a completely new Legion? A new Legion set in the future of the old legion(s), so you can keep the old characters intact and use modern characters. The future is not set in stone as the contemporary DCU is, so why not use this advantage?

    And even worse: The story so far isn't even intruiging.

    1. They did the same 'false diversifying' to Wally West Post-New-52...

  6. I don't care about the diversity/orientation changes. Most of them are cosmetic and don't affect the story too terribly. If you've been around the Legion long enough, you kind of take reboot changes with a grain of salt anyway. My problem is the writing in general, or overall story plot.

    I understood Millennium was supposed to set up the setting for LSH, and to some extent, we did get to see alot of what happened between the present and future, but using (underutilizing) Rose Thorn as the everyman we're supposed to identify with only served to being her prominence that has been completely wasted in 4 issues so far. It's almost as if Bendis had using her forced on him and is spitefully writing her out of his book as hard as he can.

    There are many gaping holes that need to be filled before bringing in a filler issue where Robin shows up to join the Legion.

    I'm going to buy every issue and crossover because I love the Legion. If it gets rebooted when Bendis gets bored, so be it.

  7. Reading the series so far leaves me with one simple question: Has the editor left the building?