Monday, March 1, 2021

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2
(April 2021)
title: Future State Part Two
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Riley Rossmo
colorist: Ivan Plascencia
letterer: Dave Sharpe
associate editor: Bixie Mathieu
editors: Brittany Holzherr & Jamie S. Rich
covers: Riley Rossmo (main); Ian MacDonald (variant)

reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Overall Summary: 
The scattered Legionnaires come together to track down a threat, and shockingly, defeat it. (That's sarcasm, by the way.....) 

Due to the nature of this story, I couldn't review it without spoiling who the threat is. If you haven't read the story yet and don't want it spoiled, please don't continue on this page until *after* you have read the issue.  

Mission Monitor Board: 
We don't know who the Legionnaires are during this story AND most of the characters who do appear are not all clearly identified AND those characters who do appear are  not following "classic" designs (see Brainiac 5 and Duo Damsel) AND this all might be an illusion. So....your guess is as good as mine. 
Legionnaires identified by name are: Bouncing Boy, Element Lad, Ultra Boy, Cosmic Boy, Chameleon Boy, Lightning Lad, Shadow Lass, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 7, and Superboy (?). Duo Damsel, Shrinking Violet, and Colossal Boy are visually recognizable, but have no scenes. There are a handful of other characters who I don't recognize and who are not named. One acts like Lightning Lass, one looks like Monster Boy, and another has a green glow ala Green Lantern, but those are just my guesses. Various other past Legionnaires (such as Mon-El) appear in flashbacks. 

Supporting Characters:
Various unnamed "Substitutes"

bad writing, bad art, bad editing

On Planet Trom, the assembled Legionnaires confront Element Lad, who tries to escape from them. However, it turns out that what Element Lad is showing us is an illusion planted in his mind by Saturn Girl. Really she and three men (Lighting Lad, Ultra Boy, Brainiac 7, I guess?) are making Element Lad think that he hasn't been captured already. But when Saturn Girl probes his mind more, she realizes that he and all other Trommites who betrayed and destroyed the United Planets were controlled by someone else. She tells them they need Cosmic Boy. 

On Daxam, Shadow Lass appears begging Cosmic Boy to re-join the Legion for their investigation into Element Lad. She tells him that Saturn Girl has found out that Element Lad was NOT responsible. Cosmic Boy sees through Chameleon Boy's impersonation of Shadow Lass, but is convinced to go with him. 

On New Earth, at the Legion's headquarters, Cosmic Boy confronts Saturn Girl, who admits that the ugly helmet she is wearing helps "keep out the loud thoughts." 

Saturn Girl then admits that the people of Titan were controlling the people of Trom, and mentally swayed them to destroy the United Planets. 
When Cosmic Boy demands to know why, Saturn Girl tearfully admits "Because to Titan we are ALL 'impure of thought.'"

Saturn Girl mentally communicates with her mother while Brainiac and Shadow Lass imprison the entire world of Titan in an interplanetary shadow prison sphere.  The Legion decides to reform and create a new normal, where all feel protected and safe. 

Russell's Review: 
I could say something conceptual, about how if you don't take the time to create (show, not just tell) a story, with characters that are as real as you can make them, and following a "continuity" that others know and are aware of, that when you then go and put those characters into dramatic situations the reader won't give a rat's ass because the writer hasn't done his (in this case) job. 

I could say that, but, really, aren't professional writers supposed to know this stuff? An example of what I'm trying to point out is the fatal flaw of this two-part story: Saturn Girl meets Cosmic Boy after some time has passed where they have NOT met, and she says, "I know you never thought much of me" and I as the reader am supposed to just accept that?! Where the hell does THAT COME FROM!?! In lieu of any dramatic conflict that we were all privy to and can understand, we get a line of dialogue to explain these two characters' relationship. Like the illustrations of a Brainiac 7 that looks more like a Poke-Mon then a Legionnaire, with NO explanation this is just BAD. 

So I won't say anything about good characterization or plotting....because, really, this story has nothing to do with either. Brian Michael Bendis is using these paper-dolls to tell a (when you get right down to it) simple story about a Big Bad. But because we don't know why Cosmic Boy broke up with Shadow Lass, their reunion is devoid of meaning. Because we've never had any suspicions of Titan being a paranoid society, the big reveal feels like a cheat. Is this just me? 

Let me just say that if you like the current Legion book, you might like this. It's definitely written in a similar, why-is-this-important-but-that-isn't type mentality that I find infuriating. (Example: half a page showing Cosmic Boy landing on the ground....ONE HALF PAGE. Then later, three pages for a dull conversation but only TWO PANELS for the Legion to decide to reform. Two panels for what should have been the heart of the story. And no, I'm not kidding.) 

If you bought the first issue of this and liked it, by all means buy this issue. 

If you bought the first issue and hated it, please DON'T buy this issue. It does NOT get better. In fact, I would be happy to know that I bought this issue so that you wouldn't have to. 

For a TOTALLY different opinion on this issue, check out our buddy Martin Gray's review here:


  1. I hated the art this issue, especially what they were doing with Bouncing Boy. It was not a great issue to say the least, but somehow better than most of the Future State stories. I really wanted to like this new Legion. I was uncertain about some of the changes but I was willing to give it a shot. Instead, I would up confused-- After a year I still don't know the characters or what they can do. (Shadow Lass creates teleport portals? I didn't know she could do that).

    1. More like from Phantom girl, who also can teleport.

  2. This version also popped up in Immortal Wonder Woman where they all died. Good riddance I say.

    1. Maybe an subtle message about what was the destiny of this volume? IF is so, this was the shortest reboot ever.

  3. I haven't read this but Russ and his paper doll analogy are perfect.

  4. 'Is it just me'
    No, it's not. Paper dolls is spot on as this and the previous 12 issues feel nothing more than the artist has shown a sketchbook & Bendis has run some liner notes under some of them. We know almost nothing about most of the characters so everything is tell not show. The only way to care is recalling previous incarnations and the book has loudly & repeatedly told us 'this ain't them'.

    The only other metric to judge it on is the plotting and frankly I liked this story better when Tom Peyer wrote it as DC 1 Million.

    1. Addendum: Has any one else noticed something about the villains of this series?

      The nameless hordes of Horraz & Mordru, the White Witch's father.
      The nameless hordes of Rimbor & Crav Nah, Ultra Boy's father.
      Rogal Zaa, Superboy's clone/uncle/something.
      And now the nameless people of Titan addressed as Saturn Girl's mother.

      I don't know if this is meant to be a theme or just sheer writerly laziness but whichever it's already tedious.

    2. What would be the theme there? Complicated parent-child relationships? Rebel against authourity? Daddy issues?
      Either way, rogal zaar being there is a bit of a stretch. It was never clarified who was he a clone from. Realistically, he's more a clone of Doomsday that of anyone else. In his place i'd put R.J. Brande. Chamaleon Boy's mother and leader of hordes of nameless science police officers.
      She might be a terrible modernization of a key character, but she makes a decent, ambiguous antagonist. And a ever present one at that. More that what can be said of the other "villains".
      You do point out a consistent trait of Bendis's Legion: taking bits and pieces of others incarnations and make them worse. Particulary from the more conflinting ones: FYL and the threeboot. Its somewhat more obvious with the later. What with the unruly mess the team is, the antagonistic parents in positions of power, the characterizations that either reject what came before or are simplified to the Nth degre, etc. The biggest diference is that those two managed to last long enough to compare (often favourily) the first run of the vol with the last. Bendis can only be compared to Bendis.

    3. Honestly, I started to think than any similitude from Bendis Legion with bits of threeboot and 5YL must be coincidence, because the fact than he take inspiration of those ideas it would mean than he investigated those eras. And investigate past eras is something than Bendis don't do. Maybe he had some superficial knowlegde, but nothing more.

    4. Nowadays it wouldnt be that hard. He could've look it up online in a wiki or a blog like this and use that info without much effort. But i could believe that he actually read those comics in some point and he used in his story the bits and pieces that stayed with him. After all, if he can remenber the stuff he himself writes just about enough to keep the script consistent (if not coherent) its not that unbelievable that he remenbered just enough of the previous Legions to reference them a little without actually understanding them.

  5. This issue's art looks like the crap that flooded Tumblr back when it was relevant. The story is still Bendis doing his usual "I'll focus on the parts that don't matter and barely focus on the parts that do" style of storytelling. At least BMB managed to tell a (barely) complete story within two issues, which he failed at spectacularly with "LOSH: Millenium" 1 & 2

  6. Am i the only who noticed that they said that element lad people were brainwashed into destroying the UP in this when it was previously stated (around the trial arc or so) that the horraz wiped out his race and element lad was the only survivor? Makes me wonder if by some point Bendis started puting inconsistences there on purpose. They were there from the first issue onwards and became more and more unsubtle so maybe he embraced in some point? Then again, the inconsistence of the first issue was the worst of them all so i guess this is him going full circle.

    1. I *did* think that Element Lad had been the sole survivor in this continuity, too, but figured I had either mis-remembered or been mistaken. At this point I just didn't care. If Element Lad's people are all still alive, why is he a Legionnaire? You lose his most basic motivation. It's all shite.

    2. I feel like not even Bendis cares at this point.

    3. Russell, you are correct. In issue 8, Jan says his people were destroyed by the Horraz.

    4. Bendis hardly cares about continuity on his books even from one issue to the next (Braniac was brainiac 7 in LoS.FS 1, but in issue 2, he was Brainiac 5 again.). He likes them to have an emotional impact, but lacks coherence, than it was the only thing keeping the Legion together from one reboot to another. With all the changes he put, the characters lost coherence. Even in 5YL, if the characters were radically changed, they keep a coherence than made them recognizable. But not with Bendis.