Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #1 Review
What Happened That You Have To Know About:
Let me try it like this.
We're introduced to this version of the Legion, which includes Superman, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Triplicate Girl, Phantom Girl, Bouncing Boy and Brainiac 5. Superman first appears as, simply, Clark Kent, who the Legionnaires recruited from a point in his history at which he hadn't become Superman yet, and he's a bit awkward. The Legion tests him, and then the Fatal Five attack. The Legion beats them, thanks to Superman's steadfastness.
It didn't knock me out. But it's too early to tell anything.
The only fair way to review this comic book is to do so independently of the TV show it's based on. And that's just what I plan to do. But then you get an issue like this, which is basically just the first episode of the series turned inside out and smooshed into the shape of a comic book, and how do you review that independently? One of the conceits of this story is that we're getting to see the first episode from the points of view of all the Legionnaires, and the Legionnaires are distorting things according to their own perspectives. So, if you've seen the show, you know what 'really happens', but if you've only read the comic, you don't, exactly.
The comic book makes a trade. It gives up a lot of the fight with the Fatal Five in return for a closer look at the individual Legionnaires. It's a good deal. A few of the Legionnaires, Triplicate Girl especially, were ciphers in the first episode, but get fleshed out much more here. On the other hand, there's no setup for the Fatal Five encounter: they're just there, all of a sudden, with no warning. That's my big storytelling complaint. Those of us who've seen the show know that there's gonna be a Fatal Five fight. In fact, we knew it at that point of the original episode, because the episode started with a little segment where the Five were pummeling the Legion, and then flashed back after that. But if you're coming to the comic cold, you're going, "Wait. Who are these guys, and why are they fighting the Legion all of a sudden?"
Those of you who have read my reviews of the animated series know that I have a theory going that Brainy brought back young, pre-Superman Clark on purpose because only a Clark Kent who had never been Superman would be able to accept Brainy as a friend and teammate, because he wouldn't know who the original Brainiac is. This comic does nothing to confirm or deny this theory; it suggests that either Brainy made a mistake or Brainy thinks that it needs to be Clark at this stage so that he can learn to become Superman in the future. I'm sticking to my guns.
Chynna Clugston's art was a perfectly reasonable translation of the cartoon style to the printed page. Kind of thick-lined, but none the worse for that. Everything was clear.
I'm looking forward to seeing what this series can do when telling its own stories, rather than rechewing material from the cartoon, like a cow with another, animated, cow's cud. From what I understand that'll start in issue #3. In the meantime there's plenty of other Legion stuff to distract us. The main title, for one thing. The last two episodes of Season 1 of the cartoon will be airing at the end of the month. And check out the JLA/JSA crossover with the original-recipe Legionnaires. It's good stuff.