Legion of Super-Heroes #23 Review
What Happened That You Have to Know About:
A lot of goodbye stuff. Ceremony at Shanghalla; Brainiac 5 trying to put the United Planets back together; Legionnaires doing salvage work; Shadow Lass taking Mon-El home to recover from his wounds. Then GiGi Cusimano announces that the Science Police are disbanding the Legion. And everybody leaves. The epilogues give us some strong hints that this was just one possible future for the Legion, one where Steppenwolf caused Superman's death, and that there are likely worlds out there where things turned out differently for the Legion.
Art: 74 panels/20 pages = 3.7 panels/page. 2 splash pages, 1 double-page spread of 4 panels.
We get our first look at Kevin Maguire's take on the Legion, and it's mostly very good. Sometimes a little off-model; his Shadow Lass, for instance, is clearly well-done, but doesn't seem a lot like Shady. The big splash pages are probably his best work in the issue, which is just as well, if we have to have splash pages.
Star Boy is confirmed dead along with Sun Boy, and Shadow Lass and Mon-El remove themselves from the Legion... but the Legion is disbanded after that anyway.
Nothing spectactular about this issue; you couldn't even say that a lot of loose ends were wrapped up. Really it was just Paul Levitz bringing the title in for a smooth landing.
It wasn't a satisfying ending, because how could it be? There's nothing here to be satisfied about, unless you count Levitz himself, who can justly look back on his Legion years with pride. No, it was a quiet, affectionate, dignified goodbye. It closed the door firmly, and just as firmly did not lock it.
Is there any point in exploring the specific features of the issue? I don't see one. Not a lot jumped out at me anyway.
So now we sit back and wonder what's next. What do we want to be next. Clearly there won't be another Legion comic anytime soon. Which is not a good thing, but it may actually be better than if there was another Legion comic soon.
After all, do we even want the Legion brought back while DC's being run by the present cadre of meanspirited bloodstirrers? I don't. Who knows the kind of disaster they could make of it. "These guys could fuck up a beach party." (1) And it's not like they're learning anything; look at their insistence on having hatemonger Orson Scott Card write Superman. Look at how they told Paul Pope that they didn't make comics for kids. Look at their reengineering of JL3000 without Maguire but with extra grimness and grit. But they won't last forever. Nobody does. "Sooner or later, they all... stop lasting." (2) And, if DC exists in basically its current form long enough, someone will revitalize the Legion. But that's a big if.
I don't know what's going to happen. The comic-book world is changing. What happens if, two years from now, Disney decides it's not worth their time to participate in this little boutique industry? Will comic shops be able to survive just on DC and smaller companies and games and toys and stuff? What if DC follows Marvel's lead?
Not that comic books and superheroes are going to go away. There's a demand for both, and a lot of people who are really interested in meeting that demand. And, for DC at least, Superman and Batman and the Justice League will certainly live on, one way or another. Digital stuff? Animated features? Annual graphic novels? Who knows. But DC has so many secondary, tertiary, and quaternary characters that there's no way to give them all attention without a regular flow of monthly comic books. The Legion could very well fall off the table. Working in their favour is the Superman connection: Superman ain't going anyplace, after all, so there's always a possibility of tying in to the Legion.
But it'll be a long time before we know anything. Meanwhile, consider first that it's an unsatisfactory situation to be dependent on a heartless corporation for anything that you care about. We'll help ourselves enormously by being willing to go without.
Now consider second that everything we read, everything that touches us enough that we take it in, changes us. Probably everyone reading this has loves superhero comics, Legion comics, to the point where we aren't the same people we would be if we'd never read them. So let's start walking the walk, if we aren't already. "You'd just quit? No... we can never equal the super-heroes, but we can use our abilities to help people!" (2) Volunteer for something. Donate to something. Give blood! They won't let me give blood anymore, but if someone reading this can do so with me in mind, I'd be pleased and honoured. Sure, it's a shame that we can't read our goddamn comic books any more, but maybe there's some other way of keeping the Legion's spirit alive, and let's see DC try to cancel that. You say that the Legion is dead? "My dear, dear, Andrea, that is entirely a matter of opinion." (4)
I'll let Raymond McDaniel have the last word.
"...In the last exploit of the Espionage Squad,
all the useless heroes will die
except Chameleon Boy, his neural net
polyform and plasticene, eternal.
But yes, Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet,
Invisible Kid. A lost city looms
behind the wrecked and ruined dunes.
Forty thousand colors, eighty thousand ages.
The world is not like this at all." (5)
(5) "The Persistence of Espionage", Raymond McDaniel, Special Powers and Abilities, Coffee House Press, 2013.