Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Legion of Super-Heroes #5 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The Legion talks their way out of their confrontation with the Science Police. Brainiac 5 picks up the trail of Aquaman's trident, and sends a team after it. Superboy completes the orientation video, and learns that the Legion's purpose in bringing him to the future was to ensure, through him, that the present, on which reality depends, would be saved. And then there's a cliffhanger ending of a mysterious nature.


Well, the big revelation about why they recruited Superboy takes the wind out of my sails a little bit. It's a perfectly reasonable premise, and one that's consistent with previous portrayals of the Legion, but it's still disappointing to me. See, I like it when the Legion is in the centre of their own stories, and having the 21st century be the key era necessarily puts the Legion in a secondary role and the current-day heroes, especially Superboy, in the centre. I get why they did it. I just don't prefer it, that's all.

Now here's something I do like. We get a lot of Brainiac 5 this issue: first, his speech to the Science Police; second, his conversation with Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy in Superboy's orientation flashback. And he's shown as very intelligent, yes, but also emotionally intelligent, which he absolutely should be, and he's patient and empathetic, and he communicates with people on their own wavelengths. Up until now my favourite Brainy portrayal was the Levitz-era Brainy, who could be both arrogant and wise. Reboot and threeboot Brainy was/were obnoxious, which could be funny, but I never thought it was a good way to go. Animated Brainy was more earnest, which I appreciated. But fourboot Brainy may be my new favourite.

The scenes in the orientation, where the idea for the Legion is being formulated... to me, this is one of the strengths of this series. I like how Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy and RJ Brande and Brainy love the idea. I like how they're thinking big. How they know each other so quickly, because suddenly they have so much in common that they care about. Bendis's knack for putting this across is basically something that is just always going to work on me.

That said, we're five issues in, and I had been hoping for more motion on Aquaman's trident by now.

I had been hoping for more information on just what Rose had to say to the Legion! It's obviously important.

Every now and then there's a detail in the dialogue that makes me narrow my eyes and wonder if Bendis forgot how to language or if it's intended to be some kind of futuristic syntax. I'm assuming it's the second one, and, if so, I think I approve. One thing that's just a straight out mistake, though, is Lightning Lad asking, "Who's justice?" instead of "Whose". But it's a good question and one that I hope does not fall out of the conversation. I'm sure that superheroes think about that stuff all the time, but it doesn't always make it to the page.

Bring on issue #6. I hope we get some kind of resolution to some of this; it feels like we've just been feeding out line for a few issues now.

- okay, just what is the deal with Invisible Kid? He's Jacques here, but I clearly remember he was Lyle in an earlier issue
- all the racial, species, and costume changes these dozens of characters have gotten in this version, and the thing that's shaking me the most is Bouncing Boy's hair colour going from black to brown
- so Computo's a Legionnaire. That's good, and I hope she plays a real role in the stories and isn't just furniture
- I have hit my limit for the word 'qrot'. Enough for now. Maybe bring it back once next year
- "Pqolmorph", on the other hand, intrigues me
- were Brainy and Chameleon Boy flirting a bit there?
- Sir Oliver Queen the Eleventh

Art: 98 panels/23 pages = 4.3 panels/page. 1 splash page, 3 double-page spreads, 2 cases of multiple panels spread over 2 pages. Do I have this right? 23 pages? That's what it looks like. It's my first time doing this with digital comics.

Anyway, check out page...I think it's 4? Sook gives us a mix-and-match effect of Brainy dealing with two places at once. (Or possibly three.) It's neat.


This current pandemic is part of the great struggle of our generations, and it's time for us to rise to the occasion. Listen to the medical experts, use your best judgment, and help other people if you can. It's going to be a hard time, but we are humans, and humans have a long history of doing hard things.

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Blogger stile86 said...

Your are right. I really like this portrayal of Brainy. He is incredibly smart but not obnoxious about it. His approach to the three founders in the Computo history showed remarkable empathy while still jumping through to what he saw as the important bits. Yet it also makes sense that he wouldn't get on with everyone and we can see some waves with Ultra Boy. Even the way he talked down the confrontation with the SPs showed understanding of their position and was in now way condescending. I guess Bendis likes Brainy too.

Thanks for the comment about the current world situation. Well said.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...


I think if you're a Legion writer you have to like Brainy. How could you not? He's so useful and you can do so many things with him.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Lucas Schimmel said...

Part 1:
The portrayal of Brainy surprised me in a good way. It seems like the writer was trying to have the entire legion present at all times to the point they all seemed so indistinct, actually focusing in a handful of characters gave closure. Sadly, I don't know how long it will last. His recent work in other books shows that characters are wildly inconsistent (looking at you, Kents).

In fact, the only time we were getting character details was in the very first pages and they were locked behind a cypher script wall, this issue was about Computo:

"computo named herself. it's a sarcastic nom de plume. she finds herself obsessed with earth's ancient pop culture history of fictionalizing artificial intelligence as hostile. especially since the first thing ai did at their creation was find a balance in their programming--as if the only way an ai could actually function. after centuries of ai horror stories, the best thing that ever happened to the galactic civilizations was ai discovering itself just as we needed to get to the next levels of our galactic conversation.
computo won her place with the legion in a series of programming and intelligence tests against some of the newest ai programs in the galactic. she won the contest by measurement of time so small there is no way for us to communicate it to you.
computo is so proud of her involvement in the legion of superheroes she has been working tirelessly since its recent incepction to make the city of new metropolis work perfectly, so the legion can not only inspire people with their actions but with how they live their lives. only brainac five has a full appreciation of how much computo does for the team.
heaven, that awesome food court that caters to everyone in the galaxy? that was her idea."

4:35 PM  
Blogger Lucas Schimmel said...

Part 2:
It makes me think if there's some sort of romance between Computo and Brainiac.

For the plot, I think it's moving too slow. We are literally about to close a trade and yet everything is so vague? I know that's the style of the writer, making everything as drawn out as possible but still I'm afraid it will turn into Action Comics 2.0 with a plot that hasn't moved at all after over a year, with constant intermissions that lead nowhere. The General Nar plot, the failing state of the United Planets and Aquaman's Trident (as a weapon) all sound like semi-related threads that could be weaved on something about the politics of the UP and its possible revitalisation. On the other hand, adding things like "we need to protect the past to save the timestream" just detracts from the Legion.

Also it's just me or this issue seems rushed? Look at the previous ones, the art on the characters was extremely detailed while in this issue I could barely tell what they were wearing. As you pointed out the grammatical errors are also strange.

"Every now and then there's a detail in the dialogue that makes me narrow my eyes and wonder if Bendis forgot how to language or if it's intended to be some kind of futuristic syntax."

I don't know how familiar you are with Bendis but that's just how he writes, but that's common in his work, in fact has been a thing since the works made him rise to "superstar writer" status. Expect more of it.

"- okay, just what is the deal with Invisible Kid? He's Jacques here, but I clearly remember he was Lyle in an earlier issue"

I will give him a break (no so much because it's his own doing) but the man is writing the Superfamily, an extended Young Justice cast and Legion, he has easily 40 to 50 characters to remember.


- The focus on Brainiac was welcome, wish we could see more of it for the other characters.
- The plot deviations makes me a bit scared, I'm keeping up with his other works (Action Comics, Superman, Young Justice) and it seems he has a fondness for adding plots and just forgetting old ones and the books are really taking a hit to their quality.
- Locking character sheets behind Interlac script is bad. I can pretty confidently read it by now but that's not a pleasant experience, English is already a foreign language to me having to read it in an unfamiliar script is ridiculous specially since it's the only idea we are getting for each character.
- As a huge Jon Kent Superboy (a character that really grew on me from 2016 to 2018) fan and Legion fan, I'm kinda disappointed on how things are proceeding? I know it's more like my expectations were not met but bear with me:
We are being told how the Legion was created but it really feel like it was a very recent thing. The United Planets on the verge of a civil war, collapsing. Meanwhile Jon has just been rescued from years of abuse and neglect, being told it's right and duty to rule over the weak. I foolishly believed something like "The Legion goes back in the time recruit their Mythical founding father to boost morale and confidence on the United Planets, while at the same time having to deal with his rehabilitation" It sounds ripe for conflict and parallels (mending something broken, i.e.: UP and Jon), allowing the Legion the focus to prove themselves. While not exactly my jam would be something.

Right now I just don't even know what is going on anymore, and I don't mean that in the sense of a surprising but fitting twist.

(Please forgive me for writing, my browser doesn't recognise English as a real language so almost every other word has a red wiggle below it giving me a headache.)

4:35 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think that all of that is basically right. (Although I do think there's something going on with Jacques and Lyle.) This is clearly not the best possible Legion comic. But they're getting some things right and I'm choosing to be appreciative of that.

10:45 PM  

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