Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Legion of Super-Heroes #7 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The fraught relationships between the Legion, the United Planets, and Rimbor continue to be fraught. This time it ends with Krav the General Nah arresting the Legion to put them on trial next issue. Also, the Legionnaires elect Ultra Boy their new leader.


The core of this issue is the disagreements between Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and Brainiac 5. Note what the core of the problem is: Saturn Girl is used to a world in which everyone can just casually see what each other are thinking, and Cosmic Boy is not; Brainiac 5 is used to a world in which everyone trusts each other with whatever they're interested in investigating; Cosmic Boy is not. Obviously our sympathies are supposed to be with Cosmic Boy, but that's not the point. Saturn Girl's and Brainy's positions are not unreasonable! It's just that these people are all strangers and don't know how this is going to work yet, and anyway they're dumb teenagers.

You know what this is really like, is the threeboot. Remember in the first arc of the threeboot there was all that infighting between Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5? This is like that. It's different in the sense that, in the threeboot, the two of them were actually jockeying for power, while here in the fourboot the disagreements seem more innocent and unintentional. (Which I like better.) But I am gratified that the threeboot is such an influence on Bendis.

Not a lot of action this issue, but plenty of characterization, which is welcome. One thing I don't care for is that really not much new happens. Arguments with R.J. Brande, disputes with Rimbor, Lightning Lad's family, Mon-El has some kind of issue with Superboy... I guess the election is new. (And over quickly. Do we not get to vote on this?)

Let's take note of how different Ultra Boy is in the fourboot. He's generally been portrayed as a brash physical type, more of a follower than a leader, not a complex thinker. This new Ultra Boy has the same powers but isn't drawn as burly as original, reboot, threeboot, and animated Jo was. He's more thoughtful and more of an independent operator, and I wonder if Bendis sees him as the protagonist of this series. Imagine any other version of Ultra Boy investigating Aquaman's trident and taking the initiative to go and steal it from the thieves who have it all by himself. Doesn't fit. And for him now to get himself elected leader based on an argument about styles of leadership? He's a whole new character.

Next issue we start into this super-artist-spectacular thing, which, uh... I mean, I like it when people try things. I'm sure the results will be worthy of note. But I'd be satisfied with a good comic book.

- Monster Boy seems to be Arune somebody from planet Tor-Etto
- I hope Krav the General Nah's entourage gets some kind of character development
- Computo seems to have recovered since last issue

Art: 85 panels/22 pages = 3.9 panels/page. 2 splash pages, 1 double-page spread, 4 cases of multiple panels being depicted across 2 pages.

Ryan Sook only draws the first page of this one, and Stephen Byrne takes over the rest of the way. I don't begrudge Sook the time off; it's got to be a demanding book to draw. Anyway, Byrne does his very best Sook impression all the way through; the panel layouts are Sookesque and the character renderings not so very different. Only distinction that stands out to me is that some of the characters have goonier faces. Check out Superboy, for instance. One of the most seamless fill-ins I've ever seen.

Membership Notes:

There'll probably be a lot more to report here over the next couple of issues, but one thing we can say from this issue is that both Light Lass and Lightning Lass seem to be Legionnaires. Ayla is there, with her lightning powers, with the rest of Garth's family, and she has a flight ring, so I think that must mean she's a Legionnaire. And the woman we've seen with the feather emblem is *also* there, separately, so if she's Light Lass (as we have been assuming), then Light Lass is a different person from Ayla Ranzz, who I guess we should call Lightning Lass. (Scrutinize pages 16-17 to verify this for yourself.)

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Anonymous Ian said...

Back with thoughts later, but here's a quick translation of the Interlac this issue:

Pg. 10: each member of the
legion has a section
of the residential
complex tailored to
their specific needs.
within reason.


Pg. 16: HEAVEN.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks. I must admit I get tired of trying to read Interlac and quit halfway through the Heaven one.

11:36 PM  
Blogger Lucas Schimmel said...

It was an issue mostly focused on dialogue and exposition. Sadly, dialogue is the weakest point in the writer's writing so I had some difficulty getting invested on the story.
We can divide the issue in three sections: the first part, with the president of the United Planets; the second part, with the leadership dispute within the Legion; and the third part, the teaser for what is to come.

The first part had me interested the most, even though it was solved very briefly: it had no new information, we know the UP is not in the best spot, but the president of the UP over eagerness to call Superboy "Superman" and make it look like they are doing great together makes me think she will try to use him a celebrity endorsement or something. I don't get how it will fit in the overall narrative but I guess that's a wait and see. (Also the idea that Superboy could teach the Legion how to be a superhero is funny: the man had a few months of superheroing before he was held hostage and tortured for 7 years, he's hardly the best example).

The second part was the one that got me very bored and sadly it was the longest and that had the most interaction between Legionnaires. I mean, I know, as a Legion fan, who the characters are somewhat supposed to be but we just don't know enough about them in this rebooted version. Cosmic Boy's struggle to maintain his leadership, and his points about mind-reading and Brainiac's doing, would be more endearing if he wasn't portrayed a such a whining person - he just flies away when he sees he's losing the votes. Also, we just spend so little time with each Legionnaire and they all act and read so similar it just feels hollow.
A few things to notice:
- Why did Shadow Lass support Cosmic Boy's leadership? I can understand Lightning Lad and Superboy.
- Why is Mon-El so aggressive towards Jon? I was talking about it with a few friends and Mon-El was angry Jon didn't recognize him in an earlier issue -- even if Mon-El is supposed to be, say, Jon's adopted son (they can't be biologically related since they are different species), Mon-El ought to know Jon was taken from a time before they met.
- Ayla seems to be UPskeptic or at least Legion skeptic. Is there more to it?

And then the third part, the teaser for the future. I was confused, from the solicitations it sounded like issues 7 and 8 will be devoted to exploring each Legionnaire (sorely needed), with multiple artists so I sort of expected anthology issues. But now it is being called an event and it seems Crav Nah will crash it. What gives?

5:53 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Responding to a couple of your points...

The idea that Superboy could teach the Legion about heroism is actually an idea that was introduced by the animated Legion. The way it works is, the Legion can teach Superboy a lot about the techniques of being a superhero, the Xs and Os. But while that's happening, Superboy is teaching the Legion about heart. I kinda like it, and if that's what Bendis is doing here, I approve.

I don't object to the occasional bit of whining from these Legionnaires. They're dumb teenagers. It can be overdone, and I hope it's not, but these characters have a history of stumbling and righting themselves (XS in the reboot, Cosmic Boy in the threeboot).

Aren't Shadow Lass and Cosmic Boy a couple these days? I thought I remembered that from a few issues ago.

It's clear that there's something about Superboy in Mon-El's history that holds a lot of emotional weight for Mon, and Superboy is failing to live up to what Mon expects. He probably *does* know not to expect too much from Jon, but there's knowing and then there's *knowing*.

I think that Ayla and Garth differ in approach: Ayla is more rebellious and defiant, while Garth is more conciliatory. Ayla may be *right*, but I think Garth, right now, is a better Legionnaire.

My understanding is the next couple of issues will have this Rimborian trial as a kind of framing device for this artist-anthology thing. Maybe each Legionnaire gets to testify for a page? Something like that.

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Ian said...

Excellent discussion here!

Firstly, I enjoyed the dual meaning of the cover image. The Legion is clearly under seige by the UP but there's also been a vote: all in favor, raise your hands! Dunno, maybe it's me.

Missed Sook here (besides that cover and maintaining the headshot recap Inner Face page--love these as well btw. reminiscent of early The Wicked + The Divine covers that similarly juggled a pantheon of characters) but Stephen Byrne is a welcome fill-in. So much of a Legion comic is yoeman's work sometimes with elaborate group shots--just watch that Heaven scene and where everyone starts and how they stay relatively fixed...that's a lot to juggle for an artist and then to add differing camera angles and keeping it dynamic...anyway, the art, while inconsistent from an illustrator standpoint has been relatively on model with Sook's designs and aesthetic.

I think there's a powerful theme of impetuousness about this Legion, which I apologize if that seems obvious, given these are supposed to be young characters but I would posit that the Legion hasn't always freighted that theme. It seems a lot of what drives the conflict here is misunderstanding or best intentions gone wrong...which I find...delightful in a Legion comic.

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Ian said...

Rokk, being the leader, bursts into a session of the UP with news that the Legion wants to take a conciliatory stance on the Rimborian conflict. Good intentions, bad timing. And it was Superboy's idea! After all, to him, he only just created the United Planets a short while ago.

Brande's co-opting of the appearance of the "One True Superman" as a tacit endorsement of however Brande's going to wield power is a very, shall we say, un-Legion thing to do. I caught that too.

Luronu's scene with Monster Boy was just a fun character element for both characters. Again, obvious, but Luornu being a physical manifestation of a non-binary experience is comforting. Monster Boy is a bit of a contrast. The meek, anxious being inside the monsterous exterior.

Saturn Girl's assumption that her telepathic insight is helpful is dangerous. Rokk gets called out and that can be hard for anyone. I doubt I would be any more flawless than Cosmic Boy if Imra were present for my every conversation. Her best intentions and introduction of truth are well-intentioned but appear to do some damage. The first fissure amongst the founders.

From the first pages of this series where a cloaked figure striking a Superman silhouette showed up, Jo Nah has seemed like he's garnered Bendis's affinity and been repurposed to some extent. His speedy ascendancy to Legion leadership is just in time to deal with his own father. Looking forward to it. I, too, hope that Crav Nah's retinue is introduced. This group could be a formidable lasting political and physical threat to the Legion's existence and success.

-Brainiac and his breach of space time continuum guidelines must be some part of charges that are brought against the Legion in their upcoming trial.
-Shadow Lass does seem to be into Cosmic Boy though I don't think it's been requited on-panel. She just seems to be sticking up for him an awful lot.
-Lightning Lad's arc is conforming with a Rags to Riches plot. His involvement in the Legion seems to be leading to a better way of life for himself and his family, away from Winath. Winath does not seem to be a great place to live.
-Glad I'm not the only one who felt that beat with Jon and Mon. I'm not sure where the emphasis is in this scene. Is this Jon still getting to know people? Mon being disappointed by Jon's lack of recognition? A nod to some vestigial continuity? Is it Jon's father that knows Mon? Unsure.
-41 artists that cover 2 issues (#8 & #9) under the auspice that the Legion are on trial...I do relish the character meditation. With each artist on a single character where perhaps a prosecution is laying out, in text, why that Legionnaire would personally be liable for any grievance against the UP could be illuminating.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

This is good! Will respond later.

9:09 AM  

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