Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Legion of Super-Heroes #9 Review

 What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The Legion's trial continues. There's some back-and-forth about whether the Legion is actually loyal to the United Planets or not, but this gets swept aside when Dream Girl reveals that a Great Darkness is coming. Dr. Fate and the White Witch back her up, and it turns out that Krav the General Nah already knew about it and was trying to take over the United Planets to fight it. Gold Lantern takes Krav into custody and President Brande says that this was what she was after with the trial all along, which, sure.


So let's break down this trial story. We've had Krav as one of our major villains for quite a few issues now. The Legion has had a few fights with him, with mixed results, but it took this trial to finish him off for good. The key to his defeat was not the kind of traditional superheroics that the Legion is trying to bring back, but President Brande's political machinations. I'm not sure what I think about that. On the one hand it's quite off-brand for a superhero comic; on the other hand I can't really argue against "legal authorities acting responsively within their authority in the pursuit of justice" being a better way to deal with problems than "punching".

One of the features of the threeboot Legion was that the Legionnaires all believed different things about the purpose of the Legion and that this caused strife and disunity on the team. We get a different take on that here: Dawnstar and Bouncing Boy, for instance, are very anti-United-Planets, while Timber Wolf and Wildfire are very pro-United-Planets... but they're all invited into the team anyway, because the point is that they're all united by being superheroes and by their shared commitment to fighting for what's right. Really I like this better.

Not super stoked about the approach of another Great Darkness. For one thing, we've already had one. You may have heard about it; it was pretty great. For another, I think that big events should be few and far between. This Legion hasn't really earned a big event yet. Maybe it'll be okay if it's the kind of thing that's built up to over a long period?

Trying to figure out what bothered me about this issue, and I'm settling on, I don't think this comic book can ever be really good if Brian Michael Bendis insists on featuring the whole team in every issue. I don't think it works if we always have to zoom out as far as we can to see everything at once. Sometimes you have to zoom in and look at just a couple of things for a while. That's how every other Legion writer has handled it, and I'm skeptical about whether Bendis has perfected a new technique for how to write about a superhero team with three dozen members in it. I'd like to think that, now that the first storyline is over and the readers have a sense of what's going on here, that he'll switch to a more conventional arrangement, but, uh, I'm not getting that vibe.

Art: 95 panels/22 pages = 4.3 panels/page. 5 splash pages.

The art show continues this issue, with a few pinup type pages (like the ones for the White Witch and Dr. Fate, which I enjoyed). Even with that, the panel count is pretty good. Note page 10, which is Invisible Kid's page--it isn't credited to a particular artist. I think it's just a detail of page 3, all blurred out to give the desired visual effect. Anyway, I like that. Also Reis & Prado's Bouncing Boy page.

Membership Notes:

Someone else pointed it out first, I believe on Twitter, but it's true: look at the top left of page 3, north of Rose, south of Bouncing Boy, west of Ultra Boy and east of Gold Lantern. Chap with a black-green-grey costume and a long purple head with a pointy skull. He's standing with the Legionnaires while they're on trial, so I guess he's a Legionnaire? I guess we'll find out more about him when we do. Anyway, we get details about more of the Legionnaires, which I'll collect up, but no solutions to any of our deeper mysteries.

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Blogger Matthew E said...

Some of what we learned about the Legionnaires this issue contradict other stuff we already knew. Like, is the White Witch Mysa Nal or Xola Aq? Is Jacques from Earth or Kit-Son? It's got to be on purpose, and I don't like it.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Lucas Schimmel said...

I have a few thoughts.

It seems we have some pro-UP and anti-UP Legionnaires. Other than Brin, I don't know exactly what that means. The United Planets seems to be a somewhat weak and ineffective entity as it stands right now, I feel like our heroes don't move a finger it would just collapse on its own. The UP is willing to use the Science Police (always thought this name was funny, in my country science police are the forensic scientists) for disreputable means, but it seems the police is unwilling to use excessive force and could be stopped by childish logic; the President is a diplomat, executive officer and has judicial (prosecutorial and decision-making) powers, and seems to have quite a lot of power.

I might be looking a bit too deep, but I reckon the story keeps drawing attention to the status and fate of the United Planets yet I just don't understand what that status is.

As for the trial on itself, I don't know what it means. Think about what happened: The trial started with the President trying to blame the Legion as anti-UP, then some members are shown to be pro-UP, the trial is seized by Crav bringing his son, Mon-El has another rage fit, a precognitive person says some great evil is coming, a wizard confirms the great evil is coming and the Legion must defeat it, a witch says points out that Crav knew about this evil all along, Crav confesses on the spot, he's seized and the President says the trial was just a farce and she just wanted the Legion to tell the Galactic how great they are. I really hope this is all explained because I'm really lost.

As for the self-comparison to the Great Darkness Saga. Ok, I don't mean to be rude to the man, but you shouldn't be comparing your run, which hasn't even find its footing yet, with one of the best and the most famous Legion of Super-Heroes arc.

Notable mention goes to weird romance between Superboy and Saturn Girl. Apparently, it happened offscreen and inside Jon Kent's head, Imra just happened to invade his privacy and decided she liked it.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Lucas Schimmel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Lucas Schimmel said...

A fellow Legion fan posted it somewhere else, the transcription from the Interlac script.

"The trial of the Legion of super-heroes is being broadcast live to the entire Galactic. It is being translated into 97 different base languages and 700 different dialects. The only planetary system not running the trial live is Rimbor, who has accused the Legion and thegalactic United planets of egregious criminal behavior.

It is unclear whether rimbor leader crav, the general nah or his son and newly elected legion leader jo nah, ultra boy, will appear before this court.

rimbor very publicly denounced their seat at the united planets after the legion of super-heroes intercepted what they believed to be an illegal interaction between rimbor and the horraz.

as stated in the united planets bylaws, the president acts as prosecutor for any case brought forth to the body.

rj brande is a skilled litigator who successfully negotiated peace between new krypton and thanagar. her approval rating across the galactic is 66%

the legion's approval rating is 87%

she checks constantly."


As for the inconsistencies, first I would like to point out that Xola Aq used to be Mysa Nal's name on the Silver Age, but it was changed to Mysa Nal later. At least that's the information on the wiki. I really hope Brian Michael Bendis is not taking information from Wikipedia to write.

As for the rest, it can't be on purpose, otherwise... what matters? This is not a case of unreliable narrator, since the mistakes appear to be random and not only in the text, but also the art and even solicits. If characters can change, why even bother with who is in the team?

For example, in the solicits for Legion of Super-Heroes 12, the main cover has Ayla Ranzz as Lightning Lass, with curly hair, while in the variant cover Ayla Ranzz is Light Lass, with straight hair. Same with Superboy, who appears to have a different suit in every book he's in. Or how, unlike the intelligent and emotionally savvy Braniac 5 we had in the flashback issue, he was a hyperactive toddler in Action Comics, by the same writer.


As for the highpoints of this issue, I really like the Dream Girl "A Great Darkness is Coming" page. And although confused, I did have a laugh at Mon-El interrupting a trial to beat Crav.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

- I think you summed up the trial very well
- Thanks for the Interlac
- “What matters?” Exactly my point. I’m hoping we will eventually get a sensible explanation of why this is happening

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Ian said...

Thanks for the Interlac Lucas Schimmel!

I agree, these inconsistencies don't seem to be mistakes anymore. Perhaps there's a multiversal shift in the offing for the regular DC books that will/is spilling over here? I don't see the point in terms of the pleasure of the readers' of this series if there is, but.

There has been some foreshadowing of a Superboy/Saturn Girl romantic connection so that one didn't take me by surprise. I enjoyed the nuance of each Legionnaire's rationale for joining...and how each are recruited. Some (very few it would seem) tried-out, many were sought out. Some were appointed to the Legion by the President of the UP.

There was an issue, the founders' origin (#4 iirc), where Ayla says she doesn't always wear or keep close track of her ring. Something to do with her general derision for the UP and her membership. I think it was quickly explained away that each ring is mated with its wearer but it occurred to me that a race of twins and a loose flight ring could lead to something. This is sheer conjecture and I don't even have much confidence that it has something to do with the inconsistencies surrounding the character.

I can't get my head around it but I'm thinking of Morrison's holistic approach to Batman during that run. Morrison's self-professed goal was to take the entirety of Batman's published history and make it all count. I'm also reminded of Bendis being the architect of the Ultimate line as he was the writer on the Spider-Man title for the inception of that new universe. He employed common Spider-Man character names or fondly remembered past Spider-Man storyline names that adhered to an iconic but not specific similarity to the characters/stories as they had been known prior. Character's relationships to one another were altered at times, at times certain characters were just as remembered. It created a dissonance. I feel it as the larger media ports over comicbook stories but in the context of fictional universes that didn't develop under the same conditions that created the stories in the first place. The Legion being an oft-rebooted book, the necessary cognitive skill to compartmentalize between each standard variation and the natural desire for orthodoxy are big reasons I started coming to Legion Abstract. So thanks for this space.

Ah well, I suppose temporal disturbance is as good an excuse as any.

On to the New Krypton storyline.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Hal Shipman said...

And this is the one thing I don't like about reboots above all others:

"Not super stoked about the approach of another Great Darkness. For one thing, we've already had one. "

We already had one. Tell NEW stories. At worst, it's a rerun. At best, it's a guessing game of how it will be "different."

One thing I'm confused about (which may be a symptom of the shifting writing we're seeing) is that it looks like Dream Girl and White Witch are NOT sisters this time around. Okay, fine. But why do they have the same light beige coloring? I'm not a huge fan of that with Dream Girl anyway, as it leans into a ham-fisted attempt to tie her to Morpheus/Sandman again.

That said, there are things I really like this time around. One of which is Mon-El. Granted, he's always been my favorite (particularly as "Superboy, but with the possibility of consequences"), but he has personality. Something about Monster Boy is appealing, too. And Bouncing Boy. He feels like more than, "Look, they let the fat kid play." He has agency.

For these character insights, I think that these two issues ended up in the positive for me.

And, God, yes, thanks for the Interlac. Please keep posting those. The color contrast or whatever are really hard to "read."

11:13 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Ian: Thanks very much.

I don't like to have to resort to saying, "we'll have to wait and see," but it really does look like we're going to have to wait and see.

Hal: When I put together my Current Legion Roster page, I noted that the White Witch's name is Mysa Nal of Naltor, and then with this issue I had to add Xola Aq of Zerox. I don't remember what issue she was called Mysa in, but I wouldn't have put it on the page if I hadn't seen it somewhere. So maybe she and Dreamy both are and are not sisters. Or something.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Lucas Schimmel said...

It was in her Freichtman (Freitchman) tag in some issues. I think we only get a clear view in one panel, but in others you could get some information like the Homeworld name starting with an N, etc. Can't remember if anyone actually names her as Mysa, but dialogue is hardly memorable in this series.

Basically the same thing as Mon-El, the writer either forgot his plans or just decided to change it later on. Mon-El is a Daxamite in his Freichtman/Freitchman tag, in issue five the headlines have "Rimbor under the leadership of a Daxamite?" with a picture of Mon-El.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I did get a lot from the Frichtman tags. And, yes, the writer being inconsistent or changing his mind are both possible explanations.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Daxam1978 said...

I've been loving the new series.
It has many nods to past era's but is still accessible to new readers.
We know virtually nothing about the upcoming great darkness story so I'm keeping an open mind.
I think the last 4 issues have been a lot of fun with incredible artwork!
I'm looking forward to what comes next.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, whatever else I have to say about this series, it does read good. I’m having a more pleasant time with it than with LSH v6-v7.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Until shown otherwise, as with so much else in this series, I am going to assume that "Great Darkness" will probably have little to do with Servants of Darkness, Darkseid, and so forth.

(In fact, if asked to predict, I would say the Sun Eater. Literal darkness.)

4:37 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

8:17 PM  

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