Wednesday, January 27, 2021

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Damned if I know.

Well, okay, I can do a bit better than that. We're some time in the future of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion has been broken up for a while, because of something Element Lad did (with the Legion only having existed for 100 days?). Apparently he was concerned that the universe was being destroyed by its own elements, so he did something catastrophic to fix it, and is now on the run. The Legionnaires are all scattered and divided by these new circumstances. And, of course, Ultra Boy is trying to put the team back together, and his handful of Legionnaires confronts Element Lad.

It's not clear how much any of this is going to matter. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is talking like, hey, maybe we'll just stay in this future!


Not much story this issue: heroes assemble and go see Element Lad. That's basically it. The comic book is filled out by a lot of revelation, instead. Revelation of what happened, of what some Legionnaires look like these days, of what happened to everybody. It's all been introductory. Which means that next issue is going to have the entire story part of the story.

Assuming that Future State is done in two issues! Bendis has been hinting he might stick with it.

And I'm not sure what I think about that. I'm of two minds. On the one hand, I think it's a dumb idea. On the other hand, we know so little about this team, does it really matter?

I'd rather there was a third mind for me to be of.

There are elements of this setup that resemble the start of the Five Years Later era of the Legion, in the late '80s/early '90s. There are also elements that resemble the start of the The Legion series, in the early 2000s. Those are two of the very best runs of Legion comics ever created... but you know what else they had in common? The 5YL era came after thirty years of Legion storytelling during which we came to know the characters closely. The The Legion comic came after five years of very consistent twice-a-month storytelling during which we came to know the characters closely.

This particular reset occurs after twelve issues of dedicatedly superficial comics.

I mean, this kind of story can carry considerable weight, but the weight consists of everything that came before. But in this case, nothing has come before! We know a few of these Legionnaires a little, and some of them literally not at all.

I know: Future State is a line-wide initiative, and Bendis had no choice but to have the Legion participate in it. That's fine. I can wait it out.

But if he wants to jump permanently to this future-future... I don't know what he's thinking. I hope he decides against it.

You know what this comic book needs? It needs a couple of years of two-issue stories featuring small teams of Legionnaires handling interesting problems. It needs to let us spend time getting to know them. We can't do it fast! I hope Bendis understands that. He's supposed to be a pro. But, well... let's just say that we haven't yet cashed in the benefits of that professionalism.

So we'll see what happens after next issue. I'm hoping for the best, but I don't really like where things are going.

- much Interlac this issue
- what the flip was Shadow Lass blasting Ultra Boy with?
- what's a lightsong?
- the Legion get referred to as royalty a lot in this issue. I wonder what the deal is with that

Art: 130 panels/22 pages = 5.9 panels/page. (Deep breath) 1 double-paged spread, 5 double-paged arrangements of multiple panels (9, 7, 10, 10, and 11 panels). Single pages of 10, 13, and 11 panels!

The art comes to us from Riley Rossmo, and, I dunno, man. Not that it isn't good! It's very good. But it's a, I don't know, I don't know. I don't know what word to use for Rossmo's style. Not "cartoony", because that's the word I apply to someone like Mike Wieringo, and this isn't like that. Heavily detailed, slouchy, caricatured proportions... It's good, and I appreciate how the high panel count makes me pay attention, but I'm not sure that the style suits the Legion.

Not all styles do! The great Steve Lightle, whom we lost recently, was a wonderful artist with a style that I always felt was too pretty and delicate for the Legion. I *might* think the same thing about Rossmo.

But then, I'm the one who keeps saying that I like it when people try something new. And this art style is new for the Legion. So I'll give it a chance. Maybe this is the start of something big!

Membership Notes:

For the most part there's nothing to note here, because there *is* no Legion, formally speaking, in this issue. But check out page 8/9: I don't know if we should know who everybody is (check out Shrinking Violet with the animated-series look!) but that's Kid Quantum there, isn't it? Also, why is Superboy there? Would he really stick around for all this?

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Anonymous Ian said...

oh the Interlac. I'll get to that later.

Quick thoughts:

Criticisms of the Future State project seem to echo some of your sentiment here: primarily that it's a filler/bridge event (see Convergence) or that it's unearned because the stakes are as limited as the event.

That said, i didn't mind this issue. The conceit of the aspirational Legion future gets flipped and the future of the Legion is a broken dystopia now. Interesting callback to issue #1 where the issue opens with Ultra Boy on Planet Gotham kicking things off. Bendis is nothing if not predictable in the pride of place that Jo Nah holds in his Legion.

So, definitely a standard "Days of Future Past" type story. Braniac 5 is Braniac 7, Saturn Girl appears to have lost an arm and wears a helmet to protect from "another psychic brain twitch" that could lead her to psychically murdering everyone using everyone else as the weapon, Luornu has lost one of her/themselves (recurring theme/callback) due to the Rapture caused by Jan. Element Lad's arc ties into the traitor-betrayal storyline that the Legion dabbles in from time to time. Nemesis Kid gets cast in that role typically.

But Rokk Krinn has become something of an authoritarian type. Or at least Reep thinks so lumping him in with General Crav and his mother--or is Chameleon Boy perhaps training for some covert mission? I speculate that the 100 days comment was foreshadowing that Rokk Krinn will be leaving the team soon--that Rokk, in effect, only lasted with the Legion for a short time. Perhaps due to some friction from Rokk's obvious shortcomings, insecurities and fears. A different take on Cosmic Boy than usual.

and the Legion of Substitute-Heroes are acolytes of Jan Arrah, the reason for the event that created them?

I do wonder who the cross between Blue Jay/Blue Falcon and Superman is. The figure with the visor and the S-symbol.

It would be interesting to see Ryan Sook render these designs of the Legion.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Hal Shipman said...

"Element Lad's arc ties into the traitor-betrayal storyline that the Legion dabbles in from time to time. Nemesis Kid gets cast in that role typically."

Nemesis Kid has really only had that role once. Element Lad/Jan has had it before, sort of, with the original Legion Lost. Other permutations of established Legionaries going bad (real or faked) have been Ultra Boy (2x, I think) and Brainiac 5. Plus various one-offs like Dynamo Boy, that pill popping trio, Molecule Master and the one panel dude in yellow being arrested. But Nemesis Kid have never had that role after the original story. I'm pretty sure that he's never shown up in a reboot.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

We saw Nemesis Kid in the threeboot as part of Mekt Ranzz's Wanderers. Not a traitor but an antagonist. And then he was just a regular Legionnaire in the animated series; they eventually would have made him a traitor but never got around to it.

But yes, long history of Legion traitors; it's part of the Substitute Podcasters' drinking game.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Hal Shipman said...

Now that I've actually read it, I feel I want to do a more detailed breakdown, but three things have stuck with me:

1) This feels SO much like 5YL #1 in plot and tone that it feels like re-mining the same stuff, rather than exploring truly new ground. This is the one thing I hate reboots.

2) On that note, Lournu losing a body is another plot retread, obviously. I'm much more interested in that effect of all of those other bodies of different colors we saw in #12.

3) They're really leaning into Bouncing Boy as a force. That was kind of awesome.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I saw the different-colours thing as what it looks like when she combines. Unless you're talking about something else? I'd have to go back and look at it.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Hey, the last two posts have had the same title, no indication of which issue is involved…

12:38 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I know; it's this new interface. I thought I had fixed it last time. Still working the bugs out.

7:29 PM  

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