Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 Review

I'm going to put a sentence here just because I want to try something.

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The Legion confronts Element Lad and Saturn Girl discovers that he and the Trommites weren't responsible for the devastation of the galaxy. Really it was the Titanians who were using Saturn Girl as a puppet to manipulate the rest of the Legion, and through them the Trommites and everyone else, for xenophobic purposes. The Legion responds by locking Titan away in its own little pocket where they can't interact with anyone else, and promise to carry on from their and be the Legion again.


What we got here is a fairly old-school two-parter. Big scary threat, resolved in two issues. I've read Justice League stories from the '70s and '80s like this. And it's... it's fine, is what it is, although we could have said the same thing Back Then that I'm saying now: the villain seems too powerful to defeat that quickly. But it's fine! It really is fine.

So, in a vacuum, here's what we got. Two-part series showing what might happen to the Legion in a hundred days minus, I dunno, a dozen or whatever. Some new looks for the characters, some possible fault lines along which the group may splinter. A reaffirmation of the team's purpose. And a quick fight and resolution. That, in a vacuum, is fine.

The problem is with what comes next. But never mind that; that's not this issue's fault.

No, the main problem with this is the same problem we've been having: we still don't know much about these characters. Probably this wasn't the time for them to go into that, but... well, some time must be the time. I believe it was the boys at the Legion of Substitute Podcasters who floated the idea that Bendis is giving us core Legionnaires and, what shall we call them, wallpaper Legionnaires. We get to know the core Legionnaires but the others are just there because we need them to make the Legion a big group. And, well, that's possible. I would be okay with such an approach. But I don't really feel like I know the "core" Legionnaires (Superboy, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy... Wildfire? Lightning Lad?) that well. Not fourteen, fifteen issues worth. And I don't know the other Legionnaires at all, some of 'em!

Here's another thought. There's a thing that you get in superhero stories these days... often, the threats or villains in the stories will be internal. The hero or heroes will do something that releases danger, or provokes it or facilitates it in some way. And then the hero or heroes have to triumph over it. But if they hadn't done anything in the first place, or hadn't been around, nothing bad would have happened. So it's not really an advertisement for superheroes. LSH: Future State is one such story. I prefer it when the villains are external. I know it's supposed to be Teh Profound when the heroes end up fighting themselves or whatever, and there's a place for that kind of thing occasionally, but in general I prefer when the threat is external and you get a conflict between two sides that have little to do with each other and therefore their interaction is something we haven't seen before.

You know?

Anyway, I don't mind it every now and then. As long as they don't keep going back to that well.

Legion comics mess with Titan a lot. I think the reveal in this issue might be an echo of the first Legion of Super-Villains story where Saturn Queen was evil, like most Titanians, because she was a way from the beneficial influence of the planet Saturn. But then it's also kind of like Orando getting sent away to its own dimension in the supervillain war at the start of the Baxter run.

So we've got a couple of months off now, because Bendis wants to take time to plan and get some issues in the can before reassuming the monthly schedule. I appreciate that. I can wait. I hope the title returns better than ever.

- pipe the mustache on Jon Kent
- Blok look like the Rhino to anyone else on that last page?
- there's one panel where Brainiac 5's name is spelled "Braniac". It's one of my pet peeves. Guy's got nothing to do with cereal!
- had to go back and figure out just where Cosmic Boy was during the fight with Element Lad. There? Not there?

Art: 96 panels/22 pages = 4.4 panels/page. 3 splash pages, 1 double-page spread, 3 multiple-panel spreads.

Riley Rossmo again, and it still looks good if very off-model for Legion comics. Uh... I have to say I haven't really gotten used to the Future-State look of the Legionnaires. There are a lot that, not only don't I recognize them, I haven't even tried to recognize them. Because I don't know if it matters. If we're only here for two issues, and Bendis isn't making it obvious who they are, well... why put in the effort? Anyway, I'm glad I got to see Rossmo's take on the Legion. Not sure what I think about this being what the team looks like going forward, if that's what happens. I especially like the panel layouts; very inventive.

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Blogger Hal Shipman said...

The timeline confuses me. If I understood the ~100 days correctly, those are a LOT of changes in a very short amount of time (just over 3 months). Looks, powers, death of Lournu's body...?

Also, "I prefer it when the villains are external." Yes! The most egregious case of this was "Batman and the Outsiders." Batman's whole reasoning for forming the Outsiders as a team was because he felt the Justice League was too focused on their own issues and not the threats in the world at large. And then the Outsiders proceeded to ONLY have adventures focused on themselves (Tobias Whale, Tatsu's husband, Duke of Oil [something about Markovian oil holdings], etc.).

As far as a core group goes, while it's not the large team finesse I liked with Levitz, I do like the others being literally in the background means that they are at least an option to be used.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Ian said...

There really isn't much to this and thusly not much to add. Conversely I have started reading 5YL for the first time (always been put off by Giffen's art...still am). Leaps and bounds beyond this business though.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think it's a hundred days between the Legion's founding and its dissolution, but maybe a few years after that.

Good luck with 5YL! It is rife with points of interest, and comes with my highest recommendation.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

The biggest dislike I have with this is that it all but forces future Legion stories in the Bendis continuity into jumping ahead however far this is — because otherwise either the cat is out of the bag and we just mark time as Element Lad slides, Titan takes over, Luorno loses a body, Imra loses and arm, and so forth, or else we constantly look for that and they dodge right and left to avoid it, but as we know from decades of Adult Legion and X-Men Future Past, you can't ever manage that, it just sucks you back in.

So then we end up with a second 5 Year Gap, including an art style and character designs distasteful to many and mystery "Black Dawn" event that wiped out the Legion and maybe vanished a dozen characters. And that left a bad enough taste in the mouth that I'm sure fandom doesn't want a redo of it.

When the Legion comes back, I give it a 50/50 chance of jumping to the Future State continuity or ringing in the "FiveBoot" (although my preference there would be a "Reboot Retroboot", return to the 90s continuity).

4:50 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah. Still, the fourboot has been sufficiently unrigorous that we could end up with some other haphazard situation.

Better than no comic at all, which is what we have right now.

4:58 PM  

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