Or – “File This Book Under ‘Hopes, Dashed’…”

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The reviews of the W/KRP “Threeboot” version of the Legion of Super-Heroes have been, to say the very least, somewhat mixed.  It’s old-school Silver Age undertones were appreciated by the Legion’s ancient fans (read: myself) but there was enough revisioning going on to draw the attention of the not-so-seasoned Legion readers (that’d be Stephen.)  When Waid and Kitson left the book, I was afraid it would devolve into either a series of riffs on the original, pre-Crisis Legion, or worse, would go off on some bizarre tangent that would bear no resemblance to the LSH we’ve spent years reading.  Turns out, I was a little bit right, on both accounts.  With “Legion of Three Worlds” on the horizon, the monthly experience of this book has turned into a kind of holding pattern, waiting for the next reboot to come along…

Previously, on Legion of Super-Heroes:  The disappearance of Cosmic Boy after the teams long war with LSH2.jpgthe Dominators left the Legion in a state of disarray.  Supergirl was elected leader, but she too left the team (albeit travelling the opposite way in the timestream) leaving the team under the less-than-experienced lead of Lightning Lad.  Garth Ranzz is many things, but he ain’t Cosmic Boy, and the Legion suffered through some unsteadiness as a result.  Thankfully, several other team members came through, including a mysterious mastermind who has been secretly altering Garth’s commands in the computer system after he gives them.  The team has learned to love fake cursing (to the extreme, I might add) and interacted with other heroes extant in the United Planets, mostly by kicking them.  Now, contingents of Legionnaires are trapped around the galaxy, and the United Planets has declared them outlaws, putting the team in quite the pickle.  Of course, a pickle might make them hungry, and as one of the finest Legionnaires of all time has been heard to remark, you DO NOT want to make them hungry…

We start out on planet Velmar V (Velmar?  Rere’s Raggy?) as Ikilles and his fellow native Velmarians warily watch as Light Lass awakens from her coma.  Shadow Lass and Timber Wolf are trussed up nearby, and Ikilles shows his status as alpha dog by beating T-Wolf while he’s down.  With an incredibly annoying series of fake curses, Ikilles talkes about how wonderful it is to have beaten down the Science Police AND gotten one over on the “florg-hammered” Legionnaires who tries to rescue the S.P.s.  He keeps pawing at Ayla, and his mate picks a fight…  so he has her executed!  Looking at the smoldering remains of his girl, Ikilles snorts, “I was sick of her, anyway…”  He tries to rip open Light Lass’ blouse, but thankfully the Legion uniforms are resistant to tearing.  At the moment, the cavalry arrives, in the form of… Invisible Kid???  Lyle does the unthinkable, and calls the savage out, challenging Ikilles to surrender, or get his @$$ kicked.

Halfway across the galaxy, on planet Rimbor, Atom Girl, Colossal Boy, Saturn Girl and Ultra Boy as at the mercy of the Rimborian Science Police, who aren’t pulling any of their punches.  Saturn Girl makes a solemn decision, and orders Ultra and Star Boys into the air with the artist formerly known as Shrinking Violet to bust heads.  Ultra Boy saves a red-haired Sci-Cop from being smashed to bits, and she moons at him.  “I knew you’d save me.  My name is Norima.”  As U-Boy flashes away into the sky, she murmurs, “I love you.”  Shrinking Violet/Atom Girl goes hand to hand with an SP twice her size, and ends up cracking the girl on the head AND scuttling the cruiser, as Colossal Boy and Saturn Girl manage to break their way free of the wreckage below using their flight rings.   

Back at headquarters, Phantom Girl and Element Lad arrive just in time to be told by one Colonel Pismo that he’s just shut down the Legion.  A quiet young lad steps forward, and helpfully says, “Excuse me, Colonel Pismo, but before you make any more grievous, career-threatening mistakes, I think you should listen to what I have to say.”  The lad identifies himself as M’rissey, the LSH’s business affairs manager, who amazingly has the respect of Brainiac 5!  While one quiet young lad reveals his inner badass, another quiet young lad does the same on Velmar, as Invisible Kid faces down the toughest squaj (crap, now they’ve got me doing it!) in town.  Using his brains, and the laws of physics, I-Kid takes out Ikilles in seconds, freeing Light Lass.  I’m an old school Legion fan, and I can tell you one thing most people don’t realize: an angry Ayla Ranzz is like a $*$#ing force of nature, as the law of gravity becomes merely a suggestion, and the entire tribe is shot into the air as if from a cannon.

Back on Earth, M’rissey is equally impressive, telling the SP that not only will the Legion not be a part of the government any longer, but that the U.P. actually owes them over 1.2 QUINTILLION credits for services rendered (with interest of over two billion credits per second.)  “We’ll send an invoice… not that I expect the deadbeat U.P. will ever pay us.”  M’rissey continues by explaining that the Legion is filing a persecution suit against the government, and that they’re going to try and impeach the Attorney General, who is calling right that very second.  The colonel blanches, and M’rissey guesses that the Legion’s lawyers have just stood on their collective necks, and that the P.R. firm he’s hired is ready to release the blackmail photos of the attorney general…  The SP’s leave, post haste, and the entire team gapes at his display.  As for the squad on Rimbor, they suddenly realize that the transmat portal is open again, and make the leap home…  Invisible Kid’s team follows, having squashed their little problem, and the team is reunited just long enough for a woman to show up on the priority line begging the team to help, before the entire solar system is destroyed!

Whew.  Lots of resolution this issue, with Shooter in his best “wrap ’em up, these plotlines are done” mode.  The satisfaction of Lyle and M’rissey’s tough-guy moments overcomes many of the limitations of the story, and the art (by Sanford Greene and Nathan Massengill) is well-done, if a bit more cartoony than this Legion incarnation has ever been before.  It’s a very strong issue, and had it not come in the wake of the huge sweeping changes hinted for the team after SDCC’s “Legion of Three Worlds” panel, it might have signalled the beginning of a new age for the team.  As it is, it’s just a nice signpost before the coming (well, I suppose I can’t PROVE it’s coming, but I suspect that we’ll see a) reboot of the 30th Century.  It’s a nice issue, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars, well-above average and nicely done.

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For those of you patiently waiting for Phantom Girl, she’s in the wings, I promise.  This weekend had a few surprises, including a scanner cable that mysteriously vanished, some unpacking that I didn’t expect, and a visit by old friends that side-tracked me a bit.  But, I promise that there are TWO Hero Histories coming, and that I will work diligently to make sure that you see them as soon as possible (ideally, tomorrow and Tuesday, but…  life occasionally intrudes.)  Hopefully, this will be enough Legion to keep your breath baited for Tinya and a mystery guest.  The only hint you’re getting is this:  He had some of the same powers as one of the most decorated and respected Legionnaires, but not for ALL of his tenure.  Any guesses?


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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7 Comments

  1. Bean525
    August 4, 2008 at 12:23 am — Reply

    It’s pretty sad that I’ve had this issue for two weeks and I’ve yet to open it. I really wanted to like this run on Legion, and it seems things may be turning around. It’s good to know at least some of the meandering is over. I hope that somehow Legion of Three Worlds lets all incarnations of the Legion exist, maybe in separate Earth futures (Please please bring back Post-ZH LSH, DC!). If they don’t do that, then I guess they don’t want to leave this version of the LSH floating in space when they get erased.

  2. Albert
    August 4, 2008 at 12:42 am — Reply

    I just have to say that you do great comic book reviews. And as for as Legion knowledge, I don’t know many who could match you. But I have to agree to disagree with your analysis on the MASH (Manapul and Shooter Handled) run on the Legion.

    They have given this title some new life and you are not giving it a chance. Maybe because you’re an old Legion fan, or maybe not, I think this book, or any comic book for that, needs to be critiqued in an unbiased fashioned. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all iterations of the Legion and am excited as hell for Legion of 3 Worlds. If anything, Geoff Johns has been stated that there isn’t going to be a reboot per se as the original Legion future is the future of New Earth (Earth-1).

    Just saying give this book some true value. BTW, your Hero Histories are amazingly thorough! Got almost choked up with the Monstress HH.

  3. Randallw
    August 4, 2008 at 8:24 am — Reply

    I’ll be a little dissapointed if the current title is rebooted. I know it’s not exactly new or anything, I’ve had it since the start. Now it may be my problem, I have a bad memory, but I can’t recall anything big ever happening. I know there was some big thing awhile back with that guy who couldn’t be seen, or detected, but now it feels like it never really exploded. Sure stuff happened from issue to issue, but it never felt like I had to get the next issue for the big ending. Things would just drag on for awhile till suddenly it stopped…oh wait there was the Dominators and Supergirl, problem though was I resented Supergirl being there. It just felt like she was thrown in, perhaps to get more readers, but she was never Legion to me. I was waiting issue by issue for her to leave. My interest in the Legion was from old bw reprints I got when I was a kid, and when it rebooted I decided to jump on. As I said I know it’s not exactly a new title, but nothing has really ever happened and if it reboots again I’ll wonder, why did I bother with an era that got dumped?

  4. Carl
    August 4, 2008 at 10:19 am — Reply

    With the Legion hiring Lawyers and PR firms, I guess the whole “youth movement” and “everyone is a Legionairre” bit is officially over.

  5. August 4, 2008 at 9:51 pm — Reply

    I think it’s time to accept that the days of the Legion as a successful ongoing in ANY incarantion are over. Long Live my Legion memories…

  6. Katzedecimal
    August 4, 2008 at 11:58 pm — Reply

    I was hoping that Shooter would breathe some life into the Threeboot characters and he’s done so to some degree. Brainiac 5 is finally starting to get *something* vaguely remniscent of a personality (beyond “total piece of Charmin”) and this is easily the best version of Chameleon ever. But the whole MASH run has struck me as “limping along, trying to staunch the heavy bleeding without much success.” MightyGodKing pretty much pegged it when he greeted the start of the MASH run with “Reboot in T-25 Issues” :-P

    I would have agreed with Baal’s sentiment, but then I saw Geoff Johns’s “Superman and the Legion of Superheroes.” Johns breathed fresh life into the characters, with vibrant, distinctive personalities that really haven’t been seen since the 70s (although there was that brief time with the Batch SW6 Legionnaires that came pretty darned close.)

  7. Dave
    August 5, 2008 at 6:22 am — Reply

    In my case, I had no hope that Jim Shooter would be able to “fix” the Legion, but I admit a bias against his work. The first taste of his work I got was “Secret Wars” back in the day, and I remember being disdainful of his work when I was 14.

    Geoff Johns’s Legion gives me hope for the characters and the franchise, but also concern because I feel he’s one of the only things DC’s got going for it. Gail’s Wonder Woman so far has proved underwhelming. Trinity is making me yawn. Final Crisis is stirring more anger than positive hype. And based on the JSA Annual (review anyone? :) ), I am beginning to wonder if Johns is spreading himself too thin.

    Screw reboot Legions. Long live the Silver Age Legion.

    (But the cover sure was cool, wasn’t it?)

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