Or – “In Which A Fave-Rave Makes A Somewhat Lukewarm Return…”

Everybody has their favorite Legionnaire, even if they don’t know it…  Mine is Blok, but Matter-Eater Lad is in the top five, as is another much-maligned Legionnaire who makes his unheralded return this issue.  In the wake of last issue’s tragedy, relationships have changed, families have been separated, and much unpleasantness has occurred.  Isn’t this a perfect time to deal with a traitor in your midst AND an old enemy with a grudge? 

Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 6) #2
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Art and cover by YILDIRAY CINAR & WAYNE FAUCHER
1:10 Variant cover by JIM LEE
Colors by HI-FI
Letters by SAL CIPRIANO
Published by DC COMICS

Previously, on Legion of Super-Heroes:  The events that took place on a small spacecraft “a few years ago” left three kids from various wrong sides of various tracks united as the greatest heroic peacekeeping force of the 30th Century.  Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy have been joined by literally dozens of lads and lasses over the years, most of whom have had multiple retconnings but still remained mostly awesome.  Last issue, Earthgov forced the LSH to take one of their most powerful foes into the team, a Green Lantern ring arrived in the future, the moon of Titan was destroyed, Saturn Girl’s children were spirited away, and Brainiac spent most of the issue stalking about in a state that could only be described as “peeved.”  Not really an auspicious start for the future’s greatest super-team.  Will the cleanup effort bring out the awesome that has been missing for our super-future friends?  (Not THOSE Super Future Friends!)

We open in the rubble of  Titan, as the Legion’s heavy-hitter squad has been engaged to destroy large fragments of the devastated moon to keep the spaceways clear.  (This issue will also feature a tally of Legionnaires seen.  Page 1: Brainiac 5, Mon-El, Ultra Boy = 3)  Brainiac is a real jerk to Jo and Mon, but Ultra Boy is equally snarky with the perpetually crabby Coluan.  “This is a job for our kind of powers, not that overgrown data monger.”  I hope this doesn’t mean that ultra-dumb-jock Jo Nah is back in session, but I’m pretty sure from the cover that this train has sailed.  Also in action with this team are Wildfire and a returning Tyroc, (Legionnaire Tally = 5) both of whom are using their powers to destroy planet chunks…  Which raises the question of Tyroc’s sonic powers working in the airless vacuum of space.  I can’t recall if they’ve ever been shown to do so before, but I suppose they ARE magical.  Doesn’t make it any less annoying to consider, though.  Tyroc is decked out in red with discs, and a shaved head, with a shaved head and only his disco bondage belt carrying over from his last costume.   (It has been remarked that he resembles Synch from Generation X in this issue…)  Mon-El is upset at being dumped by Shadow Lass,while Brainiac discusses Polar Boy in a very awkward bit of exposition.  Before any of the team can do much, Saturn Queen (founding membefr of the Legion Of Super-Villains) arrives and takes control of Brainiac’s 12th level mind.

Far away, on planet Naltor, former Legion leader Dream Girl, winged wonder Dawnstar, and Archie Legion refugee Gates (Legionnaire Tally = 8) arrive on a mission of diplomatic intent, smoothing over recent issues with Earthgov, and seeking a home for Titanian survivors.  Back in the inverted starship of love, Cosmic Boy and Earth-Man (Legionnaire Tally = 9, as I’m not counting Absorbancy Boy) argue about their newly created alliance, and E-M stalks away to play with his new Green Lantern ring.  Colossal Boy and Chameleon Boy (Legionnaire Tally = 11) want to spearhead a mission to stop rioters on Earth, but Cos won’t send Cham out, fearing that the riots would explode into violence.  Back in space, Saturn Queen drops Brainy and controls Ultra Boy, using him to take out Tyroc and Wildfire in seconds.  (So much for Ty’s big re-debut…)  Out in the timestream, Saturn Girl watches the moment where her babies disappeared, (Legionnaire Tally = 12) while Lighting Lad and Lightning Lass momentarily abandon the search for their lost brother (L.T. = 14).  Colossal Boy, Earth-Man, Sun Boy, Invisible Kid and Phantom Girl (L.T. = 17, still not counting Doctor Sideburns) try to quell a riot, but make it worse.  Their fat is pulled out of the fire by Shadow Lass (L.T. = 18) who evacs Phantom Girl to the Legion medilabs.  Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a raging Ultra Boy, who is stopped by a few sweet nothings from Phantom Girl, while Earth-Man’s ring starts to show him how to be the worst Green Lantern since Driq, who was, by the way, DEAD.

Wow, this book was scattered.  There are several seeds of interest going on here (the fate of Mekt, the missing Ranzz children, Tyroc’s return to duty, the LSHer’s response to the turd in their punchbowl) but it’s all going on at once, making this second issue fall prey to the worst problems that usually plague a FIRST issue.  Yildiray Cinar’s art is excellent, especially on Shadow Lass and Phantom Girl, and Paul Levitz has managed to keep several key characterizations from his last run in place, but what does it all in for me is the shoehorning of night-on everybody into the book.  It seems like Garth will be giving up on his search for big brother awful quickly, and several of the other plot hooks that this series was launched with (coming out of Legion of Three Worlds and the Adventure Comics strip) may not get fully fleshed out in the new Levitz era.  It’s not as awkward as last issue, but there’s still a lot of ground to cover before I say that the Legion has once again regained it’s stride.  It is, however, MUCH more successful that the last big Legion era (Shooter Mark IV was a clusterschmozz of things that made my poor little brain hurt) and it is very well rendered.  Improving upon #1, Legion of Super-Heroes #2 earns a cautiously optimistic but realistic 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  If we can keep everything in balance, there’s a possibility of a return to old greatness…  Fingers are crossed.  

Rating: ★★½☆☆

 Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Does the return to action of the two highest profile black Legionnaires (Tyroc and Invisible Kid II) in this series do anything to offset recent questions about DC Comics diversity and racial sensitivity for you?

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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27 Comments

  1. Christian
    June 25, 2010 at 3:34 am — Reply

    I love the fact that every review of this issue has made complaint about the number of heroes given panel time….
    ….In a book called LEGION of Super-heroes..

    • June 25, 2010 at 4:34 am — Reply

      Yeah, it does seem sort of petty, especially since this is the exact same thing that was done in the Baxter run, which gets so much praise. So it’s only good if it’s in back issues?

      • June 25, 2010 at 10:55 am — Reply

        Yeah, it does seem sort of petty, especially since this is the exact same thing that was done in the Baxter run, which gets so much praise. So it’s only good if it’s in back issues?

        It’s not the number of Legionnaires in the issue, it’s the breakneck pacing with which it’s handled. The Volume 3 Legion, in it’s first arc, launched with a huge action sequence and lots of fighty fighty action, but it didn’t actually constitute a “relaunch” in that it was a second title joining an existing title that was very popular. They didn’t have to introduce everything all over again…

        While I admit that a book with 24 main characters will have to be crowded, but this issue has double-duty, in that it’s also returning an OLD Legion to duty, creating a new status quo, and also reminding us of who all is in the team (something that could EASILY have been done in the build-up stories in Adventure Comics or perhaps in the FIRST ISSUE) while trying to create some super-drama.

        As for your second point, Mela, it should be noted that “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “The Butterfly Effect” are very similar in their story and some of the techniques utilized. Are they of equal quality because of that?

        • June 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm — Reply

          It’s not the number of Legionnaires in the issue, it’s the breakneck pacing with which it’s handled.

          Fair enough. I misunderstood in the review, but I understand your point that there’s too much with too many for any one or two threads to get the adequate focus they need/deserve. It does feel like Levitz is addressing this series like it’s a continuation of some sort, when it really isn’t and could definitely use more tightening. That said, I’m still enjoying it to a degree.

          As for the reviewing criteria, for some reason, the counting reminded me of one reviewer who complained about the rapid-fire reaction shots Perez likes to do appearing in L3W, then counting panels in this series & arguing that “more panels automatically equals more story, because that’s how it was in the 80s”. Unlike his misplaced nostalgia, though, your counting is part of your point.

          • June 25, 2010 at 11:32 pm — Reply

            Unlike his misplaced nostalgia, though, your counting is part of your point.

            Indeed… The last time I counted Legionnaires like this, it was with a horrifying sense of dread that I’d agreed to write EIGHTY Hero Histories… :)

      • brainypirate
        June 25, 2010 at 10:59 am — Reply

        Meanwhile, as I was following Matthew’s tally, I was getting excited: WOW! *18* Legionnaires in this issue? Awesome! And we still didn’t get everyone.

        Maybe it’s just my experience watching EastEnders, where characters appear in the background of scenes they aren’t otherwise in, but I like it when we see lots of characters, even if many of them are only seen and not heard.

        What’s more an issue, I think, is not the Hero Tally, but the number of storylines in play: Had it just been the Saturn Queen storyline and the Riot storyline, we might not have minded seeing so many characters. But we also had two versions of Imra’s storyline–hers and Garth’s–and that made the book feel more scattered than it really is.

        • Damascus
          June 29, 2010 at 2:37 am — Reply

          I’ve never read Legion, but I would feel like if you’re rebooting a franchise and you’re reintroducing the characters, either start with a big fighty figthy cold opening (like Law & Order but with fighty fighty) and briefly showcase the awesomeness of these characters in action or semi-slowly lead into the characters to make them all shine. I wouldn’t like having a favorite character, lets use oh I don’t know Blok as an example, and in the middle of this story you cut to two panels of Blok just walking in the background carrying a piece of a planet and then he’s gone, I think I’d be a little disappointed. Or maybe you could do something like a $1.00 #0 issue that is kind of a Legion Roster report that has the founding three members reading out the roster of members and showing them in action that way you could jump into a story a little ahead of the game. I think they did something like that with the JLA a while back that showed them deliberating in text boxes over who they were inviting, choosing Elongated Man over Plastic Man or something like that. It was interesting and it would be a great kind of jumping on point for new readers like myself, I’m almost afraid to get into Legion, it just seems way too bogged down with characters and history that I’ll never know. The Hero Histories help, but it’d still take me a year to read all of them in depth. I need that quick blurb/stats page that gives me the gist.

  2. Brian G.
    June 25, 2010 at 6:51 am — Reply

    I’ll probably pick this up despite not liking #1. (mostly because of Dream Girl and Dawnstar.) My biggest concern is when I went to DC’s website and issue #4’s write up says that Darkseid may be behind it all. WTF? Darkseid? Shouldn’t he have been Retconned out of the future since Final Crisis? Unless this is Darkseid Jr…

    • brainypirate
      June 25, 2010 at 10:54 am — Reply

      Ugh–I hate Darkseid as a character. I really hope it’s not him, and that Imra is right that the M.O. doesn’t match up with Darkseid’s earlier attempt on her sons. (But does her comment mean that he hasn’t been retconned out?)

      • Brian G.
        June 25, 2010 at 12:53 pm — Reply

        I actually love Darkseid WHEN HE’S WRITTEN WELL (which isn’t very often) but I don’t feel like he should still be in continuity and that this lessens Return of Bruce Wayne (even more).

  3. eric
    June 25, 2010 at 8:05 am — Reply

    When did Dream Girl come back? Where did I miss that one? I thought she was dead and Brainy was still pining over her?

    • brainypirate
      June 25, 2010 at 10:52 am — Reply

      I think that may have been the 247 Legion? I think we’re back to Brainy and Supergirl with this group….

    • June 25, 2010 at 10:57 am — Reply

      When did Dream Girl come back? Where did I miss that one? I thought she was dead and Brainy was still pining over her?

      Two-part answer:

      The Dream Girl that was dead was resurrected in Legion (V.5) #50.

      This, however, is not that version of Nura Nal, as this Dream Girl never died, she was just held in the 20th Century and was freed during the events of “The Lightning Saga” back in JLA/JSA a couple years ago.

  4. Mijder
    June 25, 2010 at 8:52 am — Reply

    I thought the issue was a bit all over the place, with allot of important bits seeming to happen off-panel, but in all I enjoyed it and will continue to keep the series in my pull list. But then I’m almost as much a Legion nut as Matthew, and am currently attempting to collect all of Levitz’s work on the Legion anyway.

  5. brainypirate
    June 25, 2010 at 10:51 am — Reply

    I thought it was interesting that Mon suggests Tyroc’s sonics are now powerful enough to make Mon-El less essential as a heavy hitter. That makes me think Levitz has plans to make him more important. Yet he’s telling himself how much he dislikes being a Legionnaire, which makes me worry Levitz is going to send him home.

    I also thought it was interesting that, given how much people were treating the absence of Tyroc and Dream Girl as future storylines, they simply show up in this issue as if nothing had happened. Odd. Has Levitz decided there were too many potential stories left over?

    I don’t mind the large number of characters in the book, but then I’m pretty familiar with most of them, so I don’t feel lost. But I do wonder if the LSH is the only super-hero team that actually puts the term “super-hero” in its name. Why not “Justice Society of the Galaxy” or “Teen Justice” or something like that? Do they feel that they need to inform other people that they are, in fact, super-heroes (especially when half of them are only super on Earth)?

    • June 25, 2010 at 10:59 am — Reply

      also thought it was interesting that, given how much people were treating the absence of Tyroc and Dream Girl as future storylines, they simply show up in this issue as if nothing had happened. Odd. Has Levitz decided there were too many potential stories left over?

      Well, given that the “Garth seeks out Mekt” plot hook was also seemingly discarded, albeit more temporarily, I suspect that Levitz possibly wasn’t as interested in those storyline possibilities? Hard to tell…

  6. Bob
    June 25, 2010 at 11:17 am — Reply

    Just an idea….I remember sometimes Levitz would let a storyline like this linger and then finish is in an annual. Garth/Metk just seems like an annual to me. Much like the three founders dealing with the aftermath of Great Darkness years later, who shot Laurel Kent, Karate Kid’s wedding…which the story started around 288 or so, and finished in Legion annual 2 which came out around 303 or 304. Hopefully that’s what he is doing.

  7. Navarre
    June 25, 2010 at 7:40 pm — Reply

    I agree that there is too much going on. The story so far seems almost too focused on Saturn Girl, imo. It seems more like it’s about her because she’s the common link to the disaster, Titan itself, Saturn Queen, the twins, and the time travel angle.

    This is the first time I have seen Earth-Man. I guess I never ran across Absorbency Boy.

    He seems incredibly uninteresting. He seems more of a whiner than a potential threat. Can’t imagine why such a schmuck would have a Green Lantern ring.

  8. Brady
    June 26, 2010 at 9:21 pm — Reply

    Nice to see Tyroc back, but he is from the island of Marzal on Earth, not the Planet Marzal. I am not liking the lack of historical integrity.

    • Navarre
      June 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm — Reply

      Yeah, I caught that too. I didn’t know if it was a typo or if there was some retcon thing I missed.

      • brainypirate
        June 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm — Reply

        Marzal certainly does need a retcon — in the age of President Obama, it makes no sense to preserve the island’s “African separatist” origins. In fact, that origin never made sense anyways, unless somehow the DCU version of Africa (the entire continent!) either disappeared or was completely taken over by other groups so that black earthlings had NOWHERE else to go! (But then Jacques was from Africa, n’est-ce pas?)

        Planet Marzal might make more sense than island Marzal, *if* it’s written in the same way Starhaven was written, as a planet seeded by one particular ethnic/racial group.

        Here’s hoping Levitz uses his “chronicler’s error” prerogative on Tyroc’s original origin and gives us a more reasonable and useful story for Marzal.

  9. J Michael T
    June 27, 2010 at 7:34 pm — Reply

    Love the Legion and waiting with anticipation to see if this version of the Legion does it for me. So far I’m at the “2.5 out of 5” level. Hope it gets better for me soon.

    As far as your question, I hope that the two heroes here are not just back as filler to fulfill a quota (wow, that sounds harsh) and that their characters are handled well. I like the original appearances of IK II and felt that he was a character that was more than a color. Hope they can do that for him again. Tyroc needed a reboot anyway… My opinion. I’m totally in wait-and-see mode.

    Thanks for the review!

  10. Navarre
    June 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm — Reply

    My girlfriend hasn’t read the Legion before but will soon read these two issues. I have tried to speculate on how someone unfamiliar with the Legion will take these two issues.

    I think there is too much going on and the only character focused on in-depth is Saturn Girl (and maybe Brainy). I think they should have skipped Earth-Man and the Green Lantern thing altogether for now and focused on the Titan disaster.

    It would give a new reader to see the team in action and get to know some characters. For the most part, all of the characters are coming across either flat or as smart-mouths because there is too little opportunity to spotlight anyone, even for a few panels.

  11. Damascus
    June 29, 2010 at 2:48 am — Reply

    Is it just me or does anyone else think that the artist’s name, Yildiray Cinar, sounds like a Legion name? From the planet Ztivel. It’s absolutely no less believeable from what I can tell.

    • Navarre
      June 29, 2010 at 6:35 am — Reply

      It’s a clear case of nepotism and racial bias. The United Planets included his only to represent Ztivel. Earth-Man would not approve.

  12. June 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm — Reply

    I haven’t gotten #2 in yet. It should arrive sometime next week.

    I’ve always been a fan of the original Legion and I’m glad to see DC bring them back.

    The first issue floored me. It was everything I would want in a new Legion book.

    After the last couple of reboots I didn’t exactly have high hopes for the title. I was expecting the same result we got when Claremont returned to the X-Men a few years ago: overly-long narratives and unnecessary exposition, both gone out of style since the mid-nineties.

    Instead we got Levitz picking up the ball running. With an artist worthy of being on any high-profile super-hero comic.

    I really don’t mind all the characters as that’s just the nature of the Legion. You’re gonna have characters that shift from the forefront to the back and then back again but their presence is always there. Even if it’s just a meeting room panel or an appearance to let you know where they are.

    The “Super-Heroes” in the name was their way of honoring Superman. I’m sure they would have liked to call themselves “Legion of Supermen” but Imra would have protested.

    Btw… For those interested… The Who’s Who in the Legion series from ’88 would catch everyone up to speed as that came out at about the same time as the current Legion continuity picks up from. It’s seven issues and can be found pretty cheap (right now). It even covers things as the Interlac, the planets, the Constitution and other things. Highly recommended!

  13. garion
    August 11, 2010 at 9:42 pm — Reply

    I’m digging this so far. I hate absorbancy boy being a GL. But other than that is seems pretty good and Levitz wrote this way in the past so for me, it’s no different than the Baxter series.

    And honestly, until I read it elsewhere and then here, I didn’t realize there were 18+ characters in this issue. I just was happy to see all those characters. Of course, I am a long time fan and am familiar with them. So, it was great for me. If Blok, Sensor Girl and the Mysa would’ve been there I might have jumped for joy.

    Seeing Tyroc was nice btw. I hope he stays.

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