Or – “V-I-L-L-A-I-N.  ‘Villian’ Is Not A Word, Folks.”

The Legion of Super-Villains has gone through a lot of membership changes in it’s decades (our time) of service.  The last LSV consisted of nearly every member of every incarnation of the team and came within inches of destroying the entire multiverse before being stopped by an all-star three-universe Legion of Super-Heroes.  What the team has generally lacked, though, is a strong leadership force.

Have you met Ted Saturn Queen?

LEGION OF SUPER-VILLAINS #1
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Francis Portela
Colorist: Javier Mena
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Previously, on Legion of Super-Villains: Years ago, in the future of the future, three villains drew together to oppose the good done by the Legion of Super-Heroes.  Their formation led to other splinter groups and combinations, until eventually the LSV came together full-force with a vow to each murder a member of the LSH.  While only Karate Kid fell in that battle, seven other Legionnaires barely survived, and the evil team proved themselves worthy of opposing the Super-Heroes.  When Tom Welling Prime came back from the great beyond, he reassembled the LSV, but they were once again routed by their rival Legion.  Recent events in the Legion’s book have brought Saturn Queen to the prison planet of Takron-Galtos, but the devices that should be muting her phenomenal telepathic abilities haven’t seemed to be quite up to snuff…

Evil Telepath Is Evil!

The new take on decades-old villainess Saturn Queen is pretty impressive, combining elements of Emma Frost with the pride of Namor and a streak of cruelty, leading a breakout from Takron-Galtos with only the power of her mind.  Paul Levitz old-school war with the LSV was one of the most successful portions of the 1984 Legion relaunch, leaving me with mixed emotions.  On the one hand, I want to see more of that sort of epic successful storytelling, while on the other I’m afraid that it’ll end up being a rehash, a Legion War II: Electric Boogaloo.  Saturn Queen has an interesting temperament, sacrificing her pawns as necessary, and letting the escaping criminals fight it out to see who is worthy of joining her team, save for a couple of key members, Zymyr and Orion the Hunter.  If you know who they are, you probably have an idea of what she has in mind.  The Queen’s plan involves finding the worlds of immortals, centers of Faith, of Wisdom, and of Will.

Beware The March Of Continuity…

The difficult part of writing the Legion in any decade is tying it to the current state of the DCU, so I was irritated to see that one of the places she is targeting is the highly overexposed home of the Guardians of the Universe:  Planet Oa.  The LSV is unsuccessful in their mission, and Saturn Girl’s mysterious power-brokers make their voices known, explaining how she has boosted her abilities.  Their second attack, on a world of Faith, succeeds.  The Rock of Eternity is shattered (though a survivor is hinted at) and the LSV splits up to find the third planet, a bastion of the Wise.  I honestly have NO idea what that might be, but it’s clearly going to be a bit of DC history.  Maybe the Tower of Fate?  Or the JLA Watchtower?  The Space Museum?  Hell, I don’t know.  As leery as I am of tying into Green Lantern continuity again, it’s at least a new angle for the Legion that plays to the strengths of 1000 years of untold history.  Francis Portela’s art rides a fine line of cartooniness, occasionally crossing into an animation-inspired ride, but it is occasionally overwhelmed by the computer coloring and the seemingly incessant light and flare effects.

The Verdict:  An Intriguing Cliff-Hanger

Three things work for this issue:  Saturn Queen’s push feels natural and raises questions in the reader’s mind that open up speculation about her motives, her new power source and whether or not we’ll recognize her benefactor.  The team being assembled is a nice mix of old and new, making the core of a Legion of Super-Villains that could actually oppose the full power of the LSH with a few strong additions.  And, much like the Annual of a few weeks ago, it adds depth and verisimilitude to a world that feels a bit under-examined in the core title.  It’s funny that the one-shots related to the book would work better than the individual issues of Legion, but they’re leading me to believe that there’s a larger plan in place.  I hope that it turns out to be a world-building plan rather than a single thread that will end up getting blown off in some big crossover event, but all in all this issue works.  (Seeing that jerkwad Micro-Lad croak was a perverse draw, as well.)   I had some issues with the art, and I actually groaned out loud when the name “Oa” came up, but the book succeeded in making me want to see another LSH/LSV clash without worrying that it would be nothing but rehash… Legion of Super-Villains #1 serves as an interesting companion piece to the ongoing Legion title, and earns a very strong 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Given that the All-Star LSV concept has been recently done, what members would you like to see on this team to compliment/challenge the regular Legion of Super-Heroes?

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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6 Comments

  1. March 13, 2011 at 1:22 am — Reply

    Definitely Sussa Paka. Always had a weakness for that character. Be a nice matchup with some of the lower powered Melee legionnaires. A fight with Brin would be fun.

  2. Ian
    March 13, 2011 at 9:57 pm — Reply

    Don’t forget “Villian the Villain” from Ambush Bug

    • Damascus
      April 26, 2011 at 3:11 am — Reply

      Or what if they happen to be a Vaude-“villian”?

  3. Damascus
    April 26, 2011 at 3:20 am — Reply

    If I knew any Legion villains, any one at all, I’d answer your question. But since I don’t, lets say they add the EVIL MIRROR VERSION OF BLOK ….with a little goatee.

    • April 26, 2011 at 8:30 am — Reply

      If I knew any Legion villains, any one at all, I’d answer your question. But since I don’t, lets say they add the EVIL MIRROR VERSION OF BLOK ….with a little goatee.

      You could call him Klob!

      • Damascus
        April 26, 2011 at 10:43 am — Reply

        And he’ll be created and drawn by Rob Liefeld and they’ll make him have blue skin with grey shoulder pads and boots.

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