REVIEW: Legion Of Super-Heroes #0

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Or- “The Conclusion Is Inescapable, My Friends…”

Querl Dox isn’t your average super-hero type.  His only real combat power comes from his force-shield belt, and he doesn’t expend much energy on fighting techniques or fisticuffs.  His power lies in his 12th-level computer brain, the better to analyze all possibilities and outcomes, and also snarkily poke at his teammates and friends.

Oh, and also?  He’s the descendant of one of the most terrible, murderous tyrants the galaxy has ever encountered.  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #0
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Scott Kolins
Cover Artist: Steve Lightle
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Colorist: Javier Mena
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Legion of Super-Heroes:  R.J. Brande, the richest man in the galaxy, was saved from certain death by a trio of teenagers with super-powers, each from a different world of the United Planets.  With their courage, his funding, and a few recruits from other worlds, three young kids became a dozen, then a score, and eventually a full-fledged Legion of Super-Heroes, protecting the galaxy against threats large and small.

IN THE PAST OF THE FUTURE, BUT THE FUTURE OF TODAY…

As is the aim with these zero issues, we flashback to an early adventure of our heroes, shortly after the founding of the Legion.  Founding members Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad are joined by Brainiac 5, Phantom Girl and Ultra Boy in battling a mysterious menace on Brainiac’s home world of Colu.  (These Legion reviews REALLY work the heck out of my spellchecker, I’ll tell ya that for free.)  I’m actually not quite clear on the timing here, as Brainiac 5 seems to have yet to actually join the Legion, but has visited the planet.  Scott Kolins is a name that I always love to see on art chores, as he has a really kinetic and visual style that is nonetheless very much classical comic book art, and the depictions of the LSH in action in the first half of the issue are pretty impressive.  I am bothered to see the characters in costumes subtly different from those in the very recent “Legion: Secret Origins” miniseries, especially Ultra Boy, and annoyed to find that Paul Levitz still wants magnetism to go “Sproing.”  (It’s a minor pick, I know.)  The heroes fight their way through an army of mechanical insects to the source of the trouble:  A vault bearing the familiar colors and logo of the original Brainiac.

HEY, LOOK!   A STEALTH ORIGIN!

Interestingly, the catalyst of the destruction is a character that long-time Legion fans already know, and the events of the issue put a new twist on his origins and the unique power-set that Jim Shooter created back in the ’60s.  The second half of the issue has some bothersome moments for me, as Levitz falls back on the lazy “have the strong guy throw it into the sun” resolution that made The Sentry so dull to read about in New Avengers, and Brainiac’s motives are (for roughly the tenth time) called into question, making us all wonder what it is that the boy with the 12th level brain is up to.  I’m troubled by the expectation in these dark and cynical days that being smart always equals being unpleasant and Machiavellian, especially in the future of the Legion, which has historically been shown as a shiny-shiny utopian society.  Levitz does deliver lovely dialogue, and the last panels, where Brainiac 5 concentrates on forcing down the memories of what he saw inside Brainiac’s tomb before Saturn Girl is in telepathic range, are intriguing and dramatic.

THE BOTTOM LINE: STOP BEING ASHAMED OF ULTRA BOY’S GOOFY COSTUME!

All in all, it’s a nice solid Legion story, with some groundwork being laid for future events, giving us a little glimpse into the mind and past of the most mysterious Legionnaire.  The art is fine work throughout the issue, and while I have a few quibbles (after all, this is a Legion book, and I’m known to have some opinions about that property) it’s a successful overall issue.  That said, it’s not really a “zero issue” in the sense that DC wants these books to be, as the story throws you into things with a clear expectation that you know about Colu, the United Planets, and at least something about these characters.  Legion of Super-Heroes #0 takes a couple of story-telling shortcuts, but gives us some nice dialogue and character work, a bit of foreshadowing with Tharok, and a Brainiac 5-focused mystery, earning a better-than-average 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  At the very least, I’m happy to see Ultra Boy once again rocking his cut-out trimmed corsair boots, which are as iconic as his “space-whale” chest symbol…

Rating: ★★★½☆

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