Or – “It’s Always Darkest Before It Turns Pitch Black.”

After the (perhaps overly) shocking turn of events last issue, the Legion of Super-Heroes may be on their last legs.  What more can befall our poor 31st Century heroes?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

LSH19CoverLEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #19
Writer: Paul Levitz (Keith Giffen, Consultant)
Artist(s): Scott Kolins & Jeff Johnson
Colorist(s): Javier Mena, Matt Yackey & Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Editor: Rickey Purdin
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Legion Of Super-heroes:  The Fatal Five has returned, and have combined their resources to, essentially, shut off technology to the united Planets.  The Legion has lost one of their veterans heroes to the crash, while Star Boy may have been killed as Legion Headquarters itself collapsed.  Brainiac 5 may have discovered a way around the Five’s sabotage, but with the team split up, isolated and all in mortal danger, it may be a lost cause…

THE BIG ‘WTF’ REVEAL ON THE COVER IS A LITTLE BIT FAMILIAR…

After last issue’s bludgeoning of the status quo and the safety of the 31st century, I was worried about this issue.  On the one hand, it’s kind of an interesting concept to see the Legion stripped of their technology and forced to get by without the gewgaws and machines that define their lives.  On the other, there’s really no reason for every single one of our heroes to be struck utterly useless by the conflict before them.  This issue begins with Mon-El racing into action against the threat plaguing Weber’s World (an entirely technological synthetic planet) only to end up facing the power of the Emerald Empress.  As powerful as Mon has been for the last 50 years, though, the newly upgraded Empress is even more so, blasting the Daxamite from pillar to post, beating him like the proverbial government mule.  Getting beaten down is the highlight of the issue for our heroes, though, as Invisible Kid and Polar Boy are seemingly smashed by a Promethean Giant, leaving their leader Phantom Girl to weep powerlessly as her team falls apart around her.  Making things worse, the mixed art team leaves us with a visually strong first-half, and a closing ten pages of bloopy and indistinct faces…

REVISITING THE GREAT DARKNESS SAGA…

I think the worst part of this is how, to a long-term Legion reader, this all feels very familiar.  The general tone and the loss of technology is reminiscent of the Volume 4 “5-Year-Gap” LSH, while the doom-and-gloom echoes the Great Darkness Saga.  Granted, both of those stories are decades old, so there’s no problem with revisiting (or even RETELLING) those stories, but this isn’t so much a new telling as it is the same thing with blood and gore.  As the spoileriffic cover shows, our shocking moment is the maiming of Mon-El by the Empress’ magic, a moment prefaced by both the brutal death of Laurel Gand in Volume 4 and Polar Boy having HIS arm severed during the Action Comics relaunch of this Legion only a couple of years ago.  While there are moments of interest here (The tension between The Persuader and Tharok is intriguing, and it is nice to see Levitz find a situation that isn’t immediately resolved by sending in Mon-El and Ultra Boy for Kryptonian-level ultra-violence), the general tone is dreary and grindingly depressing, hopefully to set us up for the big super-hero rally that experience tells us is coming.

THE BOTTOM LINE: BLEAK AND BLOOD-THIRSTY.

In short, this issue is a dark and off-putting middle chapter of a story that hasn’t been particularly engaging, and serves to make me hope that we’re actually going to get a new Legion status quo coming out of it.  I wouldn’t even mind if we have a protracted rebuilding period (something that might be a good idea if all the maybe-deaths are upgraded to actual deaths in upcoming issues) so long as we’re rebuilding to something that feels fresher and more “Legiony.”  I’m just hoping that we aren’t killing off dozens of decades-old superheroes just so that creative can construct their 7-Person “JLA” Legion, as the rumors would have it.  Legion of Super-Heroes #19 left me sad and exhausted, wondering why I still read a book that’s neither particularly interesting nor much like the Legion of Super-Heroes, earning 2 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!


Reader Rating

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 1.83 out of 5)

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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. April 20, 2013 at 9:22 pm — Reply

    I am so tired. This story line feels waaaaaay too much like an effort to DCNu the LSH. Cancei it for God’s sake, but don’t make us suffer through this. Crappy characterization (that is NOT TInya), mysterious new versions of Tharok and the Empress, bleak gloom everywhere. I YEARN for the Giffbaum years, and that takes some doing.

  2. Gehrigan
    April 20, 2013 at 11:25 pm — Reply

    I love the old LSH characters and world, but instead of rehashing the themes and tropes of old they should take advantage of the Legion being in the future and all over the galaxy.
    Smaller teams going on away missions to new worlds, and setting up new supporting characters. The best of star trek and superheroes.
    The Legion feels tired and cynical, and Paul Levitz seems to be floundering in his own past. There is no need to throw away all the beautiful history and characters , just develop new history, blaze a trail of imagination and adventure. I look at Hickman’s Avengers and see what the Legion should be doing, but with more heart.
    The Legion meets Jonathan Hickman meets Warren Ellis [Planetary era] meets Mark Waid. The Legion comic should be the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee Fantastic Four of the DC Universe. Crazy new ideas, philosophies and mind-bending stories with a cast where a bouncing guy or a matter-eater can change the course of the galaxy.

    • April 21, 2013 at 10:55 am — Reply

      I look at Hickman’s Avengers and see what the Legion should be doing, but with more heart.

      Suddenly, I realize why I’m such a fan of Hickman’s Avengers, as this statement is 100% true.

  3. April 20, 2013 at 11:31 pm — Reply

    I’ve been avoiding the New 52 relaunch like crazy, sticking sorely with the Legion book in the hope that their status quo would remain intact after Geoff Johns brought back the Levitz roster for him to write again.

    Then this happens.

    If the end goal is to kill off all of the classic Legionnaires in order to replace them with yet another Justice League book and “major” players, then I am outta here. Sun Boy was one of my favorite members and what they did to him shouldn’t happen to a dog. Just wait until they get to poor Blok …again.

  4. Tiffany Park
    April 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm — Reply

    I detest Giffen’s art, especially his mock-Kirby style, so I’m glad to see any other artist on this title. I understand why they are all going with mock-Kirby, given the Promethean giants and all, but really, only Kirby ever made that art style look good.

    I’ll be glad when Giffen is gone (I read that he was already history, please please let that be true). I’m still uncertain about Levitz at this point. Let’s face it, he and Giffen (whom I “fondly” refer to as “the Destructo-Twins”) managed to screw up the Legion so badly that it had to be rebooted (and rebooted and rebooted…). I don’t know a single other Legion reader in real life who is pleased about seeing both of them on the title again, despite what people say on the web, and despite how many pros proclaim them to be “fan favorites.” Levitz and Giffen can blame the Superman rewrites all they want for the first reboot, but they have no one but themselves to blame for the Magic Wars and the (ugh) Five Year Gap. And Giffen says he wants the current awful retread of a storyline to serve the same purpose as a reboot! Ugh!

    I’d really rather not see history repeat itself, but if things keep going this way, it is almost certain. Real reboot or cancellation? You choose. I’ll be gone soon if things continue as they are. I’ve left Legion before, stayed away for years, and only just came back. Sadly, it looks like I came back in time to see the same grotesqueries happen all over again, perpetrated by the same people.

    Seriously, does DC now rely on reboots, rather than decent writing on series that are supposed to be, y’know, serial stories?

    Why not just do a futuristic, serial space opera with superheroes? That’s what the Legion is really suited for, not this dystopic garbage. Here’s hoping that Marvel’s new Guardians of the Galaxy will fill the void that Legion is leaving. So far it looks promising, whereas Legion looks like it is self destructing.

  5. Roger gordon
    April 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm — Reply

    The book is on its last legs. It will be cancelled in less than a year. Too bad.

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