Or – “How To Kill Your Franchise In 5 Years Or Less…”
As a 30-year fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes, I was vaguely saddened to hear that the book was being cancelled when the news broke a couple of months ago, but it was a complex and remote sadness. Given that the New 52 era LSH had never really found its stride, part of me wondered if it wasn’t all for the best, but subsequent issues seemed to get some of their groove back. What does the future hold for the future? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Kevin Maguire art is lovely.
A few lost Legionnaires get a final moment…
A really stupid alternate universe reveal.
It all feels pretty pointless.
Previously in Legion Of Super-Heroes: When a new iteration of the Fatal Five arrived, their first move was to destroy the technology that held the United Planets together. Faced with the near-collapse of their civilization, the Legion of Super-Heroes lost several of their own before finally regrouping and defeating the FF once again. Now, it’s time to bury the dead and to pick up the pieces…
THE PARTY’S OVER…
This issue is an example of what I like to call the “pointless epilogue” comic book, a staple of the publishing industry, and it represents a lot of why this version of the Legion of Super-Heroes has gone away. We start on the Legion’s graveyard world of Shanghalla, saying good-bye to Sun Boy and Star Boy, both of whose deaths came across as sudden and meaningless. There’s some lip service paid to the whereabouts of Phantom Girl, but the current leader of the Legion doesn’t actually appear in the issue, serving instead as a totem for Ultra Boy to repeatedly reference to remind us that they’re in love. Brainiac 5 is unable to stop being an irritable dick even though the crisis was pretty much his doing, something that his teammates actually remind him of ON-PANEL! Bouncing Boy serves in his role as morale officer, bringing in something that he identifies as Superman’s iconic shirt, “the one speared…”
This moment is important. Remember this moment, as it sets up the rest of what is wrong with this issue.
A REAL GOOD LOOKING BOOK.
Artistically speaking, it’s a fine-looking issue (although Ultra Boy’s long hair, which has always looked stupid, looks even stupider under Maguire’s pen), with some nice turns from Sensor Girl, Duplicate Girl and even Shadow Lass in it, and a couple of moments that resonate for a long-time LSH fan. Bouncing Boy tries to stop Brainiac 5 from making an even bigger ass of himself with a subdued “Time to be quiet, buddy”, while Shadow Lass and Mon-El are sort of reunited (even though he’s been maimed and is inert in a healing sphere at the time.) When Chief Cusimano of the Science Police arrives to tell them that the United Planets has disbanded the Legion, it feels like a mercy killing. (At least there’s only a little bit of Harmonia in the issue, a small comfort.) As we wrap things up, there are a number of codas for various characters, one of which features Bouncing Boy and Duplicate Girl glad to have found each other, and hoping that out there in other universes, they still get to be married. Even, he says significantly, in worlds where Superman wasn’t murdered by Steppenwolf during the invasion from Apokalips…
THE BOTTOM LINE: I WONDER IF DC CONSIDERED THAT THE PROBLEM WAS ACTUALLY JUST LEVITZ?
At which point, I had to put the book down in order to properly display the Picard Facepalm Maneuver at what a stupid and essentially senseless plot-point this was, placing the Legion that we have been reading about in the future of Earth-2 as seen in ‘World’s Finest’ and ‘Earth-2′ elsewhere in the New DC. On the one hand, I don’t mind that this Legion has been deemed as “alternate”, it’s not as though that hasn’t happened before, and given the events of Levitz’ latest run on the title, I’m oddly glad to see it. My frustration comes in that pulling such a card in the last issue of the run is nothing more than an attempt to clear the decks for DC’s Next Big Thing, the Justice League Recycled IN SPACE (coming in October!) Levitz’ latest run on LSH has been very retro from the word ‘Go’, harkening back to his salad days on the title in the mid-80s, ignoring and/or squandering all the good-will and story potential set up with Geoff Johns returned the sort-of original team to the primary timeline a couple of years ago. Legion Of Super-Heroes #23 is a dull and lackluster swan-song, focusing on the elements that I most disliked about this run, ignoring several unanswered questions, and succeeding only in sweeping the team under the rug for housekeeping purposes, earning 1.5 out of 5 stars overall. The only real comfort is my belief that, given the preponderance of LSH fans among comic creators, that this retirement will likely be a temporary one…