REVIEW: Legion of Super-Heroes #18

by

Or – “What To Do After The End Of The World…”

Last issue, the legendary Legion team of Keith Giffen and Paul Levitz was reunited, as the entirety of the known universe blew up in the faces of our heroes. Technology no longer works, the team is scattered, isolated (and in one case killed and eaten) while our heroes try to figure out the whos and whys of the disaster that has befallen the U.P.  The creative team promised last time that it would get worse, and now we’re about to see how bad it gets. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

LSH18CoverLEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #18
Writer(s): Paul Levitz & Keith Giffen
Aritst(s): Keith Giffen, Scott Kolins and Tom Derenick
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Colorist: Javier Mena
Editor: Rickey Purdin
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Legion of Super-Heroes:  In the 30th Century, a massive group of super-heroes helps to keep the peace between the various worlds of the United Planets as well as deflecting the attacks of the most nefarious bad guys the worlds have to offer.  Now, a new Fatal Five has formed, and the cybernetic Tharok has used his abilities to cripple all modern technology, causing the United Planets and the LSH to fall into chaos.  Can the heroes pull this one out of the fire, or is it finally curtains for the 30th Century’s biggest super-squad.

HARMONIA SUCKS.  THAT IS ALL.

The sad, drifting feeling that the latest incarnation of the Legion has had since the New 52 reboot has bothered me for a while, and it has only gotten worse as time went by.  Last issue, all of that changed in the blink of an eye, as the issue opened with a shocked death and hit the turbo-boost on shocking developments, with the entire United Planets collapsing under the weight of its own hubris.  While I don’t necessarily agree with the brutality or shock-value of last issue’s death, I have to admit it’s something different from the endless whining and passive-aggressiveness that has plagued this book since the return to the “original” incarnation of the Legion a few years ago.  Nothing much has actually HAPPENED, and even the loss of 1/3 of the team to a time vortex (which theoretically could have had drama and consequences) was done off-panel, allowing for more talking about it all.  Last issue, everything started blowing up, and the new Legion leadership struggled to come to terms with it all while stranded in deep space on what turned out to be a Promethean Giant.

MULTIPLE ARTISTS MAKE FOR AN INTERESTING PATCHWORK…

For the last five years or so, Giffen has been working in a Jack Kirby homage/pastiche style, which really made last issue seem even more dramatic.  This issue opens with long-term Legion artist Tom Derenick handling the art chores, working in a style designed to mesh with Giffen’s current style, and it works really well, especially the designed-to-shock sight of Legion HQ in flames.  Sadly, this issue ups the talky-talky again, with Harmonia (who sucks) opining that people have forgotten “how to live in harmony with nature.”  I hate you, Harmonia.  You’re worse than Atmos, with fewer redeeming characteristics.  Aaaaaanyway, we bounce back-and-forth between several squads of Legionnaires, with teams trying to get back into action around the galaxy.  Thankfully, while the powers of Mon-El and Ultra Boy are key to the action in several spots, Levitz doesn’t fall back on the problematic plot point of having them be the only ones capable of DOING anything in the story, something that Giffen also suffered from in his Five-Year Gap tales.  By the end of the issue, another old-school team member seems to have sacrificed his life, Brainiac 5 may have finally rebuilt a spaceship, and two separate teams of Legionnaires seem to be dead, while their headquarters explodes and collapses in flames.  If nothing else, it’s a bombastic story…

THE BOTTOM LINE:  APOCALYPTIC, BUT BETTER THAN THE LEGION HAS BEEN FOR AWHILE…

I’m torn on this issue, because a lot of what has happened to the team is big-dumb disaster movie cliché stuff, and the death of Sun Boy seems like a step too far, but it’s still a step up from the dullness that has been hanging around the team for the last year and a half.  I like the idea of a new leadership team, because the Brainiac 5/Mon-El conflict was played out in the Silver Age and hasn’t felt fresh since the mid-80s.  On the other hand, Harmonia Li is such a bland and indistinct character that her prominence over the more interesting new kids is puzzling, and Levitz seems determined to never give us a reason to like her or to make her presence in the LSH upper echelon believable to the reader.  In short, it’s a mixed bag, but the changes in art team work because of the fragmented nature of the story, and the last couple of issues have finally made good use of the Legion’s large roster for the first time in years.  Legion of Super-Heroes #18 is a little too dependent on the legacy of the Great Darkness Saga for my tastes, but is at least a more interesting LSH story than Levitz has been delivering alone, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. ( I do wonder what Giffen has against Sun Boy, though…)

Rating: ★★★★½

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