REVIEW: Legion Of Super-Heroes #19


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!

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…


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…


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.


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: ★★☆☆☆


Reader Rating

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