Born in Vancouver, BC Canada. Have lived in a lot of places since then.
Face Front, True Believers…
This is the FINAL edition of the world famous and critically acclaimed Legion of Superheroes blog. People will be talking about this for generations to come, I’m sure. And when I say people, I mean nobody. But whatever. I did it! Three-hundred-sixty-five days of pure, unmitigated, futuristic, super-heroic joy. Notta-dream. Notta-hoax. True story. Reading through all my Legion of Superheroes comics this past year has been a highlight of my otherwise drab, unremarkable life. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
Now, before I finish up, and wash my hands of the whole grock-bokkin’-shebang…let’s take a moment to review…
There have been three versions of the LoSH, up until this point. The first, original team, lasted from 1958-1994. I read roughly half of their adventures: from issue #276 of what started out as a Superboy comic to issue #61 of the third series. Within this initial continuity, there were a few sub-versions of the group. The “five-year-gap” story chronicled the team as adults after the downfall of the United Planets and featured a reality-shift which introduced new characters such as Andromeda and Kent Shakespeare. During this slightly confusing revision, a younger group of time-displaced heroes also showed up and were introduced as: “the Legionnaires”.
Once Zero Hour swept through all of DC continuity, the Legion was re-set to their previous youthful selves, and a slightly-revised origin was established. This second version was initiated by a zero-issue and then picked up from where the previous numbering left off. It only lasted ten years; from 1994-2004. I read the later-half of this iteration as well: uninterrupted from Legionnaires #78 through to The Legion #38. Finally, there came the third version of the Legion, which I started reading last week. Issues #1-50 of the final, pre-New-52 Legion lasted five years, from 2004-2009. I read the first thirteen issues, and then I read the last fourteen issues. I skipped all the Supergirl stuff. It might be good, but I didn’t read it. Oh well. Then, there’s the whole L.E.G.I.O.N. backstory to our future-friends’ adventures: of which I have read nearly all.
Altogether, I’ve had the pleasure of re-discovering nearly half of all Legion of Superheroes comics ever told. The original version tends to focus a little too much on inter-personal dramas, to the detriment of plot. These issues seem to meander around a lot, with the few epic tales having mostly underwhelming conclusions. The second version features a more concise vision and is much better crafted, but sometimes gets bogged down in its own logic. I never liked the third version much at all. The characters are stiff and unlikeable, while the plot features ideas perhaps better suited for a different title. Although there are many highs and lows to the whole of Legion of Superheroes history, I find the characters and settings to be quite enjoyable to read about, and most issues are at least entertaining to read. If I haven’t convinced you to take a gander at some of the better issues and story-arcs featuring the Legion of Superheroes by now…well, it’s probably too late. Meh. Can’t win ‘em all.
LEGION OF SUPERHEROES: WEEK FIFTY-TWO
Legion of Superheroes (v4) #37-50 (2008-2009)
Written by Jim Shooter.
Drawn by Francis Manapul, Rick Leonardi, Aaron Lopresti, Sanford Greene and Ramon Bachs.
The concluding issues of the Legion of Insufferable Brats is separated into three chapters and one interlude. Any events occurring between issues #13 and #36 are, apparently, of no consequence…
Chapter One: Evil Adventus.
Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl are stuck on some mining station at the edge of the solar system, fighting a bunch of gnarly, techno-organic creatures. They appear to be mindless killing machines: highly adaptable and undeniably ruthless. Triplicate Girl is down for the count, which leaves only Karate Kid to finish smashing the last remaining “Destroyer” to bits…which he does with panache. So, just a random fight with some generic bad-guy, right? Let’s move on to the main storyline…oh, this is the main storyline? Okay, then. After Karate Kid dusts his hands off from the brutal affair, Phantom Girl conveniently arrives to haul her team-mates back home.
Then, a similar event occurs on Neptune’s moon: Triton. While visiting a ski resort on the snow-swept moon, Saturn Girl, Timberwolf, Invisible Kid and Star Boy are confronted by another group of razor-clawed killing machines. They battle. Invisible Kid gets separated from the team and then falls in love with an alien snow-boarder named Gazelle. Star Boy finally ends the conflict by dropping a building on the alien creatures. The event causes some silly drama between the Legion and United Planets. Meanwhile, Princess Projectra is forced to establish residence in the Legion headquarters after being kicked out of her castle in Metropolis. Penniless and homeless after the recent destruction of Orando, Projectra secretly plots her revenge against those who caused her personal downfall.
Chapter Two: Enemy Rising.
As leader of the team, Lightning Lad has his hands full. Not only is he challenged with keeping a group of wayward teens together, but he’s also tasked with navigating through an increasingly volatile political environment. As the Legion continues to lose favor within the United Planets ruling class, so does Lightning Lad’s grip on his own sanity. There’s some goofy shenanigans and the usual bickering between Legion members ensues. Saturn Girl is tempted to manipulate other people’s minds. Timberwolf becomes unhinged. Projectra is caught looting and beating up civilians in Metropolis. After another attack by the ruthless mecha-organic creatures on Talok 8, Brainiac 5 determines these assaults to be no mere random occurrence anymore. It must be a concerted effort to undermine the UP! He tasks a few teams out to various attack-sites to gather any evidence of the defeated creatures remains that they can find. But, after much searching around, nothing can be located on either Triton, the mining colonies or Talok 8. It’s as if the gnarly beasts never even existed…
Okay, so one was found, still alive but dormant, by the Science Police. The thing gets transported to an operating room at the UP Department of Health building and Invisible Kid slips in for some covert observation. After Saturn Girl mind-links Invisible Kid with Brainiac 5, the operation goes kono-shaped. After some Sci-Pol prodding, the creature wakes up and immediately wreaks havoc in the operating room. Invisible Kid is found out for spying and the UP files a warrant for his arrest. Luckily, Brainy gets enough detail from the event to begin replicating some of the beasts’ technology in his lab.
After getting word that the Destroyer-beasts have landed on Rimbor, Ultraboy gathers a team to help him counter the assault. Together with Colossal Boy, Atom Girl, Chameleon, Star Boy and Saturn Girl, Ultraboy transmatters to his home-world and immediately joins the creatures in battle. There’s lots of smashing, crashing and bashing by the Legionnaires until the alien creatures find a way to adapt their defenses. Since Saturn Girl is useless against mindless creatures, she’s just a third wheel in the group. Star Boy’s mass-attacks are soon rebuffed, leaving him ineffective. Chameleon tries to shield the team with his body but is soon hurt beyond repair.
It seems only Ultraboy maintains the ability to out-smart the dumb-destroyer-beasts. By accessing his various powers at random, he manages to confuse their defensive adaptations and eventually blasts them to smithereens. Then the Rimbor police arrive. They chase the Legionnaires through the tunnels and causeways of Rimbor, in attempt to capture Ultraboy for previous crimes. After a harrowing escape, the Legionnaires eventually escape back to Earth, but only after causing a lot of property damage and some sweeping brain-blasts to the cops by Saturn Girl.
Meanwhile, another group of Legionnaires are busy getting caught up in a local altercation on the planet Velmar 5. After running headlong into a camp of pirate Ikonns, team-members Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl strangely just disappear. The remaining Legionnaires: Shadow Lass, Timberwolf, Light Lass and Invisible Kid are defeated and held hostage by the Ikonns. After distracting the pirates with some goofy tricks, Invisible Kid finds a way to release Light Lass who then makes the whole picarooning group float harmlessly up in the air.
Over at the Legion headquarters, Brainy discovers a bit of alien technology found on the Destroyer-beasts is some type of virtual storage mechanism. Then the Science Police bursts into the lab, apprehends Brainy for holding stolen materials and threatens to shut down the entire Legion. Lightning Lad is propositioned by an annoying kid named M’rissey to help untangle the teams financial and legal troubles. Once everyone is back together, the UP President sends a distress call for Legion assistance. It turns out: a new planet has just emerged in the solar system, and she desperately needs their help.
Chapter Three: Enemy Manifest.
As the new world threatens to spin everything in the solar system out of control, Brainiac 5 grabs Star Boy and Light Lass to create a gravity bubble. After a few failed attempts and much bitching at his team-mates to try harder, they eventually get the planet contained. Saturn Girl enjoys a tryst with Ultraboy. Projectra locates a group of refugees from Orando, intent on restoring her former glory. Then, the aliens from the mystery planet arrive on Earth to garner some peace-talks with the United Planets officials.
The Legion is kept at arms-length, of course, so Brainy just devises a scheme to infiltrate the mystery-planet instead. Dragging Colossal Boy, newly returned Sun Boy, and recruited Gazelle along for the ride, Brainy finds a way to penetrate the surface and discover a giant Destroyer-making factory within. Satisfied with confirmation of his findings and convinced the aliens must have ill-intent, Brainy and the crew return to Earth to warn the President of the aliens’ duplicity.
Remember when Dream Girl was killed back in issue #10? Well, it turns out she’s still alive, at least in spirit, and hanging around Brainy’s subconscious. They go on a date. It’s all in Brainy’s head, though.
End of Interlude
Resumption of Chapter Three: Enemy Manifest.
After a UP delegate is disintegrated by an alien death-ray, planet Earth is suddenly attacked by a platoon of those ever-gnarly mecha-beast Destroyers. The Legionnaires spring into action, in response. While battling back the alien hordes, Brainy determines that none of these creatures are actually real. They are hard-light constructs, manifest from a virtual reality infiltrating ours in order to assume absolute control in the universe. Brainiac creates a virtual-reality pod-bay for Lightning Lad, Invisible Kid, Saturn Girl, Ultraboy, Gazelle and Star Boy to enter and then the team takes the fight to these dastardly aliens while laying down.
Meanwhile, Colossal Boy and the rest of the Legionnaires fend off the light-construct aliens forces from breaking through to Legion headquarters. While the team fails to hold the alien Destroyers back, Brainiac manages to shield himself from harm while guiding the virtual team to victory. In the end, Invisible Kid gets the Gazelle-girl, Brainiac 5 uses the alien-tech to re-create Dream Girl, and Lightning Lad finally forgives Saturn Girl for her wayward actions. Also, Projectra gets in a fight with Phantom Girl; slicing the Wazzo’s face up pretty good. But I still don’t know what happened to Triplicate Girl and Karate Kid…
…and I guess I never will.
I hope that I made that synopsis fairly-entertaining because, this whole story is just deathly-boring to me. This relatively basic-concept that took over a year to play out; the old-Legion would have resolved in two issues, max. In this story: there’s the same non-descript-monster attack, seemingly in every issue. Repeat. Repeat. Mix-in some hackneyed complication. Repeat. It gets old, real-quick. I dislike every single character. The aliens are terribly generic. The fight scenes are tepid, and all the technology jargon is mind-numbingly over-baked. The only half-way intense episode occurs when the team is racing around Rimbor, trying to evade the cops.
Everything else, including all the lurid comments, upchucks and stink-bug references is just juvenile at best. It’s a dull concept with nothing to say, using characters that I can’t stand. Oh, how far the Legion has deviated from its glory days.At least Mark Waid had a point to make with his story and the blurring of lines between heroism and villainy was interesting. Plus, he had an outstanding nemesis for the Legion to fight. Here, Shooter tries to pass the kids off as the good-guys, while they continue to perform tasteless and sometimes downright despicable acts. There’s no irony or subtext. It’s just awful.
Francis Manapul does a passable job as the main artist in this run. Although I don’t find his compositions to be terribly effective, his work is dynamic enough to create some excitement while reading. The fill-in artists, however, are not as engaging. While I did start to enjoy this story during the Rimbor escapade, Sanford Greene’s incongruent style just ruined the whole conclusion with a muddled-mess in issue #44. As a Rick Leonardi fan, I was fine with the interlude in issue #47. It’s not his best work, however, but the story doesn’t give him a lot to work with, either.
The final issue just takes grand-prize for cluster-fuckery. It’s supposedly written by “Justin Thyme”, which we all know means “written by committee, as we give the main scribe the heave-ho”. While the story attempts to draw everything Shooter built up, to a rushed conclusion, it all comes off as silly and contrived. As a compliment to the hackneyed ending performance, the artwork in issue #50 looks just as messy. What a way to go out.
So, that’s the ever-lovin’ end, folks. Please have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve and I will see you all back here next week for more startling adventures of those futuristic rascals known as…oh wait. There’s no more Legion of Superheroes to read? Yah it’s all finished now. Feels weird to say, but yah…after spending the whole year with the Legionnaires…it’s hard to say goodbye. Yeesh. Sniffle…excuse me while I just…just grab another Kono-juice…eahh…
…I’m not crying! You’re crying!!
Next Month: venture with me into the Fourth World; as I take a deep-dive into one of Jack Kirby’s greatest creations. From Black Racer to Orion and from the Source to Apokolips: it’s a full month of New Gods goodness. Set your omega-beams for stunned, cause this reading list is gonna be way-long (wait, that doesn’t make sense. Oh well). Behold: it’s the January reading list!!
New Gods (1984 reprints) #1-6
Legends of the DC Universe (2000) #24, 25
Cosmic Odyssey (1988) #1-4
New Gods (1996) #12-15
Genesis (1997) #1-4
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World (1997) #1-20 & Secret Files #1
Orion (2000) #1-25
Until then…one last time…
Long Live the Legion!
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