Legion of Super-Heroes #1 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Ryan Sook, Artist; Wade Von Grawbadger, Inker; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: More than a bit jumbled
Ray: Few franchises have been relaunched more than the Legion of Super-Heroes with reboots often happening separately from regular DC reboots. Now it’s Brian Michael Bendis’ turn to take charge of the future superhero team with Legion of Super-Heroes #1 spinning out of recent events in Superman. Not that you’d know it from the first few pages – most of the Legion doesn’t appear, nor does starring character Jon Kent.
Instead, we get a chase through a futuristic version of Gotham and Bludhaven as Legionnaires including Wildfire and Karate Kid help a mysterious young man escape from alien pirates and keep possession of a mysterious box – that turns out to contain the long-lost trident of Aquaman. It’s a tense, action-packed segment that has great visuals reminiscent of Blade Runner, but Ryan Sook’s art is definitely darker than we’d expect from a Legion book. That goes for the story as a whole – it’s an entertaining issue, but it doesn’t always feel like a Legion story, especially in the first half.
Things become much more Legion-like when we get to the second half, though, as Jon Kent is welcomed to the future by Saturn Girl. There’s a little too much exposition in this segment, as Jon serves as our POV character for those of us who haven’t read a Legion comic before. But this isn’t any Legion comic, and Bendis has one big twist for us. The Earth this version of the Legion takes place on is very different from the other ones, and we get some stunning visuals showing us what’s happened in a thousand years. Ryan Sook probably won’t be the solo artist on this book for long, but his splash pages are particularly stunning here. There’s a lot going on here, with a major plot in the background and a tense cliffhanger. The Legion has less focus than I would have expected in Legion of Super-Heroes #1, with many getting only a line or two in the first issue, but the key to a great Legion book is an epic scope. That Bendis and Sook absolutely get right in their first issue.
Corrina: The beginning segment, with a tight focus on Karate Kid and Wildfire, is terrific, especially the tense energy from Sook’s art.
From there, though, it gets jumbled fast. One wonders if Bendis has heard the “decompression” complaints about his work and took them to heart (probably not) but the rest of the issue is like 33 rpm record on 45 rpm speed. Things go by fast and furious, so much so that it threw me out of the story world. There’s a difference between a complex story and one that tosses in too much and this issue is the latter.
Is this series for new readers of LSH or older fans? I feel like this story can’t make up its mind. The first half clearly is great for readers unfamiliar with LSH. The second half seems an attempt to show older fans that, yes, all your familiar Legionnaires are here. Except, as an old fan, I’ve been through so many reboots/changes with LSH that I would have vastly preferred a focus on a few characters at first, leading to bringing in all the rest, instead of everyone at the same time.
The worldbuilding is good, the status quo is good, Jon being in the future has potential but (and I’d never though I’d say this of a Bendis comic), pare the overloaded story down.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.