Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Legion of Super-Heroes #2 Review

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ryan Sook
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: December 18, 2019

Review by: Comic Boom Rocky (Check out his Youtube Channel here)

I gave a generally favorable review of the premier issue of LOSH.  Despite a large cast amidst a complicated and unknown future, Bendis planted some interesting seeds moving forward.  Have any of those seeds bloomed in this second issue?  Let’s find out.

The central plot point that appears to ground this opening story arc is the desperate need for water regarding 31st Century ‘New’ Earth.  It is underscored by the mystery of Aquaman’s trident. Following a failed attack by Mordu’s underlings, the Horraz to steal the trident, Legionnaire member Ultra boy regales his teammates with information about his “father-one”; an unpleasant parent who has teams of Rimborians searching for various 21st Century artifacts that hint at other possible storylines; such as power rings, mother boxes and gemworld crisis shards (all of which sound like items directly linked to other Bendis titles, not necessarily a sign that Bendis is coordinating with other writers).

The manner in which the Legionnaires put down the attack by the Horraz was beautifully illustrated by artist Ryan Sook and the most impressive legionnaire in this issue was Saturn Girl.  Her impressive powers reflect an unfocused ability to put scores of combatants to sleep and even, it is teased, compel teammates to be ‘braver’ and enemies to lose their capacity to think. A minor criticism is that with a second issue focus on Ultra boy, there is still no hint that he can only use one power at a time and the limitation that creates for him in battle. 

I would be negligent if I did not mention that Bendis specifically identifies the Legionnaire mission statement. And it is only the second issue!  On the other hand, Superboy still manages to avoid watching the 31st Century orientation video that Shadow Lass brags they worked so hard on. This has the narrative effect of forcing readers to discover the ‘revelations’ of the future in bits and pieces as opposed to a straightforward visual summary. Why spell things out for readers about a completely new future environment when you can drag it out for umpteen issues?

The use of Rose Forrest as official Legion liaison to the United Planets was the most curious and potentially controversial aspect of this issue.  Bendis appears to have forgotten that she has an incurable mental illness. Or was ‘Rose & Thorn’ cured and we are not aware of that yet?  I actually enjoyed the dialogue exchange between Rose and Madamehonorable Brande, President of the United Planets. Rose is no pushover and her experience of being an immortal for the last 1000 years on ‘old’ Earth is apparently the resume that makes her a skilled diplomat. Against my better judgment, I actually like this role for Rose & Thorn but I can’t help but wonder if a Jekyll & Hyde type personality is the best choice for primary communicator with the United Planets President.   We see hints of Rose’s darker nature in this issue and I find myself intrigued about what she will bring to the table as the Legion deals with factions in the United Planets that, according to Saturn Girl, desire to use the Legion as a weapon for their ever-evolving galactic agenda.

In regard to Bendis’ use of dialogue, it has improved in this issue. There are fewer redundant phrases and less clunky verbiage. Sook gorgeously renders a scene that takes place in “Heaven”, a glorified (and oddly named) mess hall where all of the Legionnaires partake of cuisine from all over the galaxy. It is over lunch where Superboy learns of the first artificially created ‘Planet Gotham’ and its reputation as being what Wildfire states is the “safest place in the galaxy”.  Ultra boy elaborates on his daddy issues. Saturn Girl scolds Superboy for failing to remember her name (and relying too much on Frichtman tags); while readers just want Superboy to finally get his butt in gear and watch the bloody orientation presentation already. 

Bits and Pieces:

I found myself enjoying this second issue.  The dialogue was less painful and despite the lack of an orientation presentation on the 31st Century, I nonetheless did learn more about the future. The only demonstrably frustrating occurrence happened on the last page.  What this comic does not need is a bat-sidekick-distraction premised more on fear of lack of sales than on actual story progression.   My ‘Frichtman tag’ says Comic Boom and while I may never eat an alien meal in ‘Heaven’, I know the joy of interpreting ‘Bendis’ while sipping Corona.     

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