Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Legion of Super-Heroes #7 Review


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Stephen Byrne, Ryan Sook Cover Price: $3.99 Release Date: July 29, 2020
Review by: Comic Boom Rocky - go to his awesome Youtube Channel HERE
We finally get an issue of the Legion of Super-heroes.  Seems like forever since the last issue that resulted in New Earth’s oceans being replenished with water from Aquaman’s trident. Where does one start with so many dangling plot threads to potentially explore in this issue?  Is anything of substance revealed to move the various plot threads forward?  Let’s dive into New Earth’s oceans and find out. 

Not much. That’s the answer. No plot progression occurs in this entire issue beyond a long and protracted meeting between the United Planets Madame President and various members of the Legion, particularly Cosmic Boy, whose de facto leader is ultimately replaced by Ultra-Boy after the first official Legionnaire ‘leadership vote’ that draws the issue to a close. 

There is a final page reveal but it is so unsurprising and redundant that it renders the entire issue a waste of storytelling time. Readers of the last issue already know that General Craz of Rimbor left the United Planets (last issue) in disgust. Moreover, his militaristic and one-dimensional motivation reinforces impressions established in earlier issues that he is both uninteresting and over-rated. Sadly, as of this issue, he is officially over-used. Despite Craz being Ultra-boy’s father, it is not clear to this writer why I should care.  The difference in intelligence and rational behavior between Craz and his son is stark.  Much is said by Cosmic Boy in this issue about how many different cultures and languages make up the United Planets, but rather than script a unique or interesting diplomatic debacle to best serve such a diverse cast of players, writer Brian Bendis relegates the character development to grade school level bully theatrics. 

Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger combine their artistic talents to draw the opening image featuring Wildfire outlining the gist of the previous six floppies. Meanwhile, Stephen Byrne illustrates the remaining 21 pages and can be credited with creating a visually pleasing spectacle of legionnaires standing in front of 31st-century politicians in the United Planets Great Hall - whilst Cosmic Boy bores them to death with an insincere apology meant primarily for the ears of General Craz (who unlike readers, has the luxury of not being present for the non-sequitur). 
I am compelled to compliment colorist, Jordie Bellaire. His outstanding coloring pops off the page and somehow manages to not only enhance but upstage the art itself.  Letterer, Dave Sharpe deserves recognition for the ridiculous amount of words he had to spell out in service of an issue that does little to move the narrative forward. Indeed, but for the writer, the entire creative team deserves kudos for their efforts. Lest one is of the view that I am being too harsh on Bendis, keep in mind that one of the central mysteries established by this comic (and one specifically referenced *again* by Wildfire in the opening page) is why both the Horraz pirates and the leader of Rimbor (General Craz) are interested in obtaining Aquaman’s trident. We are now seven issues into this narrative with not a hint of an answer. The ‘answers’ we are provided are, in fact, plot redundancies. Every issue we have been reminded of Madamepresident’s tolerance and frustration with the Legionnaires, General Craz’s narcissistic militarism, Jon Kent’s 31st Century naiveté, Brainiac 5’s genius and the fact that the Horraz are jerks. Sadly, all of this is but the icing on a cake that Bendis seems intent on not allowing us to taste. 

I have been extremely patient with this series but I’m afraid that my patience is at an end. This entire issue is pointless and could be entirely skipped but for the election of Ultra-boy as new Legionnaire leader, which could have been addressed in a mere two panels. The issue of politics in comic books is problematic enough in current comic book culture; the last thing readers need is to endure 22 pages of future ‘woke’ teenagers trying to ‘enlighten’ adult alien masses in a glorified 31st Century senate. Just give us a fun story with action and adventure. Good grief. 
Bits and Pieces:
Perhaps I’m being unreasonable and should extend Bendis the benefit of the doubt that *some* mysteries will actually be resolved in this series other than feed the real-world hunger of speculators, desperate for the ‘next’ first appearance of “Who-gives-a-crap-Lad”.  At a minimum, I want some sense that the captain of this ship knows where he’s going, even if it’s apparent that he has no compass. 

4/10    

2 comments:

  1. Well Rocky, you knew this was going to be a woke book with the ridiculous and unnecessary introductions of Black Lightning Lad (Garth Ranzz, not a descendant of Jefferson Pierce) and Chinese Cosmic Boy. As a faithful reader of the LSH for over 50 years I gave it 5 issues before saying no mas. I'm not a knee-jerk Bendis-critic either. I like most everything he's done on the Superman titles and in his Jinxworld books. This version of the Legion is awful. Even worse than Giffen's mods and rockers leather-jacketed look-alike group in the 80s. You mentioned Cosmic Boy's speech about the different cultures and languages that make up the Legion. How ludicrous that sounds when every member from all of these planets across the galaxy sounds exactly alike, speaks with exactly the same voice, and is dealing with the same exact teen issues of every 16 year old in 2020 New Jersey. These woke reinventions should be classified as Elseworlds stories. The publisher and writer are not improving the canon when they decide "Brande was a man, let's make him a woman. Lightning Lad was white, let's make him black. Cosmic Boy was white, let's make him Asian. This person was straight, let's make him/her gay." Long-time readers waiting a decade for the return of their favorite characters must surely be disappointed. Sales number and ratings are sure to indicate this new Legion is going nowhere fast. More's a pity because the artwork is all you could want. Interesting as it sounds, I don't expect much from the ballyhooed two-parter coming up next. I hope they don't have Mike Grell drawing flashback sequences of Black Lightning Lad like he's always been there. I'm holding out hope for a Legion meets the Legion crossover when the one-true Legion returns permanently.

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  2. Don't worry Jim, you've been far more patient than I have. At this point, I only read it for the art, that's all its good for now. Honestly, this doesn't surprise me once they race-swapped Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy in the same year. You can see previous covers of Bendis' Superman series had the original Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy just when Year-of-the-Villain was kicking off. With shaved heads for some reason. Then Bendis changed their races and made the 2 young men inept who can't stand up for themselves while Saturn Girl seems to have all the answers and has more presence in the entire series.

    When it comes to General Cruz, I couldn't agree more. It's like Bendis doesn't want to use any of the established villains, like Mordru and General Zod, and wants to push either his own new villains or towering muscular meatheads as villains. Mordru was meant to be a galactic threat who threatened even the Time Trapper and now he's essentially a delivery boy under Bendis' watch. Not a great sign of things to come. I'm calling it now, the Fatal Five will show up as another meathead villain's minions.

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