Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Future State: Legion of Superheroes #1 Review


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 26, 2021

Review by: Comic Boom! Rocky.  Check out his awesome YouTube Channel HERE

The premise of DC Comics’ Future State titles is obviously a focus on the ‘future’ of various DC heroes. For that reason, it seems somewhat odd to give the heroes of the 31st Century their own ‘future-state’ story.  Writer Brian Michael Bendis has struggled to convey to readers a cohesive narrative of the 31st Century within ‘standard-time’ continuity. Accordingly, imposing a ‘time-jump’ on the franchise of the Legion of Super-heroes risks adding further confusion to the already convoluted team history. Does the risk pay off? Let’s time jump in and find out.

The first noticeable difference in this comic is the art of Riley Rossmo. He is a talent whose pencils are an acquired taste. I don’t mind Rossmo’s very particular style and he is also fairly competent at drawing backgrounds which can be very eye-catching with the right colorist. While I do not think that Rossmo’s illustrations are appropriate for a Legion of Super-hero comic, I am compelled to acknowledge that his very untraditional style does convey a sense of discomfort and alienation, which, paradoxically embodies exactly how I have felt about the narrative direction of this comic from issue one. I guess you can say I am giving Rossmo an underhanded compliment. Regardless, the fact is that the art did not take me out of the story. The structure, pacing, and dialogue did. 

The plotline is not complicated. Within the first few pages, it is made clear that the Legion of Super-heroes is no longer together and a certain member betrayed the team. The Horazz are still the bad guys and there is another fledgling group of aliens who wish to form their own ‘Legion’ radicalized by the failure of the original team. For those readers who are not fans of Rossmo’s unique artistic style, you can be comforted by the fact that word balloons are everywhere covering up chunks of imagery. For those more vested in interpreting the narrative, multiple reads will be required to associate various bits of dialogue to characters and specific names to Legionnaires. Bendis does manage to convey some interesting tidbits of information. Triplicate Girl is now Duo Damsel, Brainiac 5 is now Brainiac 7 and the United Planets is essentially dead following the presumed murder of Chameleon Boy’s mother, who was the former Madame President of the United Planets.  What is most obvious about this Bendis-scripted floppy is that he has conveyed more substantive plot elements into a single issue than he has in any of his other DC work to date. It makes me wonder why he needed 6 issues to finally get Superboy to his 31st Century orientation.  But alas, I digress.

The future of the 31st Century is a mess. The revelation of what caused the disaster that led to the break-up of the Legion underscores just how incompetent the team is. Readers are to understand that the United Planets lasted one thousand years into the future at which time a group of teenagers felt compelled to go back in time to acquire Jon Kent for reasons that are as yet unrevealed. This “future state” of the Legion of Super-heroes does not address any of that. None of the questions and plot lines that Bendis has introduced in the main series is hinted at here other than letting us know what other Legionnaires are likely sleeping together (or are thinking about it). Thus, there is no Rogol Zaar, no Mon-el, no Superboy, no hint of a ‘new’ Darkness saga. It’s not that this two-issue Future State deviation has to address these things but the lack of any reference to them underscores just how pointless this ‘future state’ comic is in the general scheme of things.  Knowing that a certain Legionnaire will ultimately betray the team only eliminates the suspense of that mystery being explored in ‘current’ continuity.  This entire endeavor only takes away from Legionnaire mythology and limits it growth by forcing a future that no one asked for and that the current writer likely won’t be around for anyway. 

Bits and Pieces:

Reigning in my bias I believe that this is Riley Rossmo’s best art to date due to the aid of Francesco Plascencia's gorgeous colors. Also, while I am not a fan of the story itself, I admit that it moves quickly, establishes the stakes, and establishes some interesting character moments and inter-personal Legionnaire relationships that I did not foresee. Finally, we got a hint of the Legion of Substitute Heroes which always puts a smile on my face. 


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. I'm not shocked by how much the story has little to do with the main book. It's Bendis. Hopefully, this series is Bendis' last LOSH story.