Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Ryan Sook & Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
While a small group of Legionnaires stops Mordru and secures Aquaman’s trident, Superboy gets a formal introduction to the 31st Century.
As one would expect, Ryan Sook’s art is extremely well executed. Unfortunately, that’s about all Legion of Super-Heroes #1 has going for it.
One of the main problems with Bendis’s DC work is the lack of substance he attaches to the ideas he presents. Legion of Super-Heroes #1 is such an issue. Bendis has already introduced a ton of concepts in the two-issue Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium title that an insubstantial Legion of Super-Heroes #1 does little to develop. Despite the expectation that one of the ideas introduced in Millennium will be expanded upon, the issue does little in this vein. Instead, the issue is more ideas, including the out-of-left-field introduction of Aquaman’s trident. Perhaps, most significant, is the shunting off to the side of Rose Forest. She was the focus of Millennium with an urgent message for the Legion and she gets one panel in this issue. This destroys any continuity for the reader from the introductory series to the launch of the main title. It practically admits that that Millennium was a complete and utter waste of time.
A second problem is Bendis’s penchant for utilizing dialogue to tell the story. While that’s how real life works, it can be confusing. The dialogue in this issue is messy and scattered. It’s part of the main problem of too many new ideas in the issue that spread out the plot instead of moving forward.
When Jon gets the opportunity to explore 31st Century “Earth,” it is certainly an obvious step forward for the character given the circumstances. Unfortunately, it is part of a jumble of concepts in this issue that it comes off as forced and incongruent. There could be a whole issue devoted to Jon’s perception of the 31st Century that could be very deep and meaningful, but it is simply another fragment of an already fragmented issue. Despite being a great aspect, it is not satisfying in the least.
Additionally, this new presentation of Mordru not only is completely unfamiliar, it appears to be disrespectful of the character that he could be taken down with only a few Legionnaires. This dovetails with Bendis not seizing the opportunity to make things familiar for Legion fans. Instead of leaning into something familiar that would resonate with an old reader, something the reader could appreciate, Bendis goes chooses to reinvent everything.
Finally, while it would’ve been fine to focus on either world building or character building, Bendis does neither. His approach breezes by both of these elements and leaves the reader not so much wanting more, but rather feeling inadequate about both storytelling elements.
Despite being an avowed dissenter of rebooting the Legion of Super-Heroes again, I entered this new #1 with a bit of hope, believing that some of the promise seen in Superman #14 & #15 might pay off. Unfortunately, Legion of Super-Heroes #1 reads like a mess. Instead of building on any characters or concepts, more ideas are introduced. Bendis has already proven he can channel some classic Brainiac as was seen in Superman #15, yet none of this comes through in this first issue. The Legion were hardly seen in Millennium, and unfortunately, this issue feels more disappointing. There’s not a lot in this abysmal issue to bring the reader back for issue #2.