Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #9
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: see image below
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Legion of Super-Heroes #9 concludes the Trial of the Legion, which ostensibly started last issue. This issue spotlights more Legionnaires and ends on a romantic note.
Like the previous issue, Bendis effectively uses the spotlights to introduce readers to more members of the Legion in a fairly meaningful way. It’s mostly done through their recruitment videos, though Shadow Lass’s introductory monologue functions in the same way. Issues #8 and #9 would’ve functioned well for the first couple of issues of the series instead of the ho-hum scattered issue #1 from last November.
Bendis does a good job of trying to make each Legionnaire seem unique. In some cases, it’s due to the character’s existing background, like Wildfire, and in other cases, it’s more about their opinions and personality such as we see with Dawnstar. Chuck Taine, Bouncing Boy seems to have the most surprising and eclectic background of all the Legionnaires.
The most exciting art comes from Legion artist of yesteryear, Mike Grell. Grell depicts Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Dawnstar in their ’70’s uniforms including Imra’s “pink bikini” designed by Dave Cockrum. It comes pretty early in the issue and it makes one question if this is not only intentional, but meaningful. It doesn’t appear to be anything other than Grell drawing the characters in the costumes he knows for the characters, but, it’s a nice reminder of the long history of the Legion.
Does anyone remember “the moby dick of space?” Monster Boy shape changes into this creature from Adventure Comics #332. It features the story in which Lighting Lad loses his right arm to the creature. It’s a cute in-joke for long-time Legion fans.
Triplicate Girl continues to be an interesting character as she seems to actually be of three different opinions on everything…instead of an individual that can split into two other copies, she is apparently a triad unit that has a bit of a personality dysfunction. At least she’s unique and interesting!
Despite the good character moments in this issue, the story is rather disappointing. The “trial” resolves far too quickly and with very little drama. Crav was always obviously in the wrong. However, it would’ve been a real twist if the Legion WAS pitted against the United Planets and had to spend some time clearing itself. There continues to be little substance to this version of the Legion. The character spotlights have been very interesting, but the plot feels phoned in with little to no complexity or dramatic development.
It appears that White Witch is not Mysa Nal in this new version of the Legion, instead Bendis uses her original name from her original appearance in the Silver Age, Xola Aq. And, instead of being apprenticed to Mordru like Mysa was, Xola is revealed as Mordru’s daughter. Interestingly, Mordru sounds like his old self as Xola describes him instead of his street level depiction and description in issue #1. One would hope there’s a whole lot more to the story, but at this point, Mordru’s appearance in the first issue bears little resemblance to how Xola describes him. The jury is still out on Mordru, but one wonders why Bendis depicted him in such a pedestrian manner upon introducing him. Or maybe we’ll find out in issue #25…if it lasts that long.
One of the key moments of the “trial” involves Brainiac 5 sharing recordings of Dream Girl’s dreams, and her prophecy reveals that “A Great Darkness is Coming.” This is obviously a reference to the classic Legion tale, “The Great Darkness Saga.” It’s surprising that Bendis is teasing a retelling of this classic. That’s a lot to overcome, unless he will “work” it like he did with Ultimate Spider-Man, knowing he’s already got a great story to re-tell, so the pressure to come up with new ideas on his own is off.
I suppose the reader is supposed to feel some sort of flush or excitement at the “surprise” moment on the final page. Unfortunately, there’s not been a significant buildup for such a kiss between these characters in the previous issues. It feels somewhat forced and not really that interesting.
Because character holds a lot of weight with me, this issue gets a higher rating than maybe it should. The minimal story and apparent forthcoming rehash of “The Great Darkness Saga” is underwhelming. The last thing we need is a retelling of one of the Legion’s greatest stories. However, the character spotlights give readers a chance to get to know the Legionnaires in this incarnation, that after nearly a year in to the title is sorely lacking.