Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #12
[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
Rogol Zaar and Mordru attack New Krypton- will the Legion of Super-Heroes stop them?
Legion of Super-Heroes #12 starts out on a high note as we learn that Saturn Girl may have used her powers unethically in order to convince the rest of the Legion that it was a good idea to bring Jon Kent to the future to learn about the Age of Heroes firsthand. What’s interesting about this is the notion as Imra describes it…that this sort of thing for telepaths is considered an intimate type of moment. It’s a nice metaphor in examining the way different cultures communicate. Not everything means the same thing to everyone, and here we see Imra understanding and admitting that there may have been a better way to bring up this idea to the rest of the team.
Imra is involved in another positive moment in this issue: she, White Witch and Dream Girl combine their powers to end any multi-player battle. This is a really interesting concept, unfortunately, Imra gets distracted and they are unable to hold together long enough to do whatever it is they were going to do.
Ryan Sook has some really nice action pages in this issue. He’s done a fine job since issue #1 and this issue is no exception. There’s a really nice double page of the entire Legion coming in for a strike on Rogol Zaar that gives the heart a jump of nostalgic excitement- it feels like a classic Legion moment! Jordie Bellaire continues to utilize the colors to create a lighter, more hopeful atmosphere for the future of the Universe.
Legion of Super-Heroes #12 feels rushed. It’s an odd thing to say that Bendis moves things along too quickly, but that’s exactly how this issue feels. Over the past few issues he’s been setting up the meeting between Mon-El and Jon and teasing Zaar and Mordru and a “great darkness” to come. And, suddenly in one issue, it all sort of happens, and quickly at that. There’s certainly more to be explored with these concepts that an almost “battle issue” finale.
The biggest problem in this finale is that once again, Bendis relies on Rogol Zaar, one of the most uninteresting villains in the history of Superman comics. Zaar was boring and one note in The Man of Steel, he was boring and one note in “The Unity Saga,” and he’s just as boring here. This lies on Bendis’s doorstep alone. He created the character, failed to develop him properly and is unable to make him interesting. Bendis is attempting to tie in the events from the early part of his Superman run to what’s going on in this issue. The biggest problem is that Bendis failed to explain Zaar’s role in the destruction of Krypton. He recaps vaguely here as Saturn Girl narrates, “Galactic leaders meeting in secret led to the conspiracy around the destruction of Krypton….” Even Bendis doesn’t sound like he’s sure of what happened!
Zaar’s appearance really weighs this issue down. Bad villains don’t get better just because they are used over and over again. It’s perplexing because in this issue we see Bendis create an interesting idea around Imra’s use of her powers at the top of the issue. That moment reveals something about Imra’s character…. But, the whole destruction of Krypton which is supposed to be at the crux of the issue has the flimsiest of explanations and exploration. There’s supposed to be some real intrigue, but it just falls as flat here as it did before in “The Unity Saga.”
Unfortunately, Jon’s reveal as Mon-El’s grandfather is just as uninspired. Besides it completely eliminating who Mon-El had been in previous incarnations, a character with a unique and rich history, he’s just another version of Superboy. The most interesting aspect is that he’s also a Zod. This has potential to be interesting, but again, as part of the rushed aspect of this issue it is neither interesting or unique. A new character would’ve filled this role better, or perhaps even Laurel Kent would’ve been a better character to reinvent. She’s always been a decendant of Superman, whereas Mon-El has always been something distinct. It just serves to dilute Mon-El. Factor in the fact that Mon-El’s children go unexplained, it’s just bizarre and misguided.
While Bendis addresses it in the dialogue after the battle, this being the “great darkness” is really underwhelming. That phrase to Legion fans means so much more. He tries to use Brainy to indicate that this may not be that…but, why even suggest that this could be it? This adds to the notion that this was rushed and that Bendis was told to wrap it up because Legion of Super-Heroes would not be coming back in March after the two “Future State” issues in January and February.
Overall, Legion of Super-Heroes #12 is just as erratic as the entire run has been. It’s as if Bendis can’t tell his good ideas from his bad ideas. Clearly, he’s had some good ideas for this series, but they seem to get the short shrift in favor of his bad ideas. It’s easy to see this in this issue as Imra’s character is much more intriguing than the botched characterization of Mon-El or the almost impressively boring Rogol Zaar storyline. Who would’ve thought Bendis would hinge his entire Superman run on this lame character? While Legion of Super-Heroes has been better on the whole than either Superman or Action Comics, these twelve issue are still disappointing. Jon should’ve been the hook for this series, but Bendis never really allows the reader into Jon’s head. Jon is just one of a cast of 33(?) who get a bit of page time. While the end of the issue touts Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes as the continuation of this tale, one has to wonder how it will function.