Being a comic book reader is not a cheap hobby. With so many forms of entertainment looking to grab your attention comic book companies and creators must make sure that they are giving fans the most out of the cover price. It is not easy to write or draw comics that will immediately grab everyone’s attention. Normally it takes two to three issues for a creative team to find their full groove on a comic book series. Because of that I try to give a creative team at least three issues to win me over for their series to become a permanent part of my monthly pull list. That is not always the case but I try to stick to that for comics I’m interested in investing my time into.
So to that point I am starting a new feature piece here at the Revolution called “Buy or Skip.” This new feature will look into if a creative team is able to make their comic books a must buy or skippable after three issues. To kick things off I’m going to take a look at the first three issues of Brian Bendis and Ryan Sook’s Legion of Super-Heroes.
From the writing side of things, what I do have to compliment Bendis on is that he has had some good ideas around what he wants to base his run around on Legion Super-Heroes. Things like the Legion of Super-Heroes dealing with the ramifications of pulling someone out of another time period and bringing them to theirs is highly intriguing. Dealing with these consequences makes the fact that Jon Kent’s Superboy is part of the Legion of Super-Heroes mean more than when his dad was part of the team. Now these characters must answer for their unlike when they were younger during Clark Kent’s time as the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Superboy.
The same goes with the premise of bringing Damian Wayne’s Robin to the present. While the character is the leader of the Teen Titans we aren’t seeing him appear in many other comics so it was a chance to expand his role within the DC Universe. This also could’ve been a good chance for Bendis to tackle the reason we don’t see more Batman-related characters in the Legion Of Super-Heroes future.
The other thing that has worked to the benefit of this new iteration of the Legion of Super-Heroes has been Ryan Sook’s artwork. When thinking of what the Legion of Super-Heroes represent I always think of them as this positive force of good for the future DC Universe. Sook taps into that with his bright and colorful artwork throughout the first three issues of Legion of Super-Heroes.
The artwork from Sook also presents a look into the future that most think about for the far flung future time period. There is a sense that the future is going to be bright because of the design of the cities and planets we are shown on the Legion of Super-Heroes. That design helps amplify the importance of the darker things going on in this time period of the DC Universe. Sook being able to balance that out shows how extremely valuable an artist is to the success of a comic book series.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
When it comes to comic books there are many times where Rokk and I disagree on our opinions on comic books. I wish that was the case with Brian Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes. I was extremely excited to get into a Legion of Super-Heroes comic book from the beginning. But that excitement quickly dwindled to disinterest as I fully agree with just about everything that Rokk has said in his reviews for Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes thus far.
From the beginning Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes is a comic book that lacks a sense of urgency. This is afterall the re-introduction of characters that have not been seen for a long time. And ever since Final Crisis back in 2008 we haven’t seen the team take on a prominent role in the DC Universe. So with how much change has gone on in the DC Universe over the last decade Bendis had the opportunity open to him to give the Legion of Super-Heroes a fresh start.
But that just never happened because Bendis decided to keep things moving at an extremely slow pace. There is not much forward movement as Bendis spends a lot of time having characters talk without actual development happen. The recent Legion of Super-Heroes #3 is a good example of that. Bendis sets up a big story of Damian Wayne’s Robin appearing in the future and just undoes it by the end of the issue. It was like it was an interlude chapter in the middle of a big storyline. The problem with that is we haven’t had any big stories happen. There is no reason to have a story that comes across as a filler when Legion of Super-Heroes is trying to gain momentum.
As someone who wanted to finally get into the Legion of Super-Heroes I wanted to see what makes the team great. That meant seeing the characters being the superheroes who are rightfully viewed the protectors of the DC Universe in the future. That has not happened. All we’ve seen is all the Legion of Super-Heroes do is talk about how important they are. The biggest action set piece we got was when Superboy accidentally used Aquaman’s Trident to release a tsunami that was quickly stopped.
For a team series it is highly important that we see how the team works on the battlefield. There needs to be a clear chemistry that shows the reader why the team works. Seeing them in action, working together to fight off a threat to the world is something that helps elevate how a team like Legion of Super-Heroes are viewed. Getting that type of action helps make the slower character focus scenes where teammates interact with each other off the battlefield much more meaningful. Instead of doing all the Bendis is going with heavy into having the members of the Legion of Super-Heroes doing almost nothing but talk.
Which leads us to the biggest problem that faced Bendis’ first three issues of Legion of Super-Heroes: too many characters. When it comes to Bendis he is at his best when he is able to build a world and supporting cast around one main character. That was shown with his masterful run on Ultimate Spider-Man, Daredevil and Alias. In each of those comics he was able to hone his writing to fully develop the voice of the main character of the series.
His experience working on those titles is a big reason why his final Marvel run on the Defenders worked so well. He had experience with developing the voice that Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Danny Rand should have when someone is reading their dialogue.
That experience is not something that Bendis has been able to gain when it comes to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Which shows throughout the early part of the series as the only character that sounds distinct is Jonathan Kent’s Superboy. That is again thanks to having experience with writing Superboy for an extended period of time before Legion of Super-Heroes started.
It would have been a much better choice for Bendis to start with a smaller core cast for the Legion of Super-Heroes. There are just way to many characters that Bendis is trying to write at the same time that he is not able to spend enough time fully developing each character voice. It has gotten to the point many of the Legion of Super-Heroes all sound the same throughout the first three issues.
That is absolutely not a good thing especially when Bendis has had a running joke of the Legion of Super-Heroes wanting to show Superboy their mission statement video. A running joke is something that is earned over time as fans get to know these characters. It does not work when that is how you start off a series. The joke has gotten so bad that it actually makes the Legion of Super-Heroes seem unlikable as they are trying to force Superboy into thinking the same way they do.
That is not helped by the fact that Saturn Girl just mind-wipes Robin without facing any major penalty. It is just done as if it was a normal thing that the rest of the team accepts. That is not necessarily something that makes anyone look good. Especially considering Bendis has yet to show us the Legion of Super-Heroes doing things that show how they save the day like the superheroes they say they are.
Simply put, Brian Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes series the only thing that comes to mind is how boring the first three issues are. The series lack of urgency in showcasing what makes the Legion of Super-Heroes such a great team is disappointing. At no point in the first three issues of this new Legion of Super-Heroes series have we been shown why this is one of the must read comic books. It all seems as though Bendis and DC Comics are solely relying on Ryan Sook’s great artwork, the LoSH name recognition and die-hard fans purchases to carry this title until things finally start happening.
The problem with that is there is not much here for fans to grasp on to at the moment. The series clearly has way to many characters that Bendis is trying to develop at the same time. Instead of starting off with the Legion of Super-Heroes fully formed Bendis and DC should’ve focused on core team of five to six members and build out the roster with more iconic Legionnaires as the series progressed. Maybe then we could have seen the intriguing ideas Bendis has for this series to place a better spotlight on the Legion of Super-Heroes as a team.
With all that said it is clear that you can be at peace skipping out on reading this new Legion of Super-Heroes series.
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