I am surprised at how unimpressed I have been with Johns’ handling of this story arc involving the Pre-Crisis Legion from the Lightning Saga story arc from the JLA/JSA crossover. I really thought that I was going to immensely enjoy this story arc. Unfortunately, that simply has not happened. I have to keep the faith that Johns has something great in store for us with this story arc. Hopefully, Action Comics #860 will rebound and give us an entertaining read.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Gary Frank
Inks: Jon Sibal
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the Justice League at the ruins of the Legion’s headquarters. Earth Man retorts that the arrival of Superman in the future will not deter them from their quest to destroy the legacy of Kal-El and for them to finally be the chosen ones and not the rejects.
We cut to Alien Holding Camp 6736 where the guards are brutally beating up Polar Boy. The room is kept at a hot temperature to suppress Polar Boy’s powers. Suddenly, the Warden is informed that the Legion of Super Heroes have attacked the facility. We see the Legion busting into the facility and freeing all of the aliens being held captive.
Dawnstar enters one of the cells and says that Brainiac 5’s trail ends in this cell, but that Brainy is no longer here. Dawnstar senses that Brainy was teleported out of the cell and that Brainiac 5 is back home on Colu. Superman then mentions that Dawnstar said there was another Legionnaire in this facility. Superman asks Dawny if she knows where that Legionnaire is located.
We cut back to the super heated room where the warden and the guards are beating up Polar Boy. Suddenly, the power goes out. Polar Boy smiles as the heaters die down. We see Dawnstar leading the Legionnaires to the room where Polar Boy is being held. Suddenly, the door ices over and explodes. Out steps Polar Boy.
Gim gives Polar Boy his Legion flight ring. Polar Boy forms a new right forearm out of ice to replace his forearm that was torn off by Tusker. Polar Coy comments that the Justice League is a bunch of rejects looking for the easy way to the top. Polar Boy says that he was rejected from the Legion and it only motivated him to form the Legion of Substitute Heroes and prove his worth with them and then he eventually attained Legion of Super Heroes membership.
The Legionnaires head out of the camp via some underground tunnels. Suddenly, they cross paths with two more Legionnaires: Shadow Lass and Night Girl! (Hell yeah!! Night Girl! Awesome!)
Shady and Night Girl then lead the Legionnaires back to the new underground headquarters of the Legion built from the ruins of old Metropolis. There are stargates in the Legion’s underground headquarters where the Legion is able to transport escaped aliens off of Earth and to freedom.
Lightning Lass and Timber Wolf greet the Legionnaires as they arrive at the headquarters. Timber Wolf fills the Legionnaires in on the fact that the founders (Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl) all went off to search for some Kryptonite in order to prove Superman’s alien heritage. We then learn that Colu has a new leader who has called for the eradication of any and all people who have come in contact with humans.
Suddenly, the Justice League appears on the scene and attacks the Legion. Earth Man’s newly acquired telepathic abilities from Saturn Girl allowed him to track down the Legionnaires in their secret location. The Legion battle the Justice League while Polar Boy, Colossal Boy, Wildfire, Dawnstar and Superman hop into a shuttle pod and blast through a stargate and head to Colu.
We see the Legionnaires arriving on Colu. The impact of the landing knocks out the Legionnaires and Superman. Superman wakes up and sees Brainiac 5 standing before him. Brainiac 5 raves that he is the leader of Colu and that Superman and his companions have interrupted the information flow. And for that crime and the crime of being tainted by humans that Superman is to be terminated. End of issue.
The Good: Action Comics #860 was a solid read. Johns continues to deliver a well plotted story. Even though the pacing is slow, the plotlines are complex and nicely detailed. The reader certainly gets treated to a pleasant mix of action and drama in this issue.
Johns cooks up his usual solid dialogue. Johns isn’t as good as Shooter or Levitz when it comes to writing the Legion, but he is certainly no slouch. Johns has a fairly impressive grasp of the personalities of the different Legionnaires for a writer that has never shown much of a connection with the Legion.
Without a doubt, what made this issue so enjoyable for me was the appearance of not just Shadow Lass but also Night Girl! Awesome! I have been waiting to see Lydda once again for quite some time. Now if we could only get Shooter to bring her back in the three-boot version of the Legion. Shady and Night Girl, along with Phantom Girl, are by far and away my favorite female characters from the Legion. And it was sweet to see my two ladies in action as well. Hopefully, we will get to see more of my two ladies later on in this story arc.
It was also great to see Polar Boy in this issue. Even though I find the general premise of this entire story arc a bit lame, I loved how Johns handled Brek’s personality. Johns has a great feel for the somewhat overeager personality that Brek demonstrated when he tried out for the Legion and later when he formed the Legion of Super Heroes.
Polar Boy was never a person to give up. Being rejected from the Legion only further hardened Brek’s resolve to try his best to become the best super hero he could possibly become. And once Polar Boy did that, he earned the Legion’s respect and a much coveted membership with the Legion.
Johns nicely juxtaposes Brek and his trials and tribulations with Earth Man and the Justice League and their jealous reactions to being rejected from the Legion. This move serves to make Polar Boy seem even cooler and Earth Man and the Justice League even more villainous and cowardly.
Johns ends Action Comics #860 with a fantastic hook ending. We see an evil Brainy running Colu. Now that certainly got me excited to get my hands on the next issue. I’m curious to see what Johns has up his sleeve for the next issue.
I really enjoyed Frank and Sibal’s artwork in this issue. Frank’s art reminds me a bit of Bill Ward’s art. Frank certainly serves up slamming versions of Night Girl and Shadow Lass. I love the costume designs for both ladies. I actually dig the costume designs for all the Legionnaires with the exception of Dawnstar.
The Bad: As much as the old school Legion fan in me can appreciate much about this story arc, there are certainly plenty of defects in it. The pacing of this story arc is terminally slow. The story is just plodding along with no sense of purpose. It seems that Johns has just been wasting time for the past couple of issues.
I’m also not that impressed with the tired and predictable dark dystopian future that we are given with this version of the Legion. What I do find interesting is that Johns seems to be showing the reader how a TMK styled Legion can be pulled off without it totally sucking. Of course, Johns is not a fan fiction writer so that immediately gives him an advantage over the Bierbaums.
The Legion in this story arc seems to be a mix of the Pre-Crisis Legion and the Post-Crisis Legion. It certainly seems that Johns is giving us the version of the Legion that existed during the five year gap between Paul Levitz’s legendary run on the Legion and the rubbish known as the TMK Legion. I can’t say that I have ever been interested in reading about that period of time in the Legion’s continuity.
I still find the Justice League’s motivation to be incredibly lame. I mean, the idea that this entire apocalyptic future is because the villains are acting like petulant grade-schoolers about not getting memberships into the Legion is farcical. It just doesn’t work for me in the least bit. It comes across as something that a campy Silver Age villain would cook up in order to get revenge on the hero.
And what is Johns’ obsession with dismembering characters? There are few writers out there that will maim and kill characters at the rate Johns does. Maybe Polar Boy was a Teen Titan in a previous life?
Overall: Action Comics #860 was a solid read. As a long time Legion fan, I am enjoying this story arc. However, the fact is that there are very few long time Legion fans out there. We make up a very small percentage of comic book readers. I’m just not too sure that readers who aren’t big Legion fans are really going to find this story arc all that enjoyable. Especially given the slow pace and the need to have a good grasp of Legion history in order to really enjoy all the aspects of this story. I’d only recommend Action Comics #860 to Legion fans.