Comic Book Review: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #21

All right, it is time to review my all time favorite title while growing up. Before Infinite Crisis I found this new version of Legion of Super Heroes to be slightly better than average. Since Infinite Crisis and the hi-jacking of this title by Supergirl, I have found this title to be dreadfully pedestrian. I would be stunned if Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #21 to be anything impressive. Hopefully, Waid will finally resolve this every lingering Dream Girl storyline that has been going on for 8 issues. Hopefully, we get a good payoff for having it drag on for so long. I’m working my way through my second mug of Café Bustelo and am ready for this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Waid & Tony Bedard
Layouts: Barry Kitson
Penciler: Adam DeKraker
Inker: Rob Stull

Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This issue starts with Colossal Boy questioning his fellow giant teens being held in jail. Suddenly, three members of the new Legion of Super-Villains disguised as SP agents enter the jail room. The three members are Kid Quake (The dork that started an earthquake in an earlier issue.), Nemesis Kid and a green guy with ice powers. They blast Colossal Boy and take him out.

We then cut to Brainiac 5 describing his plan to bring Dream Girl back to life. Element Lad resumes his plea for Brainiac 5 to respect Dream Girl’s transition to another stage of existence. That Brainiac 5 is failing to recognize the spiritual dimension that plays a role in all of this.

We then shift to Supergirl hanging out with Phantom Girl, Triplicate Girl and Princess Projectra. Projectra tells Supergirl that it has been insulting to be told that they are all nothing more than a part of Supergirl’s dream. (I love Projectra.) The girls then tell Supergirl about their own personal tragedies in their lives that Supergirl trivializes when she claims that everyone is simply a part of one of her dreams. Supergirl tells the group of girls about her dream where she though Krypton was gone. Supergirl gets up and says that she is going to wake up in her bed in Argo City and her parents will be there and until then she will keep dreaming conversations like this one. And with that Supergirl leaves. (Yup. She is total wackjob.) Triplicate Girl tells Projectra that she was too harsh. Projectra responds that Cosmic Boy asked them to chat with Supergirl and chip away at her fantasy life. That Projectra did the right thing. (Yes, you did. Now, can you make Supergirl go away?)

We then shift back to Colossal Boy fighting with the three members of the Legion of Super Villains. The green guy with ice powers frees the jailed giant teens during the brawl. The giant teens then rush Colossal Boy and overwhelm him. We then get a panel of them beating the tar out of Colossal Boy with various wrestling moves. I see an old camel clutch. That would be a cross face crippler for more modern wrestling fans. I see an Angle ankle lock and a wicked wrist lock.

We zip over to Brainiac 5 right in the middle of his plan to resurrect Dream Girl. Brainiac 5’s plan is complete and Dream Girl has been restored and rebooted. Dream Girl should be alive. But, instead, Dream Girl’s body disappears. Element Lad tells Brainiac 5 that Dream Girl has been gone for weeks and now her body is finally gone. That she moved on to a higher state. In a wild rage, Brainiac 5 attacks Element Lad. Element Lad tries to transmute Brainy into a statute but his powers have no effect on Brainiac 5. Shrinking Violet and Light Lass try and stop Brainiac 5. Brainy tells them that they can’t touch him. That the first thing he did when he joined the Legion was to make himself immune to all of their powers. (Ugggggh.) Suddenly, a voice in Brainy’s head tells him to let Element Lad go. A stunned Brainy lets go of Element Lad.

We cut to Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad talking. They are discussing the bad publicity that the Legion has gotten since joining the U.P. Lightning Lad offers to quit the team and be made the scapegoat for signing the agreement with the U.P. and then Cosmic Boy can cancel the agreement. Cosmic Boy says that isn’t necessary. That he has decided to hold an election for a new team leader and that all Legionnaires, not just the team members with powers, will get a chance to vote.

We shift back to Brainy’s team in space. Light Lass, Element Lad and Shrinking Violet agree to tell the other members about Brainy’s immunity to their powers. We then see Brainy curled up in a fetal position in his bed. Brainiac 5 finally ran into a problem that he couldn’t compute his way through. Dream Girl’s ghost then appears in front of Brainy. Brainiac 5 said he is ashamed how he acted earlier. He didn’t know she was watching. Dream Girl takes Brainy’s hand and tells him that he has changed so much from when she first met him. Dream Girl tells Brainy that they have all the time they need now. Dream Girl tells Brainy that he needs to sleep. Brainy asks if she will still be there when he wakes up. Dream Girl responds that she will never leave him again. We then see Brainy asleep by himself in a dark room. End of issue.

The Good: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #21 is another ordinary issue. I come to expect an uninspired and slightly dull read each time I pick up an issue of Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes. Hmm, let’s see, we have to satisfy the Revolution’s Rule of Positivity so I have to find something nice to say about this issue.

The scenes with Colossal Boy in the jail mixing it up with the Legion of Super Villains was average. It is cool to see the new Legion of Super Villains. It is also neat to see the new Nemesis Kid. And the green kid with the ice powers seems like he may be the new version of Polar Boy. I’m interested to find out who makes up the rest of the roster of this new Legion of Super Villains.

The scene with Cosmic Boy revealing that he is calling for an election for the Legion leader and that he is opening it up to all of the Legion’s followers was an interesting little twist. We know that Cosmic Boy won’t win the election. I strongly suspect that the next Legion leader will be a female member.

The Bad: The scene with Phantom Girl, Triplicate Girl, Projectra and Supergirl was average. I liked how harsh Projectra was in an effort to shake Supergirl out of her fantasy world. However, once again, Supergirl comes across as nothing more than a dumb blonde. A total bubble head.

The Brainiac 5 scenes were a positive and a negative. Now, I think that Waid actually wrote these scenes rather well. Brainy is pretty much the only character that has experienced anything even remotely resembling character development. I like the Brainiac 5 that Waid has crafted. The paranoia. The arrogance. The god-complex. It is all great. And I like how it is all torn apart in the final scene in this issue which is actually rather touching.

However, my issue is the massive build up we have had for such a measly payoff. We get eight issues of build up about Brainy’s plan to resurrect Dream Girl and this is what we get? I know what Waid wanted to accomplish with this plotline. He wanted to further development of Brainiac 5’s character by creating something that he couldn’t calculate his way to a solution. That there are forces out there that defy logic and science.

That is fine. Yes, the plotline was very interesting character development for Brainy. But, eight issues to lead up to this? Talk about a massively underwhelming resolution. This could have been easily done in two or three issues. To drag it out for such a long time makes it necessary that the resolution be spectacular. Anything else is going to be considered a weak payoff. For all the massive and long build up this was an extremely weak payoff.

And Brainy having made himself immune to everyone’s powers is unoriginal and kind of lame. Ever since Batman crafted plans to take out every member of the JLA, we now have super smart characters with contingency plans to defeat all of their teammates. Just like Emil Burbank over in Squadron Supreme. This just didn’t work for me.

Waid turns in a very average story. It is clear that 52 is dominating his time. It appears to me that Waid is mailing it in on this title. The addition of Tony Bedard has failed to impress me. It is pretty much on the same level as the unimpressive issues of Uncanny X-Men when Bedard stepped in to help Claremont write.

The dialogue is boring. None of the characters have their own unique voice. With the exception of Brainy, all the characters pretty much sound like each other. The dialogue isn’t bad, it is just resoundingly average.

The character development is slow. Outside of Brainiac 5 and maybe Cosmic Boy, we have had almost no character development in any Legionnaire since Supergirl high jacked this title. Most characters have rather generic personalities.

Another alarming feature of this comic book is that there is a total lack of chemistry between these characters. For a title like the Legion of Super Heroes which relies on a large cast, chemistry between characters is an absolute must. Pat of the charm of the old Levitz Legion was the chemistry between the various characters. You had plenty of well developed friendships and feuds. It was excellent. This new version of the Legion is completely lacking in this area and that is a critical defect.

The plotlines are bland. None of them particularly interest me. The new Legion of Super Villains is slightly interesting only because it will be cool to see what characters they bring back. The Supergirl storyline does nothing for me. I could care less about her character or how she got to the future. What other plotlines do we have cooking? The teenagers versus the adults? Snore. The Legion election? Mildly interesting, but nothing unusual. Is that it? Is there a total lack of plotlines? A title like the Legion with such a large roster should have numerous plotlines running at the same time. What do we have going at this point? The Dominators plotline was hinted to back in issue #16 and has been ignored for the past five issues. You have the robot revolution plotline that pops up randomly ever couple of issues. The inconsistency and lack of development of that plotline has really hurt any interest I might have in it.

The Legion completely lacks any pop or sizzle. There is nothing going on about this title that excites me or makes me want to talk about it to other comic fans. This title has nothing special or compelling. This comic is completely common in every aspect possible.

I simply don’t like DeKraker’s artwork. His anatomy is fine. But, his faces range from average to positively grotesque. Plus, everyone has the exact same face! If it weren’t’ for the different color hair and costumes, you would have no clue who was who. It is as if everyone is related to each other. Kitson’s artwork has been the only consistent bright spot on this title. I cannot wait for him to return to this title.

Overall: Right now, the only thing keeping me on this title besides my undying loyalty and love for Levitz’ Legion is what is headed out way in Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #24. It appears that we are in store for the return of Mon-El. This would absolutely kick ass! I hope that this is the return of Mon-El. I love his character. This is pretty much the only thing that has piqued my interest in this title.