Comic Book Review: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #31

Waid and Kitson certainly left the Legion of Super Heroes on a high not with the last issue. I certainly have been critical of Waid’s run on this title; however I will say that Waid did more good than bad during his run. I’m excited to see what the future hold for the Legion of Super Heroes.

A lot has been going on with the Legion over on the Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America along with the upcoming story arc in Action Comics. I’m curious to see how all these events connect with the Legion of Super Heroes’ own title. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #31.

Creative Team
Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciler: Kevin Sharpe
Inker: Robin Riggs

Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Brainiac 5 dreaming of the survivors from the Dominator attack coming back out on to the street and thanking Brainiac 5 for single-handedly defeating the Dominators and saving the Earth. Dream Girl then appears in the dream and tells Brainy to quit indulging his ego.

Brainiac 5 mentions how it is so hard for someone of his intellect to deal with Dream Girl’s appearances and to be so unsure of what is real and what isn’t. Dreamy says that she is here to tell Brainy that the Legion has reached a turning point. Unfortunately, before Dream Girl can tell Brainiac 5 anything else, Star Boy wakes up Brainy.

Star Boy is frantically trying to tell Brainiac 5 that Cosmic Boy is missing. Brainiac 5 says that he already knows about Cosmic Boy and is already formulating a tactical response. Brainiac 5 then asks who won the Legion election.

We then cut to Supergirl flying all around Earth saving the various survivors from the Dominator War. The final person she saves is none other than Tenzil Kem, Special Prosecutor from the U.P. Department of Justice. (Yay!! Tenzil finally makes his appearance!) Tenzil says that he has been looking for Supergirl. That they have business regarding legal matters concerning the Legion.

Supergirl tells Tenzil to go talk to Cosmic Boy. Tenzil then informs Supergirl that Brainiac 5 came in fourth in the election, Cosmic Boy came in third, Lightning Lad came in second and the winner was Supergirl. (Oh. My. God. Clearly, the comic book gods hate me. And they hate me very, very much.)

Of course, the bubble headed bimbo is stunned at this news. We then cut to Supergirl holding a meeting with the Legionnaires, the Wanderers and Sun Boy’s team. Supergirl offers the Wanderers and Sun Boy’s team membership into the Legion. She then announces that they have to find Cosmic Boy.

Tenzil Kem then speaks up and says that he is present to investigate Cosmic Boy to see if he is guilty of war crimes. That no matter how bad the Dominators were you can’t just eliminate an entire planet of beings. Sun Boy asks if the mission is to rescue or arrest Cosmic Boy. Supergirl responds that she isn’t too sure which it is.

Mekt remarks that little miss sunshine will probably be saying that line a lot during her run as leader. Mekt demands a special leader to be appointed to handle this current crisis. Sun Boy retorts that Mekt is just trying to make a move to grab power.

Brainiac 5 then approaches Supergirl and tells her that he needs a word with her. Supergirl responds that she doesn’t need Brainy’s help. Brainiac 5 responds that he often counseled Cosmic Boy. Supergirl retorts that the two of them hated each other. Brainy states that Supergirl totally misunderstood. That they complimented each other. They were the yin and yang.

Brainiac 5 then states that he has come up with three possible locations where Comic Boy might be located. We then cut to Supergirl telling the Legionnaires that they will be assembling into three teams and that she will pick the members for each team.

We cut to Timber Wolf bullying the nurse at the hospital. Timber Wolf snarls that he is healthy enough to leave. Projectra, Atom Girl and Shadow Lass then appear on the scene. Atom Girl tells Timber Wolf that he is going to be part of their team that is being sent on a mission. Atom Girl comments that this job evidently requires the three meanest motherfuckers on the Legion’s roster.

Atom Girl, Shadow Lass and Timber Wolf leave and Projectra stays and visits with Invisible Kid. Invisible Kid is having a new arm grown for him. Invisible Kid tells Projectra to tell Timber Wolf to watch his back. That Brainiac 5’s plans are never what they seem.

We cut to Timber Wolf, Atom Girl and Shadow Lass arriving on Lallor. Suddenly, they are surrounded by armed soldiers who tell them that they are under arrest. Evidently, the soldiers believe the Legionnaires are assassins hired by the rebels to kill President Khux4rd. Timber Wolf snarls for them to point their guns elsewhere. The soldiers refuse, and we get a good old fashioned brawl.

We see a small band of rebels inside a near building watching the Legionnaires brawl with the soldiers. The head of the small band of rebels states that they Legion definitely are not his friends, but he knows a good diversion when he sees one. And that if the Legion gets in their way then they will take the Legion out in the process.

We cut to the Gobi rainforest on Earth where the team of Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Supergirl are flying around looking for Cosmic Boy. Garth sarcastically asks if Supergirl is the leader or if it is Brainiac 5. Supergirl responds that she is just using Brainy’s help, but that she picked the members for the three teams. Saturn Girl comments that Brainiac 5 just let Supergirl think that she was picking the members for the three teams.

We cut to a large headed orange humanoid alien watching the Legionnaires fly around the Gobi rainforest on a monitor screen. The alien comments how predictable people are and how he is going to miss the Legion when they are gone.

We then shift to the third search team consisting of Mekt, Sun Boy and Star Boy. Mekt comments how Brainiac 5 is clearly set them up to destroy one another. That all three of them are clear rivals. Sun Boy with his team, Mekt with his team and Star Boy being Cosmic Boy’s former right hand man.

The search team arrives at the location given to them by Brainiac 5 which is none other than the Ranzz family farm on Winath. Mekt comments that Cosmic Boy is probably here trying to get dirt on Mekt in order to discredit Mekt. The door to the main house of the farm opens and out steps Tenzil Kem. Tenzil comments that maybe Mekt ordered some of his Wanderers to kidnap Cosmic Boy and bring him here. Tenzil says that whatever is the case that he will find out the truth. And if anyone interferes with him or lies to him then Tenzil will have them for breakfast. (HA!) End of issue.

The Good: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #31 was a great read. This is exactly what was missing on the vast majority of Waid’s run on this title. This issue was well paced that had a good balance of action and drama. The issue moved along at a quick pace without ever seeming rushed. This issue was also well plotted as Tony Bedard showed us that he has a clear vision for his run on this title. Bedard quickly establishes this story arc and displays a definite purpose and direction for this story.

Bedard wastes no time establishing the objective for finding Cosmic Boy and embarking the three teams that have been sent to fulfill this task. Often, Waid’s story arc would get terribly bogged down and spin their wheels as the reader felt all we got was set up and more set up without any actual advancement of any storylines. There was also a prevailing feeling that Waid didn’t have a clear direction for his story arcs.

I am very pleasantly surprised by Bedard’s work on this issue. I have never been all that impressed with Bedard. He certainly showed me that he is more than capable of putting out an issue that is an enjoyable and fun read.

Bedard also displayed a surprisingly good feel for the various Legionnaires. Each Legionnaire had their own personality and it showed through in the well crafted dialogue that Bedard delivered. Bedard is also able to create some excellent tension between the various characters that adds to the mystery surrounding the mission to find Cosmic Boy. Bedard has the reader wondering just what Brainiac 5’s true intentions are and if the members of the three teams will be able to work together.

Chemistry is paramount on a title like the Legion of Super-Heroes that boasts so many different characters. And in the Legion chemistry often comes in the form of tension and friction between the different Legionnaires. The Legion is a family and like most families they don’t always get along.

Unlike many super hero teams like the JLA and the JSA, the Legion is certainly full of different cliques. Part of that is a natural result due to the ages of the Legionnaires. The other part is a result of the fact that the Legion has such a large roster that smaller cliques are practically inevitable. Bedard picks up on this critical aspect of the Legion and runs with it in this issue.

I even don’t mind the fact that Supergirl won the election depending on how Bedard handles the situation. If he keeps it like he did in this issue with the other members of the Legion questioning her ability then I’m fine with it. However, if it just turns into another excuse to show how awesome Supergirl is and how irrelevant the rest of the Legion is then I’ll definitely have a problem with her being the leader.

I absolutely love that Bedard has brought back Tenzil Kem! This is the first sighting of Tenzil in this version of the Legion. I have always been a big fan of Tenzil and I’m glad that Bedard found a very interesting way to work Tenzil into the story arc.

I dig Tenzil’s attitude. With powers as wonky as his, Tenzil has to have a smart-ass and cocky attitude. I also like the twist of having Tenzil in the role as the Special Prosecutor for the U.P. Department of Justice rather than a new member of the Legion. I definitely think the role of an attorney is a perfect match for Tenzil’s personality.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of Tenzil and finding out if he is going to be a mere tool for the U.P. looking to place Cosmic Boy in jail no matter what. Or if Tenzil is going to come around more to the Legion’s side by the end of this mission.

I’m also a big fan of Timber Wolf so it was great to see that he is finally getting some panel time in this story arc. I think that Waid often forgot that Timber Wolf was even part of the roster. I like Timber Wolf’s no-nonsense, blunt and gruff attitude. Bedard definitely has a nice sense of Timber Wolf’s personality.

I’m also glad that Timber Wolf is being written more of a gruff, no-nonsense jerk who likes to fight at the drop of a dime rather than a Wolverine feral type character. The less like a werewolf or Wolverine character Timber Wolf is written the better.

Mekt is annoyingly great. Bedard does a good job with Mekt’s character making him a pompous and snake-ish character that the reader just loves to hate. I’m sure that Mekt will continue to be a thorn in the side of the Legion through out this entire story arc. And that is absolutely necessary. It is always nice to have a dissenting opinion present during the story arc.

Bedard does a fine job with Brainiac 5’s character. Brainy has the appropriate haughty attitude with an enjoyable dry and sarcastic sense of humor. I like that Bedard contrasts the always in control Brainiac 5 who views everyone around him as inferior and believes that there is nothing his intelligence can’t handle or solve with the private side of Brainiac 5 that we see in his dream with Dream Girl.

The private side of Brainiac 5 craves adulation and love from the crowd even though Brainiac insists he doesn’t need human friendship and always distances himself from his teammates. I also liked that Dream Girl’s unexplainable presence in Brainy’s dreams makes him nervous and edgy since her presence is something that not even his vaunted intelligence can explain or decipher.

I also like that Bedard is casting Brainiac 5 in a very suspicious light. Is Brainiac 5 up to something nefarious? Is he trying to eliminate the Legionnaires that finished ahead of him in the election so that he can assume power? Is Brainiac 5 also trying to eliminate Mekt and Sun Boy so that their groups would be without their leaders and, therefore, make them easier to assimilate into the Legion’s roster? Or is Brainiac 5 actually up to something good? Bedard has done a great job putting so many questions and doubts into the reader’s mind about Brainiac 5.

It is obvious that Comics Boy is not located in any of the three locations that Brainiac 5 have sent the three teams of Legionnaires to. We all know that Cosmic Boy has traveled to the future. Has Brainiac 5 simply made a miscalculation or do these three locations hold some other importance for Brainiac 5? It shall be fun to see how Bedard answers all of these questions.

Dream Girl’s cryptic comment that the Legion is at a turning point certainly piqued my interest. Clearly, with all that is going on in JLA, JSA, Countdown and Action Comics there is something happening with the Legion and its place in our timeline and reality. Could Dream Girl’s comment be referring that we will soon be dealing with how the version of the Legion in Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes relates to the Pre-Crisis version of the Legion that we see running around in the JLA, JSA, Countdown and Action Comics? I hope so.

I cannot wait to see how these two versions of the Legion connect with each other. My dream would be for the Pre-Crisis version of the Legion that we get over in the JLA and JSA to displace the Legion on Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes. I would much rather have the Pre-Crisis Legion have their own title.

I’m curious to find out who the group of four guys and one girl are near the end of the issue on Lallor watching the Legionnaires fight the government soldiers. I don’t recognize any of the characters.

And who is that orange alien with a big head that we see in this issue? I don’t recognize the character. Maybe someone else does. At any rate, I am curious to see what this alien is up to and what he has against the Legion.

The Bad: This issue was definitely a set-up issue. However, this is a multi-issue story arc, so I have no problem with a set up issue. And as far as set-up issues go, this one was well paced and pretty interesting.

Sharpe and Riggs supply the reader with plenty of rather pedestrian artwork. It isn’t horrible, but it certainly isn’t anything great. This is just a journeyman effort by the art team. It certainly is a serious drop-off from Kitson’s nice artwork.

Overall: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #31 was a good read. It moved quickly, set the stage for the current story arc, presented the reader with several questions to be answered at some point and re-introduced a classic Legion character in Matter-Eater Lad. The art was rather boring, but this was a solid read and certainly better than the massively anti-climactic Dominator story arc.