Comic Book Review: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #36

The Revolution has enjoyed Bedard’s fill-in run on Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes as DC burns some time before Shooter and Manapul take over this title. Normally, filler story arcs rarely make for enjoyable reads. Bedard bucks the trend and does the most he can with the temporary run that he was given on this title. Also, I know that no matter what I’m going to adore Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #36 because this is the moment I have long been waiting for. The moment where the Legion rightfully re-claims their title back from the vile clutches of Supergirl. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Dennis Calero

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Supergirl brawling with Evolvo Lad in his caveman form. Evolvo Lad shrugs off her best punches. Supergirl frantically contacts Brainiac 5 for advice on what to do next because she is an incompetent leader and a total bimbo. (Ooops, I totally editorialized that last bit. Sorry.)

Brainy tells Supergirl that she and her team can handle the situation without his help and that he is busy at the moment. Brainiac 5 tells Supergirl to stop whining and fight like Legionnaires. (God, I love Brainy.)

Lightning Lad then blasts the ground under Evolvo Lad which causes him to crash to the floor of a hidden underground lab. Inside the lab is a transmatter portal with a picture of Earth. Supergirl stares into the transmatter portal and sees the Marvel family brawling with Black Adam during World War III.

Supergirl demands that Evolvo Lad give him answers immediately or she will smash his machine. Evolvo Lad then evolves back into his future space-age form. Evolvo Lad tells the Legionnaires that he will answer all her questions. Saturn Girl senses more trickery and tells Lightning Lad that she thinks Evolve Lad called in reinforcements Saturn Girl asks Garth to do a perimeter sweep.

Lightning Lad flies off and Saturn Girl thinks that she had to send Gath off so she could handle this situation in a manner that he wouldn’t approve of. Saturn Girl mentions that she caught a word in Evolvo Lad’s mind: Chronexus. That true time machines don’t exist and that Brainiac 5 had invented a Chronexus that allows one to see past events. (See Action Comics #850.)

We learn that Brainiac 5 and Evolvo Lad worked together and turned his time-viewer into a true portal. Evolvo Lad says that the plan was for him to convince them that he was a genuine threat. That he was to lie that he had sent some sort of chrono-bomb through the portal. That Supergirl would volunteer to save the twenty-first century. But, that it is a one-time, one-way journey.

Supergirl is shocked, shocked I say, that Brainiac 5 would set her up like this. Supergirl vows to have Brainy arrested. (For what? For immediately making the 31st Century a vastly more intelligent place to live the minute you leave and go back to your own time period?)

Saturn Girl tells Supergirl that Brainiac 5 is right. That Supergirl has to leave. That Supergirl is here by mistake and that she belongs with Superman setting the example that inspired the legion in the first place. (Um, no, the inspiration for the Legion was Clark Kent, thank you very much.)

Supergirl is hurt and upset that she is out of here just like that. Lightning Lad then re-appears on the scene. Supergirl sarcastically congratulates him that he was the runner-up and that he is now the Legion leader. She tells him to take care of Imra and for him to watch his back. And with that, Supergirl flies through the portal back to the twenty-first century. (Thank god! Thank god! We are finally free! Hallelujah! I thought this day would never come! The comic book gods finally took pity on my suffering!)

We cut to Saturn Girl back at headquarters confronting Brainiac 5. Saturn Girl said that she came here to confront him and found him sleeping. Dream Girl then appears and tells Brainy that he is asleep right now and that Saturn Girl is invading his subconscious and that he deserves it.

Saturn Girl is stunned that Nura is here. Brainy states that Nura now lives on in his dreams. Brainy tells Saturn Girl to get out of his head. Nura tells Brainy that Saturn Girl should stay. Dreamy then punches Brainy and yells at him that she told him that everything with Cosmic Boy would be fine. That he will be back when the time is right and to not waste time looking for him.

Brainiac 5 responds that the Legion faces mortal threats and the UP teeters on the verge of collapse. That he saw three opportunities to shore up their defenses. First, Brainiac 5 had to clear Cosmic Boy’s name of the war crime charges. Furthermore, Mekt and his Wanderers were 87% likely to take over the Legion from within.

So, Brainy struck first. He planted false evidence blaming Mekt for the wiping out of the Dominators. And in the process the Legion gained a powerful ally in Tenzil Kem who will help them with future legal entanglements. Brainy then comments that Tenzil would make a great Legionnaire. (Hell yeah he would!) Saturn Girl disagrees.

Brainiac 5 then says that he sent the team to Lallor in order to save a world form collapsing into chaos and to undo a tragic mistake from their past. That the Legion failed Wildfire when he first tried out for the team and now they have given him a second chance at life. That if Wildfire joins the team then they will have a new Legionnaire whose power rivals that of Ultra Boy or Supergirl. And that in the process, Brainy had Timber World’s powers vastly improved by the exposure to Wildfire’s anti-energy.

That Evolvo Lad was instrumental in helping the Legion to achieve their true duty to Supergirl which was to return her to her proper era. The only thing Brainy regretted was that Supergirl’s memories of the Legion were wiped out as she went through the portal. That knowledge of future history is dangerous.

Dreamy then hugs Brainiac 5 for all of his smart thinking. Saturn Girl then exits Brainiac 5’s mind in order to leave him alone with Nura.

We shift to Lightning Lad in Cosmic Boy’s office. Star Boy walks in and tells Garth that it is time to make his role as new Legion leader official. We then see all the Legionnaires assembled together and cheering Lighting Lad. They all fly off into the air. The monologue mentions how the Legion represents the single most fervent hope and dream of underagers galaxywide: A chance to show the adults who’s boss. End of issue.

The Good: Honestly, Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #36 really only deserved 7 Night Girls out of 10. However, the fact that the tyrannical reign of Supergirl ends in this issue, I simply had to give this issue a perfect score of 10 Night Girls.

I dig how Bedard got rid of Supergirl. The little red S leaves feeling hurt and betrayed. She leaves with no fanfare at all. It is appropriately low-keyed and anti-climactic. I much prefer this exit to a huge dramatic farewell scene. I also like that Supergirl loses her memory of the Legion. I just wish I could lose my memory of her on the Legion.

I enjoyed how Bedard revealed Brainiac 5’s plans and how all the various seemingly dissimilar missions all fit in together. It is cool how everything comes together and makes perfect sense. Brainiac 5 finally accomplished the Legion’s long term goal of returning Supergirl back to her proper timeline.

At the same time, Brainiac 5 boosts the Legion’s firepower that took a hit with the departure of Supergirl by adding Wildfire to the ranks and by increasing Timber Wolf’s powers. All while making good to a character in Wildfire whom the Legion failed in the past.

Oh yeah, Brainy also cleared Cosmic Boy’s name, got rid of Mekt and the Wanderers and had the Legion gain a powerful ally in Tenzil Kem. Brainy comes off looking like a total stud at the end of this issue.

I love how Bedard writes Brainiac 5. Bedard plays up the egotistical, cold and jerkish side of Brainiac 5, while at the same time re-enforcing to the reader that Brainiac 5 is a true Legionnaire. Brainiac 5 is a consummate Legionnaire. All that Brainy cares about is the Legion and its well being. Brainiac 5’s tactics may be distasteful and undesirable at times, but his loyalty to the Legion should never be questioned.

Brainiac 5 displays his compassion and sense of responsibility toward Wildfire with his decision to send a team to Lallor. This is important since the reader should never lose sight of the fact that deep inside of Brainiac 5’s cold and calculating exterior lies a good heart.

I’m glad that Saturn Girl learned about Brainiac 5’s secret visits from Nura during his dreams. I’m, curious to find out if Saturn Girl tells the rest of the Legionnaires about Dreamy’s current state of being. Personally, I hope that Shooter manages to bring Dream Girl back.

Now, since Wildfire has always been one of my absolute favorite Legionnaires, obviously I’m psyched that he will be joining the team. Hopefully, Shooter will junk the lame E.R.G.-1 name and give him his proper codename of Wildfire. I also like the fact that Bedard takes the time to remind the reader that Wildfire is a heavy hitter in the same category as Supergirl and Ultra Boy. I think that his power level is sometimes overlooked.

Bedard teases the reader with the possibility of Tenzil Kem joining the Legion. I would be ecstatic is Shooter had Matter Eater Lad join the Legion. I have always thought that Tenzil was one of the most iconic Legionnaires. His goofy powers and his quirky personality always summed up exactly what I enjoyed so much about the Silver Age Legion.

I like the idea of having Lightning Lad as Legion leader. Garth isn’t the consummate leader like Cosmic Boy so it should make his term interesting as he feels his way into his new position.

Dennis Calero serves up some solid artwork. I loved Calero over on X-Factor, but he was certainly not an artist I would have even chosen for a title like the Legion. Having said that, Calero’s unique and dark style worked well with Bedard’s story arc. I wouldn’t want Calero to be the regular artist on this title, but his artwork was an enjoyable change of pace.

The Bad: Even though I enjoyed this issue, I will admit that this was a bit of a slow and muted ending to Bedard’s run on this title. The only other thing that slightly annoyed me was the ending monologue where Bedard states that the reason the Legion was formed to show the adults who’s boss. I find that to be so lame. I have hated that juvenile theme ever since Waid three-booted the Legion. I find this such an immature reason for a team to exist. This makes the Legion look less mature and more kiddie in nature.

Personally, I much prefer the original reason that the Legion banded together. That the founders were inspired by Superman’s legend and sought to protect the innocent and to spread peace and tolerance throughout the universe. This original inspiration for the creation of the Legion makes them seem much more noble and impressive and less like DeGrassi in the 31st Century.

Overall: Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #36 was a long time in the waiting. I am beyond thrilled that the Legion has finally reclaimed their own title. I always thought it was an incredibly dumb idea by Didio to have Supergirl hijack this title. Like DC doesn’t shove the little red S down our throats on just about every DC title.

Let’s check out the sales numbers for the Legion from the issue just before Supergirl took over this title up to the present.

#15: 31,600
#16: 47,400-OYL-Reign of Supergirl begins.
#17: 44,800
#18: 45,500
#19: 43,900
#20: 41,700
#21: 39,800
#22: 36,700
#23: 41,554
#24: 33,985
#25: 33,288
#26: 32,300
#27: 31,387
#28: 31,493
#29: 30,874
#30: 30,757
#31: 30,366
#32: 29,816
#33: 29,313
#34: 28,285
#35: 27,341

I remember when Supergirl first hijacked the Legion’s title and all the Supergirl fans managed to turn their attention away from their other idol, Hannah Montana, and defended Supergirl hi-jacking the Legion by stating that Supergirl was the hottest thing in the universe and “U r stoopid” if you don’t agree.

I remember stating that the Legion would receive a temporary sales boost and that within one year, the Legion’s sales numbers would be less than they were before Supergirl took over the Legion’s title. And look at the numbers. The Legion enjoyed an initial 15,800 unit bump.

Then the sales number dramatically dropped with ever issue since that point with the exception of one uptick with issue #23. And, look at that, exactly 12 issues later, the Legion was posting sales numbers lower than what they got before Supergirl took over the title. Exactly one year later. Imagine that. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t love being right.

And now, the latest issue of the Legion has posted 4,259 unit loss from the issue just prior to Supergirl taking over the Legion. After the initial 11 issues of Supergirl’s reign on the Legion, the following 9 issues have all posted lower sales number than the final Legion issue before Supergirl took over the title. As I said in the beginning. This was a stupid idea by Dan Didio to have Supergirl take over the Legion’s title. It did nothing to improve the Legion and actually managed to decrease readership. Way to go Dan. Hey, at least Dan hasn’t given the order to “blow shit up” over on the Legion. Yet.

The Legion’s poor sales numbers is nothing that could be remedied by adding Supergirl to this title. The fact is that the Legion gets poor sales numbers because DC has completely obliterated the Legion’s continuity over and over. I can’t think of another title that has such continuity issues. The constant blowing up of the Legion makes fans hesitant to purchase the title since it is extremely difficult to know what is going on and which history is in place or not.

To solve the Legion’s problems, DC has to do it the old fashioned way. Not the cheap quick fix move of placing Supergirl on this title. No, DC has to place a writer who can actually deliver a well written and compelling story which is something that Waid failed miserably to do during his run on this three-boot. And I think that a writer with the pedigree of Jim Shooter just might be the answer to the Legion’s problems.

Now, I like to be positive and look forward to the future. And I do think that the future is bright for the Legion. While I do have some reservations about returning to an old grizzled Legion writer to bail out this title, I do think that the old school/new school team of Shooter and Manapul has the potential to give us the best Legion of Super Heroes that we have gotten since 1986. I’m going to hope of the best and remain positive. Bring it on Shooter and Manapul. Show us what ya’ll got.