DC Comics Bendis Legion of Super-Heroes

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Grading Ryan Sook’s New Legionnaire Designs

Well, I realized that I gave a ton of column time to Brian Bendis taking over the Legion of Super-Heroes that I spent nearly zero time talking about Ryan Sook being named the artist of the new Legion of Super-Heroes title. Ryan Sook has also been tasked with creating the designs for Bendis’ Legion. Sook is a talented artist. There is no doubt about it. Sook is a veteran hand and will certainly bring his best effort with the new Legion of Super-Heroes books. We have not gotten a ton of preview artwork. But, what we have gotten are several character designs. I want to check out each one and give my reaction.

Obviously, Sook had to roll out the character designs for the “Big Three” of the Legion of Super-Heroes: Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl. First, let’s look at my favorite Legionnaire: Cosmic Boy.

DC Comics Bendis Legion of Super-Heroes
Cosmic Boy – Click for full-size view

Obviously, the biggest change is that Brian Bendis decided to race swap Cosmic Boy into an Asian character. The Legion of Super-Heroes has several Asian characters in its history, so I am unsure why Bendis thought this race swap was necessary. Bendis could have easily added one of the Legion’s Asian characters to this roster. However, Bendis did not. I would imagine it is because Bendis is lazy and uncreative and has done literally no research into the Legion of Super-Heroes history.

At any rate, Sook does a fantastic job updating Cosmic Boy’s design while still honoring traditional elements of his look. With the exception of his 1970’s stripper outfit, Rokk has always had a black and pink color scheme. The pink has shifted from hot pink to pale pink over the decades. Sook goes with more of a salmon pink. I prefer more of a hot pink, but I really do not have any problems with the color pink that Sook uses in his design.

Sook retains the classic metal circle design on the chest of the costume. I like that Sook extends the metal circle design onto the back of the gloves. I also like the metal stripes over the boots. I think giving Rokk a sleeveless costume is a cheeky touch. This is a nice nod to Rokk’s stripper costume where he showed off his guns.

DC Comics Bendis Legion of Super-Heroes
Mike Grell Cosmic Boy – Click for full-page view

The biggest departure in Sook’s design is Rokk’s hair. That is…different. It gives Rokk a more jock/military look than he has ever had in the past. This is actually consistent with the fact that Rokk is a jock. After all, Rokk was a Magnoball champion back on Braal. Magnoball is the big popular sport on his home planet.

While I am not crazy about the haircut, I have to give Sook’s overall design for Comic Boy a thumbs up.

DC Comics Bendis Legion of Super-Heroes
Lightning Lad – Click for full-size view

Next is Lightning Lad. Once again, Sook does an excellent job updating Garth’s design while still staying true to Lightning Lad’s classic design themes. Lightning Lad’s color scheme has always been blue, yellow, and white. Sook keeps those colors in this new design. The only difference is that Sook gives Garth’s costume three different shades of blue: a medium blue, a dark blue, and a dark mesh looking blue.

Personally, I am not a fan at all of the three different colors of blue on the costume. Nor am I a fan of the mesh blue on the costume. This approach takes what has always been an attractive and clean looking costume and make it messy, over-stylized, and chaotic. This is what I would expect from a Jim Lee designed Lightning Lad outfit.

Garth retains his iconic lightning bolts coming over his shoulders and across his chest. Sook also gives Garth his white boots with yellow lightning bolt trim. Garth still has white gloves though the white is limited to just his wrists. I love that Sook gave Garth his iconic lightning bolts from his shoulders and across his chest. I also love the boot design. The glove design is a bit odd and makes his white gloves look more like weight-lifting gloves than part of a costume.

Sook gives Garth a hairstyle incredibly similar to Cosmic Boy’s haircut. Both Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad have the buzzcut on the sides. They both have long hair on top. The only difference is that Garth has a mini-mullet in the back. First, I am definitely not a fan of characters having similar hairstyles. Second, I hate the look of the shaved sides with the mini-mullet. Garth looks like a trailer park resident from the 1980s. It is not a good look.

Overall, I give Lightning Lad’s new design a thumb in the middle. The costume is largely good though I wish it had less unnecessary lines and shades of blue so it would not look so busy.

DC Comics Bendis Legion of Super-Heroes
Saturn Girl – Click for full-size view

Next is the final of the Big Three: Saturn Girl. Sook gives Imra’s costume her classic colors of red and white. There have been times when Imra rocked the color scheme of pink and white. Personally, I am glad to see that Sook chose the red and white color scheme for his design.

Sook chooses a simple full body leotard costume as the foundation for Saturn Girl’s new design. Imra often had a costume that had some sort of skirt with leggings design to it. Personally, I find the full-body leotard look to be an extremely boring design. I think Imra benefits more from a skit with legging style costume. It gives her a more unique and interesting look.

Much like with Lightning Lad, Sook gives Saturn Girl’s costume unnecessary New 52 Jim Lee lines all over it. Again, all this does it make the costume look busy and messy. I also dislike that Sook when with a vague homage to Saturn Girl’s iconic Saturn logo with the vague white circle on her shoulder with a ring that extends around to the other shoulder. Readers who do not know Imra’s character or her iconic Saturn logo would never guess that the abstract white design that Sook gives Imra is an homage to her iconic logo.

Sook also gives Imra a hairstyle that is also very similar to Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad. I am not sure what is going on there with giving so many characters such similar hairstyles. Imra usually sports a nice medium cut about 90% of the time. Sook gives Imra an absolutely awful hairstyle. Much like Lightning Lad, poor Saturn Girl looks like a reject from the 1980s.

Overall, I give Saturn Girl’s new design a big thumbs down. Imra is the biggest loser of all of Sook’s designs that we have seen so far. The costume is terribly bland and generic. Sook has managed to strip Imra of all of her iconic design cues that her character has had throughout the decades. This design is a bland bowl of oatmeal. Sook should think about giving Saturn Girl a new look in quick order.

DC Comics Bendis Legion of Super-Heroes
Brainiac 5 – Click for full-size view

Next up is everyone’s favorite Coluan: Brainiac 5. Querl’s primary colors have always been various shades of purpose with yellow as an accent color. Sook keeps the iconic color scheme for Brainy. Querl’s new design is comprised of a dark purple, a medium purple, and a lighter mesh purple. This is nearly the same design approach that Sook took with Lightning Lad’s costume. Sook gives Brainy a dash of yellow in the three yellow spheres near his waistline. It is not as much yellow as Brainiac 5 has had in the past, but it is just enough to keep Sook’s design from being too monochromatic.

Sook has Querl’s costume fitting loose which is spot on perfect. Brianic 5 is known for his brain, not his brawn, therefore, Brainiac 5 has almost always sported a loose-fitting costume. I also love the high cuffs that run up the back of Brainiac 5’s hands. Brainy has never rocked this look, but I really like it. It is a neat design element.

On the downside, Sook also gives Brainiac 5’s costume a bunch of busy New 52 Jim Lee style lines. Sook also gives Brainiac 5 a stupid looking tiara. I understand that the tiara is a design homage to Brainiac (in particular his Pulsar Stargrave form) but I am not a fan of it here. Brainiac 5 has never been known to have a tiara at all in his over fifty years as a Legionnaire.

Overall, I give Brainiac 5’s new design a thumb in the middle. The costume itself looks great. But, that tiara is hard to look past. If Sook would just ditch the stupid looking tiara then Brainiac 5’s new design would immediately get a big thumbs up.

DC Comics Bendis Legion of Super-Heroes
Chameleon Boy – Click for full-size view

Next up is everyone’s favorite Durlan: Chameleon Boy. Reep has worn a ton of different style costumes with a wide range of color schemes. Reep has worn red and purple. He has worn purple and yellow. He has worn blue and white. He has worn dark green and light green. Sook decided to go with a green, purple, and black color scheme. Since Reep has worn so many different colors over his history I have no problems with the color scheme that Sook chooses for this new design.

Sook gives Chameleon Boy a really cool lizard scale pattern on his costume. This is a great design update. I love it. I also like that the purpose looks pearlescent. It makes for a vibrant look that gives some sizzle and texture to the more flat green and black on the costume. I love the high color design. I also dig the cool metal wrist bands. All in all, Sook really crushed it with Chameleon Boy’s costume design.

However, everything comes crashing down with Sook’s design for Reep himself. Reep has always been drawn with a human-like face. This enables Reep to have a wide range of emotions and to help readers to connect to him on a more personal level. Unfortunately, Sook gives Reep an ugly alien look. Reep’s eyes look dead. I have no idea how Sook is going to convey emotions with this eye design. Reep also gets unnecessary lines and dots all over his face to give him an overly busy look. Reep gets slits for a nice and a thin mouth. Reep also gets goofy looking hands. It is just a terrible look.

Overall, I give Chameleon Boy’s new costume design a big thumbs up. But, I give Chameleon Boy’s new design to his face and hands a massive thumbs down. This is too far of a departure from how Chameleon Boy has been drawn over his nearly 60-year history. This is the case of an artist violating the rule of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

DC Comics Bendis Legion of Super-Heroes
Shadown Lass – Click for full-size view

Last up is Shadow Lass. I adore Tasmia. Shady has always been my favorite female Legionnaire. Tasmia has always worn very sexy costumes. However, in this day and age of repressed Victorian attitudes, there is little chance that Sook is going to give Tasmia a costume with lots of sex appeal.

Tasmia’s color scheme has always been black with her logo in gold. Sook keeps Shady’s traditional color scheme going with his new design. Sook gives Tasmia a cool all-black costume that mimics the feeling of a shadow. Sook places Tasmia’s gold logo at her waistline where it has traditionally been placed.

I dig how Sook draws Shady’s hair as if it is flowing into a shadow. Of course, Sook keeps Tasmia blue. Her blue skin with the black costume always creates a striking visual. Tasmia always wears high heeled boots. It appears that Sook is giving Shady flats with this new design. Boooooooo.

Overall, I give Shady’s new design a big thumbs up. Sook crushes it with this design. I love this new costume and Shadow Lass looks fantastic.

Reviewing these new costume designs has gotten me all pumped up and excited for the new Legion of Super-Heroes title! I am getting more and more excited with each day. At any rate, Sook’s first six Legionnaire designs get three thumbs ups, two thumbs in the middle, and one thumb down. Not too bad. I am eager to see Sook’s new designs for the rest of the Legionnaires. Hopefully, DC will drop even more teaser pics in the upcoming weeks. As always, LLL!


UPDATE: You can check out part two of our review of Sook’s new Legionnaire designs here!

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