All right! Here it is. The triumphant return of the Legion of Super-Heroes! It has been a long time. The last Legion of Super-Heroes comic book was the Legion of Super-Heroes #23 published August 2013. The last time that we actually saw the Legion of Super-Heroes was during the “Infinitus Saga” that took place in the pages of Justice League United #5-10 published from December 2014 to May 2015. So, it has been a long four years since we have seen the Legion of Super-Heroes at all.
Now, it must be remembered that we are not getting the return of the Legion of Super-Heroes from Justice League United. Instead, we are getting a Legion from another reality. Just how this is all explained is unknown. At any rate, Superman #14 makes the return of at least another alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. This will be the fourth alternate version of the Legion.
I have never been a fan of the Superman Family. So, it follows that I have not been reading Superman at all. It is just a franchise that has always held little interest for me. Therefore, I have zero clues as to what has been going on in the pages of Superman. I am just here for the Legion of Super-Heroes and to see what Bendis has in store for us with this fourth alternate version of the Legion. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Superman #14!
Words: Brian Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado and Oclair Albert
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the House of El meeting with a large of representatives from planets from across the universe. The House of El consists of Superman, Superbly, Supergirl, Krypto (Yay! By far the best member of the Superman Family!), General Zod, Ursa, and Lor-Zod. Superman says that lies and secrecy are tearing apart the universe and it ends now.
We cut to yesterday at the Ruins of Krypton. We see Jor-El and Superman in a spaceship. They cannot go outside due to the radiation from the Ruins of Krypton. We then see another ship appear on the scene. In that ship is Zod, Jax-Ur, and Rogol Zaar. Seeing the Ruins of Krypton enrages Zod and he immediately attacks Zaar.
Zod tells Jax-Ur that their deception is over and to join him in attacking Zaar. We get a massive brawl. The fight blows up the side of the ship and everyone gets sucked into space.
Superman says that the radiation is going to kill them and that he has to go save them. Jor-El says that the radiation will kill Superman, too. Jor-El gives Superman a shield to wear that will protect him from the radiation for a short period of time. But, the shield is delicate and is for sight-seeing only.
Superman puts on the shield and races into space. Superman sees that Zaar is also being harmed by the radiation. Superman then realizes that Zaar is also Kryptonian. Zaar and Zod continue fighting each other.
Suddenly, Superboy, Supergirl, and Krypto enter the scene. Zod and Superman team up and punch Zaar. Then Supergirl hits Zaar with a big axe.
Jor-El then tells the House of El to get out of there immediately or they will all be dead. Suddenly, huge Thanagarian warships appear on the scene. It is the Thanagarian Black Guard. They are the best of the best. The Thanagarian Black Guard exit the warships and say that the House of El is under arrest.
We shift to Thanagar. Ro-R-Yden, the Thanagarian Security Council and the Chief of Intergalactic Intelligence, says that Rogol Zaar is in custody. He says that Jor-El is also under arrest. However, Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, and Krypto are not under arrest. (But….just one page ago Bendis had the Thanagarian soldiers say that the House of El were under arrest…But now only Jor-El is under arrest…oooookay.)
Suddenly, the Khunds appear on the scene and attack Thanagar. Ro-R-Yden yells that the galaxy is being ripped apart. (What is going on? This is such a chaotic story.) Ro-R-Yden says that nobody trusts anyone anymore and that nobody is policing the out rim. All of this is over Krypton and Jor-El’s secrets from a hundred quarks ago.
Ro-R-Yden says that this needs to stop and that Jor-El says that Superman knows what to do. Superboy then interjects and says that he knows what to do. Superboy asks if they can call a time-out. (Yes. A time-out. The warrior race of the Khunds has historically been shown throughout all of DC’s history to be rational and always ready to engage in a time-out. What is going on?!)
We see Ursa and Lor-Zod appear on the scene and be reunited with General Zod. (I like that Ursa calls Zod by his last name. What wife calls their husband by his last name? That is so weird.)
Superboy then says that on Earth they have the United Nations. (Oh, that dysfunctional and rather useless bureaucratic organization? Good luck with this plan.) Superboy says, “So, like, if anyone has a problem…or needs help..” And we cut away from that scene to…the present (the opening scene in this issue) with Superman finishing Superboy’s statement about an organization that can help neighboring systems. (Damn, Superman. Why don’t you just be a glory hound and totally take credit for your son’s idea?)
Superman says that disasters like Krypton occur due to secrets and lies. Because leaders gather in secret. That they need to have conversations out in the open and in the public trust. Superman says that the House of El demands a complete interstellar truce across the entire known galaxy. And in exchange, they offer the immediate formation of the United Planets. A body of equal representation form each planet that will gather together and conflicts will be resolved and truces broke brokered in public. And when someone needs help everyone will know where to reach out to help.
We see the assembled leaders from all the various planets across the galaxy just standing there in silence. Superman says that this is a lot to ask but that the time has come. That there is no other choice. The gathered galactic leaders still just stand there in silence. No one offers to be the first planet to join the United Planets.
Superboy asks Superman what do they do to get these galactic leaders to believe them. Suddenly, THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES ARRIVE ON THE SCENE! (AND THE CROWD GOES CRAZY!!!! YESSSSSSSSS!!)
Saturn Girl says that there are here from the 31st Century. That they have come to tell everyone that this day was the day that changed everything. That this day put the whole galaxy on a path forward a real future. (I am not sure that Bendis understands the difference between a galaxy and the universe. Scientists estimate the universe as having as many as one hundred billion galaxies in it. What Bendis should have had Saturn Girl say is that this day put the whole universe on a path to a real future and not just a single galaxy.)
Cosmic Boy says that the decision to form the United Planets saved everyone. That in the 31st Century this day is known as Unity Day. Lightning Lad says that the Legion of Super-Heroes have dedicated their lives to the ideals of superheroes in direct honor of this very day. Saturn Girl says that they are here with a gift.
Saturn Girl says that each era has things to teach each other. And the best way for them to really do that is for “you” to join us in the 31st century. Superman responds that the offer is a great honor, but that he has too many responsibilities in this era to leave. Saturn Girl replies that she was not talking to Superman. That her offer was to Superboy. Saturn Girl asks Jon if he would do them the honor of joining the Legion of Super-Heroes. End of issue.
The Good: Look, I have no comments on the pre-existing storylines that Bendis was dealing with in Superman #14. I am only interested in talking about one thing and one thing only: The Legion of Super-Heroes! Well, we finally get the first appearance of this fourth alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. And, despite my reservations about Brian Bendis and some of the weird arbitrary changes to some of our Legionnaires, I am beyond excited!
I love that Bendis eschews the classic route of just having the three original members of the Legion in Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl being the first to approach Superboy. Bendis is smart to understand that the Legion needs to be reintroduced with a splash and having the entire Legion show up to recruit Superboy is a wonderful break from tradition. This helps to convey the unique feature of the Legion which is its massive and unique roster of characters. No other franchise has this remarkable strength.
There is nothing new with the twenty-seven Legionnaires that we see in Superman #14. We have already seen these characters in Ryan Sook’s various character sketches (that you can check out here, here, and here) and in various teaser pictures (that you can check out here). And I have already made my opinion well known on Bendis’ bizarre handling of Lightning Lad. So, I am not going to bother to revisit that in this review. And, if you are new to the Legion of Super-Heroes then you can check out our handy Legion Chronology that explains the Legion’s timeline and the various versions of the Legion that we have gotten in the past.
There is also nothing new that happens in these final three pages of Superman #14. We already knew that Superboy was going to come up with the idea of the United Planets. We already knew the Legion would appear before him and state how Superboy creating the U.P. was one of the greatest occurrences in the universe. And we also already knew that the Legion was going to offer Superboy membership to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
What is all so interesting is what we do not know. There are so many questions surrounding this fourth alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes and where they fit into DC’s continuity. The last version of the Legion that we got in their final solo title in 2013 and then later saw in Justice League United in 2015 was Geoff Johns’ Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Legion of Super-Heroes. In Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, Johns established the Pre-Crisis Legion as Earth-1’s Legion. The Post-Zero Hour Legion was from an alternate Earth. The Threeboot Legion was from another alternate Earth.
Johns then reintegrated the Pre-Crisis Legion back into Superman’s continuity over in Action Comics in 2008. This re-established Pre-Crisis Legion then got their own Legion of Super-Heroes title in 2010. This title was then re-started in 2011 with the debut of the New 52 and this title ran to 2013. It is important to note that the Legion was not changed at all with the New 52. Johns’ newly re-established Pre-Crisis Legion continued to operate as the Legion of Super-Heroes during their title under the New 52 banner. The Pre-Crisis Legion is also the Legion that appeared in the New 52 Justice League United title in 2015.
Now, we arrive four years later at Superman #14. Bendis unveils yet a fourth alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. We know that this is a fourth alternate version of the Legion because most of the Legionnaires look absolutely nothing like they have in their established histories. Bendis also shows us that Superman does not recognize this alternate version of the Legion. Bendis also shows us that Superman was never a member of this alternate version of the Legion. And, lastly, Bendis shows us that this alternate version of the Legion wants Superboy, not Superman, to join their team.
We also know that the Pre-Crisis Legion continued to exist and interact with the present-day DC heroes during the New 52. Furthermore, Geoff Johns is utilizing Saturn Girl from the Pre-Crisis Legion over in the pages of Doomsday Clock which takes place in the present-day DCU. We have also seen both the Pre-Crisis Legion versions of Sun Boy in The Green Lantern #4 and Tellus in Justice League #10.
So, we know that the Pre-Crisis Legion still exists. And, the Pre-Crisis Legion is still the Legion of the future for the main DCU’s Earth. This also lets the reader know that the real Pre-Crisis Legion still exists. So, yay for that. At least, it appears that DC has not retconned the prior versions of the Legion out of existence.
Therefore, it is clear that the Legion of Super-Heroes debuted in Superman #14 is a fourth alternate version of the Legion of Super-Heroes. And, since the Pre-Crisis Legion is the Legion of our main DCU’s Earth then it would follow that Bendis’ alternate version of the Legion is actually from an alternate Earth’s future.
Personally, I love the concept that Bendis’ alternate version of the Legion is simply a Legion from yet another multiple Earth just like the Post-Zero Hour Legion and the Threeboot Legion. The idea that all four versions of the Legion exist on their own multiple Earths brings me joy. And it also gives me hope that we may see these versions of the Legion again, too. This is the magic of the Multiverse and why it is the most incredible literary device in DC’s arsenal.
Of course, none of this is official. And Bendis has not tried to explain away any of these massive continuity issues up to this point. And, continuity has always been one of Bendis’ weaknesses so I am not holding out much hope that we will get many intelligent and logical answers. To be fair, Bendis just unveiled this new alternate version of the Legion. So, it is unfair to expect Bendis to begin explaining these continuity issues right at the beginning. However, it is absolutely imperative that Bendis delivers intelligent and logical answers to these massive continuity issues as soon as possible.
As always, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Oclair Albert combine to deliver a gorgeous looking issue. These three gentlemen are insanely talented and always crank out fantastic artwork on a regular basis. After seeing Reis’ beautifully drawn Legion I am now aching for Reis to draw the new Legion of Super-Heroes title. Reis brings that incredible looking classic super-hero Bronze Age style of art that would be a perfect match for a title like the Legion of Super-Heroes. Maybe it will happen at some point in the future. Just imagine how amazing a Legion of Super-Heroes comic book would be if it was written by either Scott Snyder or Jonathan Hickman and with the art by Ivan Reis! We can always hope!
The Bad: Again, I have not been reading Superman so I cannot comment on the quality of the ending of the various plot-lines that Bendis had been delivering on this title. I will say that Superman #14 is terribly disjointed. This issue has a clunky feel to it as the reader crashes from scene to scene and things seemingly happened for no logical reason at all.
Superman #14 also felt rushed. Bendis gives the barest and superficial attention to the story itself. Bendis seems to be doing this to gloss over plot holes and use plot conveniences to move this issue to his desired destination. This issue reads like the final issue of a story arc that had been poorly paced and the writer has to quickly shove as much plot progression into the final issue because they wasted so much time in the prior issues.
Bendis’ dialogue in Superman #14 is decidedly average. All of the characters speak in the same bland generic voice. The character work is equally unimpressive. In general, Superman #14 seemed like a bit of a juvenile and shallow read.
Overall: Look, all that matters about Superman #14 is that the Legion of Super-Heroes is officially back! And even if it is written by Bendis and even if this is a fourth alternate version of the Legion, the fact remains that it is always a good thing to see the Legion of Super-Heroes in the pages of a DC comic book. I am really excited to see where Bendis goes from here with the Legion. Do I have my concerns? Of course. But, I prefer to remain hopeful that my beloved Legion will be the source of some fun and entertaining stories. Long Live the Legion!
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