Review by Frank Plowright
There’s really not much point in just coming in on this second Legion of Super-Heroes volume by Brian Michael Bendis and Ryan Sook without having read Millennium. They form a complete story, and at the middle point the Legion have screwed up, but despite misgivings it seems hauling Superboy from the 21st century papers over a lot of cracks.
Sook makes everything look shiny and modern, with Stephen Byrne occasionally helping out over a few pages, understandable when Sook’s telling the stories in spreads featuring anything up to thirty people. Sook also gets a break over the second and third chapters, which are frankly messy. Do readers want to see 44 pages drawn by multiple different artists with wildly different styles and different ways of telling a story, or do they want that story to have some visual consistency? The format works for sections showing assorted characters being asked to join the Legion, but the mistake is attempting to tell the title story at the same time, and that’s despite the guest artists including those who’ve previously drawn the feature and some all-time greats. It comes across as extremely indulgent.
The audition tapes, for want of a better term, do at least move some characters out of the crowd and briefly into the spotlight, which is beneficial when it comes to members Bendis has updated the team with. The new members, some with recognisable backgrounds, feed into an effort to differentiate this Legion from previous versions, and according to your viewpoint that’s either a good point or not. Should a rebooted team be beholden to earlier incarnations? Bendis believes not, so old relationships have been discarded, which is refreshing, and so have many of the old personalities, with Lightning Lass barely recognisable from earlier versions. Anyone accepting that will have more fun with The Trial of the Legion than readers who don’t, although Bendis does pepper the stories with references to older material, some of which has greater relevance than others. The Great Darkness is one to pay attention to.
Those who’ve read Bendis’ Superman run may be less than thrilled to see generic psychopath Rogol Zaar again, but his (and Sook’s) version of Mordru is far more imposing than the old guy with a white beard and quaint hat.
A massive amount of background innovation characterises both volumes of this Legion, and there’s no faulting the fast pace, but too many of the new personalities are whiny, and when it comes to the big action it’s coasting. There’s an abrupt ending referencing crossover series Future State, and the Legion’s part in that is found in the Future State: Superman collection.