New 52 Review: Legion of Super-Heroes #1

Legion of Super-Heroes #1

For most folks, a reboot means perhaps a chance to jump on the bandwagon with a series they’re unfamiliar with. One of the hardest series to try and get involved with is Legion Of Super-Heroes. With fifty years plus of history and enough members to make the X-Men’s heads swim, the Legion is a tough road to travel for new blood. For those hoping the rebooted version of the futuristic crime fighting team is their place to jump on, think again. Don’t get me wrong, iconic Legion writer Paul Levitz does a great job with this issue, but it just isn’t going to be an easy jump for new readers. The way Legion #1 reads it seems like Levitz did what he could to streamline the series but didn’t want to risk insulting the foundation he had so much to do with, so he split the difference. This is a slicker, easier-to-stay-with story, but still layered with the complexity of character that’s made Legion a long standing staple of the DCU.

The story here returns the Dominators to prominence. There is a tense peace between Earth and The Dominators, each world existing under the scrutiny of watchworlds. One of these worlds, Panoptes, has gone silent and the Legion set out to investigate. Having lost seven members (see Legion Lost) the team is stressed and a bit splintered but remain vigilant to serving justice. Levitz splits the issue into three stories, the team trying to investigate the mysteriously silent watchworld, Mon-El and Brainiac 5 holding down the fort and a third legion team dealing with their losses. It’s an emotional story that also has strong action, something Paul Levitz has always been good out.

What is so powerful with Legion #1 is how many elements Levitz is able to string together into a cohesive storyline. Team books are always a fragile thing and usually end of cracking under the weight if multiple story arcs and characters. With Legion #1, all the facets are streamlined by the Dominator plot, and when the characters are out of that story, they’re in scenes help give a concrete foundation to where the Legion are now. The end locks the arcs and we’re ready to move forward. As I said, you do need to have some familiarity with the Legion to get into this issue and if you do you’ll very impressed. If not, well, I highly recommend reading up on the most recent history and then jumping in with both feet. It’s not undoable; it’s just a bit harder.

One of the most interesting parts of Legion #1 is a simple line where one of the Legionnaires mentions how the “Flashpoint effect has closed off time travel”. It seems like the Legion is aware of the whole Flashpoint debacle and that it’s affected the current time stream. That might leave a strong backdoor for DC to use if this entire reboot thing falls apart. Whatever happens with it, it’s a smart move and a creative one on DC’s part.

Francis Portela’s art is wonderful. His ability to keep the work clean and bold allows for maximum detail, which is necessary for a comic like Legion. Portela also knows how to add subtle nuances to the faces and expressions of the Legionnaires in order to keep them different and interesting. Overall, the art has the same frenetic pace as the writing and together the synergy is quite refreshing.