Legion of Super-Heroes #18 review

There's no let-up for the Legion after the horrors of last issue. On Earth, the team's shattered HQ is besieged by a mob whose members assume they're behind the failure of quark technology that has thrown the United Planets into chaos. On the unknown world where Sun Boy died, Invisible Kid, Polar Boy and Phantom Girl are attacked by a Promethean giant. Brainiac 5 bids to build a new cruiser using old technology. Mon-El and Cosmic Boy head for Weber's World to see how the admin centre of the UP fares. Glorith is Chameleon Boy and Ultra Boy's only hope of escaping the latter's homeworld, Rimbor.

And another Legionnaire is lost.

But I don't believe this Legionnaire - call them Kid Pronoun for mystery's sake - is dead, I reckon writers Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen are toying with us, after killing a veteran member last time. The missing member's powers would easily provide an escape route or two.

Still, it all makes for good drama. The Legionnaires don't panic, they just get on with the job, doing what they can to stem the tide of disaster as they begin to look for both cause and cure. Brainiac 5 suspects the whispered-about new Fatal Five, and he'd be right. But there's no meeting of the teams here, as the writers use their 20 pages to establish the breadth of the problem, and their characters' reaction to it. There's a very nice juxtaposition of Shadow Lass, Ultra Boy and Chameleon Boy recalling the difficulties of their upbringings on grim worlds, while Phantom Girl snaps into leader mode after being understandably hysterical last time. And it turns out that recent recruit Harmonia is popular enough to have made deputy leader, who knew?

The big disappointment is that Keith Giffen doesn't draw this issue - the art is shared between Tom Derenick and Scott Kolins, and while I like the work of both men, the disparity in styles is jarring; it doesn't help that Kolins chooses to draw inside a decorative page grid, while Derenick bleeds off the page. I like individual moments from both sides - Kolins' depiction, nicely coloured by Javier Mena, of Element Lad saving the day is fun comics, while Derenick's image of Harmonia despatching a reporter (undercover Universo?) is splendid. Derenick also delivers probably the sultriest Shadow Lass ever, and his essaying of the Legionnaires' emotions is first class.

But I wanted Giffen, and the twisted Kirby stylings that made last issue such a punch in the gut.

The good news is that stylish stalwart Francis Portela is coming back, so the book will have a uniformly great look once more. It'll be interesting to see how he presents the crumbling 31st century. I just hope that, following Giffen's depressingly premature departure, Levitz continues the intensity we've seen in the last two scripts.


  1. Yeah, I was also disappointed to find out Giffen wasn't doing the art this issue.

    1. Maybe he'll pop up for an annual or something.

  2. Wow! Wait until you read about has happened and may have happened on Supergirl #18 what a scandal if the editor part is true!


    1. Hi Valerie, thanks for the link - it IS a headscratcher. I've not had time to read the issue yet, colour me intrigued.

    2. The author's a real guy. He wrote "The Cooler," with William H. Macy.

  3. I have been calling the death of the 'unnamed legionnaire' for a while. Too much foreshadowing to ignore.

    Good issue, but the art detracted.

  4. I really didn't enjoy the Giffen art in the previous issue. I haven't gotten my current issue yet. I hear it's so-so at best. Sometimes if the story is good enough I can bring myself to over look the art for a issue or two.

  5. Anj, I hope they're not dead, it'd be far too heavy going.

  6. I don't think this issue's casualty will last. Heck, I don't think last issue's casualty will stay dead for long, either... and all signs point to permanent, there. We may instead learn something new about the digestive properties of an alien race.

    Nonetheless, I like the tension and the stakes of this story -- it seems like everybody's on the knife-edge.

    1. I agree, there's a pleasing intensity to the series now, I hope it keeps up - though without lots of death!

  7. The death of two Legionnaires in two issues does seem a bit too throwaway. The mention in this issue about Sun Boy's death - the mention about his bones - suggests that Levitz and Giffen intend (at least for now) to keep that death permanent.

    I've never been a massive fan of this issue's Dead Kid so I wouldn't be too disappointed if the death was permanent. But, like many of you, I suspect that this one is a tease.

    Having said that though, I wonder whether this sets two other characters up for a new romance. Certainly, I felt that it was teased during the Dominator storyline and to me it's a relationship that makes sense in so many ways.

    (Ha - I'm finding it quite difficult to reference previous events without giving too much away! So I shall move swiftly on.)

    The massive disruption that has gone on in this and the last issue do remind me of the Great Darkness Saga. Levitz and Giffen even give it a mention - to me it's almost as if they are trying to recapture former glories by having scripting a universe-shattering event.

    I think I preferred the previous issue. That was more genuinely shocking. This issue seemed like an overly long continuation of that. But with the return of an old villain in the next issue, I'm hoping that things will kick off in a major way. And that's something I'm very very much looking forward to!

    I'm not that keen on Dragonwing. But Harmonia is growing on me - she seems fairly level-headed and less snooty than she was when she was first introduced.

    (P.S. Removed my previous comment because I made a significant typo which made the first paragraph pretty much unintelligible!)

  8. I'm not a great fan of Dragonwing as a Legionnaire, though her spotlight issues were decent. In the Academy series, she added spice, but in the regular book she's just a negative face in the crowd.

  9. Several thoughts struck me as maybe being set up by the exit of the Legionnaire who is presumed dead as of this issue:

    1) A (aforementioned above) potential romance's way is now paved by his exit.
    2) It will be difficult for him to have survived, since his power set would only exacerbate the force in which he was *ahem* taken down (though so far we have seen no body).
    3) There is a young Academy recruit currently serving with the SP with a similar power set that would both skew the team younger, and add another same-sex relationship to the roster.

    I was shocked again by a death, which is good. And yet sadly, I can see the rationale behind this particular Legionnaire's exit as well. Levitz is definitely putting the 'Fatal' back in Tharok's team's name...

  10. (Apologies for the late reply, Ken, I think my Gmail went bonkers...)

    As regards point 2, you never know, some of his original powers could have kicked back in - or a survival instinct might have pulled him to the centre of the earth. Stranger things etc!

    And on 3), just as long as he gets a decent haircut!


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