Reviewer: John Babos
Story Title: Superboy and the Legion – Part Two
Written by: Mark Waid & Geoff Johns
Penciled by: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Inked by: Marc Campos
Colored by: Sno-Cone
Lettered by: Bob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Editor: Eddie Berganza & Steve Wacker
The Temporal Cold War reaches a fever pitch as our heroes are trapped between times and changing realities… um… sorry. Wrong escapist fantasy. I was thinking about the new and potentially last season of Star Trek: Enterprise.
I enjoyed the Enterprise season premiere as I’m a sucker for time travel stories with the fate of universes hanging the balance. This probably goes back to my love of the JSA and those old Earth 1 and Earth 2 encounters with the JLA. Alternate Earths. Time Travel. I’m a sucker for these kind of stories… provided they’re done well.
With that context and me being a huge fan of writer Geoff Johns, you’d figure I’d have enjoyed the Teen Titans / Legion Special #1. Sadly, I didn’t (for the most part). While the first part of this story, in the pages of Teen Titans #16, was solid on both the story and art sides, this special one-shot conclusion really fails to deliver on the momentum set in TT.
To be fair to uber-scribe Geoff Johns, he was saddled with hit-or-miss writer Mark Waid, and editorial direction to wrap-up the existing Legion of Super-Heroes continuity, mythology or whatever you’d like to call it.
Essentially, the opening story of Teen Titans / Legion Special #1 is a team-up tale with the two teen teams this one-shot is named after battling a horde of reality-altering villains in the 31rst Century. An added layer of drama is mixed in with a time-displaced Superboy torn between both of “his” teams. Then… the wheels fell off the creativity bus.
The story really is complicated and confusing. Time travel stories are usually very difficult to pull the trigger on in terms of blazing new paths, reaching a high quality threshold, and being understandable. The time travel stories I’ve loved over the years, whether part of Star Trek or comics or other media, have been the ones where the writers didn’t go out of their way in painful detail to try to explain time paradoxes and the like. For a good science fiction story, readers will give writers at least one “gimme”. Meaning that readers will suspend their disbelief and let writers off the hook in terms of one plot detail as long as others are explained or understandable.
If the writers of Teen Titans / Legion Special #1 had focussed more, in my opinion, on telling an engaging emotional-level science-fiction story and let the time paradox and other related matters off with a nod and a wink, this would have been a far better yarn. Most readers knew going in that Legion of Super-Heroes in its current incarnation was over and being rebooted, relaunched, etc. To tell a story from the Legionnaires’ perspectives with one last look under the hood would have been a more satisfying end to their adventures.
I also find it interesting that Waid seems to be DC’s go-to reboot guy. He reinterpreted Superman’s origin in the pages of Birthright without an in-continuity explanation for how Superman’s origin can be one way one day, and another way another day. Perhaps DC learned, somewhat, from that experience, as Teen Titans / Legion Special #1 provides an in-continuity explanation for the Legion reboot.
Anyhow, while this book’s opening art was grainy, rough, but passable, it also lacked the energy of Mike McKone’s pencils from the lead in story of Teen Titans #16. I’ve found Ivan Reis’ pencils decent (he was the most recent regular artist on the only really good Superman book on the stands nowadays in Action Comics) while the other penciller’s work, by Joe Prado, really wasn’t to my liking. Prado’s characters just looked “off” somehow and his pages weren’t as dynamic as Reis’.
This story leads into a new multi-part arc in the pages of Teen Titans this month where the heroes return “home” ten years after they left…
The one-shot also sets up the launch of a new Legion of Super-Heroes in December…
In my opinion, the opening story of Teen Titans / Legion Special #1, Superboy and the Legion – Part Two, really deserves a 5 out of 10 rating.
However, readers get a taste of Waid’s Legion relaunch with a bonus story in this one-shot that really salvages the book and whets appetites for the new series…
Story Title: Teenage Wonderland
Written by: Mark Waid
Art by: Barry Kitson
Colored by: Chris Blythe
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Editor: Steve Wacker
This 7 page prequel to December’s new Legion launch really sets the table for an interesting yarn. In this “new” time, the super-teens are looked at with suspicion by an adult world. While this is a fresh take on a storied franchise, teenagers rebelling against adults is not a new literary concept. The fact that teenage heroes are helping save adults from themselves does seem like an intriguing take off and should breathe some new life into the Legion mythology.
Kitson’s art is excellent and much better than many of his recent offerings in my opinion. You can tell he’s excited to be on this project and his art just leaps off the page.
I won’t spoil this mini-story for you, but its clearly the best part of Teen Titans / Legion Special #1. It deserves an 8.5 out of 10 rating.
Averaging the ratings for both stories, Teen Titans / Legion Special #1
gets a rounded-up 7 out of 10