Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny Special #1 review

It's the 31st century and Supergirl is dying of Rigel fever. Her boyfriend Brainiac 5 and fellow Legionnaires feel helpless. 
If only there were a deus ex machina floating around...
And so, Brainy sends cute helper robot Computo 2 - descendant of the killer machine that murdered one of Triplicate Girl's bodies, bless - back to Smallville, where it's time to harvest the crop. 
And guess who the little robot brings back to the future instead of Clark Kent's costumed alter ego?

OK kids, buy this book. Short of cash? Sell something. Right now. Even if it's something you love and feel bad about letting go, you'll soon feel wonderful again because this is such a joyous comic. 

Writer Sam Humphries and artists Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna expertly ape the Legion of Super-Heroes tropes longtime fans love. A Legionnaire with a supposedly incurable disease? Check. Dream Girl having a vision that MUST COME TRUE. Yup. Superboy, their only hope? You betcha. We even get a nod to Star Trek in the name of the disease that's killing Kara. The only thing missing is a Traitor Within The Legion, something I hope Humphries is saving for the hinted-at sequel. 

Yes indeed, we get all the favourite, dare I say it, cliches, dialled up to 11 by Humphries' terrific dialogue and Grummett's only just OTT layouts (who knew this longtime superhero artist could draw Bugs like a master?); it takes two people who really get - and love - the Legion to be able to so perfectly take the mickey. 

Throw in a pitch perfect Bugs Bunny with a batch of Captain Carrot cosmic carrots and the stage is set for a classic team-up between two of Warner Brothers' most enduring properties. The super-straight Ultra Boy, for instance, makes the perfect foil for the wascally wabbit, whose cartoon arsenal seems like a super-power to internal-monologue mad Lightning Lass. Which, I suppose, it is. And Timber Wolf hasn't been this much fun since, well, ever. 
I laughed out loud several times at this story, and chuckled even more. This affectionate parody of the Bronze Age Legion - think Gerry Conway/Roy Thomas era - isn't so much winking at us, saying, hey, weren't those stories dumb, as putting an arm around us and reminding us that they were pretty awesome, too. It's criminal that DC Comics have allowed the Legion - for a long time, a best seller, and for a longer time, a fan favourite - to lie fallow, like a prize carrot gone mouldy. If this comic is any indication that Humphries and Grummett want a crack at a Legion series, please DC, I'll take out a ten-year subscription right now. 
There's a second story in this comic but, weirdly, it's the first story again, only shorter, straighter and a lot less fun. There's a certain charm, but it feels a bit pointless - writer/artist Juan Manuel Ortiz* has talent, and I'd rather see him doing something entirely different with the Legion and Bugs. 
The main cover by Grummett and inker Karl Kesel is a fun homage to, of course, Adventure Comics #247, while Ty Templeton's variant is just an all-round feast for the eyes. 

Long Live the Legion... and Super-Bugs!

* Any relation to Seventies DC artist Juan Ortiz? - Ed 

Comments

  1. yeah Humphries would be good fit to write Legion an eye did not know Lightning Lass could not read Interlac did u guys? ;)

    ps please do a review of all the others looney tunes one shots especially the Martian Manhunter/Marvin The Martian story an Wonder Woman vs The Tasmanian Devil

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    1. I've not actually read 'em all yet, they're piling up!

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  2. actually the traitor within the legion was Computo 2

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  3. I didn't know who the hell Timber Wolf was before, because I know jack about the Legion, but I assume he's the best character in the whole thing given how great he is in those panels.

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    1. 'Best character' depends on who's writing and personal taste - Legionnaires with big fan bases include Wildfire, Dream Girl, Matter Eater Lad and Shrinking Violet. There are so many great heroes, and there have been so many great interactions down the years. I hope you have a chance to dig in and find out more.

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  4. Hi Martin - I don't think I've been so conflicted about a comic for ages. On the one hand, this is, as you say, a pitch-perfect parody of the Conway/Thomas LSH, with more than a little that might be seen as appropriate to Shooter's second run and Levitz's first thrown in. It's fondly done, which in itself, given how poorly the LSH has often been used, is rewarding in itself. On the other, it's hard to know why the era warrented such an elongated satire. I can't say I enjoyed the period myself, and it feels rather daft to waste so much time on gently making the same point over and over. It feels all too comfortable a business to be worth all the effort and skill that's obviously been expended on it.

    In many ways, it also feels uncomfortably part of the superbook's obsession with its own past, and especially so when referencing covers that aren't even part of the LSH's own history. That may be something that's being parodied, but the satire is so mild and so close to the thing it's laughing about that it's hard to laugh along. Yes, there were moments I enjoyed very much, such as the manner in which Bugs got rid of Timber Wolf & Computo's self-incriminating apeing of Cyclon speech. And heaven knows, the book does capture the era perfectly. But overall, it felt safe and repititive. What you saw as a humourous celebration of the era, I saw as thin if well-observed gruel. In the end, this is IMO a very polite and mild comicbook.

    Having said that, I can only agree with you that it does show what a strong basic set-up the LSH had, and still could have. That most certainly is to the creator's credit. Along with the likes of Hawkman, the appeal of the LSH has been worn right through by endless post-Crisis reboots. Some have been fine, most disappointing, and some plain awful. But the run from Shooter's appearance in the mid-60s to Levitz/Giffen in the 80s still seems to be crying out to be put to use. If the comic helps underscore that point, then hurrah for all involved.

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  5. Many thanks for the well-thought-out and expressed comments, Colin. The mid-Seventies focus could be as simple as that being the period with which Sam Humphries is most familiar. Or maybe he didn't want to take the Mickey out of the Levitz years because, he didn't find them that silly, so we got just the one gag.

    'The superbooks' obsession with its own past'? That's certainly everywhere, but of course, there's no present Legion to mock, sadly!

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  6. I loved this book.
    Classic legion tropes, classic bugs tropes, Kara and Ayla.
    As usual, we picked many of the same panels.

    I loved it as a perfect sendup.

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  7. The Tom Grummet who did 90's Superboy? That's reason enough to check it out right there! I didn't know he still worked.

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    1. Did you check it out then, huh, did ya?

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