SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
At some point in the future of the future, a ragtag band of former Legionnaires criss-crosses the galaxy, trying to get the team back together to confront the one responsible for the galaxy’s destruction… a former teammate!
Well! That wasn’t quite what I was expecting! There is, at least in this issue, no follow-up at all to the Green/Gold Lantern thread that was the one dangling bit of plot left unresolved at the last issue’s conclusion. Instead, it appears to build off the relative throw-away bit in the denouement about Element Lad rebuilding Daxam following the fight with Rogol Zaar and Mordru.
But I actually… really loved this issue? It’s a total swerve as it leans into the Dark Future Timeskip with what feels like an homage to the Five Years Later Legion. And it works! It has a similar energy to those early issues where Ultra Boy and friends were traveling the galaxy, rounding up former Legionnaires.
The issue — by regular series writer Brian Michael Bendis, and artists Riley Rossmo, Ivan Plascencia, and Dave Sharpe — opens with Ultra Boy approaching a recalcitrant Shadow Lass, whom he convinces to join with the help of some psychic mood manipulation from Saturn Girl. Everyone has a new character design (about which more in the “Legion Roll Call” segment below) and it’s actually very quirky and fun.
Riley Rossmo’s art, with Ivan Plascencia’s colors, makes this issue a real joy throughout, particularly given that we get brand new character designs for dozens of characters. They’re all very clever and fun and expressive, and I’d love to see a Legion book with this kind of art going forward.
In any case, we move from Gotham to Daxam to Winath to Colu before winding up on the sixth moon of Trom (!), catching up with and collecting Legionnaires along the way, along with some dire hints as to the state of the galaxy and what might have happened to bring it about. It all builds to a climactic confrontation to be resolved next issue.
One never knows what to make of these near-future events that DC seems to be unusually fond of (between this, Future’s End, and One Year Later). It’s Continuity Comics, but it’s also not strictly in continuity, and it’s notionally a promise of events yet to come, yet also not really a binding promise.
I once knew somebody who got very upset about Future’s End, first, because he didn’t like the comics, and second, because he was annoyed that all of DC’s comics were going to spend the next few years building to the events foretold in Future’s End, and then he’d have to read the events of Future’s End again when they happened for reals.
In retrospect, that’s a ludicrous thing to be worried about; even at the time, it was obvious that Future’s End was a potboiler with no prospect of being the real future of the DC Universe. And yet… were his concerns truly misguided, given that DC’s marketing was trying to convince us, with an absolutely straight face, that this is where DC was headed?
I mean, yes, his concerns were misguided. But to know that, you have to approach comics with the meta knowledge that comics marketing is not to be trusted regarding any events occurring beyond what’s already been solicited. And sometimes not even then!
So, then, what to make of Future State? Are any of these comics accurate visions of things to come, or is it all just an exercise in wheel-spinning? In the case of Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes, I actually hope this is where the series goes. The Legion we’ve been following is at a convenient hop-off point, and the story presented here is a great hook for adventures going forward, with a more compact team and a real sense of purpose. And Riley Rossmo on art would be the cherry on the sundae.
Even if we don’t get an ongoing out of this, though, I really enjoyed this issue and I’m looking forward to both this story, and this series, wrapping up next issue.
Legion Roll Call
A lot of these are going to just be admiring Riley Rossmo’s new character designs for the Legionnaires.
Ultra Boy’s redesign is a little bare-bones in terms of the costume, there’s a cowl and his classic symbol on a black and yellow uniform. Most notably, he’s grown a beard and bulked up, so his overall look is less bishounen and more bearish.
Shadow Lass’s redesign is more stark. For one, she’s gone blonde. For another, she’s wearing more of a military-type outfit rather than her usually gauzy-wispy-darkness costume.
Saturn Girl has a more extreme redesign, looking like a cross between Megaman and the Prince from Katamari Damacy. The skull on her football-shaped helmet is an amusingly grim addition to match a grim future.
Brainiac 5 is now Brainiac 7, and he now has a shapeshifting body around a relatively static head. The body changes completely panel-to-panel in truly disturbing ways; it’s not pleasant to look at. He also has a new, more enthusiastic personality that I found fun and refreshing.
A relatively minor redesign for Colossal Boy, who mostly has a longer shag of hair and a beat-up, patched-up version of his old costume.
Ironically for a character who changes constantly, Chameleon Boy’s look is largely untouched.
One small scoop: Cosmic Boy now seems to be the president of what’s left of the United Planets. Also, it wouldn’t be 2019 Legion of Super-Heroes if the Legion weren’t on trial yet again.
There are a bunch of interesting designs from the UP Senate scene, but the one that struck out to me was a classic-looking Shrinking Violet. Was she in this series? I feel like we didn’t hear much from her, if she was.
I’ve gotta say, if, indeed, the 2019 Legion only lasted 100 days, soup to nuts, including the recruiting time before Jon joined, this whole thing operated on a way more compressed time scale than I had imagined.
So we get a teeny iteration of the Legion of Substitute Heroes here, complete with Fire Boy, forming the subs as a new version of the Legion now that the Legion is gone. Over the next few pages we see a bunch of reimagined versions of the classic subs, like Color Kid and Double Header, but I’d like to draw attention to…
Infectious Lass! The best sub! She has all the diseases!
Triplicate Girl shows up to deal with the Subs. I have to say, this is the one redesign I’m less keen on. It does keep with the black and yellow theme that seems to have been the major unifying feature for the Future State Legionnaires, but it feels a bit busy, with the ribbons. Honestly, it has kind of a Pikachu quality, compared to the retro-future CMYK fun of Triplicate Girls prior design.
Blok’s back! Now somewhat less blocky!
Also, during the time skip, Triplicate Girl became Duo Damsel. Or, at least, she lost her third.
Chuck Taine has a much more blobby design, now, along with a lot of rage.
So here’s a Thing. Element Lad’s been pretty important in prior iterations of the Legion, but has been in the background for much of this version. Usually, E-Lad’s backstory involves the destruction of the planet Trom, yet it seems to still exist here. Interesting…
Speaking of, Element Lad’s new design feels more military and villainous and a lot less, for lack of a better word, crunchy.
And Lightning Lad and Lass have relatively minor redesigns, beyond shaving their heads and switching to the black and yellow color scheme…
The final two-page splash features the new fourteen-person team, including three people we weren’t formally introduced to:
The guy with the painted “S” on his chest, who might be Mon-El, or might also be a different New Kryptonian of the House of El.
The tiger-bear thing, who I’m guessing is Monster Boy?
And finally the fellow who sports a light saber and sword, some mechanical insectoid legs and antennae, and a gold face. His name, according to the DC Nation Presents Future State primer is Blast Boy.
Finally: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. It’s time for…
Bonus Feature: Learn Interlac
The triumphant victory of the heroes saves all reality from the brink of destruction and shakes loose the very fabric of space and time. From the ashes of Death Metal rises new life for the infinite multiverse and glimpses into the worlds of tomorrow.
The first artificially crafted planet. A full planet-wide evacuation has been ordered by the emergency UP council.
The first planet hit by “The Elemental.”
The planet hit hardest by the Elemental Event.
A Horraz armada has been caught rummaging the dead planet.
And that’s that! See you next time for what might (?) be the final issue of this run!