With “Justice League 3000” debuting later this year, Keith Giffen’s sudden departure from “Legion of Super-Heroes” potentially makes much more sense, if he swapped out working on one 31st century comic for another. That leaves Paul Levitz and guest artist Jeff Johnson to start winding things down for this title, though, and “Legion of Super-Heroes” #21 does so in the old-fashioned manner of smashing down the existing group.
Early chapters of this story had a slightly stronger sense of urgency about them, something that I felt that Giffen’s influence might have been responsible for. It’s funny, then, that with the book’s cancellation around the corner, that theoretically all the characters are now in much more jeopardy. But with “Legion of Super-Heroes” #21 just being a series of events where members of the Legion get walloped by the Fatal Five, some of the “anything can happen” excitement seems to have died down a bit. It’s much more of a beat down here, and that’s not quite as exciting.
Levitz does have some nice touches here and there, though. I like the return of a long-forgotten power of Invisible Kid’s (which I think we haven’t seen since the “Baxter Series” run of issues back in the ’80s) that gives Johnson a strange and creepy looking sequence to illustrate; Levitz is also doing his best to find purposes for some characters that have been adrift lately, like Chemical Kid. And in general, the high point of this comic was definitely Johnson’s art, which I don’t think I’ve seen in decades. It’s got an elongated, almost stretched quality that feels like a strange cross between Giffen’s and Scott Kolins’s, which makes it a good choice for this title. He’s especially good when drawing the Emerald Empress, whose hair and mask mesh together under his pen in a way that’s eye-catching and fun.
In general, this issue is just all right. It’s clearly a transition towards the big series conclusion in a couple of months, and as such Levitz is shuffling his pieces around the board. That’s not a bad thing, but the “everyone loses” method of doing so threatens to get old quickly. The Legion feels like they’re being pushed out the door in favor of a concept that will probably bring in stronger sales — and to be fair, having Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire as the creative team for “Justice League 3000” can’t hurt — but I just wish that it looked like they were going to go out on a higher note.