When I think of stories that told the founding of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the ones that come to mind are no longer in continuity. Flashbacks from the “Five Year Gap” era of the title, or the post-“Zero Hour” team coming together are no longer on the books, of course. And with the new “Legion of Super-Heroes” comic not performing any sort of reset like most of the other comics at DC, it makes sense that we’d get something like, “Legion: Secret Origin” to help fill in the blanks.
What’s nice is that Paul Levitz knows that long-time “Legion of Super-Heroes” fans already know the origin inside and out (the three founders rescuing R.J. Brande from an assassination attempt), so he takes a different tactic for this mini-series. The attack on Brande still exists, but this time we see it as almost a background detail, with the main focus on what’s happening elsewhere. So instead we focus on mysterious bombs that are detonating as they’re examined, one that draws Brainiac 5 and Phantom Girl into the story. The latter’s presence in particular is interesting, because now she’s arrived from Bgtzl (and through a wormhole, no less) to try and warn the United Planets about a great danger they’re in. It’s new material, and unsurprisingly it’s the part of “Legion: Secret Origin” #1’s script that caught my attention the most.
Levitz also introduces a troika of older, knowledgeable characters (from Earth, Colu, and Naltor) to serve as narrators. With their mistrust in Brande, it becomes an interesting choice in the viewpoint that Levitz is establishing. Brande is usually portrayed as such a great, important part of Legion history that this skeptical view of the character is an interesting tactic. It’ll be interesting to see if Levitz keeps this perception of Brande throughout the mini-series, or if we’ll see it shift to something rosier by the final issue.
The biggest deal for “Legion: Secret Origin” is the return of Chris Batista’s pencils to a Legion project. Batista drew a thoroughly entertaining run on “The Legion” years ago (written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning) and I like his art just as much now as I did then. He and inker Marc Deering provide their trademark clean characters, with thick, luxurious hair and a crisp finished ink line. Considering that they have to create a lot of talking heads (for our narrative characters) they do a good job of making the pages look interesting, and the startled looks on Brainiac 5’s face as he interacts with Phantom Girl are alone worth the price of admission.
Long time readers will pick up lots of other minor tweaks to the Legion’s origin (for instance, Triplicate Girl’s homeworld of Cargg seems to have gotten a slight shift in status), but for new readers there’s just as much to bite into and enjoy. This is a solid, entertaining book that looks fantastic. (Tom Feister worked on some of the covers for Batista’s “The Legion” run, so it’s great to have him contribute a cover or two to the mini-series as well.) As a non-fan of Levitz’s “early days of the Legion” story in “Adventure Comics” a year ago, this is much more up my alley. I suspect, yours too.