This is an odd comic book, made even odder by events that are happening outside of the book.
First and foremost, it’s odd that a new creative team takes over in this issue. I’ve scoured the web and can’t find any references about whether Mark Waid and Barry Kitson will be returning for next issue’s finale of the Dominators saga, or if Bedard and Sharpe have taken over this series for the next few issues. In fact, DC’s website shows that team as creating this issue. So much for accuracy from DC. It seems wrong, and it’s certainly unusual, for a creative team to leave a saga after only a few chapters.
Secondly, the team of Bedard and Sharpe actually do a pretty good job on the comic. If I hadn’t looked at the credits, I might not have noticed that Waid and Kitson didn’t create the issue. Supergirl/Legion #29 follows well on the heels of previous issues, telling the story of the evil Dominators and their road to war. I really enjoyed how the story explains the quirkiness of Dominator civilization. In the past, the Dominators have always been portrayed as pure evil because of their bizarre appearances with their giant spiked teeth and elongated faces. But here Bedard gives us a deeper look at the Dominators, giving readers a feel for their society by telling the story of a rogue scientist. At the same time he delivers a lot of action, moving the Earth-Dominator war forward nicely. Sharpe, McKenna and Purcell deliver competent art that suffers only slightly in comparison with their predecessor Kitson, but that’s just to be expected. The art transition might seem awkward if it were collected in a TPB, but as a standalone issue it works just fine.
Thirdly, it’s odd that this series, which has always been pretty much on its own island in the DCU, is part of a major DC event. The conclusion of 52 crosses over in this issue, with a pretty major scene featuring Booster Gold. Booster literally appears out of nowhere to guest star in this issue, and it’s a real shock to see him appear here. It’s actually kind of a cool bit of continuity porn to have Booster be the precipitating force to the events in this storyline. It’s also true to DC’s history, with Legionnaires being part of major DC events like Legends and Final Night. It just feels odd for there to be a connection between events today and events 1000 years from now.
Oh yeah, and also there are connections to major events like this year’s Justice League/Justice Society crossover, which provides the fourth bit of oddness. The Legion played a fairly major part in last week’s issue of Justice Society of America, with that issue featuring a wonderful two-page spread showing the Legionnaires in the costumes they wore in the 1970s and ’80s, before the series began its cycle of continual reboots. In some ways that scene is a nice gift to longtime readers, giving us a nice little flashback to a very popular few years for the Legion. And it was nice for this longtime Legion fan to see characters like Blok and Dawnstar and Wildfire, characters that really haven’t been part of the newer Legion revivals. But it creates an odd situation, one where the Legion book is kind of in competition with the memories that older readers have of the Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen years. There’s simply no way this current series can compete with our memories.
Which leads to the fifth oddity of this comic: no matter how good it is, this book will always suffer in comparison to the many, many takes on the Legion that preceded it. It’s almost as if the Legion suffers due to its fanatically devoted fan following. The stories have to be familiar in order to win readers’ love, but the stories have to be unique enough so that they stand out against 40 years of Legion lore. I suppose to a great extent that’s a problem that many Marvel and DC series have, but somehow the insular nature of the Legion makes that problem even worse in this case.
This is an odd comic, but it’s still pretty darn entertaining. I’m looking forward to future issues of this series whether written by Waid or Bedard. And if they bring back Matter-Eater Lad or Dawnstar, I’ll be even happier.