Brian Michael Bendis and Scott Godlewski’s Justice League Vs. Legion of Superheroes #1 brings the two teams together in a wild time-traveling issue.
The success of Brian Michael Bendis and Ryan Sook’s 2019 Legion of Super-Heroes delighted countless fans and inspired an upcoming HBO animated series. But work on developing the show hasn’t kept the prolific author from revisiting the futuristic team of heroes. Bendis teamed up with artist Scott Godlewski for a six-issue limited series featuring two of DC’s greatest super-hero teams, Justice League Vs. The Legion of Super-heroes. The first issue is an exciting and chaotic piece of exposition that sets the stage for an epic adventure.
Beginning in the 31st century, Justice League Vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes #1 follows the Gold Lantern and his fellow heroes as they celebrate a victory for the Legion when they are interrupted by a mysterious “Great Darkness” that results in the disappearance of one-third of Triplicate Girl. Back in the 21st century, the Justice League has a similar experience that culminates in the appearance of an aging Triplicate Girl. Jon Kent helps the Legion travel back in time and the two teams attempt to get to the bottom of a mysterious new threat.
Bendis does a masterful job of balancing a playful tone and a high-stakes story. Bendis leans into the fun, over-the-top nature of the time-traveling team-up premise without pulling any punches in regards to the potentially cataclysmic darkness. By embracing this dissonance, Bendis establishes a palpable tension that’s sure to leave readers wanting more. But as talented as Bendis is, he struggles to juggle all of the moving parts in this first issue, which revolves around multiple spreads that feature several characters all talking at once. While these scenes successfully deliver tremendous amounts of information, they clunkily disrupt the comic’s pace. Silly jokes, ominous glimpses into the future, and vital plot pieces all crash into each other in a cacophony that ends up being less than the sum of its parts.
Godlewski does what he can to make sense of the countless heroes who crowd almost every page. Most of his compositions are easy to read and exciting in spite of the sheer number of heroes involved. However, there are times when the art seems to be as unwieldy as the writing. That being said, Godlewski’s depictions of the great darkness are downright haunting. His depictions of the characters’ anguish are as disturbing as any monster or villain could ever be, and colorist Ryan Cody’s work has a huge impact on the frightening nature of the mysterious threat. Cody uses an array of purples and blacks to represent the great dark, which is used sparingly throughout the rest of the comic. This contrast is a simple but powerful way to represent the nebulous danger.
Justice League Vs. Legion of Superheroes #1 ends with an intriguing cliffhanger that is sure to push the series into exciting and action-packed directions. Bendis and Godlewski’s sometimes fail to properly juggle the large cast of characters they’re working with, but they have still crafted a thoroughly entertaining first issue in a promising new series.
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