Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 Review — Disjointed, Unengaging and Uninteresting

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils by Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Andrea Sorrentino and Andre Lima Araujo
Inks by Scott Williams, Dustin Nguyen, Andrea Sorrentino and Andre Lima Araujo
Colours by Alex Sinclair, John Kalisz, Dave Stewart and Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC Comics

Cover price: $4.99 USD

The return of the Legion of Super-Heroes has been a rocky road. After a lacklustre series in the New 52, the team vanished, only making sporadic guest appearances every now and then. DC Rebirth promised the return of the team, who would be given a degree of importance in Geoff Johns’ still ongoing Doomsday Clock miniseries, with promises that the team’s return would be set up in Tom King’s Batman run and even hints at who the writer of their ongoing series would be. Instead, Brian Michael Bendis recently reintroduced the team over in his Superman title and will be writing their ongoing. If Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 is any indication, DC would have been better off sticking to whatever their original plan was, because this is a disjointed and boring mess of a comic only held up by its art.

Issue 1 follows an immortal character named Rose as she traverses the timeline of the DC Universe. Beginning in the not too distant future, she stumbles into the worlds of Batman BeyondKamandi and others. This happens while she is working to restrain her super-powered evil personality from emerging.

The biggest problem with Bendis’ script is how utterly boring it is, while thinking to the contrary. The premise sounds like it has nothing to do with the Legion of Super-Heroes other than obviously providing a framing device for having Rose eventually end up in the Legion’s era. However, there are no moments that actually work as a story; what we get is instead Bendis haphazardly tying the various futures of the DCU together in a way that doesn’t actually have any one era refer to another, so for all intents and purposes, they may as well be different futures. Only Rose’s presence connects them in any way, and she is remarkably unappealing to read, if only because we are barely given any reason to like her at all. We are not even given much time to get settled into her goals in any specific era before Bendis moves things to the next era, with a very different portrayal of the character.

The tonal inconsistency of the comic does not help. The first scene is painted as a genuinely sad scene, with Rose portrayed as a tragic and sympathetic character. However, after that, she essentially becomes yet another rambling Bendis villain. Her instability at first is presented as serious… and then we eventually get the typical Bendis attempts at humour, which clash with the serious nature of the story and come off as jarring, even if some moments are funny. This tonal inconsistency is also due to how little time is spent in each era, each with its own tone and style, before being whisked away to the next.

Bendis’ dialogue is a severe detriment to this comic. While, once upon a time, Bendis’ dialogue had a naturalism to it that worked particularly well with younger characters, his more recent work has all his characters possessing the same snarky nonchalant voice where characters ramble on incessantly. Rose in particular just sounds like another foul-mouthed Bendis villain who can’t communicate anything and just rambles most of the time, in what is likely meant to be endearing but comes off as annoying. Characters all pretty much sound the same in this comic and it only serves to show how limited Bendis’ writing is when multiple characters across four time periods all sound alike. The Kamandi characters sound the most unique, and even then, it barely registers. Not helping matters is some actual grammar errors on Bendis’ part, which only hurt the comic more. Overall, the lack of engaging plot, tonal inconsistency and bad dialogue will make you turn your brain off by the halfway point.

I am 90% sure the “zealot” refers to Kamandi, so… yeah, bad grammar.

A large variety of artists work on this issue, but it is mostly visually coherent, with the artists’ different styles serving the illustrate the shift in not only eras, but also tone… mostly. Jim Lee’s more cinematic and bombastic style is given more action scenes to work with which he depicts using two-page spreads for some nice visual spectacle, even if Bendis’ doesn’t take advantage of this. Dustin Nguyen’s pages with Batman Beyond are nice and gritty, dripping in shadows and depicting much more violence and gore, giving the scene a visual distinction from Lee’s more typical superhero action scenes. This escalation of darkness and violence continues with Andrea Sorrentino’s scenes featuring Kamandi, with Sorrentino’s usual extremely heavy shadows and more extreme violence playing well with the apocalyptic setting of Kamandi. However, Andrew Lima Araujo’s cartoony style does not continue this escalation, nor does his depiction of Rose as if she were a teenager, creating this genuine dissonance with the rest of the issue in both tone and characters.

The various colourists do well with the pencils they are given. While the colour palette of Araujo’s pages clash with the rest of the comic, his style is not conducive to more serious work. The other pencilers’ work is given fitting colours, with brighter hues for Jim Lee’s more traditional superhero work, darker hues and red overtones for Nguyen’s cyberpunk Batman Beyond, and a palette primarily consisting of red and orange for Sorrentino’s apocalyptic Kamandi world. This also serves to further distinguish each world and part of the story.

When it comes to showing off the different eras of the DCU, the visuals do most of the work.

Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium #1 is not a good comic. The excellent art team delivers some stunning visuals, for the most part, and this powerhouse team is utilised well for visual storytelling. But Brian Michael Bendis’ script is just the worst way to utilise these artists in any way beyond that, with his script demonstrating some of his worst traits as a writer. Hopefully the second issue is a big improvement, because as it stands, the future of the Legion ironically does not look optimistic.

1.5/5 – Bad

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