I’m not sure that I am an unbiased observer of Heroes Reborn: Hyperion and the Imperial Squad. I am a sucker for the Legion of Super-Heroes, I’m a sucker for weird copies of other superheroes – the Champions of Angor and the Squadron Supreme – and I’m a sucker for comics that pretend they’re a part of a bigger, longer series. I’ve read those Amalgam comics way too many times, anyway.
No one denies that the Imperial Squad is a Legion of Super-Heroes clone, too. That’s not even a secret – Dave Cockrum patterned the former after the latter. Oracle is Saturn Girl, Gladiator is Superboy/Mon-El, Electron is Cosmic Boy, Smasher is Ultra Boy, and so on and so forth. In the Heroes Reborn universe, where Marvel, let’s say, lovingly homages DC, Hyperion joins with the Imperial Squad, just as Superboy joined the Legion of Super-Heroes.
To avoid spoilers, I won’t go too deeply into what happens in this comic’s plot, but Ryan Cady and Michele Bandini manage to perfectly capture the feel of a Legion of Super-Heroes book. Legion comics are basically teen dramas. As much as they are about fighting Mordru or the Fatal Five or Prince Evillo, they’re about who’s sleeping with who, and who wants to sleep with who. Look at the Great Darkness Saga, for instance. Oh, sure, there’s the stuff with Darkseid and the Daxamites, but there’s a significant sub-plot about how Lightning Lass thinks that Saturn Girl is sleeping with her boyfriend.
And it’s the same here. There’s a plot and all that, but what it’s really about is Hyperion’s love with Oracle, and Neutron’s with Flashfire, and Gladiator’s love for all of them. In the backup, it’s really about the familial relationship of the Summerses. For the sort of comic that they’re aping – for the Legion, regardless of the iteration, that’s the most important thing. Legion arguably owes more to Archie then it does to Superman, and Hyperion and the Imperial Squad follows in that same vein.
Both Bandini and Stephen Byrne are really good fits for the comic, as well. If I ran things, I would have put Byrne on the first half and Bandini on the second – Byrne’s kids seem young which fits the IG story well, and, hey, sometimes you just have to bow to nominative determinism. But Bandini still does a good job, and has these really expressive characters that fit very well with this emotions-first storytelling.
I have not been keeping up to date with Heroes Reborn – only so much money in the bank, and I want to come back to this one in the trade. This book is clearly not a part of the central narrative to the comic, though, and I want to be clear for the cost-conscious reader that you don’t need to buy this book if you’re just curious what’s going on with Blade and his quest. But for fans of teen drama, for fans of Runaways, New Mutants, and Teen Titans, and for fans of Legion of Super-Heroes who are keenly feeling the lack of any Legion book at the moment, this is a can’t miss. This is a tie-in, of course, and unlikely to continue on in any degree, but wow — I would give an arm and a leg for Cady to write a Shi’ar Imperial Squad story along these lines in the 616.
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