Expectations will likely determine how much readers enjoy Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium. This two-part miniseries featuring the “unlikeliest of DC heroes” (recently revealed to be Rose and Thorn) has been broadcast to be many things: the rebirth of the Legion of Super-Heroes, an artistic showcase, and a saga weaving many of DC Comics’ future timelines into a single, coherent story. It succeeds on the first two counts, but fumbles on the third. Millennium is not a continuity-focused tale, but a love letter to the versatility found within superhero comics, an embrace of all things off the beaten path. When visited as a tourist, rather than a historian, it delivers an entertaining tale with a unique form of spectacle in each era visited.
Unlike other recent DC event comics featuring an array of artists (e.g. DC Rebirth #1), Millennium embraces a variety of styles in order to purposefully separate its various chapters and the wide range of tones they present. Not only is every artist on display a notable talent in their own right, their style is unmistakable. Jim Lee may be a member of the Image movement from the early 90s, but his take on that heavily-rendered style is his own. A spread of the Suicide Squad and other modern characters from the New52 and Rebirth eras of DC Comics all embrace the present in presentation. Everything that follows reads as being more niche. Dustin Nguyen’s take on the Batman Beyond franchise adds an unexpected layer of grit to his work, developed carefully in the pages of Descender, and summons a more realistic form of hope. Andrea Sorrentino relies heavily on shadows and contrast to rebuild the world of Kamandi with an appropriately epic sensibility. André Lima Araújo perfects the far-future of the Legion with carefully detailed panels and a tremendous use of perspective summoning the question: What if Moebius had drawn for DC Comics? Each of these segments is a reminder of the vast potential found within lesser known properties at DC, especially when paired with today’s most talented artists.
Bendis constructs Millennium to work towards the individual strengths of his multiple collaborators. The individual segments function best on their own, with only a large “THEN” often connecting the timeline. It constructs a chronological timeline, but there are no clear dates, whys, or wherefores to be found that make sense of said timeline. Ignoring the careful assembly of if-then causation and sprawling networks of events, some of the ingredients making the X-Men relaunch a massive success, is only a problem if that is what readers are expecting to receive. While the lack of clear connection between these sequences makes Millennium read more like an anthology than a single narrative, it reads as an excellent anthology.
This is a character-focused fiction, and that plays to Bendis’ strengths. Resurrecting Rose and Thorn provides a blank slate that is just beginning to be built upon in these pages. Every sequence allows a little more depth to be added to her character, offering one focal point to connect moments ranging from the momentous to inconsequential. She functions as a tourist and, therefore, an ideal guide for readers unfamiliar with these far off, future territories. While the purpose of her reintroduction remains unclear, the journey is enjoyable.
It’s difficult to render judgment on Millennium in the moment because so much of its value will depend on the second half of the story, a half that still has to establish the foundation for the Legion of Super-Heroes relaunch and clarify the purpose of these temporal detours. However, the detours are a delight in and of themselves, depicted with a dazzling variety of styles. While the artists present here are paying homage to ideas from the past, they are also showcasing the future of DC Comics and making it appear bright, indeed.
Published by DC Comics
On September 4, 2019
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Andrea Sorrentino, André Lima Araújo, and Scott Williams
Colors by Alex Sinclair, John Kalisz, Dave Stewart, and Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Cover by Ryan Sook