Sunday, 18 September 2011

Legion Lost #1 review

The Legion of Super-Heroes are among the DC characters least affected by the New 52 shake-up ... at least in one sense. For while the continuity continues unchanged from last month, there is a big status quo alteration as a third of the membership is cast out of the 31st century Legion comic and into this new book.

A terrorist named Alastor has commandeered a time bubble and headed for the 21st century, intending to release a killer pathogen. An emergency delayed the Legion in following him, and the lag meant the 'Flashpoint Breakwall' - longtime readers will immediately think Iron Curtain of Time - gave their bubble a battering, causing a bad crash landing in Minnesota. Worse, by the time this issue begins, he's released the formula into the air.

He's also on a murderous rampage in a nearby town, but before they can catch up with him the Legion finds that they have other problems - their protective transuits are failing to filter out pollutants, harming tracker Dawnstar in particular (but, oddly, not Timber Wolf, with his similarly super-senses). That's not all - their flight rings are on the fritz.

Alastor, a human transformed into a horned hulk, is brought down not by the pursuing Timber Wolf, who follows his nose, but by a cute little girl's plea to help find her sister among the carnage he's created. It seems he's turned against the human race because of something that happened to his little sister, and the shock of a desperate tot brings on a collapse, and reversion to human form.

Timber Wolf does find him, and the Legion aims their jerry-rigged bubble back at the 31st century. The going is slow, but they seem to be getting somewhere until it becomes apparent Alastor himself has been infected, causing him to begin transforming into a monster once more. The shape-changing Chameleon Girl attempts to restrain Alastor, while Gates prepares to teleport him into space, but he blows up. Tellus manages to protect most members with a telekinetic shield, but Chameleon Girl and Gates are lost. Tellus can't feel them with his mind, Timber Wolf says 'their ... organic residue ... is falling with the rain'.

With two members gone, futuristic technology not worth a damn, a time bubble now totally wrecked and no guarantee Alastor is dead as opposed to teleported away somewhere by Gates, the Legion is in dire straits.

Theoretically, anyway. The Legion has plenty of super-powered friends. Technology can be fixed or substituted. Alastor can be tracked. 

Gates and Chameleon Girl, dead? I can't see writer Fabian Nicieza killing off two Legionnaires in his debut script, especially when one is the very popular Gates. More likely they've been shuffled off the board because teleportation is so darned useful, and a first issue must have shocks.

The biggest shock for me this issue is that I'm just not feeling this book. It's full of favourite Legionnaires, there's a threat to the 21st century that may impact on the 31st, story and art by two excellent creators, but, well, ho and, indeed, hum. It's not a bad comic - Nicieza keeps personalities consistent with what's gone before, and elegantly introduces members' names and abilities into the story. There's action aplenty with good use of powers. Occasionally muddy finishing apart, Pete Woods' art is big and bold and tells the story well. I suspect he's still getting used to working on a team book, as some panels are overcrowded (one so much so that word balloons ends up placed on an important plot point - click on image to enlarge).
But both creators are trying very hard, and I really appreciate that.

I think my reaction is coloured by the supposed deaths. We've reached the point now at which a comic book without killings is unusual - it's only a month since the last Legion fatality. The deaths here are so perfunctory that it's difficult to take them seriously, yet I resent them because they remove Chameleon Girl from what was set to be her first starring role, and Gates, whose tetchy prole personality adds spice to any story.

Then there's the use of the little girl to throw Alastor - not the scariest of names - off his game; too, too corny. And the old problem of Tyroc somehow flying via sonic scream while managing to have a conversation.

On the pro side, I did like a new use for Tyroc's powers, and his leadership role - he's been around even longer than Chameleon Girl without a consistent spotlight. And Tellus is to the fore too, something that always makes me happy. The fiery features given Wildfire by Woods works well, while his Timber Wolf is outstanding. And both do good work with Chameleon Girl (cue theatrical sigh).

Part of the problem may also be that I'm a Legion lifer: I've seen a Legion Lost series previously and that was such a fascinating, intense tale that any book using the same title has a big mountain to climb. And I've read about a Legion team stranded in the present day, and so far as I'm concerned, other than cameos, the Legion in our time is pointless. Plus, a Legion comic with the same small team every issue doesn't feel like the Legion. 

Newer readers whom the New 52 initiative aims to bring in, though, won't have these experiences and prejudices, so their reactions will be different ... and I'll be thrilled to bits if this book helps a new generation of readers come to the Legion.

Because, again, as a Legion lifer, I'll be here whatever. And it's very likely that as the months pass Nicieza and Woods' book will only get better, as they become comfortable with the series. 

Long Live the Legion! Especially Chameleon Girl and Gates.

12 comments:

  1. Gates and Chameleon Girl might just be maimed, explaining how their organic residue can be in the rain. Or maybe they were clipping their toe nails on a cloud?

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  2. Which panel had the word balloon over the plot point? I'm worried I missed something.

    Regardless, I share you feelings that we'll be seeing Gates & Yera again -- and your reasoning for why they were taken off the board. I'll miss them while they're gone, though. Loved the silent look between Brin & Dawny before they shared the news with the other members. It was my favorite moment of the issue, to be honest. That look sold the persuasiveness of the evidence of their deaths really well.

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  3. this issue blew hot and cold...it kind of went the way I expected it to, but at the same point it felt slightly 'off'...too self-explanatory maybe. It seems this is the first LSH issue for many so theres a need to introduce whos who but I couldnt be done with that.
    Things I Legion Loved;
    Wildfires new suit...outstanding!
    Dawnstar barfing...nice to see miss standoffish losing her dignity.
    Tyrocs new authoritativeness.
    Fairly decent special FX.
    An interesting premise, stranded in the 21st cen. Ok not original but still a workable plot.
    Yera [refuse to call her Chameleon Girl] dying. Ive never trusted her since she replaced Vi during her kidnap...did she not think to wonder where Vi was when she was impersonated her? And marrying too-good-for-her Gim Allon under false pretences [still being Vi]; good riddance.
    Bad Things...
    clunky exposition..maybe we need that with all the supposed new readers but we old LSHers know who everyone is.
    Alastor meeting the little girl...shades of Frankensteins Monster? Cliched...cliched...
    Too much similarity to the first Legion Lost...no working flight rings, transuits, everyone thinking theyr dead. Still, it worked splendidly with the first so I will give this time to mature.
    and finally, my big bugbear...
    Gates....NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He was one of the best things of the Archie LSH; I love his socio-political ranblings, his snidey asides, his true 'alienness' [matched only by Tellus, who unfortunately now sports human-type appendages].
    Why why why bring him over from the Archies just to kill him off? We've barely seen him in the previous run and even in the final Archie run he was held captive for a long while. Bring Gates Back!!!!
    Final verdict?
    Not too impressed by this initial issue [ I expected more after all the hype ] but not too dissapointed either; we have a long way to go. Knowing fans patience though, it wouldnt surprise me if by years end they want the Lost to return home. If its true that DC are keeping this open-ended to see how it pans out then as a long-time LSH fan Im prepared to see it through.
    Could be interesting.
    Long Lost the Legion!

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  4. Agree with you here Mart. This issue didn't grab me and I wanted it to desperately.

    And if you are a 'new reader' grabbing this #1, I am sure you are lost.

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  5. I started reading Legion Lost the evening I bought the comic but was too tired so put it to one side and went to bed. The next evening, I didn't pick it up. The next evening after that, I didn't pick it up either. I think it was probably three or four evenings before I finally got round to reading it. And I guess that was a sign: that the issue just hadn't gripped me. I'd already read all the spoilers about the fate of two of the characters so when it happened, I was simply nonplussed.

    I'm a Legion fan, but I suspect that newcomers would be lost.

    I'm definitely going to stick with the main LSH, but I'm not convinced by Legion Lost yet. Let's see how things go over the next few issues...

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  6. Sadly, I was rather disappointed with this issue. I really expected better from FabNic.

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  7. Put me in the "not gripped" group too. But I have faith in Fabian Nicieza and I'm sure he can win me over. He's done so before with the most unlikely characters and teams.


    My tip for the next big plot twist: Gates and Yera reappear merged into a single being by the mix of teleport and time-travel effects. "Yeats" (or possibly "Geara") aka Chameleon Bug!

    You read it here first folks...

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  8. I wouldn't be too sure about the deaths not being permanent...after all Fatal Fab killed off the entire Hellions (including my favourite Catseye - sob) just to make his new baddie look Very Bad when he took over X-Force (or whatever)

    Also it was a bizarre issue 1. Would new readers know who the Legion even are?

    And once again we have the old chestnut of Dawnstar's powers not working. Who knew tracking powers would be so useful they need to be written out in virtually every plot she takes part in?

    My hopes aren't high for this. People are already wondering if it's a mini series but it's sold as an ongoing.

    You're also right about the geniusness of the original Legion Lost. That was a last chance to reboot a franchise that had been run into the ground and worked wonders. This seems to be another in the long line of Legion spin offs Legion fans will buy but no one has fond memories of (Science Police, Timber Wolf, Karate Kid etc)

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  9. You could well be right, Pip - 31st Century dandruff.

    Rob, I've tweaked the review to add the panel.

    Thanks for the rundown Karl, I really enjoyed those points.

    I've not seen any opinions from new readers Anj, that'd be fascinating.

    One of the guys on iFanboy had the same problem finishing the book, Rob. I had that problem with Deathstroke, which I tried online.

    I'm hoping they'll warm up on the book, Knightsky.

    Can't wait to see Yeats, David!

    And-Ru, you're scaring me ... but I can't see Gates, at least, being allowed to stay dead. Too many fans. The 'Dawnstar's spotty powers' bit has gotten old, I agree ... since about 1975.

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  10. And I look forward to reading your thoughts on the main Legion comic, otherwise known as volume 63 issue 1...

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  11. I was totaly lost in this book,not knowing the players or any previous history I personaly found this book hard going.
    What is is the Flashpoint Breakwall? is it a get out for DC if the new DCU fails to take off, I understood that no one knew of Flashpoint in this new world apart from Flash or have I heard it wrong. I will give the book a few issues to see how it goes, so far this is one of the new books I thought I would try that hasnt grabed me from issue 1.

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