Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Legion Lost #1

In case you're totally new to comics, here's what you need to know about the Legion:
1) it's a team of teenage super-heroes from the 31st century
2) each of its two dozen (or so) members is from a different alien world
3) unlike say, X-Men or Harry Potter, where there's one unifying weird thing that gives everyone their superpowers (the mutant gene or magic, for example), some members of the Legion are superpowered because they're aliens (like Superman), some of them are superpowered because of an accident (like the Fantastic Four) and some of them aren't superpowered but are such badasses they get to hang out with superheroes anyways (like Batman)
4) The Legion is probably in possession of the most die-hard fanbase in all of comics
5) DC Comics may, as we speak in Sept. 2011, have just rebooted their whole fictional universe, but the Legion has had three distinct continuities and god knows how many issue #1s in their history

Got all that? Still feel like reading this comic? Did you just have an embolism?

Aight, so a few Legion members take a Time Bubble (no, you didn't hallucinate that) back to our time in pursuit of a future criminal by the name of Alastor. They arrive too late (yes, even with their own Time Bubble) and find that Alastor has already released a plague. If you're a DC devotee you may remember a high-profile comic from 2007 by the name of "Countdown to Final Crisis" (and you'd have to be a devotee, because that comic was so bad, it gave me Autism), wherein the Legion tries to stop a future virus from being released in the 21st century. If you're even more devoted, you may remember a year-long story arc from the mid 90s where a chunk of the Legion team got stuck in the 20th century. Ah, DC Comics, you're a veritable idea factory, assuming idea factories are places where ideas lose fingers in industrial accidents.

But let's try to put aside the lack of original plot points and just judge this comic on how well it executes its pilfered ideas. Writer Fabian Nicieza is a veteran of 90s X-Men comics, so he should be well-prepared to write a team with a billion members that is mired in decades of incestuous continuity. Unfortunately, this is not his finest moment. This is a book that could've benefited greatly from one of those nifty summary pages that Marvel puts in front of all of its comics, giving you a quick, concise summary of the setting/plot/characters. Artist Pete Woods turns in fun but messy art. Woods is capable of better.

The biggest failure of this comic is really the sheer joylessness of it. The Legion's future is a bright one, where planets have banded together, teenage superheroes have over-the-top adventures, and society is honestly better. Here, the comic is ravaged by disease, blown up hospitals, murdered cops, and exploding Time Bubbles (yeah, spoiler alert, the Bubble gets blown up, killing two members of the team). It's not to say that you can't do dark Legion stories. Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Paul Levitz, and Keith Giffen are proof that you can. But you do have to do them well.

Buy it again: Can't do it.

New reader friendly: No, an accessible Legion story is a rare creature, like the Lighting Beast of Korbal that gave Legion members Live Wire and Spark their superpowers. And no, I didn't smoke PCP before writing that.

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