Legion Lost #1

Legion Lost #1

D

Besides Resurrection Man, Legion Lost was the other book this week that Tom Tomorrow guilted me in to picking up. It’s a good thing I liked Resurrection Man as much as I did, or I’d be asking Tom to pay me back.

In all seriousness, I had sympathies toward Legion Lost that led me to buying it in the first place. I like the creative team quite a bit: Fabian Nicieza, while one of the architects of the messy ’90s X-Men, has done some stellar fill-in work for DC in the last few years, including a couple amazing issues of Action Comics where Superman literally delivers the message that religious missionary work is immortal (I’m not even joking). Pete Woods, meanwhile, is a killer artist who totally rocked it on Paul Cornell’s Lex Luthor-centric Action Comics, to the point where any issue that had a fill-in artist was sure to disappoint.

I look at Legion Lost and I wonder what happened. It features the exact same art team as Action — Woods on pencils inking himself, Brad Anderson coloring — but it looks so much worse. It doesn’t even feel like Woods. All the art seems blown-up somehow, as though this book was drawn at micro-size and then enlarged to fill a standard-sized comic page, instead of the other way around. Ink lines are gigantic, detail is minimal and background work seems almost an afterthought. One wonders if perhaps this is Woods’ attempt at doing a “widescreen” style action comic, but for me it doesn’t work at all. The one bit of art I really like here is Woods’ design of the book’s antagonist in his monster form. Other than that, I did not particularly enjoy looking at this comic.

The story doesn’t pick up any of the art’s slack, either. Nicieza seems back in ’90s X-Men mode for this team book; it’s over-dialoged, over-expository and frankly ridiculous. It’s the kind of book where characters call each other by their names all the time because that’s the only way we can identify who’s who. Most of the dialog is just ludicrous, manufacturing conflicts where there needn’t be any and generally turning tension up to 11 for the hell of it. It’s the kind of book where the villain unironically howls “You stopped me in the future, but you failed to stop me now!”, and also someone legitimately screams “DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!!” in all caps with two exclamation points. Oh man.

Okay, time to say something nice. The actual plot here is pretty interesting. The set-up: members of the 31st century Legion of Superheroes have come back in time to prevent some virulent pathogen from being unleashed on the Earth. Of course, they find out they’re too late, and the bad guy destroys their only means of getting home, so now they’re infected, stranded on Earth and with nowhere to turn. That’s a cool idea, and it’s made all the more interesting by the fact that the Legion seems to have a clue what’s going on with the DC Universe. One character references the “Flashpoint Breakwall,” and another mentions that “this period… is marked by… great uncertainty” (he talks like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing for some reason). If I cared enough about the entire line of DC books, I’d want to know what these characters were talking about, and the promises of plot nuggets like that might be enough to make me keep reading.

As it stands, though, Wikipedia synopses and Wednesday shop talk will have to do. This book was a chore to get through, and in the end I found it to be basically nonsense. It’s the first book of the New 52 I’ve spent money on where I feel confident saying DROP IT.

tags: fabian nicieza, legion lost, pete woods, the new 52

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