Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Legion Lost #6

One of the many new 52 titles getting a creative team change is Legion Lost, with writer Fabien Nicieza moving on and Tom DeFalco coming on board.  It is a change I am a bit leery of. You see, this was a book I almost abandoned after the first issue. I didn't like the 'trapped in time' story and I didn't like the 'stop the virus' plot either. But Nicieza really did a great job with the characters here, giving each Legionnaire a turn at being narrator, allowing us to see their inner thoughts, and learn about them more. And that characterization really worked for me, surpassing the virus plot and making this the Legion book I was anticipating most each month. Of course, Pete Woods awesome art didn't hurt.

Legion Lost #6 came out last week and was a transition issue with both Nicieza and DeFalco splitting writing duties. And Supergirl pinch hitter extraordinaire Matt Camp helped out with Woods on art. As the original team is still here, it is hard to know if any major change in the books feel is going to happen. This issue was narrated by Tyroc and continued the strong character feel of the book. And the issue ends with what might considered a finale for the opening arc ... maybe.

We know this book isn't selling like gangbusters, so the question is does DC decide to shake up what is solid storytelling to try to attract readers. Or will they let word of mouth bring people here. (Of course, the upcoming crossover with Titans and Superboy might bring people here too).

Last issue ended with a cliffhanger, with the Martian Manhunter stopping Timber Wolf and Chameleon Girl from rejoining the rest of the team. In something of a twist, he doesn't take them back to Stormwatch HQ and insteads lets them get captured by the military squad following. And the J'Onn tags along, all stealthy (although allowing TW to still see him).

Of course, Timber Wolf knows the Manhunter, something which confuses J'Onn.

I don't know if I understand why J'Onn allowed Wolf to get captured by this group unless he was also scouting them out too.

Dawnstar is able to track them to the compound they are being held in Tyroc decides assault is the best option. And Gates is the perfect advance trooper, blipping in and out stealing the soldiers' weapons. It is hear I learn that Gates hates all authority and would relish this task.

I did not Legion during the time Gates was around. So I don't know if this is new for him or always there. Nice use of multiple panels spanning one continuous image, giving the reader the feeling that Gates is moving around in time and space.

And Tyroc shares his own feelings of inadequacy as team leader here. He talks about feeling nervous telling them what to do. But really, who else could be the leader of this team. Wolf and Wildfire are too hot-headed. Gates hates authority. Dawnstar is an introvert. Tellus is ... meek. It has to be Tyroc or Yera.

So he has to pull it together and take control.

Man, that Matt Camp can draw. What a great panel of two of my favorite Legionnaires.

Meanwhile, Timber Wolf begins being interrogated by the woman leader of this military operation. We have seen her since issue one. I am telling you, that scar on her face has to be courtesy of some alien or maybe Alastor himself.

I do like the code words they have given the Legionnaires. Lenny Kravitz for Tyroc ... perfect. Big yellow frog for Tellus? Even more perfect.

But Wolf has little to say other than he can smell alien corpses in this place. This is as much a lab and morgue as it is a prison.

Once inside, Dawnstar and Gates are able to pinpoint just where their friends are. Wildfire wants to split up. Tyroc doesn't want to. But Ty concedes. He isn't quite ready to overrule Wildfire, especially when it comes to a battle.

But Tyroc knows there is risk too.

He and Wildfire go to rescue Yera and run into J'onn. J'onn isn't sure what is going on.

Of course Wildfire reacts like Wildfire. He blasts the Martian and engages in battle. But like Wolf, Tyroc immediately recognizes J'onn and commands Wildfire to stand down. And when Drake won't listen, Tyroc puts some teeth behind his order. It was definitely nice to see Tyroc finally act like a leader.

When cooler heads prevail, J'onn and the Legionnaires talk about their plight. J'onn finds a Durlan corpse which will supply Yera the needed biomass to purge her body of the Hypertaxis virus. And J'onn is able to get the temporal signature of the Legion, something he was looking for since intercepting Brin.

Timber Wolf and the others mop the floor with the soldiers and it looks like everyone is going to get out of this thing in one piece. But then J'onn drops a bomb on them. Time travel is one way.

I think the Legion all along have known this in their hearts. But having it said by someone else makes it sink in. This use of repeated panels to convey the passing of time is a well traveled technique in the decompressed writing style. For me, it is a Bendis technique. Sometimes he would have the same panel cover the whole page to really give the feeling of time passing.

I don't mind it as a story-telling method if used sparingly. The more it is used, the less story we get. Here it works nice, showing the shock on the Legion, paralyzed by the news.

As for Tellus, who was left guarding Alastor, he fails in his one job. He 'falls asleep' and when he awakens Alastor is gone and completely cloaked. You would think that J'onn would help stop Alastor when he learned of this threat. Who knows, maybe he did, taking Alastor away.

So does this mark the end of the Hypertaxis arc? Sort of. But my guess is ... and I hope ... that the Legion still tries to contain the plague. Or will the Legion's hope of getting home become the dominating thread?

Regardless, next issue is set in New York, as far away from the plague epicenter as you can get.

So overall, I thought this was a good issue, showcasing Tyroc's fears as well as bringing the team finally back together. And, the Woods/Camp art was top notch.

But the J'onn guest star seemed a bit superfluous and maybe a little forced. And I hope the Alastor/plague story isn't swept under the rug. I don't like it ... but I want resolution.

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

It's always great to see Matt Camp's gorgeous art. However, the problem I have with this book relates to the parent title. As shown last month, "Legion of Super-Heroes" is jam-packed with characters, some of whom only get a few panels a month to shine. That book feels like it's been spinning its wheels, as if there's no big-picture plan in sight. It was a good idea to take six or seven team members and have them star in "Legion Lost," but the end result is that the parent book still has too many characters and not enough pages per month to really tell a satisfying story. Gone are the days when Levitz could tell an epic "Great Darkness Saga"-style story in the space of five issues. That's not the fault of Levitz. He's a great writer. It's just the nature of modern comics, which are filled with double-page spreads less dialogue than in the old days (it feels that way sometimes), and a goal of "writing for the trade." The point of my rambling is this: I feel that "Legion Lost" should take place in the future, along with "Legion." This way, we would get inter-connected 40 total pages a month to tell faster-paced stories, which is very much needed at this point. Instead, we now have all of my favorite Legionaires isolated in the past, where they cannot help to propel the main storyline forward. I feel that there should be more of a "Legion Family" of books, much as there is a Superman Family. That way, we could have larger stories, told faster, which would possibly add readers, which both the Legion titles need.

Martin Gray said...

That 'time travel is one way' business with J'onn is just odd - the Legion have travelled to and from the future numerous times. Unless an Iron Curtain of Time has suddenly sprung up, why would they believe MM?

I'm no fan of repeated panels, but it makes me smile to see Gates appear as J'onn leaves. And yes, the little fella was always a bit anti-authority, and a tad Socialist.

I really can't see how the LSH could allow their focus to be pulled away from the virus storyline - we've been on a countdown since issue one, and things are only going to get worse. A get-out could be that the virus has travelled as far as it can, and settled on humans who will, over generations, evolve to form the people of the United Planets, as seen last month.

I really enjoyed the script, I'm not worried at all about Tom DeFalco. Maybe he'll bring back the Human Cannonball from his Superman Family days.

I am, though, dreading the tie-ins to Superboy, Titans, Ravagers and bloomin' NOWHERE.

Matt Camp said...

Hopefully this won't be the last time Pete needs help with an issue of LL, I loved working with these characters. I finally got the hang of them as I was wrapping up!

Anj said...

Thanks for stopping by Matt.

I do hope we get to see you Wildfire and Dawnstar again!