Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: Legion Lost #7

Legion Lost #7 came out last week and signaled something of a transition for the title. This book is struggling in sales which maybe shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. No Legion book seems to sell these days. But one without a big character star (are there any in the Legion these days) and not set in the future surely would be a hard sell.

That said, the early issues by writer Fabien Nicieza and artist Pete Woods were pretty satisfying reads. The strength of those issues was the characterization as Nicieza was able to dig a bit deeper into the personalities of the characters. And Pete Woods' slick art helped a ton.

But with sales in the 17,000 range it was time for a shakeup. Out goes Nicieza and in comes Tom DeFalco. Immediately the book has a different feel. Gone is the rotating narrator, the best part of the book for me up to now, a way to learn more about what each Legionnaire is thinking and feeling. Instead we get a more straightforward book and a redefining of the heroes' goals.

Rather than the midwest, the book shifts to New York City as the team continues to try to hunt down Alastor. As they teleport in, they are spotted by a new character Oz (formally Osman Bin Affadi), a sort of street level Aladdin-type street rat. I suppose adding a 'hip' character to play foil to the Legionnaires is an interesting idea ... but it will need to be pulled off perfectly or else it will be cliche.

I wonder oif the virus story will simply fade into the background of the book, or get wrapped up sooner rather than later. Maybe the virus can't survive in our polluted times?

Tellus has been one of the bigger players in the book, constantly cloaking and hiding the team, keeping them housed and fed.

Here he camoflages the team in clothes like the Kardashians. It is amusing enough I suppose.

Secure in another hotel, Tellus senses a girl crying out as if being tortured. The Legion needs to decide what to do. Do they go and save this girl? Or do they leave her for the other heroes and stay on mission? On top of that, they question the morality of continually 'stealing' their shelter and supplies. Who is going to decide these things? Who is going to lead.

Tyroc was mission leader but the mission has changed. Wildfire thinks a wartime Legionnaire needs to lead, namely him. Dawnstar ends up being the voice of reason.

But this is a scene where a rotating narrator would have worked wonderfully. Imagine seeing this scene from another character's perspective, hearing their thoughts, adding a layer of complexity.

While that is happening, Timber Wolf catches Oz spying on the team out of curiosity. Oz realizes the Legion is lost, and would remain lost if someone isn't there to guide them throught the city and these times.

First stop, a drug dealing gang's headquarters and cash depot.

So what does this make Oz? A sort of Snapper Carr equivalent?

The girl crying out in pain turns out to be in a hospital where she mistakes the efforts of her doctors as torture. Much of that mistake is born out of guilt.

With Tellus in her mind providing comfort, she reveals she has injured herself by texting while driving. I don't know ... this felt almost too much like a PSA or afternoon special. An important message ... but forced?

Tellus is able to guide her towards a peaceful death.

But she is able to detect that Tellus is hiding a troubling terrible secret.

So what could Tellus be hiding? That he is infected by Hypertaxis?

But what had been a united Legion team dealing with their current situation together has suddenly become a couple of alpha males vying for leadership and another teammate hiding something. Will this change in the feel of the book save it?

And Timber Wolf assaults the nearby gang and takes their money. Fighting drug dealers I can understand. Using blood money to fund the Legion is a different story.

Oz really does have a thief feel to him. But I suppose he is a necessary device. I didn't quite understand how the Legion would know how to drive our cars, use out headsets, or anything else. At least Oz can help explain things.

But the bigger story in this issue is Tellus' secret. Maybe he knows where Alastor is but isn't saying because he agrees with what Alastor is trying to do?

So we have a semi-fractured team, a new character, and no rotating narrator. This book feels different. And, unfortunately (outside of Pete Woods' art) the things I liked best in the title seem to have been trimmed away. I'll keep reading for now. But I am worried.

Overall grade: C


Dave Mullen said...

I'm not worried for the same reasons you are, I thought it was a decent issue with a writer trying to make sense of a book with a dodgy premise.
The single biggest problem with Legion Lost for me is that its reason to exist is very weak. It's a 'quest' book. Something like the Current Teen Titans is, built around one premise (NOWHERE) and with not much else to it.
In terms of characterisation Legion Lost is a very good book in my opinion, a good strong mix of characters with solid writing. This latest issue surprised me as Ton Defalco's style is very different from his usual, he's also done some research and there were nice touches of basic Legion slang. The problem the book has is entirely one of mission focus, Hypertaxis and Alastor just sren't very interesting and without a major rethink and a great twist or two they aren't worth pursuing, the book needs something else.... but what?

I think barring a small miracle and a major new direction the book is not long for this world, when the lead writer and architect leaves after just five issues you know there's trouble. He takes his ideas with him and the new guy is only taking notes from the editor - I get the strong impression very few writers in the current DCU actually have any power or independence when it comes to deciding the direction and tone of their book and heading off in a bold and ambitious new direction as Alan Moore or Walt Simonson used to is oout of the question...

Only Geoff Johns gets to do that!

Anj said...

I have never really been into the story. I find these sorts of premises pretty shortsighted. So we agree there.

The only things that worked for me were tje characterization and the art. And now half of that is gone.

When will DC pull the plug?