Thursday, September 15, 2011

Legion Lost #1 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

A group of seven Legionnaires (Wildfire, Dawnstar, Tyroc, Gates, Timber Wolf, Tellus, Chameleon Girl) are stuck in the present day, in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, chasing a guy named Alastor who hates humans and has released some kind of pathogen. The Legionnaires aren't coping well with their surroundings and their technology doesn't work. They nab Alastor and try to return him to the future, but he blows up, apparently destroying Gates and Chameleon Girl along with him. The Legionnaires don't know what to do.

Review:

This is a fast-moving comic book. I appreciate that, and I hope Nicieza can keep it up. It's totally in my face and the Legionnaires are always off-balance. More, they're off-balance in every way; there's nothing they can count on. Not their flight rings, not their transuits, not their time bubble. Not even each other, the way they keep dashing offscreen while you're trying to talk to them. It's an excellent situation for short-term tension but I have no idea how Nicieza plans to maintain this comic in the long run. Are they going to reach some kind of status quo? Or is it just going to be one damn thing after another forever?

We don't get a lot of backstory here. My experience with comics suggests that issue #2 is going to be pretty flashback-heavy, which, oh well. Also if anyone doesn't already know about it, Nicieza gives us some extra material on Alastor and his motivations here.

I'm on the fence about Gates and Yera being dead. I'd miss 'em both. Yera's got the exact right type of powers to survive what happened to her. Gates doesn't, but he might have lived through it anyway, somehow, maybe. Plus look: both these characters, especially Gates, are quite distinctive for superhero characters, and killing them off is a waste. But we'll see.

Some nice touches. Alastor hates humans because of what happened to his sister, but can't kill the little girl who can't find her sister. Always good to have a villain with a motive. I don't have a clear idea of his powers, though; does he just hulk out? Or what is the deal?

Remember, everyone: first issue syndrome. Setup is easy; follow-through is hard. We won't know where we are with this series until we're well into the second arc. But so far I'm intrigued, because I don't know where this is going. LSHv7 #1 next week!

Notes:
- License plates: one says "POX 102", which is appropriate for the disease theme of the story; one says OU812, which is probably but not necessarily a Van Halen reference
- I like Tyroc's goggles. Don't know that I've ever seen the character so cazh
- Also fond of Woods's approach to Timber Wolf and Dawnstar's faces
- I imagine that Nicieza has considered that only Brin and Tyroc (and Yera, if available) are really publicly presentable, of all the characters on this team
- Not yet a huge fan of the LOST part of the logo. It's too big!
- Is that the famous woman in the purple hood at the top of page 10?

Art:

88 panels/20 pages = 4.4 panels/page. 0 single-panel pages; one spread of 3 panels over 2 pages, one spread of 5 panels over 2 pages.

I wasn't previously familiar with Pete Woods's art, but it has a jump-off-the-page quality that I haven't seen before on the Legion, and I like it. "Cartoony" isn't exactly the word I want, because I use it for stuff that doesn't really look like this, but it's almost the word I want. Some of the character renderings were a little scrunchy, but not objectionably so. The panel arrangements were unconventional and the panels seemed often to be zooming in more than they usually do, bringing us right into the story. Overall I liked looking at this comic book.

Couldn't help notice that Tellus was drawn with hands and feet. Ah, well; I guess all characters eventually become humanoid no matter what they start off as. How long before we find out that that's Darrell Dane flying around in Quislet's little white spaceship?

Membership Notes: With this issue, Wildfire, Dawnstar, Tyroc, Gates, Timber Wolf, and Tellus can be considered to be inactive Legionnaires, since they aren't with the main team in the 31st century anymore. Plus Chameleon Girl isn't available as a reserve member either. If and when this series comes to an end and these characters return to the future, they'll go back on the active roster, naturally, but what shall we do if these Lost Legionnaires make a friend in the 21st century? What if, I don't know, Miss Martian starts hanging around with them? We'll have to come up with a way of deciding whether such a character has become a Legionnaire or not.

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28 Comments:

Anonymous Ffnordd said...

I know we're in Reset Button World here and all, but they did bring Gates over from the Reboot Legion relatively recently - it'd be a shame to kill him off already.

2:30 AM  
Anonymous Ffnordd said...

Plus, it seems like they're continuing with the Johns xenophobia angle. I'd just as soon they leave that behind.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Agree about Gates; disagree about the xenophobia.

1. Anti-alien xenophobia is a perfectly plausible science-fiction concept.
2. While it was never a significant theme in Legion comics in the Silver Age, it is nevertheless an appropriate theme for the Legion, given their core concept and composition.
3. Since the first Tyroc story, the various stories featuring Durlans, that one story with the SW6 Legion, and practically the entire reboot, we have to admit that the Legion now has a lot of history with this theme even leaving Geoff Johns out of it.
4. A superhero group that's about something, that has a specific cause they're identified with, is more interesting than a superhero group that generically wants to do good.

So I say they keep it.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

I don't for one second believe Gates and Yera are dead.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Nicieza, on the CBR message boards, has hinted that one of them is dead for real and the other isn't quite. I have the notion that Gates is the one who's dead for real. But we'll see.

12:28 PM  
Blogger karl said...

I found this first issue a bit off-kilter, and not because of the new status quo regarding the new set-up for the lost LSHers.
Too much exposition for my tastes...why all the description of everyone? Most [if not all!] LSH followers know who everyone is. Ive read on other forums that this is the first LSH-type issue many have picked up so thatd explain it, but we dont need so many 'this is'. Pete Woods...was he the man who drew Amazons Attack, which destroyed Wonder Womans reputation with her fans and DC in general?
I dont believe Gates is dead...at least I hope not. He was one of my faves from the Archie reboot and all that trouble bringing him into the modern-day LSH and all for nothing...sigh.
Glad Yeras dead...I for one never trusted her after that story of her not knowing anything about Vi being kidnapped and her taking her place.
Alastor..isnt this virus [or whatever it is] giving him his strength/size.
This group looks interesting for one reason...its not the usual LSH team who go time-travelling so theyr out of their depth. They remind me so very much of that mid-90s team Sovereign Seven which I loved.
The set-up for them coming to the present is contrived, yes, but its a well-used and worthy contrivance; theres plenty of places the writer can take this interesting premise.
LOVED Wildfires new costume/armor...it was INTENSE! Found Dawny barfing also funny; shes so stuck-up sometimes. Tyroc's goggles...er, why? Tellus and his [seemingly] new human appendages...
Gonna miss Gates...
A fair to middling issue that had to include a fairly decent set-up to introduce the plot but seemed to be all over the place.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

They remind me so very much of that mid-90s team Sovereign Seven which I loved.

That might turn out to be a good comparison. (Having said that, I picked up a few issues of S7 recently, for the first time, and didn't really care for them.)

6:56 PM  
Blogger karl said...

Yes, Sovereign Seven was an absorbing read, back in the day. Its labyrinthine plot, its strong female characters and interesting power-sets among the group made it DCs answer to the X-Men [briefly]. Maybe the over reliance on female characters at the expense of the males, the labyrinthine plotting and Claremonts massive dialogue quotient was too much in the end.
Having said that, this Legion Lost has the same qualities that made it initially popular, and the diverse cast promises a different take on the LSH exiles that has been missing since the superb first Legion Lost twelve years or so back.
Im more than willing to give this fresh take on it a go.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Ben Rawluk said...

Much like how I didn't like Gates's reaction to the Emerald Empress in the annual (I wanted him to draw the connection between the Eye and Violet, having lived through that once already), I also didn't like his lack of reaction to being stuck in the 21st Century, which he's already lived through once already in another reality (and I think that's all still in continuity? The Relaunch and the Legion's place in it are pretty hazy all of a sudden). Gates could have been on point.

I feel like my issues were twofold--Woods's artwork was off (probably an inking issue) and Nicieza doesn't situate us at all, which in my mind doesn't encourage new readers like the relaunch is supposed to; I know all the players but I'm not convinced anyone else would be able to follow the action. Reading always involves a bit of work, but you want things to be relatively clean for a first issue, particularly as part of a relaunch.

I doubt Gates and Yera are dead, though (which has also happened to Gates before), it's just a plot point to be resolved. Gates was picked up in the first place because he's a fan favourite, I'm not convinced they'd kill him so soon.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The in-story thing for Gates's reaction is probably DC's convention of having time-travel stuff recede in your memory almost immediately.

It's strange how little use Legion writers get out of Gates. DnA, Simone, Johns, Levitz, and now theoretically Nicieza... all kinds of things they could do with him but don't. He's a wonderful character; he's got all kinds of handles that a writer just has to grab onto and I don't see why it hasn't happened.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Avalon Lad said...

If one of them is dead, it might be good if it was Yera. It would make fir interesting development for Gim (and he certainly needs some).

2:02 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I guess so. Although being married to her was already an interesting thing for Gim.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this was supposed to be the second issue of Legion Lost:DC just put the wrong cover on it. Wonder if this story was continued on from Flashpoint or some other crossover(DC stands for Damn Crossovers anymore).
Don't see this series being a long-running one.I give it 25 issues at most.

4:02 PM  
Blogger karl said...

What Yeras death means for Gim is the same whether she actually died or somehow is still alive; shes still been 'lost' with the other Legionnaires, and presumably the 30th century gang assume they are dead [cue lots of gold statues going up].
I think after 12 issues or so the fans will want them to find a way back; were all far too impatient these days. DC are suggesting this might be an ongoing thing [stranding them in the past, that is] but I think we'll get bored with it soon enough after a year.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Jay said...

Yer, not sure I agree about the xenophobia entirely.

I hope Gates isn't dead :-(

4:38 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

anonymous: No, no; we're just starting right in the middle of things. I prefer that to a lot of setup. You may be right about how long it's going to last, though. In fact you may even be overestimating. Not sure how itchy a trigger finger DC's going to have with these titles.

karl: All depends on what Nicieza has in mind. I agree that he can't.... Oh! I just got a great idea for a blogpost! Holy smoke! Anyway, as I was saying, it depends on what he has them doing in the 21st century. If it's good stuff and it doesn't taste like he's spinning his wheels, well, maybe there's no reason to get sick of it.

Jay: Well, you've read my arguments for it; that's the best I can do.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Ben Rawluk said...

I reread the opening chapter of the original LEGION LOST yesterday and was blown away by how much more clear and succinct it was at introducing the backstory, premise and characters and still managed to do so while also giving us an idea of who Shikari was--compared the relaunched mess of this first issue.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Fair comment. But let's be aware that there aren't that many superhero comics as good as Legion Lost v1.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

I liked the depiction of Dawnstar and the view into how she sees things.

I doubt that Gates, Yera, and Alastor are dead. The DNA fragments are presumably from Yera's lower body -- she was chopped in two -- so she's likely severely wounded, but not dead dead.

I liked the non-specific connection of Alastor to the rein of terror from Earth Man's Justice League -- the connection is clear if you know about it, but doesn't need to be explicit to still understand things.

Have we seen Alastor's people before. What was that, "dhalorian" or something? The demon form looked vaguely familiar.

With the word "LOST" in the title, I hope that they will do a character focus per issue, both as with the TV show Lost and with the previous Legion Lost series. I like to see some character focus like that.

I hope the Losties get to meet (even cross over with) other series. Dawnstar guests in Hawkman or Birds of Prey? Tyroc meets Accomplished Perfect Physician or Black Canary? Wildfire meets the Firestorms? The possibilities for some character meetings which have never been possible before are ripe.

(And here's an old DCU idea. If the recurring reincarnated lovers motif of Khufu and Chayara continued to the 30th century, would Drake and Dawny be candidates? We've seen known character pairs from DC's history that way, especially ones with bird motifs, so it sure makes sense.)

5:04 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

If I never hear about the reincarnated Hawkman thing again it'll be too soon.

But there was some combination of characters I thought of that would be cool. What was it? I dunno; if it's important they'll call back.

Although, the Legionnaires are (more or less) in Wild Dog's neck of the woods. How about Wild Dog and Timber Wolf?

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't Wild Dog that uzi toting vigilante from the '80s who wore a hockey mask and camouflage pants?
Let's let sleeping dogs lie.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That's him! Come on, you know he's ripe for a comeback.

8:54 PM  
Blogger karl said...

I heard on another forum [cant remember which one!] that Infectious Lass may be joining the lost Legion. She's been lost herself in the timestream and could prove useful with this virus unleashed.
Same forum also hinted that Comet Queen may join them too...dunno if thats a bad thing or a good thing!
Okay, ignore that last theory[!].

5:03 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I saw that about Infectious Lass. But I think Comet Queen is going to join the main team.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Brainy Pirate said...

If Nicieza is hinting that only one of the two is dead, my money would be on Yera, since Gates could have simply teleported away, while I'm not sure even Durlans can survive being sliced in half. Has Reep ever showed the ability to divide himself without injury?

Still, Brin's comment that their organic matter was now in the air suggests that Yera may have been able to save herself and that Gates didn't manage to get away.

Alas, poor Gates; I hardly knew him....

3:58 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, Cham got shot in the head 5YL but survived because he had moved his brain elsewhere in his body. And in the threeboot Brainy cut off his arm and he survived it.

I dunno. Maybe they'll both live. We'll see.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Stan Ford said...

I'd been grousing about Tellus being drawn with hands and feet since his return, But I went back and re-read his first appearance, drawn by Ernie Colon (I think), and there, he definitely had human-like hands complete with fingernails. Personally, I was fond of his less human appendages drawn by Steve Lightle.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Hmm... thanks. I'm gonna have to go back and look at that.

7:40 AM  

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