Thursday, August 30, 2012

Legion Lost #12 Review

And then there's this thing.

What Happened That You Have to Know About: Another Legionnaire has a secret revealed (Gates: the Lost Legionnaires are all going to die!). The Legionnaires fight Alastor and also Metamerican and his guys as Alastor possesses many characters in turn. Eventually Wildfire defeats him, presumably for good.


This series is starting to remind me of... well, imagine if Marvel came out with a series in the mid-1980s, called Stranded Seven or something like that, starring all-new characters. It might be just like this. The problem is, what he's got is not seven all-new characters; he's got existing characters, some with long and proud histories. DeFalco's take on these characters is welcome (if perfunctory) in Gates's case, kind of stupid in Tellus's case, almost offensive in Chameleon Girl's case, and I haven't yet fully judged the other ones. DeFalco doesn't seem to be able to produce that Legion feel in his comics. This would be fine if he was substituting a feel of his own creation, but really it just seems generic.

Can we assume that this past six issues was DeFalco's way of disposing of Nicieza's story elements and transitioning to his own? You'd like to think it wouldn't take six issues, but then, DeFalco did have to deal with The Culling, so I'll give him a pass on it.

This issue is perfectly acceptable superhero action stuff, albeit superhero action stuff without much of a Legion flavour to it, with one perfectly nice moment (Dawnstar: "Why wouldn't we?") and a clever enough ending. I wonder how long it took Wildfire to fly all the way to the sun. Seemed to be only seconds, which seems too fast for Wildfire. I know he and Dawnstar tend to fly through space at the same pace, and Dawny can fly that fast, but I always thought she wasn't really putting the hammer down when Wildfire was with her.

But then there was this. It's something that I hope I would have noticed for myself, but in fact intrepid correspondent Jim pointed it out in the comments to last issue's review: the line "the forgotten armored transport suddenly implodes, bursting outward!" That's just gross. DeFalco's been writing comic books, mostly superhero comic books, for basically forty years now. If he hasn't learned the difference between "implode" and "explode" yet, he's been doing something wrong. Also. Brian Cunningham was the editor on this issue. Why'd he let this go through? Come on, guys; makes you look like idiots.

Next issue, DeFalco gets his chance to do something legitimately useful for Legion lore: modernize Timber Wolf's origin. The original story, with Karth Arn and everything, is an odd and complex one that could stand some updating. Telling the story as it is, only in a more modern style, would probably be difficult, and I have to imagine that DeFalco's going to change some details and get deeper into the characterization. Probably he's going to mix in the animalistic feral wolf stuff too, which I don't like, but it's close to inevitable at this point; not DeFalco's fault. He might even go for an entirely new origin, which... well, let me put it this way. It would have to stand or fall on its own merits, and given what we've seen so far on this series from DeFalco, that's kind of a risky proposition.

Art: 92 panels/20 pages = 4.6 panels/page. 1 splash page, 1 double-page spread of 4 panels.

Unusually high panel count for this issue, especially taking into account the splash and the spread. I appreciate it. Woods continues to deliver.

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Blogger Dylan said...

Overall decent issue, but I'm starting to get really concerned about the "everybody has secrets" plot thread. How long do they plan on dragging it out?

8:17 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, that one, they sort of have to keep dragging it out. It seems to be part of the overall premise of the book. Once they're done with it, what are they going to replace it with?

8:23 PM  
Blogger RicG said...

Good to see you're back. Loved your short & pithy review of last issue.

The Dawny-Drake-Brin triangle appeared so damned suddenly I got whiplash. Is Brin even involved?

It's such a disappointment that this seems to be an editorially driven 'duty' book & such a lost opportunity to flesh out some great characters such as Tyroc.

DeFalco's absolute lack of understanding or discernable interest in the characters is painful, especially the yoda-esque dialogue for Tellus. Wood's art is the only bright spot on the book but the humanoid take he has on that character is depressing.

As you said last time "Cancel it".

3:13 AM  
Blogger karl said...

I think its kind of refreshing to have a Legion comic that ISNT an average Legion comic...what I mean is not the traditional LSH we're used to reading and enjoying. Its good to see the characters out of their relative comfort zones, even if DeFalco's writing leaves quite a considerable lot to be [not] desired.
My belief with Wildfire and Dawny's flight powers was that they were considerably far faster than the other Legionnaires with their flight rings. I have often thought they could rival [to a point] Ultra Boy or Mon-Els flight speed, Giffen's art back in the 80s did appear to bear this out - the four fastest flyers were Mon, Jo, Drake and Dawny.
I assumed in the beginning of this run that Brin and Dawny would get together, but thats forgotten about apparently.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Ric: Tellus is like Gates: I don't know why writers (and artists!) find it so hard to portray him as himself. You only need a couple of issues from the Baxter run to get a good handle on Tellus; the one where they go to Hykraius and maybe the one where he detects the conspiracy and goes to Duo Damsel with his concerns. I don't see what the problem is.

karl: Yeah, I always like it when people try stuff, but just what is it that's being tried here?

And I'm okay with Wildfire being faster than a flight ring, but fast enough to get to the sun inside a short conversation? I dunno. I'm okay with it if everyone else is.

5:37 PM  
Blogger RicG said...

The trip to Braal with Pol and Ayla is another good one.
Tellus is young and deferential, mainly because he doesn't quite understand humans. but when they transgress his sense of justice, like calling him 'fish' or catching Hywyndr, he can be quite a hard-ass. It's what interests me about him & what I've been hoping to see in Lost.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, but I think that's pretty subtle for DeFalco or Nicieza to run with.

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two notes:

* It's hard to excuse DeFalco saying he "had to" deal with The Culling, since he is brining back Superboy, the Ravagers, and Harvest for another couple issues (#14-15, I think). I would consider this disposal of Alastor a plate cleaning, though.

* Wildfire can go transluminal without a ship, so a swift trip to sun is no problem. A few seconds is pushing it, since the sun is a few light minutes away, but how often have we seen dialogue conversations start in one city and seem to finish in the next? Its excusable as a comic boo "thing".

One question I have been pondering is "What makes a story feel like a Legion story, and another one not?" (And thus why does this not?) My immediate thought is that there are three things that Legion stories tend to feature:
1. The sci-fi universe, with aliens and spaceships and other worlds
2. A sense of continuity with the past, where the current story is informed by past stories in the milieu
3. A sense of camaraderie amongst the characters, where they know each others abilities and foibles and depend on that knowledge to make a team

A great Legion story has all of these. (Great Darkness, Conspiracy, Legion Lost v1) A good Legion story has at least two. A baseline Legion story has at least one.

Legion Lost v2? It has none of the first, almost none of the second, and sometimes has the third (with the "everyone has a secret" working hard *against* #3). Which explains why Legion Lost feels generic and only sometimes feels like a Legion story at all.

Lobdell and DeFalco are using Legion characters with no Legion setting, no Legion continuity, and almost no Legion characterization. No wonder it isn't satisfying.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Re: Wildfire. Maybe just me then.

Re: Harvest. One guy in the world who likes Harvest, and he's the guy writing the comic book. The odds are hugely against that.

And I'm trying to be fair to DeFalco. So much of what happens at DC seems to be top-down that it's hard to imagine that he had any choice about the Culling stuff, although I have no idea whether it's his idea to bring it back. It'd be great if he could make this work somehow.

And I wonder just how much DeFalco and Nicieza really get the Legion. Because if they do get it, they don't seem able to convey that they do.

2:27 PM  

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