Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Legionnaires: Dragonwing

Here's one who seemed to fall off the table.

Dragonwing, aka Marya Pai of Earth. Created by Paul Levitz and Phil Jimenez.

Dragonwing was one of the Academy graduates who joined the Legion as the New52 started. The new Legionnaires of this period seemed to be part of an effort to bring in more female and nonwhite Legionnaires, which was entirely appropriate.

Dragonwing herself was not super interesting. Her powers included flight, fire breath, and acid breath, which is workable. They gave her a little storyline where they had to go back and deal with some part of her backstory; her brother was in trouble or something. Then in the final storyline of LSHv7, with the Fatal Five, she disappeared. Like, she just stopped appearing in the story. I think Levitz and Giffen forgot about her.

There's nothing wrong with her as a character; she'd be a perfectly good Legionnaire if she appeared in any good Legion comics. (If and when they ever bring the Legion back, I'd like to see her era represented in the cast of characters just as much as all the other eras.) The one thing I found most notable about her was her costume. Look:

You see her cloak there? Transparent, with a dragon design on it? It's cool: futuristic, and unlike any other superhero costume I've ever seen. I must imagine that Phil Jimenez gets the credit for this; go ahead, Phil.

But here's the thing. Wouldn't it be a pain to draw?

If I was running a Legion comic, with the huge cast of characters, cosmic storylines, and futuristic setting, I wouldn't go out of my way to make the artists' jobs any harder than necessary. If you're a longtime Legion reader, you know how tough it is for artists to stay on schedule with this comic. Why don't they make the costumes as simple and distinctive as possible? Cripes, make something easy. So, Dragonwing: cool costume, no question, but I wouldn't sign off on it.

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Blogger Dylan said...

Yeah, it's a great look, but seems like it would be terrible to have to draw on a regular basis (see also, any character with a complex armor like Blue Beetle or Iron Man).

There's a reason why at least two volumes of Legionnaires went for a simple "two color stripes around a core stripe" look.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

And it doesn't even have to be a cross-team uniformity; just something that will let you turn the book around in under a month.

10:21 PM  
Blogger jrft1379 said...

Hey. Just found this blog today. I'm a huge Legion fan, so I'm glad there are others out there keeping the home fires burning.

Regarding the costume; Noodling costumes more and more has been a trend across all comics since the 90's, but DC has taken it to another level in the last 1/2 decade. Look at The Flash. He had one of the most quintessential costumes for decades. So how do they "improve" it in New 52? Add lots of lines. The same is true for Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman. Gary Frank's updates for the Retroboot was to add lots of pads, seams, and lines. Then again, they are taking their queues from Jim Lee - a guy who thought it was a great idea to give an urban vigilante a belly shirt (hi, Huntress!).

It's funny, because if you look at the rest of society - especially tech - we want things more and more simple. Cars consistently have less and less seams, protrusions and edges. Computers went from a box that sits on a desk with dozens of buttons to sleek, touchscreens that slide in a pocket. Screen icons went form ostentatious gradients and lens flares to flat, simple colors. Music has started to strip down to essentials again after the gluttony of over-synthesized pop (though this is just in its proto-stages). Food is going back to fewer, more natural ingredients. Heck, even the things people are nostalgic for are "simple' and "back to basics."

I wish they would get artists who have design sense to create hero costumes. Chris Sprouce always seems to nail it (Legion, Tom Strong, Multiversity). Cliff Chang does Wonders (pun intended). Alan Davis. Mignola. All of these guys have proven that just because a costume design is simple, it doesn't mean the art has to be.

Maybe if the characters where more elegant in design, artists would have time to focus more on other things, like background details (I'm sure we've all noticed more and more blank backgrounds or color gradient fills than there used to be), panel pacing and facial expressions.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not easy being a new Legionnaire.You have compete for the attention of the fans against the veteran LSHers,who've spent years,even decades,building up their fanbase.Worse,all the essential powers and abilities the LSH needs have already been taken,so all the new members are left to justify their membership are abilities like acid breath.Not a lot of demand for that that I can imagine.This poor girl is one of those Legionnaires that will just fade away.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

You never know. Some of 'em catch on, although I agree that it's increasingly rare. Who was the last one to really make it--Gates?

9:56 PM  

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