Sunday, January 01, 2012

Legion Lost #4 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

There's a big ruckus at the mall as Timber Wolf, Tyroc, Wildfire, and some cops try to apprehend Red Rage, aka Yera, and he/she/it fights back. It ends with Red Rage getting away, with Timber Wolf in hot pursuit, and the other two Legionnaires trying to keep the lid on the cops and follow along as best they can. They eventually catch up with him/her/it, only to find that someone called the Black Razors have already made the capture and now want to add three Legionnaires to their collection.

Meanwhile, Tellus and Dawnstar are doing some scanning and find Alastor in Duluth. Dawny whisks him out of there and they confront him out in the woods someplace, but he uses his Carggite DNA and transforms and splits into three on them.

Key point raised this issue? Tyroc stocked up on supplies before the Legionnaires headed back through the time barrier, suggesting that he knew something about how this was going to work out. Watch this space.


First of all.

What is this nonsense about Nicieza leaving the book after #6?

Sure, sure; I've read his reasons on the CBR forums and all. But come on. Legion Lost was always a weird idea for a book. To get one guy to develop his ideas for it for six issues and then switch to another guy... Does that strike anyone as a recipe for success? Especially considering the personnel involved. I'm willing to believe, provisionally, that Fabian Nicieza had a vision for this series and that that vision was something that would, in the long run, prove to be intriguing. I am (based on my own impressions and what I've heard from others) somewhat less ready to believe the same about Tom DeFalco. Don't take this the wrong way, but DeFalco is six years older than Paul Levitz.

I mean look. Certainly DeFalco is going to produce a proper comic book. But I want this comic book to be intriguing, and I don't see that happening now. Don't know what it's going to take to get one of the New 52 titles cancelled, but I have to believe that Legion Lost's survival chances have dropped.

As for this issue, well. It's fine; maybe a little on the short side. The Dawnstar POV seems more like a stunt than anything else, as we spent so much time not with Dawnstar; she's nowhere near most of the action of the story. Everybody's falling all over Nicieza for this rotating-POV thing because it's so revolutionary, except that novels use this technique all the time, and except that the story isn't well-suited for it because the action is so split up that the POV character isn't present for all the events you're reading about.

In this issue, for instance, I feel like I'm getting a lot more about Timber Wolf than I am about Dawnstar. And I like it, let me say that too; this is a cool Timber Wolf. (Except for the projectile fingertips of last issue.) Actually, they're all cool, mostly; Dawny's the only one who's less together than before, but in a way that actually works for her. (And of course Yera/Red Rage.)

The key figure in this series, so far, is Alastor, and when he showed up again I was hoping that we'd learn something about him when he showed up again, but no: he misses his sister, he hates humans, and he's quick on the trigger. I wonder what his plan is now? He's already released the hypertaxis virus, so what's he got left to do?

- I'm not reading a lot of DC's other titles. Anybody know if the Black Razors have anything to do with those military types who've been monitoring the situation all series?
- I'm also not all that familiar with the north central U.S. states. Are Nicieza and Woods doing any kind of a good job of capturing the essence of the area?
- On Alastor's cap there, is that supposed to be Homer Simpson or a monkey?

Art: 83 panels/20 pages = 4.2 panels/page. One two-page spread; one splash page.

Another fine effort by Woods. Someday I'll figure out who his Dawnstar reminds me of, with the rounder face and squared-off bangs like that.

Labels: ,


Blogger Jim Purcell said...

I'd give DeFalco a chance, he's got a slightly older school slant to his writing style. But he can build intrigue just fine. In fact when I learned it was DeFalco coming to take over for Nicieza I got really excited. Because if there is one guy who should 'get' the Legion of Super-Heroes. Its Tom DeFalco.

"Everybody's falling all over Nicieza for this rotating-POV thing because it's so revolutionary"

Also extensively in, you know, the FIRST LEGION LOST SERIES. I mean, I like the POV thing, I think its being used effectively. But yeah, outside readers falling over themselves over it, is a little odd.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, I'll give Defalco a chance, but I'm not getting a good vibe out of this.

I think the reason readers are so excited about the rotating POVs is that a) they're used to writers not really doing anything interesting, b) they don't notice when writers do try anything interesting, and c) nobody tells them when writers try anything interesting. So when something like this does come to their notice, it's an event.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Dylan said...

Quite a few of the new 52 are getting new creative teams following what appear to be their first story arcs, which leaves me suspicious of DC's handling of this in general.

That said, Tom DeFalco can either be really good (Spider-Man, Spider-Girl, Thor) or really bad (Fantastic Four). I'm going to be optimistic here.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I suspect DC is putting their weight behind some kind of meet-the-schedule-or-we'll-find-someone-who-will policy.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Jim Purcell said...

@Dylan DeFalco's Fantastic Four probably single handedly got me into comics. And his MC2 line (I was always a bigger fan of A-Next and J2; then Spider-Girl) pretty much cemented me as a comic book fan.

So I have a lot of goodwill toward Tom DeFalco.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, well, maybe. But I can't get away from the Legion's history of writers who are hungry: up-and-coming young guys like Shooter and Bates and Levitz and the Bierbaums, or guys who need to put some spin on the ball, who are incapable of writing anything that isn't coming at you from some unexpected direction, like Giffen and Waid.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

Waid? His work on the reboot was perfectly acceptable. But certainly not unexpected. His work on the three-boot was better, but again, fell short of the potential, I think. Now there may have been other factors at work that necessitated that Waid change the type of story he was telling, but after about a year of unexpected, we got lots of expected all over again.

But, I have to admit, I've got a Waid blind spot, where the Legion is concerned. For someone who professes to be a big fan of the Legion, every time he gets his fingers on the concept, he radically reinvents them. Sometimes it works (five years later stories where he was editor) and sometimes it kinda falls short.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I admit I was also thinking of some of Waid's non-Legion work when I typed that.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Northwest LeatherSIR 2012 said...

I'm leery of DeFalco because his stint on Fantastic Four drove me off that book (although frankly, it was probably the Frenz-channeling-Kirby that really did it -- good art can make up for passable writing, but bad art can destroy great writing).

The Black Razors are presumably tied to NOWHERE, from Superboy and Titans. A crossover is in the works. DeFalco is apparently not going to do an immediate mixup of plots as sometimes happens, which will minimize the redirection syndrome.

A month ago, Shooter posted some scans of early-1979 DC newsstand sales figures, which showed that SLSH at the time was a mid-pack seller, but was about the only title growing and had the highest average newsstand sell-through percentage. Looking back to then and what DC was publishing -- Superman books, Batman books, JLA and JLA character books, Legion, and war and western books (the war titles were the top sellers after Superman, apparently!) -- I see a chunk of the appeal of the Legion as "a whole set of superheroes whom you didn't get in any other books" (which meant they were more dynamic and subject to change, not depending on other comics reining them in). That's one of the problems the Legion has today: it isn't the "something different" book any more; it's just one more superhero title until you get into it to find what makes it different. And that's what DC needs to find a new angle on to make it (or any of its titles) a top seller again.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm not sure you need a new angle--although I wouldn't turn one down--so much as you need a better comic book. What Levitz has done in his third go-round has been decent, but decent doesn't stand out in this marketplace.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

You've encapsulated the argument there, though: Legion Lost, LSH v7, etc. are not *bad* comics, no more so than anything else on the stands.

But they are middle of the road, combined with being a niche corner of the universe which doesn't interact much with the main DCU players. And thus the Legion can been seen as incidental to some people. In the late 70s, with the looser universal continuity and fewer titles, that was a strength, but it is not one today.

Changing that up means either be a *very* good comic (merely "good" isn't good enough, when you're up against so many other titles), or be a "different" comic, something which makes people sit up and take notice. (Titans, Legion, and X-Men did that in the early 80s with soap opera style plotting, but that method is past its due date today, apparently, and you can go too far in mining/referencing past stories, like with the 5YG).

5:52 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, the Legion does have things about it that make it different. Different enough? I guess it depends on the reader.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

What really does makes the Legion (as a concept) different, though? Nowhere near as much as 30 years ago. And how well can those things be projected on the cover and in media coverage to get people to pick the book up? (I submit: very little.)

When there are 100+ DC and Marvel books on the stands, it's no wonder than the Legion comes across as middle of the road, nothing special or different from anything else.

Arguably, though, Legion Lost is an attempt to tackle that: take the most alien characters on the team and group them together. It's at least visually a little different.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, the future setting and the number of characters on the team, to take the most obvious ones.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

Right, but how do you present those in today's market, with just covers and some media coverage, and as a desirable thing. How do "lots of characters and future tech" separate Legion from Titans, JLA, X-Men, Avengers Academy, etc.?

Those are sitting on the laurels, the easy things.

I'll submit that the "disco swimsuits" were a big visual differentiating factor, back in the day -- you knew you were in a Legion book. Today's costumes, do they rank as memorable? Um, no.

12:23 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, a future setting is different from future tech, for one thing, and the Legion doesn't just have a lot of characters, it has basically an order of magnitude more characters. These are facts that do not have to be established.

They do have to be sold, though, and I couldn't tell you how to go about doing that.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

The Black Razors were a Wildstorm mainstay - a black ops group of paramilitary soldiers. The Black Razors were usually portrayed as "good guys," but like Marvel's use of S.H.I.E.L.D., had run-ins with metahumans (such as the WildC.A.T.s) as well.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, really? They're not just new-52 characters? Okay. Thanks.

10:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home