Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Legion: Secret Origin #1 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

This all takes place in the 31st century before the creation of the Legion. (Not the 30th century? It says the 31st century on page 1.) The United Planets is exploring the galaxy trying to reunite with old allies and make new friends, but when one of their expeditionary forces arrives on Anotrom, they find that someone's just wrecked the joint and killed everybody. They call in the Coluans, who bring in Brainiac 5, who goes to investigate. He meets Tinya Wazzo from Bgtzl there and she warns him that there's some kind of trouble brewing for the United Planets.

Meanwhile, the UP security directorate, I think that's who they are, a three-person council consisting of a Coluan, a Naltorian, and an Earth human who's been around the block a few times, are monitoring R.J. Brande as some guys try to assassinate him but are prevented by three superpowered teenagers. The Naltorian instantly knows something important is going on with this bunch and they make sure that the Science Police doesn't interfere with them or with whatever Brande wants to do with them. Whatever he wants to do, it involves recruiting a girl from Cargg, however she got there.


Go back and read this issue again and see for yourself. There's only one speech bubble this issue attributed to a Legionnaire, and it's the only one you need: Imra saying, "They're trying to kill that man!" I wish Legion history would settle on a definitive wording for that outburst; I always remember it as, "Those men--they're trying to kill Mr. Brande!" But whatever. However she says it, it's the key point in the creation of the Legion, just as unexpectedly crucial as "We'll go out through the kitchen" was for another group. I like that it was highlighted this way. (Note: Brainy and Tinya also speak, but they're not Legionnaires yet.)

Anisa, the Naltorian in the security directorate, says about the three Legionnaires that "these three are not a chance... they are a certainty..." Which is great. Why couldn't the Time Trapper have been listening in on this conversation? Because this is exactly why he can't beat the Legion: history is only elastic up to a certain point, and the existence of the Legion is beyond that point.

I have some wild speculation here on that experimental cruiser poking around in that wormhole. Just maybe the crew of this cruiser is going to consist of Jo Nah, Thom Kallor, and Gim Allon. After all, they're all early-to-join Legionnaires who got their powers in weird space accidents, and this could be Levitz's way of streamlining their origin stories. Just pouring that out onto the porch to see if the cat licks it up.

Last week I complained about the first issue of the Star Trek/LSH crossover. I said (among other things) that it wasn't a complete story. (For a miniseries, I suppose it's okay if your single issues aren't, strictly speaking, stories on their own. Although I think it's better if they are, as much as possible.) Well, this isn't a complete story, but I like it better. I have several reasons for this.
1. It's a buck cheaper.
2. I didn't have to pry the pages apart.
3. It's got 26 more panels in it, which works out to about five pages or so.
4. With no disrespect at all intended to the Moys, Chris Batista is better.
5. Free flight ring.
6. (The big reason) It does just about as much setup as did ST/LSH #1, but in addition to that it gives us some of what we want.

What we wanted out of this series was to see the Legion created. And we did see it. There they are! (But now there's more to it than that.) What we wanted out of ST/LSH was to see the crew of the Enterprise meet the Legion. They didn't. Depending on how the timeline works, they may not next issue either. See the difference?

In this series, so far, the main character seems to be this old guy Myecroft on the security directorate. He's trying to make sure everything goes smoothly for the UP, however he has to do it. Myecroft is faced with the problem that R.J. Brande seems to be doing something unorthodox with this bunch of teenagers who saved him. He decides to let it play out for a while. But then at the end of the issue he's faced with the fact that they're entirely out of his control and he has no idea what they're up to. That's the beginning of a story, all right, but it's not a whole story.

If we insist on having a complete story in this issue, that story is the initial creation of the Legion and the induction of its first new member. On the one hand, that's something that feels important to us, so it gives us that sense of closure we want in our single issue. On the other, it's not really the A plot of the comic book. Overall it's effective.

And it's excellent for new readers. This is the jumping-on point Levitz should have given us with LSHv7 #1. Starts off with a brief explanation of the United Planets and its circumstances. Gives us new characters fairly slowly, and not too many in the first issue. Shows us the Legion without expecting us to know too much about what it is... you know, I only just realized now that there wasn't much action in this issue? Hardly any, really, but I didn't miss it. Normally I would miss it.

Pleased with this one.

- I trust you all got your flight rings? Who knows when this chance may come again!
- Maybe for the next free-stuff giveaways DC could provide us with transuits and telepathic plugs
- Or if they want to do rings again, how about an Insect Queen ring?
- H-E-R-O dial?
- Notice the Interlac P on Phantom Girl's uniform? But if Bgtzl's not in contact with the United Planets, how do they speak Interlac?
- Also, compare the coloring of Phantom Girl's costume between the cover and the interior art. Which one's right? Interior, I hope
- There's already some speculation on how "Anotrom" is just "Trom" with a new name. I guess we'll see... but those guys on pages 1 and 2 don't look like Element Lad to me
- Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy became the Legion of Super-Heroes offscreen sometime between pages 10 and 19. Maybe page 15? It's not explicit, but that must be what it is

Art: 104 panels/20 pages = 5.2 panels/page. One single-page panel, one page with 10 panels.

Always nice to see Chris Batista drawing the Legion, and he acquits himself well here. The panel layout is a bit weird; I counted each separate point-of-view headshot of one of the security directorate as a panel, which inflates the panel count, but in a way it's just a framing device. On the other hand, it also gives us a look at what's going on with the UP behind the scenes, so really it's more than that. Check out the UP officer's uniform on page 3. Plus Brainy looks very callow and smug in this issue; nice touch. Really they all look young; check out Phantom Girl in panel 4 of page 16.

It took me a while to put together just what was happening with Luornu on page 19. I guess we're supposed to get that she's triplicated and meeting the other three separately, then merging together in panel 9, but it's not obvious.

Thing I want to say about the cover. (It's by Tom Feister.) What kind of style do you call this, anyway? I remember this kind of art showing up during the DnA run a couple of times, and I can't say I'm really a fan of it. Not that it isn't any good; I just don't like it when they do it like that.

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