18 February 2013

Review: Legion Lost by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Olivier Coipel, & Pascal Alixe

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2011 (contents: 2000-01)
Acquired May 2012
Read August 2012
Legion Lost

Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art: Olivier Coipel & Pascal Alixe
Inks: Andy Lanning
Colors: Tom McCraw

Despite how much I enjoyed the two Legion of Super-Heroes deluxe editions DC released over the past few years (The Great Darkness Saga and The Curse), Legion Lost largely flitted by without my notice-- until  I found the hardcover in a used bookstore for half-price.

Legion Lost technically stars a different version of the Legion than the one in The Great Darkness Saga and The Curse, but this is largely the same cast of characters, just thrust into a different situation, and it's pretty easy to go from the one to the other without being confused; everyt hing just has new, "hip" codenames, and there's no babies. Legion Lost opens with nine Legionnaires waking to find themselves trapped in a completely different part of the universe, with no apparent way home. And this isn't the bright, shiny world of the United Planets; it's a rough, dark corner of space, where might makes right. Basically, it's Star Trek: Voyager with superheroes.

Each chapter of Legion Lost is told from the perspective of a different character. The story starts with Shikari, a native of this region of space, stumbling across the Legion while fleeing her pursuers; her unfamiliarity with the Legion and familiarity with the locals adds to our disorientation, as she doesn't explain her reference point, and our own reference points have become alien. The best part of this chapter is definitely when Shikari finds a recording of Element Lad from who knows how long ago: he put the others into hibernation and lived alone until he died! It's a haunting message from the past, and lets you know how bad things are before the story even starts.

From there, we move from Legionnaire to Legionnaire. My favorites were definitely Monstress-- the one-time sheltered elite turned hulking brute by a gene bomb-- who operates as the heart of the team, and Saturn Girl-- the team's telepathic leader, who finds herself pushed to the limit keeping the team together under these circumstances. She does some terrible things, perhaps, but I loved her all the better for it. She might be my favorite Legionnaire overall.

The pushing to darker places works really well: Legion Lost shows what the Legion of Super-Heroes is by showing us what it isn't and what it could be. It's Star Trek: Voyager with superheroes, yes, but it's also Voyager done right. You never got the sense that Janeway and her crew were tested by their ideals like you do the Legion here, in the darkest of places.

The art, by the team of Olivier Coipel, Pascal Alixe, and Andy Lanning, is scratchy in a way that just reeks of the 1990s to me, but is also perfect for the story, really representing the dark places the team finds itself. Also the colors by Tom MacCraw really make the darkness come alive, even if the Legion itself is wearing fluorescent spandex.

I finished my review of The Curse stating I'd become a fan of that particular incarnation of the Legion of Super-Heroes; I think we can safely state that now I'm a fan of the Legion full-stop. Some more of the Abnett/Lanning Legion comics are being collected next year, and if they're half as good as this, they'll be fantastic.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent book with some great twists. This and Mark Waid's JLA: Year One are two examples of miniseries "done right" -- the authors know from the beginning where they're going with the story, they lay down all the clues, and the reveals are perfect at the end.

    Now you've got to pre-order Legion Worlds, collecting the semi-sequel of specials that came out after this -- we need pre-orders if that book is actually going to come out!

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  2. I pre-ordered it as soon as I finished Legion Lost, back in August. I normally don't pre-order very much, but I didn't want it to be my fault if Legion Worlds was never published!

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