THE LEGION VOL.1
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencilers: Olivier Coipel, Adam Dekraker, Jeffrey Moy, Angel Unzueta & Chuck Wojtkiewicz
Inkers: Andy Lanning, W.C. Carani, Jaime Mendoza & Dexter Vines
Colorists: Tom McCraw
Letterers: Pat Brosseau & Clem Robins
Cover Artists: Olivier Coipel, Andy Lanning & Patrick Martin
Rating: 8.5/10 United Planets
DC’s relaunch of the Legion of Superheroes is almost upon us. Finally, we will have the return of the young heroes who fight for peace in the United Planets and to keep the universe safe. Though just around the corner, I couldn’t wait another minute to see the bright future ahead of us, so I decided to travel there myself. This week I will be going over THE LEGION VOL. 1 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Warning. Exposure to spoilers from events in the future could have significant impacts on the timeline.
Accessing Legionnaires’ Plot Files
Don’t you hate it when you’re flying through space in your ship, on your way to a parade when all of a sudden WHAM! A giant evil-looking ship cuts you off out of nowhere and sends your ship crashing to a desolate moon? What the grife! Brainiac 5.1 (with Koko the monkey), Thunder (powers of SHAZAM), Sensor, Kid Quantum, Monstress, Karate Kid and Ferro need to use their wits and skills to get off this dying rock without a ship and fast. Something I love about the Legion is that I am always discovering more new heroes with awesome powers in this series. The mysterious beings in the spooky ship also take great delight in these discoveries as they track the source of the Legionnaires to Earth, taking us on a trip to Metropolis.
So many sites on the itinerary to see when I arrive at Metropolis. Is there a Daily Planet still? What kind of stuff do they have on display at the Superman museum? Can I see the Legionnaires’ clubhouse? Unfortunately, I might have traveled to far into the future as Metropolis looks like an apocalyptic event had occurred leaving everything destroyed. Wait. This is the right time and this only a month after a mysterious group of beings arrived and started enslaving our young heroes while also harvesting the rest for life force? Well sprock!
With things not looking too good for Earth, it’s up to a small number of Legionnaires who are now arriving on Earth after taking the long route home from a mission to save the day. Cosmic Boy, Monstress, Apparition, and Brainiac 5.1 (now without Koko) team up with Chameleon Boy, the last of the Legion members leading the resistance and didn't get captured. From Chameleon Boy, as well as Saturn Girl and XS in captivity, we learn about the horrifying back story of this race of beings who were so advanced that they grew bored with curing illness and famine. They were faced with the ultimate question of what was next for them and in response pursued immortality at the expense of other lifeforms.
The Legionnaires are faced with making a last-ditch attempt at shutting down these life stealers and friend takers if they want to save Earth and any world that happens to be on the menu next. It was a little nerve-racking getting to this point. They were so few against an army, which also happened to made up of their friends and allies. Thankfully for me, Legionnaires always win. Through love, trust and friendship, the heroes are able to turn the tide and end the spooky race known as The Blight once and for all.
At this point in the story, you would think a ray of sunshine would be shining down on everyone and a happy ending is on its way. The fall out of this event is not so, unfortunately. Between serious trauma and the United Planets now wanting to turn their back on the Legion in favor of adults to handle the big messes (like they didn’t think to do this forever ago), nothing could make things worse for the Legion. Giant space tear that threatens to destroy the whole solar system due to adults getting in their way to prevent it? That’ll do it. It’s ok they’ll fix this. See? Everything is ok, it only costed us… all of the Legion members sacrificing themselves? Oh my grife!
Writing For The History Files
Abnett and Lanning crushed it with the storytelling in this book that did so many different things for me when I read it. The first thing they pulled off was giving me the opportunity to get to know the characters in this story is a quick and easy way. Almost every Legion member introduced had a few panels that quickly encapsulated who they were and what they were about. Such brief backstories on top of great writing provided invested attachment to each member as the story went along. I found this pretty interesting considering that the issues these stories come from are well past the first fifty issues in their own volumes.
I’ve always associated the Legion of Superheroes with a bright future, fighting against colorful and light-hearted encounters. These two took me to the first darkest instance of storytelling for these youths. This was a very without hope type of story. Each issue that provided a sigh of relief would end with me having my hands on my head stressing how they were going to get through each new mountain of obstacles brought down on them. Friends fighting against one another. Lovers being reunited only to be torn apart again. Abnett and Lanning packed a lot of emotions on top of high stakes events.
None of this could have been accomplished without the help of Clem Robins and Pat Brosseau on letters. There bold letters in dialogue helped to emphasize the importance of serious moments throughout the book, whether that was through explaining what a space tear will do if not stopped or what The Blight does to their victims. Brosseau and Robins also really brought it home with Abnett and Lanning’s moments of trauma some of the heroes were experiencing. The detail of what they experienced under thrall and the bold lettering emphasizing the horror and joy they got from it was incredible.
Picture The Future
Like I said before, I was not expecting such a dark story from the Legion of Superheroes. Pencilers, inkers and color artists united on this story to bring me to a future that really fit the vibe of being without hope. The landscapes and backgrounds were bleak and devoid of life. Everything that had the potential of teeming with life was portrayed decayed and destroyed. Space is, desolate, as always but they way designed the ships traversing them were very interesting. While the Legion and any transport ship had the feel of what the future would like from old Sci-Fi stories and predictions, angled and even, The Blight’s ship was rounded, misshapen, organic-looking and terrifying.
This team of artistic talent also strongly lent into the emotional state of the characters featured in this story. Heavy features were put on the Legion along with tired and weary faces from the events that were transpiring. Fear, shock, anger, grief, everything that the writers didn’t convey in their dialogue flat out was clearly telegraphed amongst these heroes’ faces. The Blight. Post corruption these things became some of the most nightmarish looking things I've seen in DC comics. Pale bodies figures wearing what looks like life support suits take away what little color is featured in the panel and replace it with only black, gray and purple. Overall this art put me in a bleak future in the best way.
Long Live The Legion. I Hope.
This book wasn’t the trip to the future I was expecting, especially with my experience reading Abnett’s work in Rebirth and it’s lighter tone. Regardless, I found myself super invested in the rich story, packed with conflicts, relationships, loss and trauma all in one while not feeling overwhelming. The art was some of the edgiest sci-fi looking stuff I’ve seen in comics next to reading Valerian. It stands out in the DC stories as the most unique style I’ve seen. If you are looking for a brighter tomorrow, it ain’t here. But, if you’re looking for an awesome Legion story then lock on to this book’s coordinates wherever you can buy it and buckle up for an experience.