Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Legion: Secret Origin #1 (December, 2011)

"Beyond the borders of the United Planets in the 31st Century: For 327 years, the U.P. has been peacefully reconnecting Earth with its former colonies, with planets 'seeded' by humanity, and even truly alien worlds like Colu and Durla... Then our starcruiser arrived on Anotrom, a world thought to be living a self-sufficient, even bucolic existence, according to the gossip on the starwinds... and we realized that Pax Galactica wasn't complete. Whoever- or whatever- had visited Anotrom ahead of us hadn't signed the treaty." U.P. soldiers, who hadn't seen true warfare in human lifetimes, were unprepared for the carnage visited on the planet.

Captain Dajone had found a small device amidst the bodies, and Admiral Allon sent it out for study. His man accidentally blew himself up investigating. Thankfully, in an unusual move, Colu was willing to offer their 12th level super-intelligence "Querl Dox, Brainiac Five" for the task.

The U.P. Council allows three sentients incomparable access to information requiring intuition beyond the abilities of even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence. The Security Directorate consists of the Coluan Zarl Jax, the Naltorian Anisa, and the Earthling Mycroft. These three were the first to become aware of the importance of a trio of teenagers on an interplanetary flight. Imra Ardeen of Titan, Rokk Krinn of Braal and Garth Ranzz of Winath uncovered and foiled an assassination plot against a fellow passenger, wealthy philanthropist R.J. Brande. Both the Directorate and Brande took a keen interest in the kids and the plot, with Brande and Mycroft meeting to discuss the matter face-to-face. Mycroft wanted more control over the kids' course, but Brande cut him out, and Mycroft seemed to have an ulterior interest.

The U.P. soldier M'tobo tried to steer Querl Dox away from danger as they revisited Anotrom, but Brainiac 5 was smug and dismissive. Dox set off another explosion, but was protected by a personal force shield of such protective power as to be unheard of, even in the 31st Century. "Family secret."

Ardeen, Krinn and Ranzz were introduced to the media by their code names Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad. With their abilities of telepathy, magnetism manipulation and electrical generation/discharge, these three would serve as the founding members of a projected Legion of Super-Heroes.

On Anotrom, Brainiac 5 was scared stupid by the sudden unannounced appearance of Tinya Wazzo of Bgtzl, who could past immaterially through matter like a phantom. "If you're finished having an anxiety attack, I'd like to explain why I came through that wormhole from Bgztl... and the terrible danger I think your 'United Planets' is going to be in."

The Security Directorate observed all, and were concerned. They also noted Luornu Durgo of Cargg, a Triplicate Girl, being sworn in as the first addition to the Legionnaires...

"From The Wreckage" was by Paul Levitz, Chris Batista and Marc Deering. I've had a lifelong interest in the Legion, beginning with the fantastic art and character designs seen in DC Comics house ads for books that never reached the newsstands in my neck of the woods. Years later, I read some occasional Legion back issues, but the property is notoriously convoluted, so those tastes were not enough to help me wade into a continuity that served as the basis for the X-Men soap opera. I finally jumped on in 1994, when the entire franchise was rebooted in the wake of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time. Mark Waid wrote a strong introductory #0 issue, and writers like Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw kept me buying the book for the rest of the series' run. I also dove into back issues, reading nice fat chunks of the esteemed Paul Levitz and controversial Keith Giffen runs.

Beginning in 2000, DC launched a series of renumbering schemes intended to introducing new readers to the Legion. In eleven years, there have been two volumes of Legion Lost, one of Legion Worlds, one of Adventure Comics and three volumes of Legion of Super-Heroes (one top-billing Supergirl,) plus the animation tie-in The Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century. I spent six years happily collecting at least two Legion series a month, and have sampled every single offering since for various durations, but have yet to buy more than thirteen consecutive issues.

Legion: Secret Origin will not change my mind. I already gave the 21st Century Paul Levitz a chance on Adventure, which I thought was terrible. This book was just mediocre, but as a jumping-on point for new readers, it's the pits. There's nothing but soldiers, bureaucrats, and scientists talking for seventeen of twenty pages. Much of what is said is vague or of no great importance, and the only characters truly introduced were Brainiac 5 and Phantom Girl, but not in such a way as to inspire anyone to want to read more. The Legion origin adventure takes place off-panel, and we're instead stuck with a boring contrivance tacked on to the already burdensome Legion continuity. The only good thing I can say about this book is that it's some of the slickest, smoothest work I've seen from Batista, which may be the influence of his inker. In truth, the only reason I ordered this book was to get a free Legion flight ring, and my supplier didn't send me mine, so I got nothing I wanted out of this purchase.

New 52's Day

1 comment:

Anj said...

Great review!

It's funny, I liked this issue because it was sort of a sideways look at the Legion origin, the original three saving RJ Brande.

As a Legion lifer, I have seen the origin retold so many times, I thought it was cool to see it from a new vantage point.

And then I realized this is just the problem with the Legion, and some of the new 52. This is supposed to introduce the Legion to new readers. They don't want a sideways telling of the origin. They need a straight forward telling to suck them in.

I think I will enjoy the rest of this book. But am I really the target audience?