From the solicitation, “Legion Lost” sounded like fun to me. I enjoyed the post-“Zero Hour” run of “Legion of Super-Heroes” with part of the team trapped in the 20th century, and the book had a more out-there mixture of characters to plunge a thousand years into their own past.
Unfortunately, what we got is a book that feels determined to make the readers the ones who are lost, not the characters.
Strictly from a storytelling perspective, “Legion Lost” #1 feels like a mess. I don’t mind that we’re starting the story in the middle of the action; if anything, I appreciate that it hits the ground running. But from there, we end up with a disjointed and all-over-the-place story. There’s a lot of pages with characters yelling at one another, and while the characters are all manically moving from one place to the next, there’s a certain lack of urgency. Capturing their foe comes across as a forgettable moment, and most of the characters end up as ciphers, little more than a name and half-explained (if that) powers. By the time we get to the cliffhanger and bad things happen to several of the team members, it’s hard to care, and I say this as someone who has read “Legion of Super-Heroes” comics in the past. Fabian Nicieza’s scripts are normally more coherent than this.
At a glance, I was initially impressed with the mixture of characters chosen. We have two non-humanoid characters (Tellus and Gates), plus the winged Dawnstar, suited Wildfire, and the alien-looking Chameleon Girl. In the issue itself, though, we’re seeing the continuation of a redesign of Tellus to make him more humanoid, something that began in last year’s “Legion of Super-Heroes” (when his flippers were turned into hands). Now he’s walking around on two legs, changing him from an aquatic alien into a purple and yellow alien who just happens to wear a helmet. At the rate we’re going, by next year we’ll see him in a three-piece suit. It feels like a bit of a cop-out, changing one of the few truly different character designs into something more easy to deal with.
Speaking of the art, Woods is someone who I’m normally behind a great deal. I enjoyed his recent work on “Action Comics” and “Superman: World of New Krypton,” but this feels like it was drawn by an entire different audience. Gone is Woods’ normal crisp and clean art; instead we’re getting flat and unexpressive faces, cluttered panels, and ill-defined figures. It’s almost like Woods’ normal style got smeared across the page. Worst of all is a climactic scene that makes little sense thanks to the art. I understand it’s supposed to be crowded and hectic, but the art manages to confuse the issue rather than clarify it.
I love “Legion of Super-Heroes,” I’ve enjoyed comics by both Nicieza and Woods over the years, and the idea of “Legion Lost” sounded like a lot of fun. But with a jumbled first issue, a cliffhanger that makes little sense and feels dramatic solely for drama’s sake… I am feeling more unenthusiastic about a Legion comic than I have in years. Hopefully the second issue will pull things together, but for now this feels like a book to walk away from.