Legion Lost #1

by  in Comics Reviews
Story by
Art by
Pete Woods
Colors by
Brad Anderson
Letters by
Travis Lanham
Cover by
Brad Anderson and Pete Woods
DC Comics

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.