Reading “Legion: Secret Origin,” it’s hard to shake the feeling that akin to “Action Comics” and “Justice League,” maybe “Legion of Super-Heroes” this September should have run this story instead of its current one.
Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying “Legion of Super-Heroes” right now, but it’s definitely not the most new-reader friendly title right now, especially since it picked up more or less where the previous month’s issue had left off. With “Legion: Secret Origin,” we’re getting a new, revised, definitive origin for the team. And so far? It’s a lot of fun.
“Legion: Secret Origin” continues to unveil “new” members to the team this issue; we see not only how the applicant list is narrowed down, but how Brande himself brings one on board as his own personal bodyguard. It’s fun for old readers to see the familiar faces surface one at a time, and for new readers it’s a good introduction on each core member of the Legion and how their powers and personalities mesh. As mentioned before, Paul Levitz is also revising their origin; we’ve got a new foe coming out of wormholes to attack the United Planets, and a secret troika of observers mulling over what to do with Brande and the Legion.
What’s nice is that Levitz isn’t afraid to turn some expectations on their heads. The hidden trio suddenly find themselves confronted directly by a Legion member (instead of staying in the shadows for the entire mini-series), for instance, or we get Cosmic Boy’s sorting of various member profiles taken away and the story moves him into a far more interesting scene. My favorite parts, though, are probably the ones with Phantom Girl and Brainiac 5. The two interacted well in the first two issues, but even apart it’s their scenes that crack me up. Brainiac 5’s briefing the UP commander on how to destroy the enemy ships is classic super-genius material, but without a level of annoyingness that too many writers would have attached. As for Phantom Girl, every moment of hers has a gem buried in it, from her upbeat attitude to hints about her odd nature (like the translation of her name, or the update on what happened to her world of Bgtzl). I never thought I’d say, “Bring me a Brainiac 5/Phantom Girl” mini-series, but I think it would be dynamite.
Chris Batista and Marc Deering continue to turn out beautiful art; their work just gets stronger every month, easily. Their thin lines and sharp features remind me more and more of Chris Sprouse’s work these days, and we get some beautiful portraits of the various characters. Even someone as simple as an unnamed tactician gets careful detail on his face and clothing, and when we move to a large crowd shot on Earth full of aliens, you can stop and examine all of the characters for hours.
Would “Legion: Secret Origin” have worked as an opening story for the parent title? I like to think so. Sure, there’s a huge jump in status quo between the opening line-up and what we have now, but it might have eased new readers in. For those who are curious, I do hope they check out “Legion: Secret Origin.” It’s a solid, entertaining super-hero/science-fiction comic. It knows what it needs to be, and handles it well. I’m good with that.