With the Waid/Shooter “Legion of Super-Heroes” series left for dead, the delays on “Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds,” and the uncertainty about the focal point of “Adventure Comics,” this Tony Bedard-written L.E.G.I.O.N. update may be the only thing for LSH fans to rely on each month. Will it satisfy the monthly Legion craving?
And for those among us who aren’t fans of the Legion — and by “us,” I mean you — we have to consider whether or not this comic stands on its own merits. Is it worth reading as a sci-fi superhero action comic, regardless of any link to the tropes of the 31st century?
Yes, I believe it will satisfy Legion fans — at least for a little while — and yes, I believe it’s worth reading as a comic outside of any larger Legion context. Tony Bedard and Andy Clarke have done a nice job propelling the first issue into the psychic space of the DC Universe. It’s accessible, swift-moving, and clear. If it’s not a startling new direction — and it’s not — at least it’s a compelling opening chapter, and one that’s worth taking a gander at.
The premise here is that Vril Dox (Brainiac 2) is on the lam, fleeing from his own former organization. Something has happened to the L.E.G.I.O.N., and as an intergalactic space law-enforcement team it’s become a bit techno-fascist. Too much, even, for Dox’s liking. So he’s on the run, and it looks like some of the Omega Men might be joining him — to form, no doubt, some kind of rebellious team. Something that will spell R.E.B.E.L.S., conveniently enough.
Dox is stalked by some bounty hunter types, including Tribulus whose presence seems to imply that Bedard subscribes to the same Legion philosophy I do: “When in doubt, throw in Validus — he has a brain that shoots lightning — or at least someone who looks like him.” And there’s some silliness with Supergirl burning a dvd with her heat vision. (Brainiac 5 sent Supergirl back into the past with hypnotically-imbedded blueprints that she could burn in PC format? Would they even know about dvds in the 31st century?) But as Legion-logic, it’s good enough, and it’s a surprising moment that works for the benefit of the story.
Andy Clarke does a nice job on the art, providing a kind of Barry Kitson stillness combined with a Seth Fisher-esque attention to detail. He’s a great fit for this series, with his ability to render the seams in space uniforms and delineate the furrowed brow of Vril Dox. I’m not sure if it’s a problem with the reproduction or an idiosyncrasy of his inking technique, but he seems to resort to a kind of hazy pointillism in some of the close-ups, and he might be better served with lines of more substantial width. His subtle details read as pinpricks and scratches when they show up on the page.
“R.E.B.E.L.S.” #1 is a good start, a fun space opera story that seems ready to launch from Earth at any moment. Bedard has a strong grasp on the Vril Dox character, and if he can add depth to the supporting cast, this could be a DC revamp that deserves to stick around for a while.