"Dream Crime Part Four"
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art: Chris Batista (p), Mark Farmer (i)
Sent careening through interstitial space by a Universo-controlled Legion, Shikari and Sensor find themselves on Steeple, an isolated planet where Karate Kid and Ferro were already stranded. Meanwhile, Universo returns to Titan, consolidating his power over the Legion as he prepares to use the Titanet Tower in full mad cackling evil mode.
This issue, with a mostly controlled Legion facing a few of their fellows, recalls one of the best moments of the Reboot, the "Emerald Vi" story. As in that story, an outside intelligence has transformed the team, wielding them as a powerful weapon of destruction.
Batista really captures the Legionnaires as a group of exceptional young adults, united in quasi-military fashion, but made individual by their own special gifts and skills. His competent, expressive pencils mesh perfectly with Farmer's solid, assured inks, carefully delineating each character and also playing up the difference between the ascetic restraint of Steeple (a spiritual community) and the high-tech futurism of Titan.
This issue definitely reads like a part of a whole, as little happens on the main front besides a few basic chess moves. Universo, powered up as he has been since the reboot, seems unbeatable. At least this story isn't as cluttered as Jurgen's re-introduction of the character in the Titans/Legion mini-series. Too many characters (with a decided focus on the Titans, the book Jurgens was writing at the time) and a convoluted time-travel plot overwhelmed the impressive visuals then, but here Abnett and Lanning give ample focus to their main players.
Seeing a smaller team in action is one of the occasional pleasures of the Legion, and Shikari, Val, Andrew and Jeka do their best to take the battle back to the source. That means Val and Andrew (who's made a full recovery) are no longer stranded on Steeple, even if DnA have to handwave a bit the threshold technology that gets them home (how'd Braniac get the space-warping door to them in the first place?).
Batista falls down a bit on the complexity of Shikari's armor, but he makes up for it with his brilliant depiction of the now somewhat humanoid snake Jeka in action, as well as clever takes on Wildfire and Invisible Kid's use of their powers. While one might like for Universo to have more motivation than just a mad hunger for control, and for them to shy away from the Darkseid threat that may still loom, this is rousing adventure in old school Legion mode, and it's a refreshing change from the more brutal events of recent years.
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