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The Legion #25

Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



ďFoundationsĒ

Writers: Abnett and Lanning
Artists: Chris Batista, Eric Wight, Tony Harris, Dave Cockrum, Paul Rivoche (p), Doug Hazlewood, Robin Riggs, Chip Wallace, Al Milgrom (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
In this anniversary issue, several threads overlap, not always fluidly. On Foundation Day (what, no Klordny?) 20 new Legion cadets take the grand tour of Legion World. Various characters mourn Element Lad while honoring Garth and Monstress. A team is dispatched to Braal to fight a space storm that threatens President Wazzo. Mekt, on a pass from prison, laments his tortured past. And in the distant past, a young man in Smallville is visited by three teenage strangers in space suits.

Comments:
I wish I could say that this anniversary issue, meant to honor the Legionís rich past in a way that is more overt and self-conscious (compared t the more subtle allusions in DnAís last story about Universo), was better than it is. Certainly there was potential here, in the extra pages and with the multiple (some fan favorite or at least sentimentally chosen) artists. While there are some interesting threads emerging, weíre left with a patchwork that doesnít really add up.

The Mekt story takes up where the Winath Legion Worlds issue left off, with a guilty Mekt visiting his remaining sibling and lamenting all the ways he hurt Ayla and Garth in the past. In fact, itís mostly a re-iteration of that story, with little forward movement for this long-traumitized family. The wan Reboot Mekt has yet to overshadow the far more colorful Lightning Lord, and his new obsession doesnít bode well.

The art, by Cockrum and Milgrom, is disappointing. Milgrom is hardly a sensitive inker, and his heavy lines do nothing for Cockrumís sketchy figures.

While the President Wazzo story does seem to tie in directly to the new arc, itís the art that really confuses the issue. Harris, whoís been doing mostly bang-up covers for awhile now, doesnít paint images that match the dialogue inside. The supposed cosmic storm is strangely off-panel. The warp-phantoms it creates are leftovers from Final Fantasy, poorly drawn and derivative. Whatever the Legionnaires are doing to combat it doesnít look effective. And while the seemingly ink-free art has a colorful charm of its own, itís jarringly out of place next to the massive inks on the other pages of this issue.

Iíve got no clue where the developments with Jan, Garth and some crystals on Trom are going, but I am glad for Batistaís solid pencils. His natural facility is evidence enough as to why heís the regular penciller. His cadets are interesting designs (hi there Comet Queen!), and his Legionnaires are confident and sexy.

Iím also all for the ďindy cartoonĒ looks of Eric Wight and Paul Rivoche. The contradictory darkness they add to their seemingly simplified figures, borrowed from film noir and pulp fiction, is a welcome addition to Legion lore. Unlike Batistaís gleaming future, theirs are worlds of destructive and decaying tech.

But the Superboy thing, in both cliffhangers, is more confusing than involving at this point. Iíve always been ambivalent about the character, and Iím not sure if I welcome him back. If they donít really mean it, DC shouldnít play around like this. Unless, I guess, theyíre using Kon-El and not Kal, but that remains to be seen.

While this issue gets points for effort, and certainly isnít a step back for DnA (who seem bent on exploring Legion lore right now rather than making more of it, which is a welcome change from two creators seen as destructive in their early stories), itís not a success. The energy and excitement of the Universo arc has been replaced by nostalgia and uncompelling mysteries. Perhaps regular art and story-length will better serve the title next month.



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