Legion: Secret Origin #2

A comic review article by: Shawn Hill

If there's one idea in DC Comics lore you'd think might be played out, it's the origin of the Legion. It's been retold countless times (my own favorite version dates from my childhood, and appeared in DC Super Stars #17, 1977, and it was old then!), in origin tales and periodically in most of the new Legion titles when they want to reinvest in the core concept. It's sort of the last high concept I would think might work for a limited series, or that could bring out the best in legacy writer Paul Levitz.

Mea culpa, I was wrong on both counts. Levitz expands the basic beats of the story (three kooky kids, with more gumption and talent than their elders, save a rich old man from a planned hit on his life), to give us the tapestry of the future world 1,000 years (minus 10 or so) away from now, and he avoids the pitfalls of the goofy teen angst of the Threeboot or (thus far) the vile taste of xenophobia that stained even the mostly optimistic Reboot and several eras since, especially the revival instigated by Geoff Johns. 

What we have instead are gray imminences, a team of talented observers, comprised of a Coluan, a Naltorian, and a human. In other words, a genius, a precog and a devious manipulator. They're not taken in by "old fakir" act of Brande (whom we know was eventually revealed to be a particularly crafty and ambitious Durlan, at least in some of those past realities), but they seem enamored of the group of charismatic kids that is so quickly beginning to gather around him.

Last issue we saw Braniac 5 and Phantom Girl investigate a vicious attack on an outlying world, and Triplicate Girl come to join Garth, Rokk and Imra as Brande's volunteer bodyguards. In gratitude he begins building their first headquarters; and he needs to keep them close, because there are several more attacks on his life. Along the way we see the future Colossal Boy, and witness the chemistry between the teammates that will form them into such a powerful and popular group. Mycroft, the human observer, sees the implications already of the "accidental army" that is forming as if by destiny. Alone, their powers are normal for their races or relatively minor. But as a group, they're formidable.

Chris Batista is the ideal artist for this story. In fact he and cover artist Tom Feister did classic work on the title during the Abnett and Lanning era. There's really no current DC artist better placed to deal with all the future tech while depicting beautifully proportioned young people in dynamic action. The Legion hasn't looked this good than the too brief run of Jiminez on the short-lived Legion Academy stories. And Feister's painted covers add a layer of mystery and glamour that is harmonious with the interior.

It seems the Legion survived the 52 onslaught just fine, only not in either of the two main books. Maybe the focused tone of this miniseries will reverberate.

Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at Cornekopia.net.

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