Friday, April 7, 2017

Review: Legion Secret Origin #3

What if you told an origin story and no new reader could understand it?


Legion Secret Origin #3 continues what I am calling a 'sideways' look at the team's origin. As I have said in other reviews, I bought this series off the rack but I have no recollection of it. So maybe this all will come together at some point. For now, I am reading this book and appreciating this sort of 'behind the scenes' look at the Legion's earliest days. But I keep wondering if anyone trying to learn about the Legion even understands what is going on.

So during this review I will point out some things that long-time readers will understand.. However, these nods to the past might not exactly be understood or even acknowledged by anyone picking this up.

Perhaps most of all, I am internally comparing this series to the other more recent Secret Origin (like Superman) or Rebirth (like Green Lantern) books that DC had been putting out at the time. Those were true retellings of those characters beginnings, a foundation for new readers to build on. I don't know if writer Paul Levitz quite understood the purpose of these.

As usual, Chris Batista provides clean, smooth art for the proceedings. This issue has a decent spectrum of places for Batista to shine. From the boardroom to deep space battles, there is a shine to the art here. But with this mostly being conversations, there is an almost sterile feel to the book.

Have I excited you to read the review?

'Connections' starts with Phantom Girl heading to the Metropolis Starport and shocking the Science Police stationed there. All smiles, Phantom Girl tells the officers that she is there to talk to the Security Directorate, the triumverate of advisors that we have seen is pulling all the United Planet strings in anonymity.

One thing I like about this series is the effervescent and charismatic Phantom Girl in this book. She is a strong woman, a brave explorer, a unique phaser even for Bgztl. She is coming her to warn our dimension of an interstellar threat. But she also is this happy, smiling, rather physical presence. How ironic that she has a physical weight to her, how she holds herself and how people respond to her, given her powers are to be immaterial.

I had thought that the Directorate is sort of a shadowy cabal, hiding knowledge of their existence from the citizens. But here Phantom Girl names them. Perhaps they aren't as mysterious as I have thought.

Meanwhile in space, it is noted that the wormhole which had initially brought infantry onto the land of Inotrom is growing and moving. It is obvious that something bigger is going to be heading through. Brainy tells the Admiral they need to move away or prepare to attack. When the officer tells him that civilians ultimately control the military, Brainy is surprised.

He believes in a meritocracy. No big surprise there.

Meanwhile, Phantom Girl, now named as Tinya Wazzo, does meet the Directorate and lets them know that there is a threat heading towards the United Planet. It would have engulfed Bgztl had the planet not been moved out of their reach.

A movable planet! Now that is interesting. But we don't hear more about it.

Instead, we see maybe some of the flighty nature of this young Tinya. Immediately after delivering this dire message, she notices the Legion on a monitor. Having seen Triplicate Girl getting inducted on screen, she takes off.

And then, in one of those moments that irks me, we later see Tinya getting inducted, again on a TV screen in the background! How did she meet the Legion? What was that conversation like? How did she show her powers? That is what a Secret Origin book should show, not all this political intrigue.

Later, we see that the Legion founders with Brande have bought a prototype new star cruiser. Legion cruisers are a big part of the mythos so this meant something to me. But I don't know if meant anything to a new reader.

And then we see Garth putting the ship through its paces, flying around an asteroid field. He promises Rokk that he won't crash the ship; he has done that before.

Of course, I know he is talking about the crash on Korbal (although I thought Mekt was the pilot). That is a big part of his origin. I know this is a sideways comment on Garth's origin. But if you don't know his story, you won't get it.

The Science Police is starting to get pretty upset about the Legion's existence and let the Directorate know it. The team is starting to recruit academy applicants, especially those with special abilities. They purchased that space cruiser. They need to be stopped.

Director Mycroft reminds the chief that the Science Police deputized the Legionnaires. How could they be against the new team while sanctioning their actions? The answer - political pressure.

And Mycroft is again reminded by the Naltorian Director Anisa that she senses a tremendous fate for the team.

As for the team itself, they are getting plenty of applicants who want to fill the ranks. We see little holograms with some familiar faces. I love that Molecule Master is in there.

Rokk isn't sure who to pick. Brande walks in and says that any one of the applicants would be fine. Maybe Rokk should pick one at random ... like this one ... and Brande picks up Chameleon Boy's holo.

Again, I know that Cham ends up being Brande's son. I know their history. I can see that this is a new wrinkle in how Cham got chosen. This is a nice addition to the team's origin. But if you are not a seasoned and knowledgeable Legion reader? This won't resonate as much.

Meanwhile, Brande is attacked once more. These assassins have no clear motive in their minds per Imra. They just feel a rage towards Brande and want him dead.

One thing I love is that we learn of Brande's personal bodyguard. It is Lyle Norg, the Invisible Kid, who is constantly there to help defend Brande from attackers.

Prior versions of Invisible Kid had him as a shy scientist who was more comfortable in a lab than in a fight. But this scene, especially his body language in that last panel, towering over the guy he battered, gives him a more street fighter feel. I like that.

Throughout the book, we see the UP fleet maneuvering around the wormhole as a massive warship tries to enter UP space. Thankfully, Brainy comes up with a way to get around the ship's shields and have the UP destroy the invading vessel. But this is clearly the opening event of war. What is coming next?

So another issue wrapped up which is almost entirely people talking. Another issue where something important happens in the background. And another issue where pertinent little nods to the past are thrown into the mix without explaining them to new readers.

I don't think this is accomplishing what I was hoping it would. This is truly a secret origin. Because the origin remains a secret to the novice Legion fan.

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