Friday, April 13, 2018

New 52 Legion Lost #4

Welcome to the review of Legion Lost #4, an issue which I think encapsulates a lot of what was wrong with the New 52.

It is an okay issue. The art by Pete Woods is great. It continues the idea of rotating narrators which allows us to get a sense of what each character is thinking about themselves and the team members. But it also is still in the odd plot of stopping a plague in the past, a plot I don't like. And there are parts in the book that make sense. You'll see when you try to figure out what is going on with Yera.

But the biggest thing about this issue which is pure New 52 is the announcement that the writer is leaving. Fabian Nicieza is gone. Think about that. DC blew up their continuity. They announced 52 new titles based on the best pitches. And 4 issues in there is such dissonance between creator and company that they are going separate ways. The same thing happened with Hawk and Dove. The same thing happened with George Perez on Superman. How can DC have been so short sighted that they didn't realize that so many of their titles weren't going to work. 

Even worse than Nicieza leaving is the news that Tom DeFalco coming on. DeFalco is about as old school as you can get. Not exactly screaming 'bold new direction'. 

But let's not destroy this issue for editorial nonsense. The truth is that the Dawnstar aspect of the issue is really well done. And Pete Woods kills it. 

On to the book.

Legion Lost #4 came out a couple of weeks ago and continued to be a strong character driven book. But while the depth of the characters has been enjoyable, the movement of the overall plot seemed to slow this issue. And while I usually would roll with that given the other strengths of the book, I am a bit worried because a change in writers is only two issues away. We learned that Fabien Nicieza is leaving the book and Tom DeFalco is taking over on the Source Blog here. Will Nicieza try to wrap up the plague story arc giving DeFalco a clean slate? Or will that story line continue forward under the new scribe? Will the current model of a new narrator each issue, so far a revelation, be continued? Looking back, I felt that Legion Lost #1 was one of the weaker first issues if the relaunch I read. But the last couple of issues (and this one) have improved as Nicieza gave each issue a unique voice/perspective and artist Pete Woods hit his stride. I hope the momentum isn't lost with the switch over.

As for Woods, the art just keeps getting more and more beautiful. And in this issue, we see that Woods draws a lovely Dawnstar.

Dawnstar got to act as this month's narrator and much of the exposition is told from her perspective as seen through the telepathic link Tellus' provides for the team.

Dawnstar has seemed somewhat aloof in the early issues, complaining about the grime of planet and the accommodations. Nicieza does a good job cluing us in on why she has such a wall built up around her. Her tracking senses are constantly bombarding her with information. It is implied that is like she is being assaulted, that there is a maelstrom of sensations always around her. To process it, to protect herself, she seems to have tried to disengage from the world, from people. It is an interesting take on her character.

Part of her is there in Fargo, following along as Wildfire, Tyroc, and Timber Wolf continue to track the Yera/Rdrayyj being.

So I am trying to figure it out. A human has been mutated into the rdrayyj but has somehow merged with Yera. But Yera is trying to absorb more Durlan genetic matter to somehow gain control/seperate from this thing. But the rdrayyj is trying to kill and eat beings with Durlan DNA. So is Yera somehow guiding this thing to it's victims? And how did she get absorbed?

There is a lot I need to learn here because right now I am lost. Still it is good that Yera has somehow survived.

This encounter hasn't gone unnoticed. The mysterious military woman is seen ordering an intercept squad. And the Fargo police arrive. In a funny moment, the Fargo police state they aren't the Metropolis or Gotham squads. They don't deal with metans and don't want to.

One officer is going to shoot the Durlan mutant, an innocent victim of the plague. I like that Timber Wolf steps in front of the bullet. Unfortunately, despite the shout of pain and the blood spatter, the remainder of the issue, Wolf is unharmed and his uniform unruffled.

But I loved Dawnstar's almost jealous comments about Brin. He acts; she is asked to react. He has passion for the hunt, the fight. These are all things Dawny denies herself.

Despite the somewhat gruff makeup of this Legion group, they all have hope from seeing Yera and knowing she is alive. One thing that has been a constant in the Legion, even in the down-trodden 5YL book, was their hope.

The rdrayyj is able to slip away while the local authorities try to corral the Legion.

I thought this was a great semi-splash from Woods showing a well-trained Wildfire/Tyroc eliminating the weapons and cameras in the mall on one fell swoop. Hey, I'm a Wildfire guy. So I thought this was pretty slick.

The Legionnaires are able to track Yera/rdrayyj only to find her and them surrounded by a military group called the Black Razors.

But the star of this book is Dawnstar ... and by extension Pete Woods.

We get a couple of pages of her meditating, sifting through all the information at her disposal as she tries to track Alastor. I also thought this page layout just worked, the prior scenes and its sensory hints radiating from a pensive Dawny, like rays from a sun. The cosmic effect in the darker aspects of her costume also work, hinting at how otherworldly her powers are, a sort of omniscience, a cosmic awareness of all things around her.

She is actually able to find Alastor's spoor and follow it. But with the muscle of the team busy with the Yera business, Dawnstar decides it is her time to act. In some ways it's crazy to think that she and Tyroc could handle him given how physically imposing he was in the first issue. In other ways it shows how heroic the Legion is, these two facing off against such a threat.

But her 'See.Do.Simple' mantra was great as if she is trying to talk herself into this sort of action.

This panel and the meditating ones show just how fantastic Woods' Dawnstar is. These are stunning renditions of her.

But she and Tellus are outclassed by Alastor. He can control his transformations, he still has his Hulk-ish form. And he has some Carggian in him. Which makes his three times as powerful.

I think the best thing to do is run here. But we have a nice cliffhanger here.

So yes we have the confirmation of Yera being alive, the introduction of the military Black Razors, and the discovery of Alastor being alive. But I still felt the movement of the plague-story was a baby step here. The real step forward was the characterization of Dawnstar. I have really come to love this 'monthly narrator' trend in this book as it allows the reader to really get a feel for the character. Good stuff here.

And Pete Woods remains a favorite of mine. His work on this book continues to improve and sparkle.

Overall grade: B+

B+ seems a bit generous. I would say B-. The Yera plot and the Alastor ending are both pretty confusing. The Dawnstar stuff elevates. But this isn't a great book. 

What did you think?


  1. I just couldn't get into this version of Legion Lost. Things seemed haphazard and inconsistent. Tellus seemed far too anthromorphicized from what I remembered. It's nice to have a Tyroc version that wasn't the awful blaxspoiltation version of a legionnaire, but I never got the backstory of how his history had changed. The whole idea of not being able to contact other heroes of the DCU didn't make sense. Having Yera as a member? There were too many questions that never even got addressed, much less satisfactorily answered.

    I guess you could call me an old fart, but I found most of the NEW52 DCU to be disappointing.

  2. Thanks for comment. I was pretty anti-New 52. You can sense a hope here that things will be good but they never quite materialize.

    Outside of Action Comics, I don't know of any New 52 book that will stand the test of time. And even Action will only be loved by Morrison fans.

  3. I appreciate Fabian trying to make his mark on these characters. He didn't have to make Tyroc the team lead considering Wildfire and Timber Wolf are a bit more experienced. Dawnstar with cosmic awareness is a much better explanation of her power and would open up a whole new avenue for the character. It's a shame though that we have so many Legion females relegated to these types of powers though (Sensor Girl, Dream Girl)