Thursday, August 29, 2019

Reboot: Legion Lost #12

Legion Lost #12 (April 2001)
title: "First & Last"
writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
penciller: Olivier Coipel
inker: Andy Lanning
lettering: Comicraft
colorist: Tom McCraw
editor: Mike McAvennie
special thanks: Pascal Alixe and Martin Griffiths
cover: Olivier Coipel & Andy Lanning
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Chameleon, Kid Quantum II, Live Wire, Monstress (flashback), Saturn Girl, Shikari, Ultra Boy, Umbra, Wildfire

Omniphagos, Progenitor (Element Lad), Progeny

The lost Legion has encountered the Progenitor and it is Element Lad, who has gone insane living through the birth of the universe and becoming an amoral god to a whole galaxy. He has a portal to get the Legion home, but plans to take the Omniphagos through and let it eat everything so he can start over. And he's just disintegrated Monstress...

While Brainiac 5's team finds and recaptures the Legion's ship and outpost, the Progenitor tortures Chameleon until Saturn Girl can take no more and unleashes a devastating psionic attack on the being who used to be Jan Arrah. Meanwhile, Live Wire takes stock of what they've learned, and purposes to close the gateway if he sees Jan and the Omniphagos make a move towards it.
More Legionnaires join the fight against Element Lad after Saturn Girl is stunned by feedback, but without much success. Then, Jan is distracted when the gigantic Omniphagos breaks free, having taken advantage of his metal incapacitation during Imra's attack. Jan makes turns himself into a giant to better fight the (other) monster. In turn, the Legionnaires take advantage of this situation, make for their ship, and head for the gateway, through which Shikari successfully sees the way to Earth. In the meantime, Jan Arrah and the Omniphagos have fought to a draw... and merged into a terrible creature that's quickly heading for them.
Live Wire sees only one way to stop the monster and give Brainy time to close the gateway behind them. He tells Cham and Ultra Boy to give his love to Imra and shocks them into a temporary paralytic state, takes off his ring and resigns from the Legion. For he knows he must kill and won't do it as a Legionnaire. Then he jumps into the creature's maw and fries its brain, giving his life to save his friends.
I feel awful writing this, but I need to say that I’m glad this wasn’t easy. The build-up we went through, Jan killing Monstress without breaking a sweat, it wouldn’t have made sense to see everyone getting out of this alive. I guess the only thing I really don’t understand about this finale is where are the Progeny? We spot them briefly on page 8 but they should be a bigger threat, attacking en masse the deviants destroying their war fleet. Where are they when Brainy’s team joins with Garth in the wreckage? Legion doesn’t kill so they’re not under that debris. They’re nowhere to be seen to punish the saboteurs, no mention of them guarding the Outpost, nowhere around to protect their Progenitor. While the fight against Jan is epic, that part is terribly underwhelming. I guess it was just plot convenience to get them out of the way.
The strength in this story is how it transmits emotions. For me, it jumped right off the page and I could feel their pain, sadness, desperation and their anger. The Legion isn’t lost anymore, but at what cost? Coming back in our universe, with this kind of emotional baggage, having seen what they saw, leaving three friends behind... Nothing will be the same for them. Garth’s sacrifice was the most heroic thing I’ve read in a while. This kid has gone so far since I started reading. By resigning and giving his life for his friends, he became the greatest leader the Legion has ever had and will ever have. I had a hard time with him at first, but the character grew on me... a lot... especially during this run. I think the writers gave him an amazing arc and this was a good – yet tragic – way to end his story. He will be missed and never forgotten.
How much time has passed? Are their friends still alive on the other side? There are two things I want to see in the next issue. First, I want Shikari to officially become a full-fledged Legionnaire, except if she’d rather stay a nomad and explore new worlds. I can respect that decision also, but maybe with an honorary member title. Then, I want to see the heroes grieve. They deserve this. I’d rather have a full story about how the Legion Lost are coping with their loss now that they’re safe than a story of what happened in the United Planets in the meantime. [Then I apologize in advance. - Siskoid] There will be plenty of time to learn more about what happened, but we have a very good opportunity to have character development by having them going through intense emotions. I might be the only one caring about such things and I don’t care!
I cry at movies. I cry at TV shows. I even cry at books. But it's rare I let a comic get to me. Gotta say, this one did me in. It's not that Live Wire died, as I was aware of that plot development in advance. It's that we're in his head the whole time, and the narration is beautiful and aspirational. It's about how he is resigned to his fate, how he leaves the team stronger than when he found it, and the way we fade from the shot of the founders to his belt, floating in space. This is how you do "dark", by contrasting with bright, shining light. And Live Wire was that for sure. Like Monstress, we came to care for him more in the pages of Legion Lost than we might have previously. Live Wire was very near the bottom of my list of favorite Legionnaires, the hot head I wish grew up. This series made him grow up, and he became an invaluable member. How is Saturn Girl especially going to deal with this? And his sister?
To get us to the final sacrifice, there's plenty of action as the Legionnaires square off against a god, and some corners do get cut. The Progeny disappear, yes, but it looked from the art as if Element Lad had destroyed Wildfire's suit, except he shows up fine later. But mostly, the art is epic and dynamic, I have no real issue with it. Coipel creates cool creatures for Chameleon to turn into, and makes the Omniphagos properly monstrous. Goodbye, Legion Lost. We're heading in Legion Worlds to see what happened during the missing year back home, and then the last leg of the Reboot with The Legion. A few weeks yet before things calm down and settle into a new status quo. I hope you'll stick with us.
Science Police Notes:  
  • This issue is told from Live Wire's point of view.
  • This is the last issue of Legion Lost (vol.1). The action next takes up with Legion Worlds.
  • Live Wire dies in this issue. In the original continuity, Lightning Lad died as well, but was resurrected, although the 5YL series revealed it was actually Proty I who took his place.
  • Element Lad also appears to die, but that is not necessarily confirmed.

End of the Legion Lost (vol.1) series. Death of Live Wire.

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