Friday, March 27, 2020

Reboot: The Legion #24

The Legion #24 (November 2003)
title: "After Dark"
writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
artist: Steve Lightle
lettering: Comicraft
colorist: Jason Wright
seps: Digital Chameleon
editor: Stephen Wacker
cover: Steve Lightle
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Kid Quantum II, Umbra

Kwai guide, Science Police, Shadow Maven

Grev Mallor/The Shadow

While lost in another galaxy, Umbra mysteriously lost her powers. When the Legion returned, she left for her homeworld of Talok VIII to deal with the issue...

Picking up just after Umbra arrives on Talok VIII... She finds her world plunged in darkness. The light are on in the U.P. Embassy, but the Science Police are evacuating all personnel, driven out by the encroaching shadow. A monstrous manifestation of the darkness attacks and Umbra blacks out.
When she awakens, she is being ministered to by her old mentor the Shadow Maven who explains the new status quo. While she was away and thought dead, the people despaired and needed a new Shadow Champion. With Tasmia the only last of the direct bloodline, they picked her distant cousin Grev Mallow who, wearing a suit that could artificially tame the Shadow, took the mantle (incidentally robbing Tasmia of her powers) and covered the entire planet with shadowforce. Talok VIII pulled out of the United Planets, no longer trusting its protection to that august body. Armed only with her Legion ring, Umbra faces Grev to regain the mantle. The shadows recognize her and give her some power, enough to defeat Grev who, as it turns out, has been a dead a while. The Shadow, left to its own devices had been controlling him and carrying out its mission in the bluntest possible terms.
Umbra restores daylight to her homeworld and teaches its people not to succumb to fear. Some time later, on Legion World, Umbra explains all this to Kid Quantum who has agreed to set up a threshold directly to the planet so Tasmia can fulfill her promise to the Talokians to act as champion. One thing that might be difficult to get used to are the ancestral shadows that follow Umbra around now, radiating from her as if she were lit from all sides at once. Kid Quantum is, however, happy to see her team mate has lightened up some.
I am so NOT a fan of Umbra’s hairstyle. What is going on really? Straight in the back, curly in the front, tiny braid on top that I hope she uses as a whip if needed, otherwise… what’s the point?! Everything about her appearance in this issue is over the top. The positions she’s in, the facial expressions, the effects caused by light and shadow… It felt like reading soft porn at times. On the other hand, Tasmia is a gorgeous woman, she clearly is comfortable with her body, and her attire seems to empower her. I just think the line is pretty fine between drawing a powerful, gorgeous woman and fan servicing, you know…
Now that all the superficial stuff has been taken care of – I wish I had this body and level of confidence, okay? – I should at least comment a little on the story. It was fun to get a short break from the main storyline to get in touch with a missing team member. I sort of figured the reason why Umbra lost her powers was because her people thought she died in the drift event. I’m glad she got her powers back, but I don’t know how I felt about her opponent essentially being a suit enveloping a dead body. It helps in building the mystery and the power of the darkfield, but at the same time, it feels like she was robbed of her powers by such a puny entity. It’s almost insulting to her personal strength, don’t you think?
She does show a lot of flesh in this outfit. I like the "ripped" stocking, but things get out of control with the multiple g-strings and underboob situation. Oh and the metal cod piece has to go. That saidm it's been years since Steve Lightle has done a Legion issue, and of course, his style has evolved, but I do like the deep blacks and eerie lighting of the fight scenes. It's cool and what you expect from an Umbra story.
Umbra has long been one of the meaner Reboot Legionnaires, xenophobic even, and this issue I think is meant as the final word on that approach to the character. She'll always been a warrior, but she's found in the Legion a family, and where she learned her lesson about openness, she now finds her planet has fallen to her old, dark impulses. No more. She's the champion of shadow, but means to be a beacon of light to her people. Having Grev as a walking corpse, animated by shadow stuff, turns this into a horror story, but it's also contrast to that interpretation of Umbra. Older readers will probably be saddened that Shadow Kid was given such a fate in the Reboot, but on the whole, this is about coming out of the darkness, not wallowing in it.
Science Police Notes:  
  • The last Legion story Steve Lightle drew goes back to Legion of Super-Heroes v3 #23 (June 1986).
  • First and only appearance of the Reboot version of Grev Mallor, who in the original continuity was Shadow Kid.

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