Legion #25-26

Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Penciled by Chris Batista
Inked by Chip Wallace
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

It’s got to be tough, working on The Legion. It’s had a very long life (titled until the past couple years as The Legion of Super-Heroes) and walks a strange line of being part of the “DC Universe”, but set 1000 in the future. Maybe that’s why it’s so nice to see the current revamp of The Legion doing so well creatively; this is the best the comic’s been in years.

Defenders of the United Planets Federation, the Legion of Super-Heroes’s ranks are comprised of super-powered beings from a number of different worlds, banding together to stop evil when it shows its face. Even as signs begin to point towards a possible return of the dreaded legend known only as Darkseid, another legend unexpectedly arrives in the 31st century: the hero known as Superboy. But is his arrival in this time zone completely a coincidence?

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s current storyline “Foundations” is performing a delicate balancing act, using the comic’s history in such a way to try and appeal to older fans while still keeping itself accessible to newer readers. And you know, it really works. The usage of both Superboy and Clark Kent in “Foundations” is a nice nod to the changing times and faces of DC Comics, as well as what looks to be part of a much bigger storyline. The characters themselves come across pretty clearly; Abnett and Lanning wisely kept in mind that this storyline could be the first one for many new readers, so it’s carefully introducing everyone and keeping things simple at first, while quietly building on information given to accelerate the learning curve. Most importantly, the usage of Darkseid and Apokolips feels natural in The Legion. Bringing characters from the “modern day” universe into The Legion can feel gimmicky and grafted on, but the very nature of Darkseid’s godhood makes it feel natural, as does Abnett and Lanning’s creepy, behind-the-shadows approach to him.

Chris Batista and Chip Wallace are likewise doing a good job with The Legion. Batista’s pencils have always had an attractive look about them, giving people an appealing curve without ever feeling over the top. Batista gives the future a beautiful sheen that makes you really feel like you’re looking a thousand years ahead, while making sure that everything is easy enough to identify. This is the future that you’ve imagined, and his characters slip from one panel to the next within it with the greatest of ease. Best of all, the depiction of the servants of Darkseid look fantastic. They’ve got enough familiar elements about them to be instantly recognizable, but they all seem darker and grimmer in these new incarnations. As they gather around the calcified statue of Darkseid, you really get the impression that he is their lord and master, and even immobile, someone to fear.

With a Legion Secret Files hitting stores this week and another issue of “Foundations” hot on its heels, DC Comics seems to be giving The Legion a real publicity push. With the addition of Batista as an artist about six months ago (a collection of “Dream Crime” which kicked off this new direction in issues #18-23 would be appreciated), The Legion is really firing on all cylinders. If you’d given up on the book in the past or were just curious, now’s the time to come on board.

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