by Roger Ash
DC recently released a collection of the classic maxiseries from 2000-2001, Legion Lost. I’m assuming this was done in part to help push the New 52 series of the same name. There are definitely some differences between the two as in the new series, members of the Legion of Super-Heroes are lost in time and stranded on current day earth whereas in the maxiseries, they’re lost in a distant part of the universe. Also, both the current series and the maxiseries are done by different creators. But in spite of the differences, I’m glad DC did decide to reprint the classic series as it’s a very enjoyable story.
I admit that my interest in the series wasn’t due to the Legion. While I do enjoy the characters, I’ve met some real Legion fanatics and my love of the series and its multitude of characters doesn’t even come close to theirs. My interest was piqued due to the writers of the series, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning. I loved what they did with the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe, so I was curious to see what they did prior to that with the Legion. Also, Legion Lost contains some of the early work by superstar artist Olivier Coipel, along with a couple issues drawn by Pascal Alixe. It is certainly interesting to see Coipel’s early work and how his style has developed between then and now.
The story of Legion Lost was set up just prior to the series in Legionnaires and Legion of Super-Heroes (those issues were reprinted in DC Comics Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes #1). To save the Earth, the Legion must close a rift in space. In doing so, a group a heroes –Element Lad, Apparition, Brainiac 5.1, Chameleon, Kid Quantum, Live Wire, Monstress, Saturn Girl, Ultra Boy, Umbra, and Erg-1/Wildfire – is transported to a distant part of the universe; a place so far from home that they recognize no stars or planets and have any idea which way is the right way to head to get home.
In this unfamiliar territory, they meet a young girl named Shikari of the Kwai. She is being pursued by the Progeny, ruthless aliens who – on orders from their ruler, the Progenitor – are systematically wiping out variants, i.e. anyone who is not like them. So not only does the Legion have to find a way home, but they also have to deal with genocidal aliens. Shikari turns out to be a very helpful member of the team as she not only has powers that can assist them, but her knowledge of the Progeny and their tactics is invaluable.
Shikari is also a great character for readers unfamiliar with the Legion, for as she learns more about her new teammates, so does the reader. Abnett & Lanning also help new readers along with the storytelling device that each issue is told from a different team member’s point of view. That way, the reader learns more about who the characters are and what drives them. But there’s also lots for long-time fans to enjoy as well as character relationships are explored and there’s lots of action and adventure. There’s also tragedy as well, with some truly heartbreaking moments.
One of the things that impressed me most about the series is how well all twelve issues tie together. Even stories that may seem like single issue stories, such as the Legion’s encounter with an immensely powerful being called the Omniphagos, turn out to be an integral part of the whole by series end. Also, while the Legion is certainly directionally lost, they are also lost in other ways as Abnett & Lanning explore other meanings of the word and examine what else the Legion have lost besides their way.
Can the Legion defeat the Progeny? What is the terrible secret of their leader, the Progenitor? Will the lost members of the Legion find their way home? I’m not gonna spill the beans. You’ll have to read the book to find out. And it’s certainly worth a read as Abnett & Lanning have shown me once again that they tell cosmic stories so very well. I hope that DC continues to collect their work on The Legion as I’ve never read it before and am curious as to what comes next.
Now, go read a comic!