Legion Lost #11 – Reviews Of Old Comics
I was at HeroesCon last weekend and got to sit in on a great panel discussion about the Legion of Super-Heroes with three artists that worked on the Legion, Joe Staton, Greg LaRocque and Keith Giffen. I got the opportunity to pose a brief question to the three of them. So, I asked, “Other than your own work, what’s your favorite Legion story?”
LaRocque and Staton both answered with classic Silver Age Legion stories. Staton liked The Moby Dick of Space and LaRocque loved the story where Star Boy was expelled for killing. Giffen responded with the time they made Element Lad crazy and into a villain. I’m paraphrasing, but he was referencing the Legion Lost twist where the all-powerful Progenitor was revealed to be their lost teammate Element Lad. I can agree with the first two, but the mention of the Legion Lost story really impressed me. It was a great time when the writers did something uniquely different with the Legion. It shouldn’t have surprised me to come from Keith Giffen, who was one of the architects of one of those times.
Writers: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Penciler: Olivier Coipel
Inker: Andy Lanning
Colorist: Tom McCraw
The lost Legionnaires are shocked to see that their missing teammate, Element Lad is alive. He is also the Progenitor that is the despot persecutor of so many races in this new universe in which they have found themselves. Element Lad explains how when they went through the rift, he protected them in Tromium, while transforming himself into pure Tromium.
He saw that they were thrown outside of reality. He had to go outside to sheath the Outpost in Tromium to survive re-entering reality. Unfortunately, he was thrown away from the craft. He was left alone for billions of years. He witnessed life being born on worlds, and yearning for companionship, began to assist it, creating an entire galaxy.
Now that he has remembered the Legion, he can send them home. His Progeny have opened the ark the Legion had found, opening a quantum portal. Brainiac 5 warns that the ark cages the powerful Omniphagos. Element Lad experimented with the Omniphagos and has contained it. He heals the Legionnaires and sends them off to rest.
Away from Element Lad, the Legion discusses the situation. They worry that once he gets home, he’ll continue to play God. Some argue that he’s still their friend and a hero. Wanting proof, they split into three teams. One will verify if it is a portal and find out how to close it to keep the Progeny from invading through it. Another team will prepare to stop the Progeny if they move against the Legion. The last to get Saturn Girl close enough to see if Element Lad is a threat.
The Progeny are sending probes through the portal. Brainiac 5 is convinced that Shikari can guide them through the portal and home. Unfortunately, they will be needed to keep the portal closed. Live Wire’s team finds the Progeny’s fleet still in their hanger. They signal Saturn Girl that they’re ready for her signal. Saturn Girl, Chameleon and Monstress approach Element Lad. He calls them blinks in his perception. Mostress approaches him, appealing to his emotions.
Element Lad confesses that once back home, he’ll release the Omniphagos to destroy everything left behind. This breaks Monstress’s heart. In a moment, Element Lad forgets who she is. When she reminds him that he didn’t create her, he calls her a variant. Then he instantly destroys her. Saturn Girl then gives the mental command for the Legion to move against him.
This remains one of my favorite Legion stories of all time. It takes the Legion and leaves them with very little of the support that they get in so many of their stories. It also takes a character that had gotten very stale and turned him into one of the most dangerous villains the Legion had ever faced. I really would like this story to be used if the Legion ever gets to the point that a film is made for this very reason. It’s not an original concept, but it is when it comes to the Legion. Other stories have had a Legionnaire become a threat, but never after becoming a threat to the universe.
It’s also shown that the Legionnaires don’t set immediately to move against him. The Legion want to believe the best, but prepare for the threats that they know. This Legion has also been put through the wringer up until this point. It shows in how they talk about each other. Saturn calls out the hypocrisy in probing Element Lad’s mind. Prior to this, this version of the Legion got along so great that it was referred to as the “Archie Legion.” This is the most noticeable time when the tone of this Legion irrevocably changed. Of course, this built upon “Legion of the Damned,” where the Blight devastated the United Planets and enslaved almost all of the Legion.
Coincidentally, “Legion of the Damned” is also where Olivier Coipel came on board as the new artist for the Legion. His art style marks the change in tone. Jeffrey Moy could not have drawn this series. It takes Coipel’s style to convey how dark the situation is for the lost Legionnaires. He draws the characters as unique individuals. The humanoid characters are recognizable even without their costumes. The more alien characters look like a radically different species. He also uses unconventional layouts, popularized long before this by lesser artists. Coipel shows that he can tell a story with these layouts. He also does it without making it confusing.
If you’re looking for the issue itself, it shouldn’t be terribly hard to find. It also shouldn’t be terribly expensive, unless a run starts on Legion back issues of quality. You might be able to find it in a bargain box. It was collected by DC Comics in 2011 in the Legion Lost TPB. If you want to read it digitally, it’s available on DC Universe or through Comixology.
Final Rating: 9.0 (out of 10)