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The Legion #21

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



"Dream Crime Part Three"

Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artists: Chris Batista (p), Mark Farmer (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

We're deep into what may be this regime's most traditional Legion story yet. They're using all of the major cast, though the highlight this time is on two characters of (mostly) their own creation.

After subjecting the 31st Century to desolation after desolation, some semblance of normality has returned. R.J. Brande's space warp technology, lost to the Blight, has been replaced the Pathfinder threshold drives. Using the odd team-up of Shikari the alien pathfinder, and the humanoid iteration of Jekka, the snake illusionist, DnA stage what would be an all-out battle issue, if any of it were real. Though the cover gives away the puppeteer pulling all the strings (to be fair, so did the last panel of the previous issue).

"Dream Crime" has sent mixed signals all along, beginning more cerebrally as Nura/Dreamer and Imra/Saturn Girl journey to Titan, the world of telepaths. The seer Nura, having been hardened from her previous hippie/passive persona by the war against Robotica and Khundian training, now lives a life of service, with her precognitive powers at the disposal of the United Planets.

When things start to go wrong on Titan, we thought at first she was facing a revived Darkseid. Then we had an issue where Imra seemed lost in some illusion of fifties teenager-hood. Both stories were a way of homaging the Legion's rich history (Darkseid being the foe in perhaps the ultimate Legion story; the fifties being the team's genesis).

It turns out, though, that Universo (the most deadly of Titanian telepaths) is striking out again, and this issue sees Nura spread his hypnotic sway to Legion World itself. The conflict this issue comes in setting Jekka and "Dawnstar Legion" against the other Legionnaires, who are convinced the duo are agents in a Darkseid invasion.

New regular penciller Batista (with the professional inks of Farmer) has made this title his own from the start (just as he did the final issues of the Nicieza era of Thunderbolts). In fact, he has a rather Lee Moder-esque tendency towards elongated figures, but his dynamic expressions and attention to technological detail are all his own. He and Farmer stage some truly creepy sequences, such as the moody awakening of a bitter Jekka (nonplused by her recent physical changes) and the ominous arrival of three legionnaires on the penultimate page who would ordinarily be a welcome sight to their beleaguered teammates.

There are many ways that this story recalls the best of previous Legion eras (and some of the worst, since seeing the team out of their own control and behaving dangerously has echoes of a previous spotty story where a Bizarro virus got free in the station). Apparently, Jekka is immune due to her illusive abilities, while Shikari can see the path to the truth behind Universo's attack.

It was wise of DnA not to really attempt to restage a battle with the Legion's greatest foe other than Mordru; Universo is a much wiser and more manageable choice than Darkseid. And seeing the ingenuity of our two heroines as they try to overcome their teammates without hurting them allows for some needed character work, while Batista's pencils keep all the players clear and distinct. Dream Crime is shaping up to be the strongest, and most Legion-like, story of DnA's run. And it's doing it without mass destruction.



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