Writers: Abnett and Lanning
Artist: Steve Lightle
Umbra returns to Talok VIII by instant threshold, only to find her world shrouded in the darkness that she no longer controls.
Abnett and Lanning are actually channeling some of the original intrepid warrior energy that defined Shadow Lass from her debut in the Shooter sixties. That's quite a surprise, as the reboot Umbra has been little more than a tiresome termagant for most of her appearances.
Humbled (or perhaps modulated) by her experiences in Legion Lost, Tasmia was dealt a blow when her powers faded almost immediately upon her return to earth (22 issues ago to be exact). The young warrior and chosen champion finally makes it home to investigate. She finds a world literally shrouded, traumatized by the recent series of ravages suffered by the U.P. The Blight, Robotica, Ra's Al Ghul's destructive terraforming and forced evolution plan have all sent the formally sociable and interplanetary Talokians into deep Durlan retreat mode.
Lightle's return to this title is a welcome one, a gorgeous chance for the signature artist of the Baxter series (and some of the best covers during and since) to receive a long overdue spotlight. This solo on Tasmia and Talok is right up his ally. Even if his style has shifted somewhat from his formerly pristine precision, he's lost none of his expressive power over the years. There's more of a shorthand stylization going on nowadays, but perhaps that's a practical move.
DnA do it mostly in dialogue (but this is fitting for the verbose, imperial Tasmia), but they actually provide some character growth that goes some way towards recalling the ultimately regal and commanding Shadow Lass who was M'Onel's mate for so long. The ironic conflict in this issue is that Tasmia was sent out into the U.P. to become more tolerant and understanding of other species, which she has done. Meanwhile, her world has retreated into xenophobic paranoia, symbolized by their cloak in the dark force.
Lightle comes up with some intriguing ideas (like the infrared goggles and light-suits required to exist in a world of night), and the battle where she must reclaim the usurped darkness is dramatic and fittingly morbid. The coda, where Legion leader Jazmin welcomes back a powered-up Tasmia, shows just how far Umbra has come. Great job by all.
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