Monday, February 18, 2013

Intro to Comics: Legion (upgrade)

(This blog appeared on my Facebook nearly 3 years ago, I am transferring some of them over).

            Welcome to the dark side of comics (and not Darkseid god of tyranny and domination, he is awesome) I mean the Dark Age of Comics in which everything became more extreme.  In the late 80's and on through the 90's comics became very much about three things, huge misshapen musculature, weapons of such alien configuration and abnormal size as to baffle all who looked upon them, and the X-Men.  The number 1 all time selling comic is an issue of X-Men from the 90's, which people speculate sold in the realm of 10,000,000 copies to people hoping to eventually cash in on it as a collectors item with the investment genius of a 12 year old who doesn't know what scarcity means.

Also, POUCHES, would be another good word to help describe 90's art.
            The character I wish to point out as a symptom of the impending fever that was the Dark Age is Legion, an invention of Chris Claremont the same year I was born and Doctor Brown discovered time travel, 1985.  Legion actually sounds like a complex little character on paper with some cool ideas inelegantly worked into his design.

            Legion is psychic, having a few different forms of (blank)-kinesis, and mind reading.  He also can mimic mutant powers.  Thing is, his mind reading ability causes him to copy the persona of those he is around, these personalities become whole in his mind and have caused him a bad case of multiple personality disorder, what is worse is that each persona can use his mimic abilities to use their own original super powers in Legion's body.  This means that he can do anything if the right mind is in control of his body.  Time travel, lighting people on fire with his mind, anything.

This is a more modern take on Legion.  It seems to be doing a lot better job with him.  It does still have terrible hair though, and that will forever mark him as part of the 90's.  (Then again, if Prof X, the bald was my father I would grow my hair out while I still had it to grow.)
            What makes him a symptom of the darker edgier age of comics is not only is he crazy powerful, and crazy, but he is also the horrible kept secret of Prof X.  Legion is Charles Xavier's bastard son who had been raised in an institution because of his mental defects.  That is right, the Martin Luther King jr. knock-off of the Marvel universe has a baby mama, and an f'd up crazy baby.  Because illegitimate parenthood, that is something for superheroes to be associated with (keep in mind both Batman and Wolverine have illegitimate children in the comics, and Superman had one in his latest movie, so somewhere out there someone thinks that this is a real common human flaw for popular and competent characters to have).

            Legion needless to say becomes a villain, and using his time travel power attempts to make it so Magneto never becomes the leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants.  Legion fails, and instead ends up killing his dad, causing an unstable time loop resulting in the super villain Apocalypse ruling the world (much like the Darkseid mentioned above, Apocalypse is awesome).  Needless to say the time loop untangled itself and the universe got better... By having Legion never be born to begin with.

            Didn't stop a writer who hadn't done his research from bringing him back for no reason at all, and doing nothing with him, and allowing him to fade into comic book obscurity again.  But yeah who cares.

            Truth is, Legion could have worked as a sort of Borg collective for mutant powers and memories, he could have even worked out as Prof X's greatest failure, but he didn't.  His stories were a cluster of continuity hiccups and bad plotting.  Want to know how I know the character could have worked?  Because a few years ago Marvel started the "Ultimate" line of comics, retelling classic superhero stories with modern sensibilities and art, in it the character of Legion is mixed with a better character called Proteus.   Rather than absorb minds Proteus hops from body to body burning them out to full his reality warping powers, ultimately falling into a trap, being bound inside the mind of a psychic long enough for Colossus (who is awesome) to crush his ass with a car.  All while Prof X debates the ethics of killing Proteus, who is his own son, but also a terrible danger to the world, as he kills hundreds of people just to rub in X's face how Xavier is responsible for having never used his powers to fix Proteus.  That is crazy evil.  Hurray for Colossus saying "sometimes somebody has to die" and having the balls to follow through with it, though this Colossus is a former hitman for the Russian Mob so take from that what you will.

            So overall Legion is a bad character, and one of many that populated the Dark Age of comics.  Poorly conceived, poorly plotted, poorly reused.

Ultimate Proteus, in one of the worst stills I have ever seen for a character.

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