Sunday, November 20, 2011

Legion of Monsters #1

Cover by Juan Doe

Legion of Monsters #1 (October 12, 2011)
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Penciller: Juan Doe
Colorist: Wil Quintana
Letterer: Dave Lanphear

I’m always on the lookout for unfamiliar and new series, especially ones that I can start fresh with as a reader. So I was excited to see Legion of Monsters #1 on the newsstand and, as a big classic monster movie fan, was terribly intrigued. Once again, I have no background with these characters but I assumed that this Legion of Monsters is a sort of contemporary throwback to the pulpy horror comics of the 1950s and 1960s. It definitely had the feel of those comics but with some very modern concepts, as well.

Legion of Monsters #1 starts rather forebodingly, with an unnamed narrator explaining that a serial killer is targeting teenage girls in suburban England. The police are baffled, however, because they are erroneously looking for a human serial killer rather than a supernatural one. Luckily, Elsa Bloodstone, our teenage monster hunter and narrator, is on to this villain and decides to lure him her own way.

Meanwhile, the reader is introduced to some of the central characters of the actual Legion of Monsters, including Moribus , the Living Mummy, the Werewolf by Night, and Manphibian. Rather than being outright campy, Hopeless presented them as rather resigned bureaucrats and civil servants. Living away from the human world, the monsters attempt to maintain an orderly society with their own police and legal system. The first scene in the Legion, for example, featured the Living Mummy and the Werewolf by Night attempting to arrest the Dimensional Man (who, in my opinion, is a Marvel rip-off of the Question) and failing utterly. They are interrupted, however, by the sudden appearance of Elsa and the bloodthirsty monster as they stumble through a portal mid-fight scene into the Legion. Suddenly, Moribus, our apparent leader, realizes that someone or something evil is turning the monsters into mindless killing machines and, with Elsa’s help, must find and stop this villain.

For an introductory comic, the Legion of Monsters #1 did a solid job introducing characters and settings along with crafting an interesting story and well-paced plot. I enjoyed basically all of the characters, though I am hoping Elsa becomes a bit more three-dimensional. Right now, she is a stereotypical female action hero, all snarky bite and not enough depth. It’s awesome that Hopeless presented her as tough and determined but I would like to see her have more personality.

The monsters, and I’m not just speaking as a big monster fan, are the most dynamic characters. They’re funny, wry and have unique voices. They’re different from one another and have their own ideals and worries. I liked them all. I did notice, however, that the atmosphere of the Legion and the monsters’ world reminded me heavily of the Fables series: creatures trying to live within their own world even as the human world regards them as imaginary. This wasn’t necessarily a weakness in the comic, just rather boring.

The art by Doe, however, I wasn’t crazy about, sadly. It was very slapdash and reminded me heavily of a mix between manga and fanart. While I suppose it fit within the context of the comic in its own way, I didn’t particularly enjoying looking at the art in this comic. The storyline was definitely the stronger aspect of the two.

 Nonetheless, Legion of Monsters #1 definitely whetted my appetite for the next issue and I am anxious to see how our monsters deal with suddenly becoming the bad guys again.

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