Thursday, October 14, 2010

Legion: Prophets Is A Lousy Trade Paperback Anthology That Oversells Legion!

The Good: Prepares readers for the movie
The Bad: Very poor artwork, Mediocre story, No real character development
The Bottom Line: A blasé trade paperback anthology that teases the film Legion, Legion: Prophets is a fractured story with poor artwork that failed to engage this reader.

I try not to write reviews when I am in a hurry, if for no other reason than speed tends to make me positive I will miss a crucial detail in my review. That said, when I first reviewed the graphic novel (trade paperback anthology) Legion: Prophets, I had only a half an hour before I had to go a preview screening of Legion. Having finished reading Legion: Prophets, the trade paperback anthology of four comic books by the same title which are intended to act as a prequel to the film, I wanted to whip off my review of the book prior to seeing the film so none of the details cross over or influence me. Unfortunately, there's not much in the way of details to be shared because this fairly thin comic book anthology seems determined only to setup the film rather than offer any real insights into the direction of Legion (click here for review!).

Making a comic book prelude to an upcoming film is nothing new, but doing it successfully is a truly rare thing. In fact, only last year's Star Trek: Countdown did a truly decent job of preparing viewers for the film, while still telling a very complete story in its own right. Unfortunately, Legion: Prophets does not do that. This feels much more like an advertising tool than an actual comic book story and the essentials of Legion are covered as well in the film as in this book.

As the angel Uriel moves against God’s forces in heaven as part of his own plan to free angels from what he sees as slavery to God, prophets appear on Earth to try to prepare mankind for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately for people like Jacob Heifitz, who is visited by the angel Gabriel, the conflict in heaven is coming to earth. Heifitz, having stolen one of the Dead Sea Scrolls is working to decipher the prophecies regarding the Second Coming before all of humanity is wiped out by angels. Two days before Christmas, assassin and prostitute (arguably) Miko Hogosha is haunted by vision of demons overwhelming New York City. Unfortunately, she comes out of her vision to discover New York City in the throes of chaos and she has to cut her way out of the City in her attempt to find where civilization might yet survive.

Meanwhile, in the Midwest United States, Maggie Winters, who has always been a puzzling genius, begins to hallucinate disturbing images, which seem to indicate the end of the world is coming. She is offered glimpses into a smashed world as Uriel becomes convinced that God has forsaken his angels and he prepares to descend to Earth. And as he comes to bring a slaughter of humans to Earth through Gabriel, a disc jockey who has been reviled for his crazy conspiracy theories begins to look a whole lot more sane all of a sudden.

Legion: Prophets is basically a series of four character studies set in the same fictional world in the days leading up to Christmas (which is presumably where the film picks up). The stories are only unified by the narrative struggle of the angels, as Uriel and Sharae in Dark World prepare to invade Earth and forsake god, after a bloody civil war among the angels. The thing is, neither narrative creates much of a story that prepares the viewer for the film more than an opening scrawl would (in fact, not all of the protagonists of these stories are likely to even be in the film). That said, because co-writer and director Scott Stewart was involved in writing this series of comic books, it is likely at least that the film will feature a narrative voice that is similar and tell a story that is related to all the strange visions that are teased in the anthology.

The three biggest problems, though, are that the reader feels all they are is teased by these stories, the diction is terrible and the artwork is abysmal. The characters are established, they do not develop and they see a nightmarish world coming, without any real ability to change what is being foretold to them. Instead, the characters slowly take sides and have glimpses into what might offer humanity some hope, without the real ability to make anything come to pass on their own. Beyond that, the character speak in very obvious slang and there is the sense that the characters are supposed to be cool outsiders, but they all sound like mainstream’s version of what outsiders sound like. Add to that, the narrator who sets up the characters is very preoccupied with making the backstories of each of the four prophets sound conspiratorial and melodramatic (like Jacob being introduced at a burger joint . . . the only burger joint that day that was serving a dissident! [cue campy music]).

Finally, the artwork is terrible in Legion: Prophets. Everything in this comic book looks like it is out of a comic strip. While the coloring is done in nice, vivid colors and the pages are beautifully glossy, the drawing style is just plain awful. In fact, the whole comic book looks like a series of animatics or plot boards for a film where the director figures out his shots on index cards and thumbnail sketches. This is the, unfortunate, blockish quality of the artwork in Legion: Prophets.

Ultimately, a good trade paperback anthology tied into a film ought to make one excited for the film it is associated with and Legion: Prophets did not do that for me. In fact, with the artwork being as bad as it is in this book, I was able to assume (correctly) that Legion was just another big, dumb special effects film that would fail to wow me.

For other trade paperback anthologies, please check out my reviews of:
Lost Girls


For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my index page!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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