Quick preface: It sucks beyond most call-girl's capacities to deliver such a low rating unto this issue, but I have to do it. Beyond any overriding desire to remain objective, this month's issue really earned this 2-star rating. And I like this book. But at least I get to sing its praises first, however briefly.
I'm fairly certain I'm one of the few vocal contingents in support of this book on this site. But any and all real credit goes to Simon Spurrier whose writing is the the main reason this book stays afloat. I've mentioned more than once his impeccable knack at developing a character's voice almost instantaneously. Seriously, I rarely catch myself feeling like I'm reading the same voice through a character-filter (or, The Bendis Effect). The scripts for these issues are always a sure reward for anyone who picks up the book. But Spurrier seriously ups his game this issue by teaming up with the art team for several memorable panels that expertly display that sweet-spot of collaboration between creators. Oh, and lest we not forget, this book is dripping with chuckle-worthy sarcasm--a fact only amplified by once again utilizing Pete Wisdom as point man for the storytelling. Seriously, this is an unquestionably well-written script.
And there we go. That's all for "The Good." Let's commence with...
For every issue that's inspired me to take the book and shove it into immediately into the face of the first passer-by I see to prove how awesome it truly is (which I wouldn't do because that's just rude; plus, I get my comics on my phone, so...y'know, germs), issue #14 is making it hard for me to back up this claim. I won't nit-pick at every detail that provoked a sigh or cringe, however tempting it might be. But there are some noticeable low points to the book that I just can't get around.
Remember how I was fanboying so hard over the superlative Spurrier? Yeah, well that only applies to the actual script. Plotting is another depressing issue altogether. The last arc with the Red Skull had obvious problems with pacing, and I was worried that Hope and Glory would suffer from a similar dilemma. And, sadly, I was right. Oh, there's certainly enough content to fill up all two books, however the question of how necessary the events of these two issues have been lingers. Both books suffer from an inexcusably lame reason for Legion to even be in the UK. David's entire agenda of wiping away mutophobia from the isles is too convoluted for words and further exacerbated by all-too transparent misdirection from the writer. We get it. Spurrier (and probably the book's editors) are going to present Legion's actions as volatile and dangerous, but reveal in the last quarter of the arc how benign and beneficial they truly are. Every issue, I find myself hoping they go back to watching David pave his road to hell with good intentions. I much prefer the misguided-saint approach.
And as if getting mired in an increasingly predictable plot device wasn't bad enough, there's the art. Tan Eng Huat has his moments, granted. Panels focusing on a single character meant to demonstrate and evoke a particular emotion are this guy's bread and butter. But the audience can't live off bread alone, no matter how buttery (I know, I'm mixing metaphors; go with it). If the art requires more complexity than this it falls apart with alarming rapidity. He managed to pull it together for a few stunning panels, but Huat's art seems either careless or rushed (or possibly both). Michael Del Mundo continues to knock it out of the park on the covers, but no amount of clever covers (or coloring or inking) can redeem the consistently sub-par pencils that I honestly fear fail to attract new readers and threaten to turn away current ones. If it weren't for Spurrier's scripts, I'd already be off this book. But with both suffering, I'm giving this book another arc to impress me and then I'm out.
Hope and Glory had a lot of potential to show us a different side of Legion as he gradually learns to control the god-like powers he's imbued with. Unfortunately, this arc serves up more of the same. The script is biting and the characters all have their own voice independent of one another. Yet, I can't help feeling the overall narrative of Legion is being sold way too short. For a mutant who can supposedly do almost anything, his aims seem to be...well, lame. Plus, there's increasingly little reason for David to keep people in the dark as he plays cloak-and-dagger with his plan to save the mutant race. Most of these missions have a direct approach and we keep watching him take the long way around. Couple that with art a blind-man with recently restored sight couldn't get enthusiastic about, and you've got a solid 2-star book this month. It's certainly not a jumping on point by any means in terms of new readers, but worse, it's a pretty good jumping off point for those who've barely been hanging on to begin with.
Let's hope next month really delivers.