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THE LEGION OF NOTHING

Legions of Fans should find this…

By G.S. Williams, author of No Man An Island

Jul 30, 2008: I have to admit, I have a bias. I grew up with comic books because of my father, and have a deep appreciation for the medium. I had access to forty years of X-Men comics, and samplings of Spidey, the FF, Avengers and Daredevil . . . 

"The Legion of Nothing" has the high level of excitement that these works carried in the early days. The anticipation of new characters and their origin stories, discovering their powers, working out code-names, and making the mistakes of youth.

The characters are in high school at the onset of the serial, and manage their superheroics with all the angst of puberty, amidst homework and worrying about their parents. Their ideals that lead them to heroism ring true, as do the mistakes along the way.

As the story progresses over time, it grows in complexity. The young heroes experience the growth of their powers and more success as a team, but that garners more attention from enemies and super-villains. Just like those early 60s comics, the stakes get higher and higher over time.

From facing small-time crooks and then minor league supervillains, the young heroes go on to fight crime syndicates and super-powered assassins, and end up the target of immortals while the big-league heroes fight aliens in space. This series spans the small-scale to the big picture, all with clear writing that keeps you on the edge of your seat from cliff-hanger to cliff-hanger.

The narrative is driven by Nick, the Rocket, and his scientific, no-nonsense style helps the story stay rooted in interesting details. However, sometimes the small nuances give hints at the larger emotional stakes. One recent example features his sister, Rachel. Her powers of invisibility and intangibility gain her the secret identity the Ghost, and she learns that her powers allow her to phase through their more invulnerable enemies and hurt them from the inside—leaving her with the emotional burden of being able to kill if she has to, but the moral dilemma of whether it’s the right thing to do. Her reactions to danger and responsibility show very human courage in the face of fear, and give depth to the writing.

I upgraded my rating from 4.5 stars to 5 stars recently because of Robert Rodgers guest writing on Jim’s story—he somehow highlighted the best thematic elements of the characters and Jim’s talents, while using his own. To see the story from a fresh perspective, crystallizing its thematic elements of youth versus experience, the maturing process, and what makes a hero—well, it made me see the story afresh, and realize it’s one of the best out there.

I always wanted to be a superhero in high school, and "The Legion of Nothing" is like a vicarious taste of that adventure. Sometimes it’s clear that it’s not all fun and games, but that’s what’s so amazing about this story—the realistic consequences to every kid’s fantasy.

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