Among SHADE THE CHANGING MAN and KID LOBOTOMY, LEGION fits perfectly into Peter Milligan’s niche of mind benders. Given the nature of David Haller’s powers, Milligan certainly has the repertoire to tackle the tenuous psychology that comprises a story like LEGION. The first entry in Peter Milligan, Wilfredo Torres, and Dan Brown’s limited series sets the stage for the internal and external conflict David Haller will face; but though it establishes plenty of intrigue, LEGION #1 plays it too safe.

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LEGION is Full of Limitless Possibilities

Legion #1
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

David Haller, aka Legion, is the mutant son of Charles Xavier. His powers manifest in the form of multiple personalities, each with their own abilities. This also leaves David with dissociative identity disorder.

LEGION #1 begins with David on the run from Lord Trauma; a new personality David unknowingly created and set free. For days, something has been disrupting David’s control over the alternative personalities that comprise his mutant ability. And now with Lord Trauma on the loose, David and his personalities are in fear and conflict with each other. To get a grasp on his powers and Lord Trauma, David seeks out celebrity psychotherapist Dr. Hannah Jones for help.

With these pieces in place, LEGION #1 is full of intrigue for what’s to come. Lord Trauma is set up to be an interesting antagonist. With this, LEGION essentially pits David against himself in a conflict that is both internal and external. As the name implies, Lord Trauma’s modus operandi involves his victims’ trauma; this has the potential to be a poignant journey for both David and readers. In addition, David himself is a fascinating character with limitless potential, and Peter Milligan is the perfect writer for the job. Given his work history, fans of Milligan’s will undoubtedly look forward to seeing what he can do with this character.

As the everyman character who assumedly hasn’t been exposed to mutants — or at least mutants like Legion — Hannah Jones is already established to be an interesting foil to David. From one afternoon of clients, television appearances, and her own run-in with Lord Trauma, Hannah seems more than ready for what adventures David will bring. Seeing how the pair will play off each other will be one of the series’ appeals as LEGION progresses.

Plot Versus Art

legion #1
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

However, LEGION #1 is a safe first entry, which I feel is due to a disconnect between plot and art. The narrative and art sing on their own, but together, they don’t aid each other in the storytelling. The narration tends to overshadow the art, and the art doesn’t take many of the risks that a character like Legion offers. As a result, it renders LEGION #1 a little static.

There’s so much wit in Milligan’s script that I would have loved to have seen depicted in the art. Milligan has a clear voice for David Haller and writes strong character moments for him, whether he’s at odds with Lord Trauma or with the many alternative personalities that exist within him.

Early in LEGION #1, David uses one of them, Joe Fury, to subdue Lord Trauma. On the page, there’s little impact on how that power functions. David’s personalities and the way his powers work are a pervasive part of the story that the art doesn’t take advantage of in this issue. In addition, Hannah’s encounter with Lord Trauma teeters on a visual trip almost in the vein of Milligan’s KID LOBOTOMY, but it doesn’t pull us into the chaos as fluidly.

But separate from the plot, the art is vibrant. Wilfredo Torres’ character designs are unique and lively, and Dan Brown’s color palette pops. I’m looking forward to how the artists might push boundaries and utilize the narrative as LEGION digs deeper into the nature of David’s powers and what Lord Trauma has in store for him and Hannah.

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LEGION #1: Final Thoughts

David Haller is a fascinating character who Milligan, Torres, and Brown can do brilliant things with. LEGION #1 does enough to intrigue the reader for what’s to come. All that remains is using Legion to his full potential.

LEGION #1 by Peter Milligan, Wilfredo Torres, and Dan Brown
LEGION #1 kicks off the limited series with plenty of conflict and intrigue, but it's a safe start that doesn't embrace what this series is capable of.
70 %
Plays it Safe

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