David Haller has a problem. Well, a whole bunch of problems, considering he has Dissociative Identity Disorder (or is that schizophrenia? The two conditions aren’t the same).
Okay, the REAL problem is just ONE of those personalities. Can Haller find help in Legion #1? Is it good?
Some people get depressed from bad weather; Legion’s depression CAUSES bad weather. Dude is powerful. And each of his hundreds of personas has a different power. Lord Trauma may be the strongest of them all.
And he wants out! Well, he GETS out, at least. What Lord Trauma really wants to do is unlock the memory of what originally screwed Haller up. It’s not a favor; he does the same for some hospital staff and it doesn’t end well for them.
There’s only one person who can help Legion now, the so-called “celebrity psychologist,” Hannah Jones. But not if Lord Trauma gets to her first! How can she help trippy David Haller if she’s tripping herself?
The best visualizations in Legion #1 are indeed Jones’ hallucinations, of a tentacle rising from a car seat and then falling between the couch cushions to commune with the lost change. Artist Wilfredo Torres doesn’t do much interesting with Legion himself, at least not to the level of what you’d expect, especially if you’re a fan of the TV series. Dan Brown’s colors give the whole thing a feeling of muted dysfunction, but you still can’t help but feel this book would’ve been better with some serious Dr. Strange weirdness, without hewing so much toward pop art.
You’d probably also expect more from the legendary Peter Milligan, who penned the visionary X-Statix back in the day. Legion #1 is finely plotted, paced and all that, but it’s just … bland. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not longing for Simon Spurrier’s tenure on the character. Perish the thought. But still, a guy with a thousand other guys in his head should probably sound at least a little interesting, and not like Jim from Ohio.
It’s also strange that there’s so much character narration, both from Legion and from Jones. A lot of what’s communicated here could have been expressed through the art. The existence of Lord Trauma is introduced more slyly though, as is what he can do and what he wants. This new villainous character feels more compelling than the story of Haller trying to defeat him.
There’s nothing expressly wrong with Legion #1, but there sure isn’t much to make you stick around for #2, either. Save for a couple artistic flourishes and a mysterious villain that piques interest more than the heroes, it’s a story without much of a hook. The daring presentation offered by the Legion television series should have made the creators of the next Legion comic want to outdo them, as only comics can, but instead, we’ve gotten something fairly run-of-the-mill, and average just won’t cut it when crazy is what the doctor called for.