Thursday, March 13, 2014

Alien Legion returns





One of the better science fiction-based comic books of the 1980s is slated for a return.

Alien Legion was originally published by the Epic imprint of Marvel Comics.  It featured the exploits of Force Nomad, a rapid-deployment "peacekeeping" unit modeled somewhat on the real life French Foreign Legion.  As such, it was a collection of diverse, motley characters with...shall we say "colorful"...backgrounds.

Writer Carl Potts was obviously influenced by Star Wars when he created the series and that's not a bad thing.  I see in the members of Alien Legion the same sense of "life can look like anything" that is displayed in the cantina scene of Episode IV.  To wit, Sarigar, the team's leader, is half serpentine in form.  This makes a nice break from the "everybody's bipedal with maybe wrinkled skin above the bridge of their noses" that plagues certain genre franchises.

Now, Alien Legion is being relaunched by Titan Comics, the same publisher that recently reacquired Doctor Who.  There's even bigger news, though.  At least for me.  The writer on the project will be Chuck Dixon.  Dixon is a writer I have followed over many years and have even had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing.  He's a very kind man and is renowned for his ability to write captivating action stories.  His long history with characters such as Batman and the Punisher as well as his creation of the Tim Drake (Robin) character have earned him a place of distinction for comic book fans.   Additionally, Dixon is no stranger to Alien Legion, having written stories for the comic back in the early 1990s.

What can we expect from the new series?  As with Doctor Who, Titan isn't saying much.  What can be gleaned from the press release is that there will be newbie troops joining the Legion.  They will of course be baptized by laser fire as what should be a routine mission rapidly descends into a "war really is hell" scenario.

One thing that I'm certain this new series will revisit is how diversity brings both conflict and strength.  If you've read the series (or even if you just want to hop over the Alien Legion website linked above), you'll see that this has been a major theme.  The Galactic Union is government trying to hold together a massive expanse of space.  Within this area are numerous cultures.  Sure, democracy is the best way to govern but it's often difficult with so many beings from so many different points of view.  Conflict is inevitable, as are greed, corruption, and that old human axiom of "gelt gets it done."

As the members of Force Nomad find out for themselves, sometimes the only way to keep the peace is to go to war.  Oxymoronic?  Perhaps.  But it often seems to be true.

Alien Legion hits comic book stores in June.



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