Thursday, March 14, 2013

Legend Mini-Series Review

DC Comics - Wildstorm
Comic Book Mini-Series
48/ea. = 192 pages (2005)
$5.95/ea. = $23.80

Published: Legend #1-4 (of 4)

Contributors: Howard Chaykin, Russ Heath, Al Vey, David Rodriguez, Darlene Royer, Wildstorm FX, and Rob Leigh

Synopsis: Professor Abednago Danner works to unlock the chemical key to why smaller creatures like ants have incredible proportionate strength.  He performs experiments in his own private lab in his home.  His wife, Matilda, is a god-fearing woman and frowns upon his experiments.  His work bears fruit as he creates an abnormally strong tadpole.  Has he unlocked the key at last?

Next he injects a pregnant cat and her kitten becomes monstrously powerful.  Danner decides that after the cat must come human trials.  Matilda tells him she is pregnant and his path is clear.  The baby is named Hugo and has incredible strength from birth.  Matilda is furious, but loves her son nonetheless.  The doting parents must deal with a frighteningly strong infant then toddler, but manage to raise him well and keep the secret.
Hugo Danner goes to war!

 The boy grows and questions his unusual strength compared to other children.  His father warns Hugo that others will fear his power and he must always be good to justify his strength.  Can Hugo keep his immense power a secret and live a normal life?  He grows up in the time of the Vietnam War - will he make a difference in that losing battle?  What about his discovery of women and sex - can a normal woman handle his inexhaustible stamina?  What happens when you are born the strongest creature on the planet?  Will your power corrupt you or do you walk softly among the ants?  This is the story of a true super man.

Pros: Great angle on the classic super man tale, Chaykin's writing is good, Heath's art is simple and efficient, inspired by the book that influenced the creation of Superman

Cons: Art is a bit inconsistent, pretty expensive cover price, cover blurb is not entirely accurate - Chaykin does a 85% adaptation of Wylie's novel

Mike Tells It Straight: Howard Chaykin adapts Philip Wylie's novel Gladiator with a few changes.  He puts the time period during the Vietnam War instead of the first World War, gives Hugo Danner an insatiable sex drive, and cuts out the bank vault rescue which resulted in criminal suspicion.  I think all of these changes were good and the story remains a great look at how difficult it would be to have incredible power.

"It tickles."
You really get a feeling for how alone Hugo feels around other people.  The sex angle was pretty funny for the most part, but Chaykin's portrayal of the war was the best part.  You can really sympathize with Hugo as he tries to do the right thing, but realizes it's not as easy as it sounds.  Heath's art is good - he creates some great character expressions, but it's a bit inconsistent throughout.

Wylie's novel is a great work which resounds in any time and may have been the precursor to the most popular comic book character of all time - Superman.  Chaykin and Heath do a commendable job on bringing this tale to life.  I'm a sucker for a good deconstructed superhero story - although the original book predates superheroes.  I recommend checking this out if you want a mature, science fiction story about what happens when man tries to become super man.

TO BUY and Recommendations: