Lazarus Planet Legends Reborn #1
Ancient and dangerous power has been awakened following the eruption of the Lazarus Volcano, and this surge of fantastical power will affect the DC Universe forevermore! In Lazarus Planet: Legends Reborn, we’ll explore corners of the planet newly awakened and primed to restore some heroes and villains long forgotten! With the help of Nightwing, can new hero City Boy hope to commune with Gotham in time to save it? Who are the mysterious trio claiming to be resurrected siblings of Raven? How far would the Question go to chase a lead across a transformed Gotham City? And will the flame of Firestorm burn out yet another horrific host? Not if Harley Quinn has anything to say about it!
Lazarus Planet’s tie-ins haven’t gone well so far. What few compelling narrative moments the two tie-ins have had were overshadowed by stories constrained by their short length or their unresolved endings that continue into future comic books. In short, they felt more like an advertisement than comic books. Well, maybe the third time really is the charm because Lazarus Planet Legends Reborn actually delivers a satisfying experience.
Like its predecessors, Lazarus Planet Legends Reborn is an anthology of four stories, and they tie into the underlying horror story feel of the Lazarus Planet event. One of the stories features Firestorm after he is struck by lightning during one of the worldwide storms that followed the Lazarus Volcano’s eruption. Ronnie and Stein have split apart, and as the story goes on, Ronnie realizes that anyone who merges with him grows old as the Firestorm Matrix is stealing their time for its energy. This story is the weakest in terms of a concrete narrative, and it does still end with a cliffhanger, but it manages to feature a character arc as Ronnie is confronted by the realization of what the Firestorm Matrix is doing to the person he merges with–what it did to Stein and what it is doing to Ramirez.
Lazarus Planet Legends Reborn’s weakest story takes place in Gotham, where an ordinary young man scavenging for lost and discarded items gains the power to see their location, whether in the open, buried, or at the bottom of the water. This story is little more than a character introduction. There’s no real arc, neither for a story or the character, and it simply promises the return of the character City Boy.
The Raven-centric story takes place in a town that looks like it’s possessed, which is fitting since it’s about three brothers who got turned into demons. The boys have sought out a church for help from a priest. Raven arrives shortly thereafter. There is a theme running through this story about the ability of demons to trust and be trusted, and Paknadel does a good job inverting the idea from beginning to end. Early in the story, when a Trigon (disguised as Beast Boy) says it to Raven, it sounds like a warning to be wary of the children. At the end of the story, when Trigon has revealed himself, teamed with the most aggressive of the three brothers, and betrayed Raven, he repeats it to her as almost a taunt. From Trigon’s point of view, that’s how a proper demon should behave. It’s a compelling twist because of how this idea might speak to Raven’s nature.
The best story by far in Lazarus Planet Legends Reborn is the first one, and it features Renee Montoya donning her Question costume to handle a supernatural case that’s arisen because of the Lazarus Volcano storms. Segura explores the duality that Montoya believes exists between her job as police commissioner and her role as the Question–that as police commissioner, she can only investigate man-made matters of law and order, but as the Question, she can take on the supernatural. This story is completely self-contained with both a definitive beginning-to-end plot and a character arc for Montoya, who is frustrated by the desk-bound nature of her job but isn’t going to give it up. So she “gets her hands dirty” where and when she reasonably can.
The strongest artwork in the issue also belongs to the Montoya story. The characters are very expressive, and Montoya, as the Question, moves with strength and power. Later in the issue, Jung and Merino’s styles for the City Boy and Firestorm stories are very complementary; there’s a kind of softness to the characters’ features that stands in contrast to the extreme circumstances all around them. Mitten’s art in the Raven story is more stylized and less focused on facial details, which leaves the characters in this story less emotive.
It’s important to note that all four colorists in this issue sell the horror vibe behind the Lazarus Volcano’s eruption. In the previous two tie-in issues, there was no visual theme linking the individual stories to what is supposed to be a global event. These four stories all feel connected to Lazarus Planet Alpha in a way the previous issues haven’t consistently been. The sky is green. The storms are constant. The lighting is prolific. It feels like all of this is happening everywhere simultaneously for an extended period of time.
The letterers all contribute noticeably as well. The Firestorm story uses off-setting red and yellow to distinguish between dialogue and narration involving the two halves of Firestorm, both when merged and when not merged. The Raven story uses rough dialogue bubbles for her and Trigon while also using red for Trigon’s dialogue. The one lettering misstep is in Montoya’s story, where Brosseau uses light blue against white for the Question’s dialogue, and it makes it difficult to read.
The overall Lazarus Planet story provides a reasonable if not exceptionally compelling framework for these smaller stories. But if the stories on their own are compelling that framework doesn’t really matter, and Lazarus Planet Legends Reborn is the first tie-in issue that provides four compelling stories that stand almost entirely on their own with either a complete plot or character arc. This is the first issue that made it feel like Lazarus Planet is a truly global event that matters to everyone and it rekindled my interest in future issues.
Lazarus Planet Legends Reborn #1: Four Real Stories
- Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
- Storyline - 6.5/106.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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