Written by guest contributor Brian Roe
There’s a big difference between a good formula and a bad formula. A good formula delivers on presupposed expectations while adding something new and interesting to the mix. A bad formula is just the same old stuff warmed up and served again. This second issue of Alien Legion: Uncivil War is truly one of the good kinds of formula. And since I’m jumping in on this series with issue #2 I’m happy for some familiarity.
We see Force Nomad plunged into a difficult mission boarding a ship possibly smuggling contraband into Union space and things only get worse at it goes along. Individual heroics, hordes of gibbering enemies and Jugger Grimrod again being an unapologetic bastard feels very familiar. New enemies and a Harkilon ally? Things are getting very interesting here.
There’s a good balance of action and exposition, things keep moving along while also telling of a larger storyline. Like a lot of military fiction there’s a constant tension between the boots on the ground at the tip of the spear and the command and control watching the whole thing go down. But since Force Nomad are pretty much disposable to the higher ups there is rarely too much hand wringing when things go to hell for them. Instead the individual troopers have to save themselves more often than not so it’s a good thing that they are all right hard bastards.
The dialog written by Chuck Dixon is often punchy and fun, especially that of everybody's favorite Thraxian bastich Jugger Grimrod. He keeps up a running stream of faux obscenities while fighting his way through the ship and barely putting up with a Harkilon who is assisting Force Nomad. And even though good ol’ Jugger has again acted like a bloody hero he’s also pulled a stunt that threatens to return him again to the brig. Or worse.
The art, with pencils by Larry Stroman and inks by Carl Potts, is strong and exciting. The Legion suit redesign looks functional and much more realistic than the “hexagonal crotchguard” of the early Alien Legion stories. The figures are muscular without being ridiculous and visually contain a great deal of potential energy. It’s like everyone is one step away from doing some massive damage. It’s great to see figures move through a page with such obvious intent.
The only problem I have with the art overall is the coloring by Thomas Mason. Partially this is my own personal distaste for super saturated colors that seem to be stuck in the 1990s but there are also some real and obvious problems with his handling of the art. Many panels are very difficult to make out due to a lack of background to foreground shading, everything seems to be at the same depth. Lighting effects are cliched and the colors are constantly fighting Potts’s super dark blacks. There are times when this actually becomes distracting from the page.
Overall this is a really enjoyable book and I can’t wait to see the next two issues in this 4 issue mini-series. Alien Legion: Uncivil War delivers the goods and seems to be doing a great job of pulling the troopers of Force Nomad in new directions while also keeping them familiar and enjoyable. It maintains a solid formula that really delivers the goods.
Writer: Chuck Dixon Artist: Larry Stroman Inker: Carl Potts Publisher: Titan Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/23/14 Format: Print/Digital