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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Alien Legion
Dead and Buried (Omnibus)


Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artists: Carl Potts and Larry Stroman Publisher: Titan
RRP: £19.99
Age: 12+
352 pages
Publication Date: 02 September 2014

When your planet is torn apart by internal strife, when your world is overshadowed by looming alien battleships, when the galaxy is threatened with war and terror, it's time to summon the rammers and bospers of Alien Legion! In this epic omnibus, the Alien Legion commander, Major Sarigar, here tormented by the loss of his beloved Nomad Squad after a desperate suicide mission on the planet Quaal, is desperate to discover the truth of their disappearance. He resigns his commission and sets off on the trail of his missing Legionnaires...!

An early mainstay of Marvel Comics' Epic spinoff label, Alien Legion saw an intermittent, though generally successful series of runs from its origins in the mid-1980s through to the mid-1990s, with a set of omnibus editions from Dark Horse in the late 2000s setting the stage for an as yet unseen revival for this quintessential space opera series. Dead and Buried collects issues 1-12 of the title's second run from 1987, picking up in the aftermath of a disastrous rout for the diverse alien soldiers of the Legion, and focusing on their stalwart commander's efforts to reassemble his missing team.

As a series, Alien Legion is avowedly in the tradition of Star Wars, replete with military and political organizations spanning vast tracts of interstellar space and comprised of hundreds of disparate and exotic alien species, most of them more or less human-like. In settings ranging from the majestic to the sleazy, the Legionnaires tough their way through numerous tense situations with the help of fists, weapons or wits as appropriate, beset by hostile aliens and political intrigue.

Despite the seemingly limitless potential for new ideas and storytelling concepts involved in a genre like space opera, it all too often falls back on tried and tested ideas and sadly, Alien Legion is no exception. The various alien cast members fit a fairly obvious set of profiles – grizzled roughneck, stoical warrior, sensitive medic – that render them not so much sympathetically as banally human under the skin; the main character Sarigar, despite his memorable serpentine design, is an unimaginatively portrayed wise veteran. Chuck Dixon's script is too full of war-movie bluster to be affecting, while the talented Larry Stroman's art seldom conjures up a genuinely arresting sci-fi spectacle to break the monotony of fistfights and shootouts.

With the blockbuster status of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and its superficial similarities with the successful Mass Effect videogame series, Alien Legion would seem ideally poised for a revival, yet it merely shares the same shortcomings as those titles: empty sci-fi spectacle populated by stock characters in alien costumes and assembled with little imagination. A reissue that will likely be cherished only by fans of the original run.


Richard Hunt

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