By Fabien Nury, John Cassady and Laura Martin
The original French series I am Legion is collected as a trade paperback and, whether you’ve read the series or not, it is well worth the price. This is one of those comics that transcends the medium and becomes a true collectible. It is both an artistic achievement as well as a wonderful story that you’ll want to revisit again and again. Set amongst the backdrop of World War II, I Am Legion masterfully injects a strong dose of vampiric-horror into what is otherwise the comic book equivalent of a spy novel. Writer and creator Fabien Nury (Tyler Cross) channels the likes of legendary spy novelist John le Carre while creating an equally legendary story of his own. It is comprised of familiar ingredients like intrigue, war, betrayal both subtle and bold, secrets and revelations, but there’s a lot of blood and gore too. Thanks to this collected trade the story is now a true page-turner, if not for the many reasons to take pause and admire the artwork by multiple Eisner Award winners and longtime collaborators, John Cassady (Planetary) and Laura Martin (Black Panther).
That may be sufficient enough reason to quit reading this review and go grab the book right now.
Once again Humanoids continues to publish top quality comics from overseas. The combination of writing and artwork makes for one of the most cinematic experiences you might have reading a comic book. Everything about this book is directly on point. It is as beautiful and it is well crafted. Martin does some of her most signature coloring when working with Cassady who in turn gives her plenty of solid material. There is definitely a heightened sense of investment on both of their parts when they get together, but it’s magnified that much more by Nury’s ability to write for comics. The situation may be the Allied forces fighting the Nazis, but the conflict is a supernatural element in the form of a young Romanian girl. Her powers are being exploited and tested by the Nazis in the hopes that the girl will become their ultimate weapon. Nury gives us the story in essentially 3 acts, starting out by introducing an extensive cast of characters, without sparing any necessary dialogue as means of conveying the story and the defining personalities. You may want to take your time in order to keep it straight but it is totally worth it. There are text-heavy scenes to endure, which are later rewarded with fantastic action sequences. However, it’s key to absorb everything that’s put down on the page because the second act builds another layer that pays off in a glorious, and explosive finale. That balance between emotional drama and horror elements is what is so remarkable and it creates a denser story, which relies on equal parts nonfiction and known fiction. Ultimately the results are pure originality.
It’s a story about sacrifice and commitment in service to the respective causes of each side or party. The battle may be between good and evil but it’s delivered from the point of view of those in service to the side they’ve chosen to fight for. There is a constant sense of duty, no matter what the motivation is and you feel it in the characters actions and words. It cannot be said enough that despite being an amazingly complex storyline it still comes across in a way that begs you to keep reading. Word of caution: once you start reading I Am Legion you wont be able to put it down.
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