World War Two is a popular setting for comics, whether grounded in fantasy or reality, but is often quite a challenge to find the correct tone and balance when attempting the former. Originally published from 2004 to 2007 in French and in English in 2009, I Am Legion by Fabien Nury and John Cassaday is published today by Humanoids, in a new paperback edition which is a perfect opportunity to take a look at this example of striking that balance perfectly.
Europe, December 1942. The global conflict has reached a fever pitch. The Nazis are at the height of their power, but the Allies have had their first victories both in Stalingrad and in the Pacific. Never has the war’s outcome been so much in doubt. Amidst this chaos, the destinies of several men will cross through a project code named “Legion,” which consists of a series of horrific tests that a young Romanian girl with apparent supernatural abilities must undergo. Her “skills”, if fully exploited by the Nazis, would give them unimaginable power…
One of the immediate draws to I Am Legion is the art of John Cassaday. Widely regarded as one of the top names in modern comics, Cassaday has worked on a variety of projects for Marvel and DC including Planetary with Warren Ellis, Astonishing X-Men with Joss Whedon, Uncanny Avengers and Star Wars.
While well versed in the world of sci-fi and fantasy, Cassaday’s main strength is how real his characters look and feel which always enhances the story he is illustrating – seeing half a page of a man preparing to cut one of his own fingers off is even more wince inducing than you’d imagine, and Ana, the young vampire girl of the Legion project, is effortlessly creepy.
He is equally at home drawing everyday office scenes as with scenes involving the supernatural. And while he has mostly for this title abandoned the hugely detailed splash pages that he is famous for in most of his Marvel work, he still maintains his trademark cinematic style through a more panel-dominated approach that still showcases his detailed art whilst demonstrating his great visual storytelling skills.
But not all credit can be given to Cassaday, as writer Fabien Nury create some great settings and characters for Cassaday to play around with. From the inner confines of the British Intelligence Services to remote Romanian Villages to Nazi military bases, a lot of ground is covered and manages to keep a balanced pace with some great action sequences to break up the quieter moments. Along with that, Nury does a great job weaving vampire legends into the World War Two setting.
John Cassaday fans will find loads to love in I Am Legion and anyone looking for a great fusing of action, historical and horror genres will find much to enjoy.
• I Am Legion is published 6th July 2016 by Humanoids
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