Legion of Night #1-2
Issue(s): Legion of Night #1, Legion of Night #2
Liuchow Chan, the guy that woke up Fin Fang Foom in his first appearance.
Katherine Reynolds, the former head of the Parapsychological Studies Division where Daimon Hellstrom worked (and his love interest). She's now in a mental institution.
Martin Gold, former boyfriend to Lilith's alter ego Angel O'Hara.
Jennifer Kale. According to this story she hasn't used her powers in "years", which ignores Marvel Comics Presents #29. But in any event she's given up her magic and has gone to college.
My big complaint about her is the costume she's put in. Kale already had an ultra-revealing costume, so if we must have cheesecake, why not use her established costume which has a very specific (pre-Cataclysm Atlantean sorceress) origin.
Looking at the cover of the first issue of this series, you'd never know that it featured Jennifer Kale, even though that is her right there. Gerber even misspells her last name as "Cale" once in the story. Between ignoring her Marvel Comics Presents appearance, giving her a crappy costume, and getting her name wrong, it doesn't feel like the character is getting a lot of love.
We do at least get a brief vision/cameo of the Man-Thing, establishing her bona fides and reminding us why we care about her.
With the except of Liuchow Chan, these are all Steve Gerber creations, so this is almost like a League of Extraordinary Gerber Orphans, too. Martin Gold basically plays the Gerber stand-in; the long-haired writer who can't believe that he's involved in this stuff.
Rounding out the cast are some new characters: Caspar Wight, occult shopkeeper, and his creepy daughter Ariann.
And most importantly, a lawyer named Charles Blackwater. Blackwater dies in this story, but is reincarnated and possessed by an entity called Omen. Omen gathers the rest of the group together. And Omen is very much a Whilce Portacio design.
Besides introducing the characters, the majority of issue #1 is a pretty straightforward unfolding of the events that lead up to Blackwater's death. He is approached by the leader of a cult called the Fellowship, They are being charged with crimes of extortion, kidnapping, and child pornography, among other crimes. The leader of the cult claims it is religious persecution. Blackwater takes the case and is able to win in court.
But he continues investigating after the trial is over, and realizes that they are indeed guilty of all these things. A point is made that he realizes that he made a mistake and asks forgiveness....
...but to be clear, it's not like Blackwater knew ahead of time that the cult was really guilty. He does say that he would have taken the case even if he knew they were guilty, but by the time of the trial he truly believed that they are innocent, and he even had me believing it even though i already read that they were guilty on the back cover. I mean, these witnesses are pretty eccentric, but they don't come across as obviously evil.
But after he finds proof that the cult is engaged in child pornography and more, the cult comes after him. He's stabbed, shot, and thrown out a window. But instead of dying, he winds up having a psychedelic vision (the "Heaven? Hell? Schenectady?" line is classic Gerber)...
...and then, specifically because he admitted he made a mistake and is seeking forgiveness...
...he is merged with Omen.
And that's really just all set-up. The actual plot of this series uses Fin Fang Foom as a Cthulhu-esque monster. A sleeping Elder God whose dreams are picked up on by the mentally ill.
The Fellowship want to awaken Fin Fang Foom. And they do. And when he awakens, it actually means that reality becomes his dreams. Very Lovecraftian.
As you can see from the scan i used to introduce Liuchow Chan, this story acknowledges Fin Fang Foom's first appearance but no other Fin Fang Foom stories. There seems to have been an unwritten rule that every subsequent appearance of Fin Fang Foom was to be written as if it was his second. Walt Simonson implied that Fin Fang Foom was really just an incarnation of the Midgard Serpent. And this story and John Byrne's Iron Man story (which began prior to this but was still being published when this came out) ignore the Simonson story and Foom's appearance in Astonishing Tales #23-24 and each other. I guess we can tie this in with the idea that he's being used as an Elder God in this story. Fin Fang Foom is such an unknowable horror that after he emerges and roams the Earth for a while, people simply repress the memory. And certainly in this case you're going to want to repress it since the sight of him in a bra is pretty disturbing.
That's actually just some weird shading. But the continued use of purple highlights makes him look like some day glo raver version of the character.
He's pretty badass here, though.
The most Gerber-esque aspect of this plot is the reaction of the Fellowship cult leader to the rising of Fin Fang Foom. It's a question of what you do when the apocalypse you've been predicting all your life actually happens.
Ancient horrors don't care about regular people, not even the cult leaders that helped revive them. So what does existence mean after you've awoken your Elder God?
The cult's #2 person, though, has different ideas. She's also not interested in leading the rank & file cultists off to be devoured by their demon master, but she figures she might as well go mate with it.
Much of issue #2 has the Legion of Night (that's the good guys) wandering around in the dream world, looking for Fin Fang Foom and dealing with weirdness.
Martin Gold and Ariann Wight find a room full of dead women that Fin Fang Foom forced to mate with him, and their dead babies.
And then - and you may want to avert your eyes for this - they stumble upon a scene that is, as far as i know, the hottest depiction of Fin Fang Foom gettin' it on ever seen on panel.
The cultist is impregnated and in the dreamworld the period between pregnancy and birth is accelerated. But Ariann does something to make herself and Martin as large as Fin Fang Foom and the cultist, and she pulls the baby out of the womb.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Legion of Night fight their way through the dream world...
And Omen eventually gets stabby with Fin Fang Foom.
Fin Fang Foom in this story actually had a master, whose name may have been Aan Taanu. There is also something about the "cosmology of the Aten Decan". The short of it is that Fin Fang Foom may have been sent away and the world has returned to normal, but the Legion of Night have to stay together to deal with more such threats. The characters themselves really don't get too much development - the book is really more about Portacio's art and Gerber's weird mystical ideas - but i like the idea of getting a bunch of obscure characters together for a team. Unfortunately, this group only has one (short) appearance outside of these two issues.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: This can't take place in between Iron Man #261-275, while Fin Fang Foom is being used in John Byrne's Iron Man run. Since that's such a long stretch, this winds up getting pushed back in publication time. We can assume that in this case, at least, his emergence was written off as a collective fever dream which is why it's not mentioned in the Iron Man story.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAllison Lamb, Ariann Wight, Caspar Wight, Charles Blackwater, Fin Fang Foom, Jennifer Kale, Katherine Reynolds, Liuchow Chan, Martin Gold, Omen
When I first saw the cover for Legion of Night advertised in X-Men 3, I didn't realize it was supposed to be Jennifer Kale on the cover. Even after I heard Jennifer Kale was in the story, I didn't realize that the woman on the cover was Jennifer Kale.
Posted by: Michael | August 13, 2015 9:47 PM
I really liked the series and hoped it'd turn into an ongoing occult/monster hunter book. The Fin Fang Foom revelation would have worked had it not been for the issues of Simonson's Thor and Byrne's IM. They should have put in Shuma Gorath instead, or even Dormammu. It undercuts including Liuchow Chan, but not by much.
Posted by: Chris | August 13, 2015 9:52 PM
Whilce Portacio stated in Amazing Heroes that this book had been hanging around since 1988.
"East Village Oracle" is a mash-up of the real-world East Village Other and San Francisco Oracle.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 15, 2015 3:47 PM
It looks like the creative team was trying to give Jennifer Kale a look like DC's Black Canary, sans corset and fishnets, of course. In addition, I agree with fnord that there was no need to "sex her up" and just stick to her Frazetta/Bakshi/HEAVY METAL magazine-style threads (or should I say plates?:-)).
Posted by: Brian Coffey | December 26, 2017 9:56 PM
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