By Tim Stevens
Sometimes, agreeing with the status quo and staying in line can be the best way to protect yourself. Unfortunately, this lesson gets learned too little too late by the villains of DARK REIGN: LETHAL LEGION from writer Frank Tieri and artist Mateus Santolouco.
The first issue hits stands this week on June 24 and shows us the fate of this motley crew—led by Grim Reaper and including Mr. Hyde, Grey Gargoyle, Nekra, Tiger Shark, and a secret final member—after they choose to take on the power structure of Dark Reign. As the squad struggles in jail, the story flashes back to their formation and the string of events that led them to their imprisonment.
"Our story gets its juice [from] the surprising who, what, when and whys that we uncover as the series goes along," explains Tieri. "As
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they say, the devil's in the details, and our devil's Norman Osborn, and he'll certainly have his stamp all over here. The more we learn, the more we see how complex our story really is."
Part of the story's elaborate nature comes from the reality that the members of the Lethal Legion do not know what, or rather, who brought about their downfall.
"Ultimately what leads to the Legion's downfall is betrayal from within," reveals Tieri. "In a series with as many twists and turns and unsolved questions as this one, that's probably our biggest one: who sold the Legion out to Osborn? And what we'll find is that every member not only has a motive for wanting to take Osborn out in the first place, but they also have a good reason for betraying the others to him, as well."
As the villains reveal their secrets, Tieri has had a wild time utilizing each of their voices.
"They were all fun and interesting to write in their own way," says the writer. "Hyde was our resident psycho, Grey Gargoyle was the disgruntled vet, Nekra the loyal yet ever-so-dangerous moll."
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However, the character that he enjoyed depicting the most almost did not have a role in the series at all.
"I'd have to pick Tiger Shark [as my favorite], mainly because he was never supposed to be in the series in the first place," Tieri divulges. "One of the pitfalls with working in such a huge crossover event is that a lot of times characters you want to use are spoken for elsewhere, and that's what happened to us. Then when I saw Tiger Shark was hired by Osborn to get rid of Deadpool, it was like somebody dropped a bag of money in my lap—it was perfect. With the added history between him and Osborn, I had my motivation, and in the end, I really think his story sets up the series nicely."
In the first issue, readers should expect to hit the ground running.
"One of the Legion gets shived old school style in prison within our first few pages," teases Tieri. "Another is at the wrong end of a 'Goodfellas'-esque beat down courtesy of Osborn and a couple of Dark Avengers."
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The major moment, however, comes at the issue's conclusion:
"There's a big reveal at the end where we learn the identity of our final mystery member. Not to give anything away, but I think a lot of fans will be surprised at who it turns out to be."
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