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Dark Reign

Lethal Legion: Family Matters

Writer Frank Tieri tells all concerning DARK REIGN: LETHAL LEGION and a tale of two brothers, Grim Reaper and Wonder Man

By Jim Beard

"I still define them as brothers," says Frank Tieri of Wonder Man and the Grim Reaper. "Very dysfunctional brothers, but brothers nonetheless."

The Reaper's hooked up with the Lethal Legion, a band of baddies holding the line for old school villainy and breaking the choke hold Norman Osborn's fixed on the world. Now Wonder Man seeks to add in his own two cents in DARK REIGN: LETHAL LEGION #2, out July 29.

"Yeah, they're still the guys who have tried to beat each other's brains out over the years," Tieri notes. "You can't ignore that. But on the flip side, I also think that sometimes people forget why Eric became the Grim Reaper in the first place. That he was so upset over his brother's apparent death that he actually became a super villain in order to get revenge. To me, that speaks volumes. It speaks of a connection there.

DARK REIGN: LETHAL LEGION #2 cover by Tommy Lee Edwards
"One thing we've tried to do with LETHAL LEGION is to maybe show a somewhat different side of the Grim Reaper/Wonder Man relationship than people are used to. To show how the relationship of two brothers-one hero, one villain-might really be."

The brother's rocky relationship began years ago and continues to this day, leading many to believe they're caught in a vicious cycle of brotherly loathing that cannot be broken. Tieri, the latest caretaker of the Williams saga, feels the surface has only been scratched on that score.

"If you look at most of the Grim Reaper's significant appearances over the years, they all revolve around Simon in some way, and I don't see that changing any time soon," he says. "That being said, this time, in LETHAL LEGION #2, one thing has changed, hasn't it? Now, for once, the Williams brothers are together on the same side, against a common foe. So I think the real question to ask is how will their relationship ultimately be affected by the events of this series? When all's said and done, will there be reconciliation here - or will they be back at each other's throats?"

One of Tieri's most favorite Grim Reaper appearances centers around Eric's original Lethal Legion, the group of villains he led on an Avengers assault in AVENGERS #78-79. The writer claims he's a "sucker for those

DARK REIGN: LETHAL LEGION #3 cover by Tommy Lee Edwards
early Marvel super villain teams."

"Say what you want about the Reaper but he's nobody's fool. He figured he couldn't take the Avengers out all by himself so he recruited his own group of bad asses. And the funny thing is, they wind up losing in the end because the Reaper couldn't bring himself to take out the Vision because he had Simon's brain patterns. You might say Wonder Man beat his brother without even being there."

Above all, there's one facet of the two men that Tieri feels needs emphasizing, one that he believes holds enough weight as to be crucial to their psyches:

"They've both been super villains. People tend to forget that about Simon. But remember, Simon started off as a rival of Tony Stark; he's embezzled money, he was turned into Wonder Man in the first place by Baron Zemo to infiltrate the Avengers. There's more of an edge to him than fans sometimes realize, and it was fun to play with that a bit in this series."

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Simon finally getting some screen time somewhere again? So sad how he could be much huger than he's allowed to be, but always kept out of the big leagues. I keep being bemused by the amount of times someone wants to bring up a near-lifelong hero 'started out' as a villain. Come now, that is such a speck in the history of who he is that it'd be way more respectable to better say that he's found 'realignment with villains' or was 'convinced to follow a path he briefly followed at the start of his career'. What I am interested in though, is whether he will be portrayed as extremely strong, durable and fast (with various ionic offshoot abilities) or yet again as moderately super strong with susceptibility to nearly any blast they can toss his way. I understood the Sentry was to be portrayed as more powerful than Simon, but, man, he got showed so powered down it was saddening to watch. On the flip side, very little called me towards reading Lethal Legion, especially when combined misfires of the solicited artwork, with hard-to-like costumes, and not even the likable b and c-listers to get behind. Wonder Man then becomes the sell for this book, and Norman probably would be too, except I'm not convinced he'd have that much of a showing in it (especially for a task tailor made to be something he'd throw the Hood at to solve).


[color=seagreen] Yay! I'm happy this is in my pull list![/color]