Art Storytelling Hard to Follow in Legenderry #1

I thought I’d try the new Dynamite series Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure, the seven-issue pulp character revamp written by Bill Willingham and drawn by Sergio Davila.

In the opening sequence, Vampirella is dining with Brett Reid (the Green Hornet) at her Scarlet Club (later referred to as Club Scarlet). They’re debating the proper way to make a martini when a gang of bad guys attack. Here’s our first full-length (half-page) view of “Madam Pendragon”. Notice the club looks a bit like a fancy dining room, definitely indoors.

Legenderry page 5

And here are the bad guys, who appear to have wandered in from an S&M party:

Legenderry page 6

After a grammar lesson, she rushes to battle, stripping off her clothes, as shown in the last panel on this page. Note particularly the bare arm.

Legenderry page 7Legenderry page 8

However, during the splash, she’s dressed again, including decorative arm warmers. And apparently, they’ve all been magically transported to some kind of battlefield, where the room’s walls have disappeared. All sense of place has been cheated, with dust clouds making it unnecessary to actually draw backgrounds.

She kills them all, of course, and the rest of the issue involves questioning the girl who led the bad guys to the club. Continuing the trend of the art not working particularly well with the text, at the same time she’s claiming not to be a “street wanton”, she’s flashing cleavage and thigh that’s daring for these days, not to mention centuries ago. This is our bashful young lady:

Legenderry page 20

The plot, such as it is so far, reminds me of every noir detective tale, where they have to help the lovely lady find her missing sister. In this promotional interview, Willingham acknowledges the pacing will be leisurely at first:

It’s slow beginning, obviously, so we’ll pick up some speed. In the early pages of a story like this, every single new page is also a design page. It takes a while to get momentum into the deeper end of the story.

However, he also praises the artist for “visually tell[ing] the story with clarity”.

4 Responses to “Art Storytelling Hard to Follow in Legenderry #1”

  1. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    unfortunately, that art style seems to be the Dynamite norm. i don’t know if it’s because they are working with young artists or artists who primarily read and speak other languages, but the script and art in Dynamite books tend to not work together the way good comics should.

    I love the lineup of licensed characters that Dynamite has cobbled together, but I just recently binge read multiple of their books and could no longer ignore the fact that the vast majority of Dynamite artists either can’t or simply ignore the basics of setting an environment for the action to occur. The focus will always be almost entirely on the active fighters, and even then, the continuity is almost always ignored in favor of the popular or glamour shots that will sell well on the secondary market.

    Consequently, I have slowed down on the Dynamite series that I purchase and try sampling them first before committing to purchase. Comixology will often give you up to three pages of preview for a book. Even if I don’t buy it on Comixology it can give me a sense of what type of artist Dynamite has hired this time. Unfortunately, the three pages shown for Legenderry would not have gotten to the point that you show us, so my method may not work as well as I thought…

  2. Johanna Says:

    I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t read a lot of Dynamite titles, because they’re either clearly Not Aimed at Me (“here’s the latest near-nude-woman alternate cover!”) or based around pulp fandoms I don’t have interest in. Interesting to see that it’s a line-wide choice — but it’s economically understandable that if you’re selling based on brands and properties, you might not want to spend a lot of money on a name artist if the cheaper international workers get you enough of what you need. (Kind of like other industries that way.)

    I tried Legenderry because I was curious about how reasonably they’d treat Vampirella in a much more covered-up environment. And I thought it was about time I talked about some art, with a relatively obvious example.

  3. A Trio of New Comics to Kick Off 2014 Says:

    […] Davila does a nice job with the characters and throws in a lot of steampunk touches, although, as Johanna Draper Carlson points out, he slips up on continuity in a few places. When Madam Pendragon rushes toward the assassins, for […]

  4. Jim Perreault Says:

    I’ve picked up a copy of this book. It certainly looks like she is naked when she goes into battle, but looking more closely I think what was supposed to happen was that she removed her outer garments and dress in order to do battle. But it’s not clear from the art.

    As for the story, while it is a standard setup Willingham does do some twists on the convention, such as having the woman do all the fighting while all the male heroes stand back and watch (and tend to the damsel in distress).

    I also enjoyed the interplay between Madam Pendragon and Reid. It seems establishing their relationship was the major focus of the issue.




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