I Am Legion, A Multi-Layered World War II Tale With Vampires and Espionage.
Translated into English in 2004 I Am Legion is a three part French graphic novel written by Fabien Nury and illustrated by John Cassaday. Set during World War II towards the end of 1942 and seeing in the new year, the Nazis are at the height of their power but the outcome of the war is in doubt as the allies begin to score combat victories.
The author takes the reader inside the British Intelligence Services as they discover that the Nazis have infiltrated their ranks, but also of their top secret weapon, a ten year girl of Rumanian origin who has the ability to control the minds and actions of any being that carried a singular drop of her blood. As her powers increase she becomes capable of manipulating more and more men at a time, circumventing their free-will and allowing them to fight without fear, conscience or a sense of self preservation. They simply persist until dead, despite horrific injuries and facing hideous odds and danger.
This multi-layered and often complex story follows multiple events simultaneously which can make life confusing for the reader. Though Cassaday’s artwork is extraordinary in its detail and consistency the story presented on page bounces from thread to thread from one panel to another with no clear indicator that the leap is being made. From an investigation in Britain to a remote Rumanian village to a Nazi military facility in the skip of a beat and the turn of a couple of pages. This is particularly disorientating early-on when characters are not yet familiar, and there are a lot of characters to get to know too.
The pace of the book is a little confused too. The extra care and attention needed to fully understand the winding plot is counter-intuitive to the fast paced action scenes so wonderfully presented on page once again by Cassaday’s accomplished eye for detail and sympathetic colouring. The story could flow much easier if at times the set-up dialogue was minimised allowing the artwork to tell the story. Perhaps there is something lost in translation.
What Fabien Nury does do very well is characterisation. Each leading role is well defined. You understand the motives behind each action because each character is carefully presented in a subtle way that clearly defines their personality, rationale and, where appropriate, sinister sides. Almost every character holds a dark motivation behind their actions.
Meanwhile the clever, yet not obstructive, infusion of vampire legend into this war-time plot is a mark of genius. From Dracular himself to the point in which the story is set the powers possessed by Ana have been passed from body to body allowing for an immortal existence.
Full of twists, turns, espionage, action and thrills all underlined with dark tones, there is a lot to enjoy in I Am Legion. The fact that it disorientates the reader with multiple plots gives the book a certain longevity. It’s one that you could revisit time and time again and always discover something new.
Author: Fabien Nury | Illustrations: John Cassady | Publisher: Humanoids