Sticking it to the Man: Frank Tieri Talks Lethal Legion

Frank Tieri Talks Lethal Legion

Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #1

If the events of “Dark Reign” are Norman Osborn’s dream come true, Dark Reign: Lethal Legion is his nightmare.

While Osborn has pulled in, threatened, intimidated, or bullied virtually every villain in the Marvel Universe to his side, there are some that don’t want in, or can’t be bullied. The likes of the Grim Reaper, Mr. Hyde, Absorbing Man, Nekra and Man-Ape, for example – as individuals they’re formidable, but together, they’re the Lethal Legion.

And they don’t want to drink Osborn’s Kool-Aid.

Kicking off in June, the three issue Dark Reign: Lethal Legion by Frank Tieri and Mateus Santolouco will tell just what happens to villains who don’t take a shine to Osborne’s plans, and whether or not they live to tell the tale.

We spoke with Tieri for more on the baddest of the bad.

Newsarama: Frank, first off, how did this project get started? And are you ever going to be tired of writing the bad guys?

Frank Tieri: Second part first… nope. Moving right along…

Lethal Legion was actually born out of another project, that being Dark Reign: Made Men. When we were tossing around which villains would get brushed off and make the cut for that project, one of the pitches I had was for Lethal Legion, figuring the current Norman Osborn dominated climate would not only produce the return of solo villains (as we see in Made Men, with the exception of Gamma Corps) but may also cause the reformation of some of Marvel’s old mainstay bad guy teams. Marvel actually decided there was potential in my pitch to expand it to a mini series, so here we are.

NRAMA: As you say, the Lethal Legion is a “mainstay” legacy group within the Marvel U - with a reputation for being fairly audacious in their actions. What was it about them that made you want to bring them back?

FT: I’m just a sucker for a lot of the old villain teams from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, to be honest. I mean, why does it always have to be the Brotherhood or the Masters of Evil or the Frightful Four, ya know? The Ani-Men, the Sinister Syndicate, THEM, the Serpent Society… Can’t we see some of these other groups make a comeback?

Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #2

So I threw a few of these old groups around in my head and decided the Legion was best suited to see the light of day again. I always dug that their sole reason for existence was just to take out the Avengers. Not rob banks or take over the world or anything like that. Just real simple: we’re gonna take out the baddest mofo’s on the planet. You’ve got X amount of guys in kooky costumes, we’ve got X amount of guys in kooky costumes, let’s get it on. There’s something really bad ass about that and it really takes some balls, when you sit right down and think about it.

NRAMA: So it's the Reaper again who’s leading the team this time around? And from the looks of the cover to issue #2, it looks like his brother Wonder Man will be popping up, too

FT: Well, while we’re on the subject of balls, if there was one guy who had enough of ‘em to go toe to toe with Osborn, I figured it was the Grim Reaper. Plus, you really can’t have a Lethal Legion without the guy—not only is he the group’s founder but if you notice throughout the years, all the best incarnations of the team involve him in some capacity. It would be like having the Rat Pack without Sinatra. No offense to Sammy and Dino and the rest, but it just ain’t happening.

And yeah, Wondy plays a big part in the series—it’s practically a must for him to show up when his little bro does, ya know? They’ve had this terrific love/hate relationship throughout the years (mostly hate, to be honest) that’s just been a blast to explore. I mean, when you consider that Eric actually became to Reaper to avenge what he thought was Simon’s death, thereby making Wonderman sort of unintentionally responsible for his brother’s path of villainy, then you realize these boys have a lot of issues to work out. And they certainly will do their fair share of it in this series.

NRAMA: Other than the Reaper, who do we have in this group, and what brings them together? They don't seem to be pals or their teaming one of necessity, given the state of the Marvel U?

FT: I think we’ve assembled a nice little who’s who of Marvel U goonery here: Absorbing Man, Mr Hyde, Nekra, Tiger Shark, Grey Gargoyle (and that’s not even counting our final mystery member, who I won’t reveal here because, ya know, it’s a mystery).Each one will bring something a little different to the book—Nekra’s Reaper’s loyal girlfriend, Hyde’s our resident psycho, etc—and we’ll be learning throughout the series that each one has their own individual reasons for wanting to take a piece out of Osborn.

But regardless, you had to figure that was going to happen anyway, that there would be a group of dissident criminals opposing Osborn, that not everyone would be onboard with his grand master plan. After all, so called villains mistrust each other more so even than they mistrust heroes and let’s face it… would you trust Norman Osborn?

Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #3

I actually think they’re much smarter than the rest of the criminal sheep following Osborn’s every word. Look to screw him because you know he’s eventually going to screw you.

NRAMA: What’s the big difference between this project and other villain pieces you’ve done?

FT: Well, our approach is going to be a lot different than what people might expect. For one thing, we’re in prison for all three issues.

NRAMA: Prison? Then that would mean…

FT: Yep. They lose. Big time. So we know that going in.

What we don’t know is the details… how did they get there? What exactly did they do? There’s quite a bit of mystery in this series—it really has much more in common with “caper” stories along the lines of a Reservoir Dogs or a Usual Suspects than with your standard superhero fare. Fans can expect a lot of twists and turns here as we learn exactly what happened through flashbacks—including the biggest mystery of all in the series: which one of them betrayed the others, leading to their eventual downfall? We’ll find they all have they individual reasons for that too, so there’s no shortage of suspects.

NRAMA: So leave us with a tease – what can we expect in this series?

Twists. Turns. Mystery. Betrayal. Mass mayhem. Norman Osborn. HAMMER . A prison stabbing. A Goodfellas like beat down. Brother VS, brother. Dark Avengers VS. Lethal Legion. A guy’s arm getting ripped off. Zombies. A Lethal Legion member dies.

And an ending you will not see coming.

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