I’ll come out and say it plainly. The new Targon lore creates a vibrant new place in which new stories can be told, and it has gained much in that direction. But it has lost the three characters we once loved. They are no longer the same people with the same motivations. The old Diana, Leona, and Pantheon we all knew are dead and gone, and these three new “Aspects” are in their place. I’ll be touching on all three below, but we’ll start with Diana first.
Diana is possibly the only character with a shred of who they once were still intact. And yet, even in that, she is still not the same person she once was. Diana, previously, was a girl who knew the Solari teachings well, dared to dream of something more, and was punished for it. She became an outcast, hated and reviled, and in turn, fell to a dark place, filled with thoughts of revenge and hatred for those that had caused so much suffering. Of that old persona, only the girl who saw something more and was punished remains.
Instead of being the antagonistic force, the stubborn, hurt, scarred warrior she once was, Diana is now the one seeking peace. This is the exact opposite of her previous personality. While she is dark, subdued, she is a woman who desires to be allies with those that once scored her, that there is no need for them to be enemies, and that they can coexist peacefully and fight together.
But, above all else, Diana shares a trait now common with the other Targonian champions. She is a demigod. Her personality has been superseded by a powerful otherworldly host, that uses her body like a fleshy meat puppet to carry out its whims, and fills her head with visions. All the Targonian champions have this commonality now. But out of the three, Diana showcases this the least, and as a result, has become the ONLY Targonian champion who is easily relatable as a human being.
Leona was once a kind girl born into a tribe of powerful warriors. When she was forced to kill a boy in the pit during her coming of age ceremony, she instead rejected the harsh ways of her people and refused to end his life. Her people were angered by this, but before they could strike her down, a beam of light struck her, and she was taken in by the Solari. There, she became the avatar of the sun, and brought its light and warmth and protection to all who needed it.
That Leona is now dead. Instead of refusing to kill the young warrior, she instead chose to spare and otherworldly creature. In doing so, she again angered the Rakkor, and was forced to fight Atreus (Pantheon) as punishment. A Solari elder, however, halted the fight and took Leona in. There, the kind girl was brainwashed and turned into a powerful warrior who believed only in the light and power of the sun, and her capabilities turned her into the leader of the Ra-Horak, the Solari’s private army of warriors.
This time when Diana came calling, Leona was there, but Diana’s moon powers were too much and she fell, along with the rest of the Solari elders. Outraged and hating Diana, Leona left for the peak of Mount Targon, and encountered the golden demon boy she saved earlier. There, she gained her sun powers, and became even more zealous than she’d ever been before.
The old Leona, who was prideful, yet compassionate and caring, no longer exists. Leona is a warrior who is more along the lines of a Noxian She is brutal and efficient. The power within her is one of fiery destruction, not warmth and comfort as it used to be. It can be argued that she only seeks to protect Targon’s people, and thus uses this radiant force of death on her enemies, but the compassionate side of Leona is missing almost completely in her new lore, wedged in almost as an afterthought to this shining paladin of the sun’s rage and fury, not it’s warmth. If Leona is supposed to be compassionate and caring, the very thing that lead her down this path in the first place, then that part of her is horribly represented in this new telling.
Right now, though, she is the embodiment of the darkness found in the light.
Pantheon is no longer the warrior he once was, literally. The man, who once wielded the relic weapons of his people in their defense and rose above the challenges of war by sheer skill is dead and gone, instead replaced with the entity known as Pantheon. Pantheon cares only for one thing, and that thing is war and combat. He is still an aspect of immortality housed in a meaty shell, and apparently can still be killed at great difficulty, but that means little.
Pantheon/Atreus is the clearest example of a character that has been done a disservice by this lore rewrite. While it is also true that most of what we knew of Pantheon (the man) was anecdotal before these changes, his story gave him character, and we could empathize with his situation. Instead, what we are given is something we cannot empathize with. He is a tool, an extension of a powerful otherworldly entity, and a herald of a great fight to come, and nothing more.
The human being who he replaced is gone and dead, and only his body lives. Atreus is a puppet to the Pantheon entity. You cannot empathize with something that has no emotion, no drive, no humanity outside of battle. But that is all Pantheon is. He is a warrior, perhaps a protector, but nothing else, and that is not a compelling or interesting character.
I can’t fault the lore and narrative teams for wanting to create a more vibrant place in Targon. It was fairly underdeveloped before, and little was known about it. However, now, Targon isn’t the same place we knew. The character we loved are now completely different in many respects. I heard whispers from the grapevine that people internally didn’t like the new direction of Targon, and after seeing it for myself, I can completely understand why.
Targon has become a more dynamic place, with otherworldly entities and threats looming above the clouds, and a place where supernatural beings infuse their energies into chosen persons to defend the mortal realm from harm. It parallels several themes from mythology and antiquity, and I find that part of the developments really cool, although somewhat poorly explained and defined. Lots of questions are unanswered, but that’s not uncommon for Riot’s narrative team these days. Unanswered questions lead to more speculation and story potential. However, all of this has come with a radical shifting of who these characters are and were.
Diana, the once angry and scorned woman is now the person who desires peace, but she lacks purpose and any real direction, and even her old self had that much. She is shown to be appalled by violence and the carnage she created, where before she was driven by her hatred of what had been done to her and her people. It may have been flawed, but it gave her more character. This strong girl seems to be anything but now, lost and without a true path to follow, even after discovering her beliefs were true.
Leona, the once compassionate warrior is almost anything but, shown to be a Solari zealot and keen on burning any who challenge the light of the sun or Targon to ashes. Where is the woman who turns to her allies and says warmly “I will protect you.” as she charges into the fray? Why was she turned into a woman who seems to show no mercy or care for her foes, when the very thing that drove her before was a desire to protect those who could not protect themselves, and to abhor unnecessary or excessive violence? The sun has set on a more beloved version of the character.
Pantheon has been stripped of all his humanity, literally. He is no longer a person, but an entity. He is driven only by war and conflict. While he was before a powerful leader of his people, now he is only a paragon of an act of aggression, a celestial being wearing a human skin. We already have a character like that, and his name is Aatrox. Why was it necessary to turn Pantheon into this entity? Why toss away his humanity, and an aspect that people could understand and relate to?
There are many things that the Targon lore does fairly well, but there are others to which it does a disservice. When those persons to whom it does a disservice are the very characters that we have come to know, love, and cherish over the years, the very characters that have made Targon what it was, why make those changes? Why not try to keep them intact?
This is something I cannot understand. Every change to Targon’s background and setting could have been accomplished without radically altering the key players. This is not Freljord, where a handful of champions were changed (and some butchered), this is every single one being altered radically for no real apparent reason. Leona and Diana seem to have been reversed, and no longer have the hints of a previous bond. In fact, Leona’s lore even goes so far as to suggest that Leona hates Diana because she’s gone against the Solari teachings. Aspects are a fine addition, but why did they have to bring upon such perversions to these characters?
I have to question the Riot narrative team’s decision-making here, especially in recent months. Jhin came first, followed by this. Where last year was a great development of characters we already knew and loved, as was Shurima, this year has been a systematic deconstruction of places and characters the community loved. Earlier in the year, Riot came out and suggested that they had “missed the mark” on how the community viewed Fiora.
I may be only one person speaking out about it, but I honestly believe Riot has again “missed the mark” about what the lore community found captivating and endearing about these three characters. And if this trend continues, I fear that this year will not be as good a year for lore as the previous ones were, especially if Riot’s narrative teams continue to have such a disconnect between what “makes” a place, setting, and it’s character for them, and for their audience.