Sunday, May 03, 2009

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #4 Review

First the review, then a reaction to recent announcements below. I seem to have a lot to say about this!

Countdown:

Only one more Legion comic after this one. (But see below!)

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

The fighting continues. Superboy-Prime carves a couple of notches onto his belt corresponding to Kinetix and threeboot Element Lad. Wildfire, Dawnstar and Polar Boy return to the future with Luthor's hair, which turns out to be the last ingredient needed to resurrect Superboy II (aka Kon-El, aka Conner Kent). The Time Trapper yoinks retroboot Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy, and Superman, out of the fight and confronts them at the end of time, revealing himself to be an aged version of Superboy-Prime.

Review:

Let's get to the big reveal first: that the Time Trapper is really Superboy-Prime. The thing I noticed most about this was the reaction from various readers on the internet. Very often, big surprises like this get responses of "Wow!" or "OMG!" or "Holy $%&#!," but that's not what happened in this case. The reaction I saw more than once was, "Let me get this straight..."*

And I sympathize. Most of this ground has been thoroughly picked over by others, but: the Time Trapper is a thoughtful villain who does a lot of careful planning and is in no rush. Superboy-Prime is a thoughtless villain who reacts impulsively. It's not impossible for the other to turn into the one, especially after allowing for the passage of all that time, but it's certainly not something that leaps easily to the mind. The other objection is, if Superman and Superboy and Kid Flash and Ion--oh yeah, and the Legions too--win the conflict against Prime and the LSV, then how does Prime become the Time Trapper? And what happens to all those old Time Trapper stories if he doesn't? And if Prime wins, then why does he bother becoming the Time Trapper? It sorta looks like you get hit by a paradox no matter which way you look.**

There is, of course, an easy way out. It has been widely noted that the Trapper has had multiple identities in the past, and therefore there's no need to expect that this one will stick any more tightly than any of the others. Which is quite true. But, to me, that doesn't really get to the core of the Trapper's nature, which is this: he is, by nature, impossible to pin. He won't stay where he's put. Because there's always another layer of deception. The Trapper is turtles all the way down, if you will. The Superboy-Prime identity will last only as long as it takes some Legion writer to show a gloating Time Trapper on a floating rock at the end of time, monologuing about how he deceived and manipulated Superboy-Prime into believing that he, Superboy-Prime, was the Time Trapper, when in fact he was only a decoy for the Legion to busy themselves with. It could happen as soon as next issue.

A lot of what I might have to say about this issue has been covered by others. Let's get it out of the way:
- what's the point of killing Kinetix off? She wasn't in the way of anything.
- the magical aspect of Kinetix’s powers is really being emphasized here. I imagine it’s because Johns has something in mind.
- her death does seem to be one of those newfangled reversible ones, though. I wonder if they're planning on not only bringing her back but also pulling Leviathan out of a side pocket while they're at it. I'm going to have to look into how reboot-Gim died; I think I don't have that comic.
- threeboot-Jan's death is also not necessarily final, depending on what kind of medical help he can get. Let's assume he's gone, though: what is the deal with getting rid of all the Element Lads? Retroboot Jan is nowhere to be found; reboot Jan's powers were traded in on Live Wire's; threeboot Jan is presumably dead. Is this going to be a plot point? I think Brainy was a little quick off the mark at restoring Live Wire's powers in the first place. Sure, the extra electricity must have come in handy, but isn't there more to be gained by having an element-changer around? If I was Brainy, I'd never let Element Lad out of my sight--he's a portable infinite supply of every element and compound imaginable! There's no limit to what could be achieved.
- although let me just say here that I’m not a fan of bringing dead characters back to life. If you didn’t want them to be dead you shouldn’t have killed them in the first place.
- Superboy-Prime's reaction to threeboot kryptonite seems to confirm everyone's hunch that the threeboot comes from Earth-Prime.
- I’ve seen complaints about the characterization of threeboot Jan in this issue. I wouldn’t call it mischaracterization; I think it’s just that Johns doesn’t have the hang of the character the way Waid did. No big thing. (Similarly: Shikari called Umbra “Umbra” and not “Dark Legion”! I hope it wasn’t a conscious choice on Johns’s part; one of my favourite things about Shikari is how she never uses anyone’s name. It was probably done just for expository purposes.)
- I’ve also seen the idea that the reboot and threeboot Legions are being shown in this comic as distinctly inferior to the retroboot Legion. I reread this issue with that in mind, but I don’t really see it.

Notes:
- it looks like Cosmic Boy’s reconstituted Substitute Heroes from the end of the Levitz era are still in continuity. Huh.
- “And incomplete. I followed it step-by-step with little success.” That’s a candidate for the best Legion line of the year.
- the Polar Boy/Sun Boy panel on page 24 has a kind of Pisces-fish yin-yang arrangement to it that I think is a neat idea, in this context. The two of them are opposites in a very obvious and superficial way, but they also have recently had contrasting personalities, and more interestingly, they seem to have the wrong personalities to go along with their powers.
- I’ve been pleased at how much Perez has managed to pack into every page, so much so that I don’t mind the unusual (for him) number of full-page panels in this issue. Still, I would have liked to get a look at the “S” that Prime was burning into the Earth.
- the cover I got was Brainy conjuring Kid Flash out of the lightning rod. Doesn’t really look that great, either; not Perez’s usual style.

I can think of a couple of ways of ending this series, while addressing the whole redemption-of-Superboy-Prime angle that hasn't been played up quite as strongly as I was hoping.

Scenario 1: Superman and the three founders manage to talk to the Time Trapper for five seconds; after all, the Trapper is not as trigger-happy as he was in his youth. Eventually the Trapper says, look, I'm not actually happy like this. Couldn't you do something to see that it doesn't all turn out this way? And they get the threeboot Legion to go back in time and visit Clark-Kent-Prime before this whole mess started, and invite him to the future, and so on, and it all turns out different and the Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds is over. The last panel of the comic shows a room at Titans Tower in the present-day, where Pantha wonders why her neck was so itchy for a second there.

Scenario 2: Someone thinks of the perfect weapon to use on Superboy-Prime. Who should it be--Superman? Bart? Threeboot-Tinya? Any of those. Whoever it is throws some Hostess Fruit Pies down in front of Prime.

Superboy-Prime (recognizing the HFP and their significance): You're kidding me.
Superman/Bart/Tinya: Am I? There they are. It's your move, sport.
Superboy-Prime (laughs, picks up an HFP and mows down on it): I don't know what to do next.
Superman/Bart/Tinya: Help us clean up the LSV and we'll talk about it.
Superboy-Prime: Just like that?
Superman/Bart/Tinya: Just like that.

Seriously. If I read that ending, or something like it, I'd think it was the most awesomest thing ever. I wonder if DC would have the nerve.

Is there a good reason why Starman would rather be wearing his costume than plainclothes to disinter Superboy II? Or is it just because he’s crazy?

All the time spent explaining the whats of the whats of Bart’s resurrection serves to highlight one of the key features of this series: the many different audiences it’s meant to appeal to. This isn’t just a Legion miniseries and I would say it isn’t even primarily a Legion miniseries. First and foremost I think it’s a Superboy-Prime miniseries, although I don’t know if Prime actually has a fan base to draw upon. Here are the people reading this comic:
- DC completists
- Final Crisis completists
- Legion fans
- Superman fans
- Superboy-Prime fans, if any exist
- Green Lantern Corps fans
- Bart Allen and/or Flash Family fans

Which is a lot of people. And the reason why it’s being written like that is so that all of these different groups of fans will get some exposure to the other characters, and thereby potentially increase sales of all these different books for DC. This is an especially important point when it comes to the Legion, since the Legion’s the one that fans of other DC properties are most likely to have never tried. I think this is a key part of DC’s strategy for the Legion, and I have to admit that it makes sense.

Anyway, my point is that as a Legion fan, I don’t really give a red snot about how much sense the whole Bart deal makes, but Bart has lots of fans of his own, and they quite properly do want to hear the details.

Hey, it’s crackpot theory time again! Check it out:
- we’ve seen a modern account of Superman’s first meeting with the Legion founders, in the “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” arc in Action Comics. We noticed at the time that it didn’t quite resemble the story in Adventure Comics #247.
- and yet, DC did reprint the Legion story Adventure #247 recently, in Adventure #0.
- here in FC:L3W #4, the Time Trapper (who is later revealed as an elderly Superboy-Prime) says that, in his efforts to erase Superman’s influence from the timeline, that his “focus had always been on the Legion, for what they did to me.”

Well, what did they do to him?

Maybe Geoff Johns is retconning Adventure #247 so that it’s now about the threeboot Legion going back and visiting Superboy-Prime and, of course, playing that stupid prank on him that he’s still mad about to this day. That sorta fits, doesn’t it? (Not a new idea for me, as you’ll see if you click on one of the links seventeen paragraphs below this one.)

(An alternate way of working it is that he’s mad that they never came back and visited him the way they did in the comics he read as a kid. Which of course ties in to one of the ways of ending the series, mentioned above.)

Oh well. We’ll see sometime in the next year or so.

In terms of quality, this issue was all of a piece with the other three, which were excellent, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe we didn’t need five issues to tell this story. It’s not a complex plot, after all: Superboy-Prime recruits friends and raises hell; the Legion recruits friends and tries to stop him. Fighting. Now, this series doesn’t feel puffed out like the Action arc did, but it seems like the five-issue structure was chosen because of the introductory beats Johns wanted to hit:
Issue 1 – premise is set out
Issue 2 – return of Sodam Yat
Issue 3 – return of Bart Allen
Issue 4 – return of Conner Kent
Issue 5 – resolution

I’m not saying I think it should have been over in four issues. It’s not like I feel that my time has been wasted. But I will point out that if the series had been only four issues long, it’d be over by now, only one terrestrial season after the end of Final Crisis.

--

Once this comic was safely in stores, Geoff Johns announced some stuff about the upcoming Adventure Comics title. The announcement is here, for anyone who wants to go look at it again.

I'm a bit leery of some parts of this announcement. I've got red warning lights going off inside my head. I'm suspicious and skeptical. I've got the jellyleg.

Let's take stock of what we know and what we don't know.

We know:
- Superboy II and the Legion will be sharing Adventure Comics, starting in August.
- Geoff Johns is the writer and Francis Manapul is the artist. Or one of the artists, anyway.

We don't know:
- the nature or composition of the Legion that will be appearing in this comic book.
- how the pages will be allocated between Superboy and the Legion.

We don't know, but can assume until we get some better information, that:
- the Legion, as a co-feature, will get eight pages of Adventure to Superboy's twenty-two.
- the Legion will, for the most part, be Johns's retroboot Legion.***

I am worried that:
- the regular Legion title somebody said was going to exist in 2010 is this Adventure time-share and not an actual Legion comic.
- Johns's take on this Legion, as an ongoing concern, is going to be primarily nostalgic.

Of course we need to wait until all the details are in. Trust me, I am going to give this title every benefit of the doubt. But so far I'm not getting a really good vibe from it.

First, the nostalgia thing. It's something I feel strongly about, and it's been a threat for quite a while now. Consider the following:
- Johns's preferred Legion to write about seems to be his retroboot Legion, which is more like Paul Levitz's Legion of the 1980s than anything else
- the comic book Johns announced is called Adventure Comics, and it stars Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, just like in the 1960s
- the cover is an homage to the cover of Adventure # 300 from 1962 (and, by extension, Legion of Super-Heroes v2 #301, from 1983)
- the art we've seen so far shows Superboy living in Smallville with Ma Kent and Krypto, throwing a baseball under the majestic arching midwestern skies, just like in the 1950s and '60s. Of course, Smallville is a small town, and as we were so carefully instructed during the last U.S. election, that's the only kind of place where traditional American values can still be found

Gee, I can't imagine what I was worrying about.

Now, I don't want to overstate the case here. If anyone likes to read Legion comics because it reminds them of reading Legion comics back when they were eleven, far be it from me to object. It's not a reaction I share, but that's okay; whatever floats your boat; free country. And if the new Adventure elicits that reaction in people, then fine. What I object to is nostalgia placed above any other consideration, and that's what I'm worried that we're getting. Look back at the three major Legion-related stories Johns has given us: "The Lightning Saga," "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes," and Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds. They all recycle old Legion characters, stories, ideas, and bits of business, and if anything new was introduced in any of them, I missed it.

I don't have much time for nostalgism in general, but I find it particularly offensive when it comes to the Legion, because one of the major defining features of the Legion is its optimistic-future setting. To say (as I have seen it said!) that the Legion is primarily a vehicle for nostalgia is, on one level, to say that believing in the future is something that we used to do but now we know better. Well, if that's the way you think then you might as well stick your head in the damn oven. We're going to be spending the rest of our lives in the future; let's not give up on it so easily.

I once wrote DC a letter (scroll way down in that link) in which I recommended that they address the Legion Problem by finding a way of reconciling the original, reboot, threeboot, 5YL and SW6 Legions, but making sure to use those Legions exactly and not just ones that were kinda like them. I figured that that was the only way people would be able to transfer over all the emotional investment they had made in all those different Legions. It turns out that I was completely

wrong

about that. The way it actually works is that the majority of Legion fans can transfer over their emotional investments just fine as long as the names and costumes are right. In fact, they'll get quite huffy if you dare to point out any of the things that aren't the same as their old favourites: if it's not the same Legion, how come they feel the same way about it? Answer that!

So that surprised me, but, hey, if everybody's happy then there's no problem.

Except, for some Legion fans--not all of us, but not none of us either--there's no difference between a warmed-over arrangement of Legion nostalgia and a good Legion story. If--if--Johns's take on the Legion is primarily a nostalgic one, there are fans out there who will still eat it up like it's ice cream. And if there are enough of them, DC may think it's got a success on its hands when actually they're just getting away with pandering. Meanwhile, those of us who want to read innovative superhero stories, who like a little science fiction with our capes and villains, who read Legion comics because it's one of the few superhero comics out there where characters can change and stay changed, who actually want the story to be good more than we want to namecheck how many Silver Age characters appear in the backgrounds... we're out in the cold. Ars gratia artis, damn your poxy eyes.

Here's a characterization that just came to mind, and I hope it’s not really what’s going on: Adventure Comics is DC's way of giving a bottle of warm milk to the many whiny suckybabies in Legion fandom. "Waah! It's not the real Legion if Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl aren't together! I won't read it! DC needs to kill these punks and bring back the Cockrum uniforms!" Maggots.

Given a choice between Jim Shooter's Hey-Ho Legion of Super-Foobs and Geoff Johns's The Legion of Your Life, I'd take the former in a shake of Sensor's tail. Shooter, for all his ill-advised moves, was at least trying to innovate a little. We weren't getting the same-old same-old from Jim Shooter. And I could say the same about Mark Waid. I'd much rather have a writer fail at something worthwhile than succeed at the Legion version of the Chris Farley Show.****

As for the rest of it: Dan DiDio said at some convention that DC would show an increased commitment to the Legion in 2009. If--if, I say--DC's plans for the Legion end with eight wistful and backward-looking pages a month in Adventure, then I'd like to show DiDio the dictionary definition of "increased". Because it wasn't so long ago that the Legion had two monthly ongoing titles in addition to all their other appearances (not to mention their own freaking TV show, although that isn't part of DC's bailiwick), and I don't consider it an increased commitment to trade all that in on eight-page monthly installments of Geoff Johns's childhood memories at $3.99 a pop.

It's possible I'm getting exercised about nothing. There are legitimate reasons to be looking forward to Adventure. Kon-El's not my particular favourite, but he's okay. Manapul's a good artist and his sample panels are beautiful. Johns is a perpetually entertaining writer and he may have some original ideas in store for us. The Legion may get significantly more than eight pages an issue (one idea I had: one issue, Superboy gets twenty-two pages and the Legion gets eight. Next issue, Superboy gets eight and the Legion gets twenty-two), and/or their co-feature may be a springboard for a title of their own (perhaps Adventure itself, perhaps a Legion of Super-Heroes v6). And there are some obvious signs of careful planning here. So we'll wait out the details. I'm just uneasy about the whole thing.

--
* …as the bishop said to the actress.
** I also have to admit that I still like my Time Trapper = Luthor idea better. Oh well.
*** Although it would be kinda neat for Superboy II to be sharing his comic with the reboot Legion. After all, a) he’s already a member, b) it sorta looks like Johns has something brewing with them, the way Kinetix died, and c) if I’m not mistaken they’re the Legion that Johns first imprinted on as a fan.
**** Remember that? That was great.

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39 Comments:

Blogger murrfox said...

Great, great, great read! One that deserves far more than the quick comments I'm giving you just now. But I'll come back to this article and pick away at it in the coming days with my comments and thoughts. Thanks for posting this.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

You're very welcome.

9:09 PM  
Blogger murrfox said...

Re: the Time Trapper reveal... it doesn't work for me. On a couple of levels.
You're right, most of this ground has been picked over before... it's almost like a big Legion story needs a surprising reveal. Except that, for me, the Trapper is way better as a mysterious entity than a character with a name.
Secondly, if you're going to give the Trapper a name, better for it to be someone with a deep connection to Legion history than the current flavour of the month.
I hope you're right, that there could be another switcheroo coming up, but like you, I suspect that we won't see it in this story, but in the *next* Time Trapper story. Who knows? Alot will depend on the final issue and how well that wraps things up.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah. It doesn't have to work forever; just for the next issue.

9:36 PM  
Blogger murrfox said...

Re death of Kinetix and Element Lad:
I think you're right that Zoe's death could very easily be reversed and could become a plot point later on down the line, should the writer choose to pick up on it.
Element Lad, though, I think is very much a goner. I think it's a clearing the deck exercise... eliminating a powerful character. Jan's a powerhouse... three Jans are unbelievably powerful which becomes difficult to write. So... reboot Jan's powers are wiped away, threeboot Jan is killed off and original Jan is lost in space, ready to be pulled into a story whenever they want.

9:43 PM  
Blogger murrfox said...

I’ve also seen the idea that the reboot and threeboot Legions are being shown in this comic as distinctly inferior to the retroboot Legion. I reread this issue with that in mind, but I don’t really see it.I think, perhaps, these concerns come from the fact that we didn't get to see the other Legions in any significant way until the third issue. I don't see them as being depicted in an inferior way, just that they clearly, aren't the focus. The retro Legion are the main characters, while the other Legions are given the supporting role.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, that's true, but it's also something we knew going in: Johns listed the Legionnaires he'd be highlighting, and it was basically the founders, Sun Boy and Polar Boy, I think, and all from the retroboot Legion. Of course, you could argue that the Legion itself is not really in the focus here.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Andres said...

Great article, you put your finger right on it! I started reading Legion with the threeboot and, while I liked all the new Geoff Johns stuff, I felt kinda dirty after reading them. Like they were only written to appease the fans and not to advance the Legion in any way.

10:03 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

And that's the thing: we don't know. Maybe #5 will advance the Legion in some way. Or maybe Adventure will. Oh well; at least it's a fun read in the meantime.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Tom Bondurant said...

I would add "George Perez fans" (like me) to the list of FC:LO3W audience factions.

I also approve heartily of the Hostess ending.

As for the rest -- very nice work, as always!

11:35 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I suppose so. Or Geoff Johns fans; they aren't all covered by the other categories.

Thanks for the kind words!

12:08 PM  
Blogger rdb said...

Excellent as always, Matthew. I share your concern for "nostalgism" (a GREAT word), at the same time, I don't think Johns's wider record warrants it. Johns DOES make a living taking the past and tweaking it/heightening it, but usually in the service of something new and interesting (JSA and Green Lantern). My own pet peeve with his retroboot is that it's a Legion of Super-Slackers in their late 20's who need to stop calling themselves "Lad" and "Lass" and get a job, get married and have babies.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Johns DOES make a living taking the past and tweaking it/heightening it, but usually in the service of something new and interesting Okay, but here's what I say about that: what Johns does is a perfectly respectable thing to do when writing heavy-continuity serial superhero comics, and I have a lot of respect for it. Other writers who have been similar to Johns in this sense have been Roy Thomas and Paul Levitz, both of whom I have all kinds of time for. The only problem is that that's not what the Legion is going to need once FC:L3W is over. They're going to need someone who can inject some originality. And I just haven't seen much of that from Johns. He can do new twists on old ideas (like all the different-coloured Lantern Corps), but how is he on new new ideas?

My own pet peeve with his retroboot is that it's a Legion of Super-Slackers in their late 20's who need to stop calling themselves "Lad" and "Lass" and get a job, get married and have babies.Yeah, well. We'll see what happens. I miss some of that stuff too, but I can see how it might be a tough sell for DC editorial at the moment.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Thomas Mitchell said...

I thought we already had a previous Legion story in which Time Trapper was revealed to be someone we know. Or am I getting confused with the LL/Saturn Girl marriage treasury edition that reveals their child becomes one of the Fatal Five?

6:08 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

We've had lots of stories like that. But, as I say, you can't pin down the Time Trapper that easily. He'll be somebody else the next time DC needs him to be somebody else.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Lovely review, Matthew. I am particularly with you when you mentioned the fans who are happy to see a bunch of colorful guys and call that Legion.
I also think Johns is rehashing stories and giving us a decompressed wrestling session in terms of what the book has accomplished so far. Not a good bok by far, and much less interesting than what Shooter was building up to.
And I also agree that these days it is stupid to keep writing Lads and Lassies for good ol'days. This was one of the lowest points of McCraw's terrible run (the idea that costumes would save the book from bad writing). And they seem to be back.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks.

I don't want to give anybody the wrong idea; I am really enjoying FC:L3W. The only reason it's not one of the best Legion stories ever is because it's only partly a Legion story. But it may be the best big-event-crossover I've ever read.

Anyway, there's no point in judging how good a job Johns is doing with the Legion yet because everything he's done has been part of an introductory phase. And that introductory phase will continue until, it looks like, pretty deep into the new Adventure series. My rule of thumb is that, if you want to know how good a serial superhero comic book is, look at the second story after the series really gets going. When's that going to be for the retroboot Legion--Adventure #12-18? From Jul-Dec 2010? Sigh.

11:54 PM  
Blogger rdb said...

Hey Matthew, I might just be disagreeing with you a bit on what the Legion needs (In my head, that sentence was said with a Francis MacDormand "Fargo" accent). I think the Legion needs great characterization and organic connections to its past and the DCU that are springboards for new stories, more than it needs sheer creativity. I submit as evidence the end of the reboot and the 3Boot, where DnA and Waid/Kitson did a LOT of fairly new, creative things, especially more sci-fi driven stories, most of which really fell flat, mainly because alot of the characterization was flat and somewhat disconnected from the storyline. In contrast, I think Johns's character-driven approach is probably what the Legion needs to win more readers. You HAVE to care about the characters, or the Legion is just too much trouble.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, all stories benefit from good characterization. It's only a rare writer like an Asimov who can dispense with it. And certainly the Legion's appeal stems largely from its characters.

I don't know if I'd call Johns's approach "character-based". Obviously he's spending some time on characterization, just like any writer would. But I don't see any reason to say that that's what he's emphasizing. (I disagree, by the way, about your evaluation of DnA's and Waid's characterizations.)

What I think is that there has been too much emphasis for too long on the "organic connections to its past" part and not enough on doing anything really fresh. The Legion has been drinking its own bathwater for about three decades now, if not more, and I'd like a change from that.

12:09 PM  
Blogger murrfox said...

I don't know if I'd call Johns's approach "character-based"...snips..(I disagree, by the way, about your evaluation of DnA's and Waid's characterizations.)I wouldn't call John's approach character-based, either. I've found Johns' work on team-books to be pretty sparse at character development... or very subtle at character development. Take your pick.
But I found DnA's Legion to be full of characterization. Their run on the book was the closest it ever came to feeling like a Levitz comic which a super balance between character moments and story plot.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The other way of thinking about it is this. You can go anywhere to read, or watch, a story that's about characters. The world is full of them. But how many sources do you have for stories about two dozen young superheroes in the distant future? So that's the aspect that I think is more important to get right.

7:43 PM  
Blogger ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

This was such a neat article. I quite enjoyed reading it-- while at class. Just don't ask, lol. I guess I'm one of those nostalgia guys who love the retroboot, but you make so much sense and I whole-heartedly agree that the Legion should move forward, not back.

Anyway, as I said, this was a great and entertaining read.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks very much.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Andres said...

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=21104

Grant Morrison mentions in this article that he will be writing a comic based on 'Earth-Prime'. Maybe the Earth-Prime Superboy Prime and the threeboot might come from?

10:40 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, I'm actually having second thoughts about that. Someone on the Newsarama boards pointed out that Supergirl was affected by threeboot Kryptonite late in the Waid run. Now, I don't mind ignoring a detail like that, but what if Geoff Johns isn't ignoring it?

10:47 PM  
Blogger Andres said...

Someone on the Newsarama boards pointed out that Supergirl was affected by threeboot Kryptonite late in the Waid run.

Suuure, make this difficult. :) Um, maybe Earth-Prime kryptonite affects ALL Kryptonians while all other kryptonites only affect Kryptonians from the same universe of original. Yeah, there ya go.
Do you know which issue that was in?

12:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It was #23.

It's probably still Earth-Prime. But you never know what details a writer is going to decide are significant.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Carl said...

Actually, if we go by the origin of Superboy Prime as presented in DC Comics Presents, there's no such thing as "Earth Prime Kryptonite" (Krypton Prime Kryptonite?) Krypton Prime didn't explode. Its sun went supernova. Also Prime was teleported to Earth, not sent in a rocket.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

That's okay. Krypton-Prime was still composed of matter, and that matter could, through some supernova-related superhero-comic-book-science process, have been converted to Kryptonite.

C'mon, guys, let's not make this any more difficult than we absolutely have to.

2:02 PM  
Blogger msweeney said...

I agree with many of your points, which are expressed in a very eloquent manner.
It's this back-pedaling nostalgia trip currently in fashion in the DC Universe which is in part responsible for my decision to let LO3W #5 be my last new comic purchase. I don't intend to sound bitter or even negative, I've just come to accept that new comics and I have grown apart.
Anyway, I was looking forward to LO3W as a large scale send off with some of my favorite characters returning to print (I've missed those 'unique' reboot characters such as Gates, KQ, Kintetix, etc.). What we have gotten is, while exciting and large scale, is a story where even Johns' favored alterna-Legion seem like guest-stars.
I think you're right in saying the proof will be in the puddin' - some sort of ongoing format. I desperately want to see the Legion move forward, and though this may seem paradoxical, I feel the creative team needs to get the Legion back to its mission statement, so to speak. It's already been brought up the unique blend of sci-fi and super-heroics that the Legion possesses. I think the creative team also needs to capitalize on the opportunity to expound the ideas of diversity and cooperation that the Legion can represent. The attempts at this throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s were at times charming, cute, and laughable ['Sorry, Tyroc, you drew guard duty again' comes to mind from one of the tabloids].
People might not like this, but I think the Legion was at its best and most diverse during the late Peyer/McGraw-DnA era where you had multiple non-humanoids and a rainbow of skin colors including 2.5 (if you count 1/2 of Wildfire's mind-meld) African-American/Aliens, one of which was elected leader (The Legion beat you to it, U.S.). While I enjoyed this era of the team, it must be said I cannot condone even a rainbow of skin colors singing on the beach.
I'd better tie this up, as this comment verges on a post - love what you do and look forward to future posts,

MS

2:11 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks.

A couple of things to remember:

- Forever is a long time, and so far nothing has lasted that long. It's precisely when something has lasted so long that people start thinking that it can't change that it's most likely to change drastically.

- If what you're getting from DC is not what you want, write 'em a letter. It's the only way they'll learn.

3:07 PM  
Blogger snell said...

I'm late to the party on this one, but I've got a hunch. Just like with Green Lantern and Superman, I'm betting we'll see Johns give us a "Secret Origin of the Legion" mini-series before too long, in addition to their half-a-book in Adventure.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I could see that.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous eddie blake said...

yeah, you know, if i'm livewire/jan, and im gonna transform back to garth, do i REALLY not regrow my missing arm?

(just sayin)
on to #4
Prime is shallow- the what they did to him line could just be resentment from his statue being in storage

On the other hand, he refers to the kingdom at the end of time as his prison, so beating prime might entail somehow tethering him to the final moment, where he learns patience and plots his revenge

Speaking of off camera stuff, I’m very interested in how, in one apparent mighty blow, prime was able to knock out m’onel, ultra boy III, sodam yat(?), andromeda, starboy II and XS, and then wiped the floor with wildfire II, ultra boy II and mon-el.

If you could take out all those heavy hitters with one shot, why would you need a legion of supervillains?

How could you hit someone hard enough to knock out all those invulnerable types simultaneously and not instantly squish xs or starboy?

During the sinestro war, sodam yat seemed almost evenly matched with prime before he got all leaded up. Now, a thousand years later, a thousand years of absorbing yellow sun radiation, with the power of the ion, with the power of the guardians themselves, AND ten rings, prime STILL tosses him around like a wet noodle?

Something isn’t right with that.

I would agree that nostalgia was a driving force for many legion writers. Levitz and giffen tried to get away from it from #300 on, coming into full swing towards the end of his tenure and the beginning of the 5yl run, before everything went to pot.

Most of the reboot legion was so seeped in nostalgia it stank of fedoras and cheap cigars.

While there WERE several really cool original characters like thunder, kid quantum II and gates, so many others were just bottles of nostalgia sloshing around (im talking to YOU ferro/invisible kid/karate kid/wildfire) and others were pastiches of several earlier incarnations, like shikari being a more badass dawnstar, as if she and bounty were one, or ultra boy, with the scruffy, unshaven look of jo-the-smuggler from 5yl and at first, cockrum’s classic costume.

It got to the point where it was like, oh, of COURSE darkseid would show up (again).

How could he not.

Maybe Lo3W #5 will be a double sized issue and it will explain everything nicely and tie up all the loose ends and be on time-

Maybe.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous durochervision said...

First and foremost a great article and thoughtful detail to the Legion. As for a 32 year veteran fan of the Legion and one who has every comic appearance since 1958. It would be nice if they would make up their minds about somethinmg and stick to it for a while.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks. I don't think there'll ever be a permanent status quo for the Legion, though; there's always change. Even this Adventure-comics-backup deal: doesn't matter how good or bad it is; it won't last forever.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous durochervision said...

That's true. Remember the not so great back ups in Action Comics led the way to the Superboy run. Time will heal everything.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really good point Eddie. See you in the funny papers.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous eddie blake said...

lol.. which one?

hopin you mean the one about prime and sodam-

thinkin it is getting a bit silly..

in the eighties, Captain Atom was advertised as being the most powerful person in the DCU-

then Damage-

then the Ray-

now, yat, with the aforementioned thousand years of solar energy/ power of ion/ power of all guardians/ power of ten rings=

wet noodle.

i just dont get it

(and it's not like, oh, ok, it's a different writer's intereperetation....nope. it is all Johns. go figure)

and i would still LOVE to have seen that off camera slug fest, BTW, just because it hadda be absurd to clobber all those powerhouse invulnerables, but leave XS and Star Boy II unscratched, unscathed and just slightly unconscious)

10:39 PM  

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