Monday, May 18, 2009

Turf Accountant to the Space-Gentry

The key plot-point of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds is going to be the fate of Superboy-Prime. What Johns (and, by extension, DC) do with the Legion is also of interest, but that's an issue that's external to the story. But Prime's story is at the core of this series. Superman's declaration that the heroes need to redeem Superboy-Prime is the main thing that separates FC:L3W from all the other cheesebag crossovers that have been inflicted on us over the past quarter-century: it's more interesting than just fighting and cosmic destruction, and it seems like a really hard thing to do, even for Superman.

There are those who believe (and not without reason!) that it's silly to even be discussing the notion of redeeming him; the idea is that his crimes are of such enormity that he can never be redeemed. This point of view is not without merit. However. First, it's entirely in character for Superman (and retroboot Saturn Girl!) to try it anyway. Second, if you don't redeem him, just what do you do with him? They're certainly not going to kill him (even if they could). They can't lock him up anywhere (even if they could), because he's better at getting out of impregnable prisons than Mister Miracle is. The only way to stop the guy is to get him to want to stop. No, he doesn't deserve it, but that's not the point.

So here are all the different possibilities, as far as I can tell, for what can happen to Prime. Place your bets!

It Is a Far, Far More Lame-Assed Thing I Do: (2:1) Of course, the most painless way for Superboy-Prime to both redeem himself and pay for his crimes would be for him to die fighting the Time Trapper, or the rest of the villains. It would be a very tidy way of ending the story. It would also be as boring as "Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall (Extended Dance Remix)".

Nothing: (3:1) One very real possibility is that nothing will happen to Prime. He'll get away at the end, or maybe be locked up in some way that he can obviously get out of, and continue on like he has been. This one is somewhat plausible because a lot of people think that the final blacked-out figure on the cover of Adventure #1 is Prime. Plus it fits in with DC's habit of promising big changes but not delivering. Of all the possible endings to this series, this is the one I like least: it's the one that would most drastically fail to deliver on the promise of the premise. (Similarly: it's possible that the new status quo for the three Legions will be the same as the old status quo. Bleah.)

Orange Jumpsuit Plus Flight Ring: (5:1) The most likely way this one plays out is for Prime to be overcome with remorse when he finds out that Earth-Prime still exists, and joins the threeboot Legion as their Superboy, where he will work to try to make up for all the evil he's done. It could happen. I wouldn't mind this one. A couple of things I like about it: one, it acknowledges that, as Spider Robinson points out, the word "absolution" contains the word "solution", and two, it gives the threeboot Legion a role in future stories.

Steps on a Rainbow: (10:1) He could just die in the fight. Sodam Yat or one of the Legionnaires or Kon-El or Bart (unlikely) or Superman (even less likely) could be pushed too far and, somehow, be moved to kill Prime. Might make a good story. Only problem is that the focus of the story would be shifted to that character, and that could be kind of jarring.

The Faith Option: (10:1) Prime is made to feel remorse, somehow, and says to the Legionnaires, "Lock me up. I deserve it. And I promise I won't try to escape." Nothing really wrong with this one, except that it's a bit too easily reversible for my taste.

Lost at the End of Time: (10:1) The battle against the three Legions ends with Prime being stuck at the end of time, where he will eventually turn into the Time Trapper, just as was revealed at the end of #4. As an ending, this would be tidy but unsatisfying.

The Nada Option: (15:1) In the renowned Sandman series, there's one part where Dream confronts his old lover Nada, whom, in a fit of pique, he condemned to Hell for eternity. He's sorry now, and wants to know what he can do to make up for it. There's nothing, of course; she's had centuries of torment and, at best, will always remember that. But he finds a solution: he takes Nada's soul to be reincarnated as a newborn baby, giving her a fresh start. This is also the kind of thing that can be arranged for Superboy-Prime, since this is, after all, a Time Trapper story. I'd be okay with this ending.

The Parallax Option: (25:1) It wasn't Superboy-Prime doing those terrible things all along! It was an evil entity controlling him, and all we have to do is exorcise it, and he'll be a hero again! On the one hand, it would "work". On the other, it's a stupid cop-out that Johns has famously used before.

Chronal Surgery: (25:1) Send the threeboot Legion back in time to visit young Clark-Kent-Prime and teach him about heroism, so that when he gets sealed up in the walls of reality with Earth-2 Superman, Earth-2 Lois and Alexander Luthor, he doesn't go off his chump and lose control against Kon-El and the Titans. The big problem with this one is that it would erase a bunch of continuity that DC is sort of relying on these days. I still kinda like it, though.

The Field: (15:1) This is the catchall heading for everything I haven't thought of. And it's the one I'm hoping for. I don't want to be able to predict how this damn series is going to end! Surprise me, Geoff Johns!

Did I miss any obvious ones?

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Blogger snell said...

There are certainly subsets of the others, but I think you've covered all the major ones (except the hoary Silver Age cliches, like The Love Of A Good Woman, or A Bonk On The Head Gives Him Convenient Amnesia).

The only one I would add is, at 10:1, is The Secret Chessmaster, wherein we learn that Prime/Trapper is really a tool of the real chessmaster, who is manipulating events for the good. To eliminate "chronal instabilities" of whatnot, as an excuse to reboot/reset/whatever. At the end he whisks off a beaten Prime into Limbo to train him to be the Trapper and keep the cycle going...

Actually, knowing Johns, I'd make that one 5-1, and bonus points if the Secret Chessmaster is Scar, the repentent evil Guardian of Oa...

11:26 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

I think you've covered all the major possibilities... and while I'm holding out for a surprise... I'm inclined to think that Prime will be trapped at the end of time and will then become the Trapper. Not my favourite solution, but, as you say, tidy.

It's also a very real possibility that nothing much will change... they'll defeat Prime and he'll get away to live on as a villain for whomever wants to use him next.

I don't think that he'll be killed off (either by a villain, or in a blaze of glory) and it just makes my head hurt if Prime is the one who kills the Trapper if Prime IS the Trapper. Ouch.

I do like your idea about the threeboot team changing history and recruiting Prime. There's something kinda hopeful and warm about that. It would play havoc with all the continuity that's been built up over the last few years, but again, there's probably some way they could explain it all away.


5:46 PM  
Blogger Bully said...

He's a Skrull!

9:38 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Snell: The thing about the Secret Chessmaster is that the Time Trapper can be his own Secret Chessmaster! So I think that's a variant on Lost At the End of Time.

Murray: Man, I hope it's a good ending. I really don't want to feel like this has all been a waste of time.

Bully: Okay. I missed that one. Good call.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

I'm with you. The ending is key! As much as I'm enjoying the 3 Worlds story, the last page of issue 4 really kicked me out of the story. It's going to take a lot to
a) pull me back in and
b) really wow me!

6:32 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Mind wipe! Start him over with the mentality of a five year old and teach him right from wrong (though that didn't work out so well with Silver Aged Mordru, but...)

1:33 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

You wouldn't say that's basically the Nada Gambit?

10:19 AM  
Blogger The Twilit Fox said...

You know, I went back and read Infinite Crisis: Secret Files and Origins 2006, and I think that Alex Luthor of Earth-3 may have influenced Prime, both with words and more. Could antimatter, which Luthor wielded, have corrupting properties and changed Prime's personality? I wonder if they will go that direction.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about transforming Conner Kent, from Kon-El to Kell-El, thereby bringing Superman X from the LoSH cartoon into DC comics proper?

9:28 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Fox: Bleah. Parallax, part 2.

nilskidoo: I wouldn't mind catching a glimpse of Superman-X in mainstream DC continuity, but let's face it: he's kind of a tool. No point in trading in Connor on a guy like that, or even his powers.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

So it looks like it was your 3:1 option, nothing. "He'll get away at the end, or maybe be locked up in some way that he can obviously get out of..."

No redemption arc for him (yet).

6:53 PM  

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