Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week of 23 September 2009

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comic.)

SUPERGIRL #45 (11/09)
"The Hunt for Reactron Part 2"
ROLL CALL: Mon-El (image only)

Supergirl, Thara, and Chris are on the run from the Science Police, and Reactron gets orders to kill them. Mon-El (still presumed dead) shows up in a picture on the front page of the Daily Planet. Lana Lang is bleeding, Lois Lane is pissed, and Kara and Thara are still mad t each other.

Despite the fact that Chris is still looking very nice, I am left with one major question: Is this storyline over yet? (Please, can it be over?)


ALERT: Upcoming Legion content.

Two of this week's comics have warning of Legion content coming up next month.

First, SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN #1 ends with a teaser: "Next: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes." Definitely not to be missed.

Second, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #37 has an ad for the next issue, in which "A new era begins" (oh no, not again). A picture of the next JLA lineup features Mon-El, his usual costume adorned with a small Superman-style S. It looks like the trio of Mon-El, Donna Troy, and Dick-Grayson-as-Batman are going to be stand-ins for DC's Holy Trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman).

I guess Mon-El isn't really dead. Golly gee, what a surprise. Who could have predicted that?


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week of 16 September 2009

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

ACTION #881 (11/09)
"The Hunt for Reactron Part 1"
ROLL CALL: Mon-El (image only)

Supergirl, Nightwing, and Firebird are accused of murdering Mon-E, with an image of Supergirl punching Mon on video screens all over Metropolis.

First, it wasn't really them. Second, oh come on now, we all know that Mon-El is not dead.

With all my recent pondering of Legion chronology, I was fretting about Mon-El. In the Superman titles, he seems to be 20-something -- but about a thousand years from now, when he's released from the Phantom Zone, he should be a teenager. How is that going to work?

No problem. If Chris Kent has shown us anything, it's that physical age can change in the Zone to match whatever is needed for the plot. Eventually Mon will go back into the Phantom Zone, and when he comes out again in the 30th century, he'll be the right age to pick up his aborted hot-teen-sex thing with young Clark.


R.E.B.E.L.S.#8 (11/09)
ROLL CALL (L.E.G.I.O.N.): Amon Hakk, Cece, Garv, Lyrl Dox, Rocky, Stealth (flashback), Strata, Tribulus,Vril Dox, Wildstar
ROLL CALL (Omega Men): Broot, Darkfire, Doc, Elu, Tigorr

The R.E.B.E.L.S. track down Lyrl Dox on Voorl. Lyrl informs them that his mother (Stealth) was killed by L.E.G.I.O.N. robots. Strata sends Wildstar off to find Garv and her son, which she does. The Khunds attack Starro's forces and are defeated. Meanwhile, the Omega Men are fitted with mutant Starros that make them invisible to the real Starros, and they set off for the Starro homeworld to kill the main Starro.

It's good to see Stealth again. Everyone who believes that she's really dead, please raise your hands. Yeah, I thought so.

As the Omega Men were approaching the subspace rift, there was a nice homage to Return of the Jedi. I almost expected Tigorr to say "Fly casual."

I was never much of an Omega Men follower before, but I'm certainly enjoying them here in R.E.B.E.L.S. I doubt that I'll pick up more of their adventures -- the whole Vegan thing is a level of complication that I don't really need. It's already hard enough to keep track of the Legion....


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fixing Legion Chronology (For the LAST Time) (No, Really)

The Problems:

1. The Legion is 50+ years old, but its members are in early adulthood (20s - 30s).

2. The Legion interacts with the "present day" DC Universe on a fixed 1,000-year interval.

3. Reconciling these two conditions results in a Legion chronology that is ever-changing and ever-shrinking to match the current DC Universe.

4. Everybody keeps messing with the Legion, and there is no agreement on fundamental principles.

5. By the nature of the problems, most solutions are only temporary. Ideally, any solution should still stand when the Legion celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2058.

Previous Solutions:

Based on the Mayfair Games sourcebooks, a generally-accepted Legion chronology was established in the 1990s. This chronology, based on the terms of Legion leaders, had the Legion founded in 2973 and the Magic Wars in 2989.

Unfortunately, this chronology would have Cosmic Boy aged 42 in the year 3000 and most Legionnaires approaching their 50s at the time of "Legion of 3 Worlds." And it's only going to get worse in the future.

Basically, the generally-accepted chronology is too long. It needs to be shortened.

The Givens:

1. The Legion was founded in the 3oth century. Young Clark Kent/Superboy visited the 30th century.

2. The Legion is "now" in the 31st century. Superman visits the 31st century.

3. Rokk Krinn (Cosmic Boy) was 15 when the Legion was founded. The ages of other Legionnaires are relative to him.

4. With Paul Levitz coming back, this is a great time to end the madness once and for all. One hopes that Levitz has the clout to make changes stick.

Everything else is assumed to be negotiable.

The Proposed Solution:

1. The fixed 1,000 year interval must be abandoned. Ideally, the Legion's chronology should be divorced from the present day as much as possible. To accomplish this:

A. "Legion time" runs more slowly than "present day" time. In particular, the ratio is approximately 1:5 - that is, five years of "present day" time equals one year of "Legion time."

In practical terms, each month (or each issue of the comic) covers more-or-less one week in Legion time. Sixty issues (5 years) covers one year in Legion time.

(Roy Thomas used a similar system with All-Star Squadron/Young All-Stars and it worked fine. Also, in LSH v.4 Giffen & the Bierbaums ran "Legion time" on a slower rate than "real time.")

B. There is only one anchor point: the year 2000 corresponds to the Legion's year 3000 (technically, December 31, 2000 = December 31, 3000). Therefore, Adventure Comics #1/504, cover date October 2009, corresponds to a Leigon time of late in the year 3001 (mid-December, to be exact, although cutting things so closely is not encouraged - it would tie the hands of creative teams too much).

2. To shorten the generally-accepted chronology, it is decreed that all Leigon Leaders served half-year terms (forget what the Legion Constitution says - that was pre-Choose-Your-Crisis).

Under these changes, Cosmic Boy was born in 2976, the Legion was founded in 2991, and the Magic Wars occurred early in the year 3000. Cosmic Boy was 15 when the Legion was founded, is "now" about 25, and will be about 35 by the time of the Legion's 100th anniversary.

Here's a quick-and dirty outline of the proposed chronology:
    2991 [old: 2973/74] Legion Founded - Leader: Cosmic Boy (2 terms) - Hamilton/Binder Era - Adventure

    2992 [old: 2975/76] Leader: Saturn Girl (2 terms) - Death of Lightning Lad - Adventure

    2993 [old: 2977/78] Leaders: Brainiac 5/Invisible Kid - Computo, Death of Ferro Lad - Shooter Era - Adventure

    2994 [old: 2979] Leaders: Ultra Boy/Karate Kid - Shooter Era - Adventure/Action

    2995 [old: 2980] Leaders: Mon-El/Ultra Boy - Chuck & Luornu married - Cockrum Era - Superboy

    2996 [old: 2981/82] Leaders: Mon-El/Wildfire - Earthwar - Levitz I Era - Superboy/Superboy & LSH

    2997 [old: 2983/84] Leaders: Lightning Lad (Element Lad)/Dream Girl - Clark/Superboy resigns, Great Darkness - Conway Era, Levitz II Era - LSH v.2

    2998 [old: 2985/86] Leaders: Element Lad (2 terms) - LSV, Crisis on Infinite Earths - Levitz II Era - LSH v.3

    2999 [old: 2987/88] Leader: Polar Boy (2 terms) - Universo Project - Levitz II Era

    3000 [old: 2989/90] Leaders: Sensor Girl/Unknown - Magic Wars - Levitz II Era, Interregnum

    3001 Leaders: Unknown/Unknown - Lightning Saga, Superman & the LSH, L3W - Johns Era

3. These changes apply to the Classic/Retro/Earth-0 ("Lightning Saga") Legion only. Other Legions from other Earths have their own internal chronologies.

Moving Forward:

1. Elections for Leader should happen roughly every 2.5 years (30 issues).

2. In "Legion time" a new year will come in every "real time" year that ends in 5 or 0 (2005, 2010, 2015, 2020, etc.)

3. In the "present-day" DC Universe, the Legion's time should be referred to as "about a thousand years in the future" or "the 31st century." Any adventures of young Clark Kent/Superboy took place in "the 30th century."

4. Unless future creative teams want the Legionnaires to grow up and have grandchildren, this scheme will probably need some sort of adjustments around the year 2100. I doubt I will be here.

5. There's enough leeway here that creative teams can play fast-and-loose with these guidelines. If they want to spend a five-issue arc on a two-day adventure, that works. If they want to cover an entire year in a single issue, there's room for that too. If they want to revisit a past time occasionally (Levitz did), no prob.

What Next?

No scheme is perfect. Make comments and suggestions. We'll thrash it around a bit. Spread the word to other Legion fans so they can weigh in.

Once you think we have a solution that's workable, contact DC (to the attention of Paul Levitz) and let them know. Posting on the DC message boards would probably help too.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Legion Boys and Girls

Has anyone noticed how the Legionnaires are getting subtly younger since "Superman & the LSH" and L3W? In Superman etc, they looked to be contemporaries of Superman's, say early 30s. Now they look early-to-mid 20s.

I wondered if Geoff Johns was going to address the "Lad" and "Boy" and "Girl" names for characters who looked like they were in their 30s. Now that Levitz is coming back, I suppose we can all just agree that the explanation of "extended lifetimes with extended adolesence" is true, so it's not odd for them to be "Boy" and "Girl" at what we would consider to be advanced ages.

I'm okay with that, as long as we don't have to be brainwashing Superman to keep the secret from him. That was a cool idea, but it didn't quite fit in with the Legion. One of Levitz's rare misses.

of course, it might just be a public relations thing: the public responds better to "Lightning Lad" than to "Lightning Man." After all, that's always been his name.

I've been trying to think of similar contemporary examples; the best I've come up with is the Spice Girls, some of whom are as old as the Legionnaires appear to be now. There's also a group of definitely-mature woman performers who call themselves "The Fuel Girls." And, of course, there was the comedy troupe called Kids in the Hall.

It's the old dilemma of letting time pass and characters develop vs having stories take place in some sort of "eternal now." If you look closely at the official chronology of DC Comics, the Infinite Crisis happened more than a year ago, while the original Crisis on Infinite Earths must have been only a few years before that, certainly less than a decade...otherwise Superman would be in his 40s. It gets really absurd when you try, for example, to reconcile the ages of the multiple Robins.

We were doing okay with a Legion history that covered 15-20 years between the Legion's founding and the "present," but that's not going to be tenable forever. On the other hand, I like having a Legion that changes and develops; I don't really want these characters to go back to being teenagers in an "eternal now."

Is it possible to craft a solution that will satisfy today's readers, while still allowing for what things will be like as the Legion approaches its 100th annviersary? I don't know. I would love to see the development of a second-generation Legion, featuring the sons and daughters of the current Legionnaires, along with their friends and classmates. I would love to see Garth and Imra and all the others as grandparents (I know, sacrilege!).

But I do know one thing...every time the Legion gets too tightly coupled to the present-day DC Universe, sooner or later it leads to bad things for the Legion.

It's that damned fixed 1,000-years timespan. If we gave up on that, we could allow the Legion to develop along its own calendar...similar to the way Roy Thomas ran All-Star Squadron, where each "month" in comic-book time (i.e. one issue to the next) covered a specific period (a week, maybe?) in real-world history. Anchor the Legion firmly at some particular date in the 30th century, and allow approximately one "Legion week" to pass for each issue of them comic. Or give up on a fixed-ratio, just elect a new Leader every five years (60 issues) and call that a "Legion year."

I shall have to think on this, toss some numbers, and see if I can't codify it into something useful.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Week of 9 September 2009

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comic.)

ADVENTURE #2/#505 (11/09)
"Superboy: The Boy of Steel Part Two"
ROLL CALL: Element Lad

Element Lad is masquerading as Superboy's chemistry teacher.

ADVENTURE #2/#505 (11/09)
"Long Live the Legion Part Two: Lightning Lad"
ROLL CALL: Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawnstar, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Wildfire; Lightning Lord, Storm Boy

There are two covers for this sisue, same as last time. And same as last time, the one to get is the 1-in-10 variant cover, which has Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl on the cover (among others). Besides, the standard cover is a big spoiler for the Superboy story, giving away a panel that they spent four pages setting up.

In the Legion story, Garth travels to Takron-Galtos to see Mekt. After an emotional interchange, Mekt reveals that he thinks his parents lied to him: he actually has a twin, who was separated from him at birth. Garth sets out to Winath to start tracking down his lost brother.

A low-key but powerful story that shows Lightning Lad as more than a one-note hothead: there's real depth of character there. And the story shows how Mekt can still get inside Garth's head and mess with him. But at the same time, there is obviously still some kind of familial feeling between the Ranzz boys...for when Mekt needs help, he calls on Garth.

Good story. Looking forward to more.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Week of 2 September 2009

(SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers. Don't read it before you've read the comics.)

I did not see any LSH content in DC comics this week.

Nothing to do but wait patiently until Adventure #2 comes out next Thursday. (Comic are delayed due to the Labor Day holiday.)