Saturday, July 17, 2010

Week of 14 July 2010

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

ADVENTURE #516 (9/10)
"Brande Speaks"


Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Superboy; also: Circadia Senius, Marla Latham, Pheebes, R.J. Brande, Universo

CUTE BOYS: Garth, Kal, Rokk (and don't miss Ray Palmer in the Atom story)

Brianiac 5 (of the current Legion) arrives in the 20th century to bring Sueprboy to a special Legion meeting. R.J. Brande speaks, via recorded hologram, and retells the story of how he escaped from Durla, became the richest man in the universe, and bankrolled the Legion. He leaves three specific bequests: he leaves Chameleon Boy and the Legion as much money as they need, and he gives Brainy a "nice endowment for new time laboratory."

BITS OF LEGIONNAIRE BUSINESS: Superboy is in the 20th century; Brainy takes him to the 31st century. That's what I've been saying for the last few issues. It all hinges on Superman's age (traditionally  mid-30s). If Superman is 33 (a Christlike age) and Superboy is 15 (he's in high school), then Superboy's time is roughly the mid-1990s (i.e. the 20th century). Along about 2018-2020, Superboy's time will have  been in the 21st century, and I'll stop nattering about this.

While Pheebes is a new character, notice R.J. Brande's assistant Marla Latham in at least two flashback panels. Marla was the Legion's "adult advisor" for a while.

Also, in the panel where Brande is giving away grants for time-travel research, notice Universo standing there with a scowl on his face. We know that Universo had an interest in time-travel -- and that his son, Rond Vidar, invented the time cube and worked at the Time Institute.

Interesting that it's Superboy and not Superman who comes to Brande's presentation. Pheebes seems to think that it would be Superman; the Legion corrects him. On the surface, Sueprboy's presence would seem to cause problems: he learns of Brande's death before it happens in his own timeline, he learns other details of the Legion's "future," and we are to assume that Brainy has been working on the destruction of cockroaches for many, many years without success.

I don't really have a problem with this. Due to Saturn Girl's telepathic influence, Clark will only retain a hazy memory of this encounter. I see the choice of Superboy as an act of respect for Brande -- after all, Brande didn't know Superman, he knew Superboy.

All in all, this was a very good story. I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two at the end.


The History of Durla: Brande's story has several inconsistencies -- although most can be explained away by his hint that he might not be telling the truth. The most serious inconsistency, at first blush, appears to be Durla's history. Brande claims that the Six-Minute War happened after Mon-El and the Legionnaires settled the bottled city of Durlans on New Durla (which they did just a little while ago in the DC "present," call it 2010). Only after that did the Durlans gain their shape-shifting powers.

This can't be right. There were shape-shifting Durlans in the DC universe a while ago (in Invasion, for example, and more recently in the Green Lantern Corps). Ciji, a shape-shifting Durlan, is a member of L.E.G.I.O.N. as we speak. In Superman/Batman, a shape-shifting Durlan recently appeared from "the ancient past." In Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #2 (1983), the Six-Minute War was placed in the second century BCE, and a tribe of shape-shifting Durlans existed before the war.

Once again, I don't have a problem with this seeming inconsistency. Brande is probably telling the story the way he learned it as a larva on Durla. On Durla, all these things -- the settlement of New Durla, the Six-Minute War, the race's shape-shifting powers -- are all legend, without any fixed time-frame. All of these things happened "long, long ago."

I suspect that classical continuity is correct: The Six-Minute War happened in the second century BCE and the only Durlans who were able to survive were those with pre-existing shape-shifting powers. Eventually there were various Durlan tribes scattered throughout the galaxy; one f those tribes was put in a bottle by Brainiac and later settled on New Durla. These are Brande's and Chameleon Boy's people.

But the point is, none of this matters in the Legion's time.

Brande's Style of Speech: In the past, Brande's Interlac has been translated as pretty standard English with a slight German flavor ("verdammt," one of Brande's characteristic expressions, is German). In this issue, his Interlac is translated as broken English with the flavor of a German (or possibly Yiddish) immigrant of the 1930s. In flashbacks he speaks the same way.

I've seem some complaints about this; people seem to think that it's some great retcon, or possibly proof that Brande is still alive and the person speaking here is an impostor.

I have a much simpler explanation. Remember that all the Legionnaires are "really" speaking Interlac. In the 1980s, the fashion was to translate Interlac into grammatical English, no matter what the original form. Now, a quarter-century later, our society has a greater consciousness of multiculturalism, so it's just  natural that today's chroniclers translate Brande's Interlac into something more like the form he actually spoke.

Early Legion Membership: Brande's story telescopes the early days of the Legion. Specifically, in one panel it appears that Brainiac 5 and Superboy were both present (along with the three founders) when Brande unveiled the Legion Clubhouse. In reality, the clubhouse came first, then Brainy, and by the time Sueprboy joined there were additional Legionnaires.

For the last time, I have no problem with this. Remember, this is Brande telling the story. Have you ever heard your grandparents tell a story and get things wrong? Memory is fallible, especially in someone who has been through multiple illnesses and traumatic experiences. Maybe this is exactly the way Brande remembers it -- are you going to tell him he's mistaken?


BRAVE & BOLD #35 (8/10)
"Out of Time Part Two of Two"


Chlorophyll Kid, Cosmic Boy, Fire Lad, Lightning Lad, Night Girl, Polar Boy, Saturn Girl, Stone Boy; also Awkwardman, The Blimp, Dumb Bunny, Merryman, The White Feather

CUTE BOYS: Cosmic Boy, Fire Lad, Lightning Lad, Stone Boy, White Feather

The flip side of last month's Legion tale, as the Legion of Substitute Heroes join with the Inferior Five and answer that immortal question, "Whose pink and white fluff is that?"

A really fun story that treats both the Subs and the Five with respect while still being really, really funny. This is a hard trick to pull off -- too many writers have no respect for the Subs at all, and it shows.

I have always respected the Subs, all the more so since their never-say-die attitude commands respect no matter what their actual abilities. Remember that the Subs have saved the day on several occasions, and two of them -- Polar Boy and Night Girl -- have qualified for Legion membership. I don't have a problem with them being a source of comedy, but they should never be a laughingstock.


R.E.B.E.L.S. #18 (9/10)
"Sons of Brainiac Part 1: Brainchild"


Amon Hakk, Bounder, Captain Comet, Ciji, The Durlan (flashback), Garryn Bek (flashback), Lyrissa Mallor (flashback), Lyrl Dox, Pulsar Stargrave, Starfire, Stealth (flashback), Strata (flashback), Vril Dox, Wildstar

CUTE BOYS: Captain Comet (woof!), Garryn Bek, Lyrl, assorted Coluans

Lyrl Dox takes Pulsar Stargrave to Colu to conquer the planet. Meanwhile, Vril Dox goes to Colu to collect the bounty on Brainiac and to gloat over his "father." The three meet and hijinks ensue.

Meanwhile, Captain Comet goes to Earth to mourn and finds that he doesn't belong there; Starfire brings him back and they do naughty things on the ride home. Amon Hakk shares some philosophical reflections on the meaning and nature of L.E.G.I.O.N. membership.

BITS OF L.E.G.I.O.N.NAIRE BUSINESS: Vril Dox states that he is a clone of the original Brainiac, who is identified as "Vril Dox the Elder."

In Lyrl's flashback to the formation of L.E.G.I.O.N., The Dulan is clearly present. In classical continuity, he was the first of his people to leave Durla. Going back to the discussion above about the history of Durla, his presence proves that shape-shifting Durlans were abroad in the galaxy in the current DC "present."


1 comment:

Aaron said...

I'll go with your theory on Brande's style of speech.