Sunday, January 08, 2012

DC's Escape Hatch

So what is DC going to do in the unlikely event that they get tired of "the New 52"? They can't very well have "The-Last-One-Wasn't-So-Final-After-All Crisis," can they now?

I believe they've already built in an escape hatch for themselves. And it's on the cover of every one of their new comics: "The New 52."

What does "the new 52" mean? Of course, the name comes form the fact that DC launched 52 titles at once, defining a new DC universe. What are you, Get-a-Life Boy, stupid? Everyone knows what "the new 52" means.

Okay, now let's suppose that one of the new titles gets cancelled. If When that happens, are they going to change their line to "the new 51"? Of course not. What are you, Get-a-Life Boy, stupid? It'll remain "the new 52" no matter how many or how few titles there actually are.

So why 52? Why wasn't it "the new 42" or "the new 37" or "the new 106"? Okay, comics come out weekly and there are 52 weeks in a year...but why should that be significant? It's not like they're issuing one of these titles each week or something. Was DC so enamored of the weekly 52 series that they want to name their new universe after it?

And if when DC decides to restore some semblance of the old continuity, what happens? Do all the characters wake up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette and realize it was all a dream?

Here's where the escape hatch comes in. Any time they wish, DC can reveal that "the new 52" is actually the previously-unexplored Earth-52, created (somehow) by the events of Flashpoint. Badda-bing, badda-boom, they can keep the remaining "new 52" titles in print, and bring back the old versions of previous titles.

You read it here first.


Friday, January 06, 2012

Week of 4 January 2012


Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Chekov, Garth, Kirk, McCoy, Rokk, Spock, Sulu

Castellan Kajz informs the Emperor that there are time travelers around. The Emperor asks why "he" didn't inform them.

The time-traveling team of Brainy, Imra, Rokk, Chekov, McCoy, and Spock run into turbulence in the timestream and crash-land in caveman times, several weeks after the point of divergence. They're attacked by cavemen armed with futuristic weapons, under the control of a powerful mind. Imra leads the team to that mind, and they find Vandal Savage.

In the present day, Cham, Garth, Tasmia, Kirk, Sulu, and Uhura get into the palace and fight their way to the throne room, where they find Flint.

Flint/Savage announces that he has had many names and titles, but the most important is Vandar the Stone, Master of Earth...and none will oppose him. But a shadowy figure with glowing eyes, present in both times, responds "That's what you think..."


Funniest single exchange of the comic, perhaps the series: Chekov is doing his usual "bragging about Russia" shtick, saying "the steam engine, the printing press, even scotch -- all invented in Russia." Cosmic Boy responds, "That's amazing. Our timelines must be even more different than I thought."

Kirk attempts to flirt with Shady, but he's met his match; she's used to worse people than him leering at her.

So why does this Legion recognize Vandal Savage? I can't recall any previous meetings between them. (Yeah, there was Crisis on Infinite Earths, but that's later in this Legion's timeline.) Maybe it was an untold story...or those ubiquitous history tapes.

Fint is the immortal from the Star Trek (original series) episode "A Requiem for Methuselah." The split-screen panel showing him in both timelines is probably a deliberate homage to a similar panel in Legion of 3 Worlds with the Time Trapper and Superboy-Prime.


ACTION 5 (2012/03)
"Rocket Song"

Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Superman

CUTE BOYS: With this art? Everyone looks grotesque.

I don't know what to make of this one. The story retells the Superman origin myth with updates appropriate to the New 52 universe (Jonathan Kent is a devious schemer who deceives the government, Martha is self-absorbed and weepy). Then we cut to an undetermined time (this series hasn't been very good about orienting the readers in time) when Superman's rocket is attacked by "the Anti-Superman Army," who steals its "Kryptonite engine." The theft is discovered by Superman and the three Legionnaires, looking all adult and gritty. In a further attempt to give the readers what they apparently want, Saturn Girl's boobs are huge and both Superman and Lightning Lad have padded crotches.

Look, I have sympathy for new Legion readers who say they're lost -- after all, there's a whole lot of backstory to catch up on. But this is issue #5 of a brand-new continuity, and I'm completely lost. That's not because of the long back-story -- I've read all four previous issues.

I just don't get the appeal of Grant Morrison. I couldn't follow Final Crisis either. Those who think he's so great...what do you see in his writing? Is it the grittiness, the despair, the frowning faces, the enormous boobs and padded crotches? Is it that you figure since you can't follow the story, he must be so incredibly intelligent and good that he's beyond you? (If so, I have news for you...the emperor is wearing no clothes.)

I don't know what to do with this version of the Legion. Perhaps that will come as we learn more...if we ever do. For now, I think this falls into the same category as the Adult Legion's early appearances in Superman and Action comics -- there's no thought for continuity or even sense, DC just realizes that they'll sell more comics if they have guest appearances from the Legion.



Week of 28 December 2011


Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Invisible Kid (Lyle), Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Triplicate Girl, Wynn Allon, Anisa, R.J. Brande, H'Hrnath, Marla Latham, Mycroft, Pheebes, Zarl, S.P. Chief Zoltorus(?)

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Garth, Lyle, Rokk, Wynn, Assorted U.P. soldiers

A lot going on here.

U.P. troops take Phantom Girl to Earth, where she meets with the Security Directorate and gives them a data cube containing everything Bgtzl knows about the invaders. She then joins the Legion.

Brainy, in Admiral Allon's ship above Anotrom, helps U.P. forces defeat an invader ship coming though the suddenly-larger wormhole.

Cosmic Boy, lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and R.J. Brande flight-test the new Leigon cruiser, the fastest ship in the U.P. Imra tells Brande that she tried to read the minds of the attempted assassins, but their minds are blocked and they were acting under the control of someone else. Brande announces that the Legion has better things to do than guard him, and he's going to get a bodyguard.

Another assassination attempt on Brade is foiled by his new bodyguard: Invisible Kid.


Tinya's entrance into the Security Directorate's office is reminiscent of her arrival in the new Legion HQ in the Legion's origin story way back in Superboy 147 (1968/06).

When Rokk tells Garth not to crash-test the cruiser, Garth responds "Did that once -- that was enough." He refers, of course, to the crash-landing on Korbal that led to him, Ayla, and Mekt getting their lightning powers.

Among the holo-images of potential Legionnaires is Reep Daggle, later to be Chameleon Boy. Later, Brande makes a note to "Check if Marla gets Reep's quarantine pa--" (probably "papers") -- Reep is, in reality, Brande's son -- a fact that the Legion will not learn for quite a while.

Brainy defeats the alien ship by using "an ancient technique called crossing the T...from before wars were fought in three dimensions." This, I believe, is a deliberate slap in the face to shows such as Star Trek which so often forget that their ships can move in three dimensions. You might remember a scene from Wrath of Khan where Kirk surprises Khan by bringing the Enterprise up from beneath Khan's ship -- the scene came as a surprise because it went against the usual two-dimensional tactics of the show.

Well, now we know where Kirk learned that maneuver...from Brainy himself, probably between pages in the Star Trek/LSH crossover series.

On a more serious note, Brainy's maneuver worked only because the alien ship was emerging form the plane of the wormhole's mouth...thus, in effect, reducing the battle to a two-dimensional one. To Admiral Allon and the other U.P. troops, two-dimensional battle plans were unfamiliar, because for the last few centuries battles were always fought in three dimensions.

Incidentally, this is an early example of Brainy's tactical genius -- which later figured into his rivalry with the Khund Field Marshal Lorca in "The Charge of the Doomed Legionnaires" (Superboy 217, 1976/06).



This is a reprint volume that contains Legion stories from various scattered sources, most of them recent.

The cover is from Adventure 0 (2009/04), and is an homage to the iconic cover of Adventure 247.

First up is "The Legion of Super-Heroes" from Adventure 247, most recently reprinted in the same Adventure 0 (2009/04). By my count, this is the tenth time DC has sold me this particular story. (The other nine are listed here.)

Next up, "Long Live the Legion Part One," the backup story from Adventure 504/1 (2009/10) (I reviewed it here.)

Then comes "Long Live the Legion Part Two" (Adventure 505/2, 2009/11, reviewed here), "Long Live the Legion Part Four" (Adventure 506/3, 2009/12, reviewed here), and "Long Live the Legion Part Four" (Adventure 507/4, 2010/01, reviewed here).

Then, totally out os sequence, comes "Batman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" from Action 864 (2008/06), reviewed here. This is a particularly good story to have. It's an epilog to the Superman and the LSH series and a prolog to Legion of 3 Worlds.

Next is the four-page cute (if inaccurately-titled) story "Friday Night in the 31st Century" from Action 800 (2011/06) reviewed here.

The final story is "Who is Clark Kent's Big Brother" from Action Annual 10 (2007/03), which retold and updated Mon-El's origin for a continuity that no longer exists.

All in all, this is a nice volume to have, with some historically-important Legion stories.

By the way...what ever happened to Lightning Lad's quest for the lost twin that Mekt claimed he had? I'm just sayin'....


Monday, January 02, 2012

Week of 21 December 2011

"Not What They Seem"

Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Chemical Kid, Cosmic Boy, Dragonwing, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Glorith, Harmonia, Invisible Kid (Jacques), Lightning Lass, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, Polar Boy, Sensor Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Sun Boy, Ultra Boy, Dominators, Res-Vir

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Brek, Dirk, Hadru, Jacques, Jan, Jo, Lar, Rokk

With coaching from Element Lad, Chemical Kid defeats Res-Vir. Between Cham, Mon-El, and the rest of the Legionnaires, the Dominators are sent back to the Dominion with their tails between their legs. (The mystery of why they wanted the Legion to follow them back remains unanswered.)

The team on Daxam discovers a lab working with what appears to be Kryptonite, apparently a tiny sample from a meteorite that Res-Vir collected before he disappeared.

Meanwhile at Legion HQ, Brainy continues to ponder the mystery behind the great power of Glorith's magical shields. Dream Girl visits and gives him the clue he needs: Glorith's shield displaces energy through time.

Finally, Shady welcomes Mon-El back and says it's good to see him acting like himself after such a long time. He replies, "You have no idea how long, idea."


It looks like things have come to a happy ending, but I'm guessing we're only at about the midpoint of this story arc. Several things are still unexplained:

  1. Res-Vir's serum, presumably provided by the Dominators, doesn't use Kryptonite but some other strange ingredient.
  2. The Dominators wanted to draw the Legion into the Dominion, where presumably some greater threat is awaiting them.
  3. Mon's enigmatic comment to well as her sudden friendliness toward him...begs explanation.
Meanwhile, here are not one but two absolutely stunning examples of good writing and good art working together.

First, Chemical Kid. Last issue we saw him start to realize that he was out of his depth. This issue, Element Lad coaches him into regaining his confidence and growing up a bit. Look at his face in the opening sequence. You see him go from total panic to tentative confidence to...humility. Look at how Jan encourages him while pushing him into the fray. Look at how Mon-El and Ultra Boy wait out of sight, keeping their eyes on things so they could swoop down in the nick of time. Look at how Mon-El, the Legion Leader, praises him -- both overtly and with the suggestion that lowly Chemical Kid could be on his level.

And finally, look at Hadru's response: "N-no, sir." Where's the brash, overconfident kid? Where's the juvenile delinquent? Where did this sudden respect come from?

The Legion, that's where. The older Legionnaires put Hadru into a situation where he had two alternatives: fail, or grow and succeed. And he rose to the occasion. (Don't you think Element Lad could have turned air into a foot-thick prison of intertron to keep Res-Vir at bay? Don't you think Lar and Jo couldn't have knocked him unconscious again? But no...they gave Hadru his opportunity.)

I think I'm starting to like Hadru Jamik...something I never thought I'd say.

The second stunning bit is the scene with Brainy and Dreamy in the lab.

This is Paul Levitz knowing his characters. Nura and Brainy have a lot of respect for one another, a lot of history together, and are good friends. At the same time, there's always been this tension between them; Nura's powers confound Brainy. Nevertheless, Brainy admits that Nura has a brain that is a worthy companion to his own.

Look, again, at the faces. Brainy, confused and resentful at this whole magic thing. Nura open and friendly, having an intellectual discussion with her friend. Then Brainy's eureka moment, followed by Nura's slightly annoyed expression.

Now think about what's actually going on here. Nura Nal dreams the future. Consider the implications.

Nura knew that she was going to be in Brainy's lab, and knew what both of them were going to say. She knew that she needed to go to the lab and give him the tidbit he needed to solve Glorith's shield.

Once you know that, it brings a whole new level of meaning to the conversation...and particularly to Nura's last remark. "Sigh...always lovely chatting, Brainy -- you listen so attentively..." She knew she was going to say that. She knew everything that both of them were going to say, and yet she had to go through it all, because that's how Dream Girl's life goes.

Like I said, stunning.


Week of 14 December 2011

LEGON LOST 4 (2012/02)

Chameleon Girl, Dawnstar, Tellus, Timber Wolf, Tyroc, Wildfire, Alastor

CUTE BOYS: Brin, Troy, Various cops and students at University of Minnesota

Dawnstar gets her turn as narrator this time around, and we learn why she's never pursued a career at the Discovery Channel.

We left Brin and Yera in the mall, where Yera was struggling to control her body form while the cops are panicking. She explains that she only has half of her Durlan body-mass, not enough to control, and she reverts to the alien form. Tyroc and Wildfire arrive, and in the ensuing confusion Year escapes. Brin goes after her, leaving Drake and Troy to deal with the cops.

We learn that Tyroc delayed the mission to pck a lot of supplies into the time bubble's tesseract storage chamber, which is now inaccessible. Wildfire hints that Troy knew something was going to go wrong with the mission. This presupposes that Tyroc has the 12th level intelligence that would be necessary to get anything coherent from this narrative.

The boys catch up with Brin, who has caught up with Yera, who is unconscious. Suddenly the Black Razors show up, shouting their name in Highly Significant Huge Red Letters. Yes, you read that right...the major revelation of this issue is that the Legion is being tracked by none other than The Black Razors. No! I hear you gasp, not the Black Razors! Who could have expected THAT surprise turn of events? This is a revelation that rivals the big reveal of Sensor Girl's true identity, or the reveal that the ultimate villain behind the Great Darkness was Darkseid! I hear you take a breath, then add, By the way, who the hell are the Black Razors?

Why, the Black Razors are...uh...wait, I recognize their logo, I got nothin'. I know, let's try Google! A search for "Black Razors" DC Comics reveals...uh, nothing pertinent.

I know, I know! Maybe the Black Razors are something that the writer invented just for this series, and then chose to reveal in such a dramatic method in hopes that everyone would be so dazzled by the drama that they'd forget to say "What the hell?"

News flash...readers of Legion Lost have never stopped saying "What the hell?"

Ahem. Back to the issue. Dawnstar finds Alastor hiding at the University of Minnesota. She swoops down and snatches him away, dropping him in a nearby swamp where she and Tellus confront him. But Alastor refuses to listen to reason (wow, who'd'a guessed that the wacko racist villain wouldn't listen to reason?) and tells them that he has full control of his transformation. He transforms to his monster form, which contains Carggite DNA so he's able to split into three. Suddenly, Dawny's plan doesn't look so clever.

The issue ends with the standard horrify threat that there will be another one.

News is that the writer is bailing out of this train wreck with issue #6. Good riddance. Maybe they can find someone to throw dice or string together random words from the dictionary or whatever his plotting device is. Or maybe they'll just cancel the title and send the lost Legionnaires back where they belong.

I really hope that Gates has gone to get someone competent to end this misery.

Legion Universe: Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass
Cameos: Blok, Bouncing Boy, Colossal Boy, Dawnstar, Dream Girl, Duo Damsel, Invisible Kid (Jacques), Karate Kid (Val), Light Lass, Mon-El, Phantom Girl, SHrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Superboy, Supergirl, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy, White Witch, Wildfire, Domintors, Khunds, Time Trapper, Universo

Imperial Planets universe: The Imperial Elite: (Emerald Empress), Emerald Eye, (Mano), Slar (Persuader), Ruk (Tharok), (Validus)

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Garth, Rokk, Chekov, Kirk, McCoy, Spock, Sulu, Trelane (and did anyone else notice little Alexander Rozhenko and Harlak on the cover with all the Klingons and Khunds?)

The Legionnaires and the Enterprise crew battle until they overcome their mutual hostility and decide they are on the same side. Each side produces a two-page spread about their respective universes. Brainy and Spock reveal that this is not a third alternate universe; this is, instead, the two universes have merged. Unless they can undo the merge, they're doomed to remain in this version of reality.

Before they can decide what to do, they're attacked by The Imperial Elite, this universe's version of the Fatal Five. The Enterprise crewmembers pair with individual Leigonnaires to defeat the bad guys; each pair gets a single page to do so.

Then Spock and Brainy refit a flying platform into a time machine, and Our Heroes split into two groups. Brainy, Imra, Rokk, Checkov, McCoy, and Spock go back in time to determine when this timeline diverged from reality, and the rest stay in the present (because the platform can only handle six). The stay-at-homes go off to track down the other time anomaly.

This series continues to be intriguing, and the parallels between the two universes continue to be delightful. If Jeff Roberson, the writer, ever wants a job writing the Legion, I would not object. As a matter of fact, once Legion Lost has died a deserved death, let's resurrect Adventure and give it to him. Or bring back the Wanderers. What are the Heroes of Lallor doing nowadays?

I don't know if I'm the first, but I'd like to enthusiastically call for a second Star Trek/Legion series once this one is done.


The big thrill this issue is the Imperial Elite, a nicely-merged version of the Fatal Five.

The Emerald Empress is an Orion woman -- they're green, after all, and deadly.

Mano is a Benzite, which is inspired. As far as I know, the Benzites didn't appear in the original Star Trek, but they are a Federation race who need breathing gear to survive in Earth environments. That's the nearest thing in the Star Trek universe to the poisonous atmosphere of Mano's homeworld Angtu. Good call.

The Persuader is a Gorn slaver named Slar, from the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror Darkly Part II." Great strength, armored skin, barbaric -- another good call.

Tharok is Ruk. In the Star Trek universe, Ruk was an android (played by Ted Cassidy) from the episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" Another good call, although honestly I had to look him up in Memory Alpha to remember him.

Validus is a Mugatu complete with single horn and see-through forehead. Unreasoning brute. Good call.


Week of 7 December 2011

A week that will live in infamy...because there was no Legion content in DC comics.


Week of 30 November 2011


Brainiac 5, Colossal boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Triplicate Girl, Wynn Allon, Anisa, R.J. Brande, Marla Latham, Mycroft, Pheebes, Zarl

CUTE BOYS: Brainy, Garth, Gim, Rokk, Assorted U.P. military men

While R.J. Brande and the Legion are admiring the new Legion HQ, another assassination attempt is made on Brande -- and quickly foiled by the kids. The Security Directorate approves an S.P. request to deputize the Legion for their work recovering the quintile crystal.

On Anotrom, Tinya tells Brainy that the attackers of Anotrom are probably the same creatures that have been destroying Bgtzl's colony worlds. Tinya reveals that she has a rare genetic gift that allows her to leave Bgtzl, unlike most of her folk.

A space warp opens and an attacker comes through -- looking oddly like Tyr or one of his people. Brainy's force field overloads the attacker's weapon and it explodes, apparently closing the warp.

Gim Allon (Colossal Boy) calls his dad (Admiral Allon) to talk about his future -- he asks if Dad has heard about this new Legion that's forming.

Back on Earth, the Legion foils a third attempt on Brande's life. At the Security Directorate, Mycroft muses about how they can use the Legion.

A very good story, well-told and nicely drawn. The Security Directorate remains mysterious, as do Brande's enemies and the attackers of Anotrom. Meanwhile, Levitz is having great fun messing around with the history of the Legion, adding all kinds of layers but on the whole remaining consistent with what we least, within the boundaries of Chronicler's Error.

It'll be fun to see where this goes.


The story of the Quintile Crystal was told in DC Super-Stars 17 (1977/11).

Tinya's genetic ability to leave Bgtzl doesn't necessarily contradict anything we've seen before. The only Bgtzlans I can recall that we've seen in our dimension are Tinya's brother Gmya, Ron-Vizl (a Bgtzllan assassin),  and Solon Darga (Phantom Lad)...and the last two might have just had the same gift.

Gim Allon mentions that he's recovered from "the meteor accident" -- that would be the one that gave him his Colossal Boy powers.