Or – “We Were All Wrong…”

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Back in the day, DC had a crossover called Armageddon 2001, wherein one of the heroes of the DCU was revealed to be ready to turn into a totalitarian super-dictator within a few years. Throughout the crossover, all signs pointed to Captain Atom as being the one to turn, but legend has it that the reveal was leaked on the then-nascent internet, and DC changed their minds. Changing the super-secret plot point made the entire series make even less sense than before, and surprised people in a bad way. This issue also throws us a curve, but I suspect that this time, the false leads were intentional… Who lives, who dies, and who gets a great big hug? Read on…

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Previously, on the Lightning Saga: The Justice League defeated a coalition of their foes, but were surprised to find one of them was a hero in disguise… Only Superman knew that this was the Karate Kid, member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and it was quickly revealed that he wasn’t alone. New Justice Society member Starman was unmasked as Legionnaire Star Boy, and the combined JLA/JSA teams tracked Wildfire, Dream Girl, Dawnstar, Timber Wolf, and Sensor Girl. The seven Legionnaires managed to outwit and outplay the Justice friends, but their hand was tipped when Superman recognized the lightning rods they carried back into the past with them as identical to those used to resurrect Lightning Lad when he was a Legionnaire years ago. Unfortunately, Sensor Girl’s illusion powers allow the LSHers a clean getaway, frustrating both teams…

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Even as the Justice League and Society figure out they’ve been duped, the Legionnaires have reached their locations: Tokyo. Central City. Smallville. San Francisco. Gotham City. Keystone City. All locations that don’t make sense to resurrect Lightning Lad, Kal-L, or even Redd Foxx. Putting those locations together, however, DOES lead us towards a certain red-uniformed vizier of velocity… The Legionnaires, willing to give their lives for their cause, are ever-aware of the time factor.

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And there we have our answer… In this Legion timeline, Karate Kid DID die, his wife became Sensor Girl, and then he came back! And I can’t help but wonder if the “cheered three times” doesn’t refer to the mysterious ‘Legion of Three Worlds’ case that Superman mentioned last issue. At her station, Dream Girl speaks aloud, “I know you’re arriving.” As the words leave her mouth, The Flash appears at her side, following tracers hidden in their uniforms by Batman. He tries to reason with her, telling her that he’s been doing time travel longer than any man alive, and it doesn’t work that way… The JLA and JSA will stop them from recklessly sacrificing themselves. “That’s a fair point,” says Dreamy, “Unless, of course, my job is to stall the one person who’s actually fast enough to stop this from happening.” Jay processes that, then smiles… “We fought HITLER, sweetie… You really think I’m the fastest member on these teams?” As he speaks, Power Girl, Green Lantern, Red Tornado and Superman arrive at the other locations. Kal tries to reason with Sensor Girl, scanning her closely to make sure it’s not another illusion, but one thing convinces him…

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With only seconds to impact, Batman and Mr. Terrific track down Starman and Karate Kid’s signals, in Gotham City. At the same moment, Green Lantern and Batman realize they’ve been in their respective locations before. Batman remembers the spectre of Barry Allen reaching out to him, while Green Lantern recalls the chemicals, struck by lightning and dousing Barry. At that moment, the Justice friends attack, only to find that the flight rings are generating a force field. Even Jay can’t vibrate through them, and Dream Girl tells him, “Brainy made them impenetrable.” Jay calls to Black Canary, in the League Satellite Watchtower, and gives the signal.

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I’m going on record as saying that Nura Nal (Dream Girl) hasn’t even the slightest notion who “Hitler” is. Maybe I’m wrong, but her comeback there is pretty cute. The LSH takes their last moments to say their goodbyes, and it’s heartbreaking. Dawnstar and Wildfire declare their love for one another, Sensor Girl prays to her makers to protect her, and Timber Wolf simply whispers, “I’m coming, Ayla.” Batman realizes that Karate Kid has tricked them, and that Starman is carrying KK’s tracer. Suddenly, Sensor Girl calls out to her husband, realizing that he’s preparing to sacrifice himself.

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He speaks the code-phrase (“Lightning Lad.”) and the bolt arcs through him… And now you know who’s getting fried at the top. The other six Legionnaires teleport away, as Flash, Power Girl, and Superman use their super-speed to find KK’s location: Blue Valley, Nebraska. Suddenly, I think we’re getting swerved, folks. “Dear God…” says Superman. “You brought them all back.” Them? Not HIM? Who is it???

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I was wrong… But I’m not at all upset about that. Hearing Wally’s claim of being the fastest, a voice rings out, “No, you’re not.” Karate Kid rises, miraculously alive, and teleports away. At the same moment, in Gotham City, Starman tosses his ring away to Mr. Terrific, insisting that he has to stay, but that “I’m not the only one who has to help the past. The other Legionnaires arrive in Superman’s fortress, and they hustle into the time portal. Suddenly, ANOTHER time portal opens, and a voice calls out “Val, wait!” Karate Kid steps back, as Sensor Girl calls out for him to hurry…

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Y’know what? I’ve said over and over that hitting the reset button on Bart’s Flash career would be a bad idea, but I’m still happy to have Wally (and his entire FAMILY) back safe. It’s sort of like Ice’s resurrection, I don’t like the CONCEPT, but the execution totally sold me. Red Arrow and Green Lantern both teleport in, intent on greeting their pal, and Wally compliments Arrow on his new look. “Family business?” Wally asks, and Roy replies, “And family name…” While the congratulations and welcome backs continue, we see Wildfire reporting to Brainiac in the future. When he hears WHO they resurrected, Brainiac replies, “West? Curious.” Oddly, Batman shares his confusion.

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“I ducked.” Heh. I like that, for some reason, and also like that Starman and KK will be sticking around for a bit. Also, that looks a lot like a female form with Karate Kid. Is it another Legionnaire, or someone entirely unrelated? The JLA and JSA mull over what has happened (and Wally is confirmed as the missing eleventh member, which I truly love) but in the future, Brainiac and Wildfire are still talking. Holding one of the rods in his hand, Brainiac says “All I really care about is that we got WHO we wanted.” A face, seemingly wearing Flash wings on it’s head, is seen in the lightning rod Brainy carries. So, maybe they DID bring back Barry, and Wally was just a curious side-effect of tapping the speed force? And exactly WHAT does Brainiac need with him, if indeed that is him? This is more maddening than Skrullektra!

There are some rough spots in Benes’ art this month, but you hardly notice with the speed of the plot. Bits of dialogue throughout the issue are also a tad unclear, requiring a rereading to tell who was speaking which line. But, overall, I greatly enjoyed NOT having the big mystery all figured out, and being surprised, and the return of Wally and Linda (and their seemingly-now-pre-teen twins) excites me to no end. With Flash returning to the numbering of Wally’s series, it’s obvious that something is going to happen in Flash #13 (which I’ll review immediately after finishing this one, just ’cause I don’t want loyal Spoilerites to have to wait a day biting their nails.) The resurrection, plus Karate Kid staying, plus a mystery, plus the eleventh member NOT being Geo-Force (I very much enjoy that the two-page Justice League spread in Countdown last month was a red herring) combine for an excellent 4.5 star rating… And the interlac title of this issue? “The Villain is the Hero in his Own Story.” A fitting epigram, wouldn’t you say?

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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37 Comments

  1. Brent F.
    June 20, 2007 at 2:11 pm — Reply

    Thank the heavens! Wally is back! I have nothing against Bart, but it was entirely too soon for him to take up the mantle of the Flash and I missed his sense of humor in the Teen Titans. Now what’s to become of Geo-Force? I know he’s kind of a dick, but I’d hate for them to abandon his story after Wally’s return.

  2. June 20, 2007 at 2:12 pm — Reply

    More confusing resurrections and maddening alter-reality plots…all wrapped up in an unrealistically voluptuous Power Girl cover. Yep…just another day at DC.

  3. Young
    June 20, 2007 at 2:13 pm — Reply

    I’m glad they didn’t bring back Kal-L…it would only dillute Superman even further (we already have Supergirl and Powergirl back as Kryptonians). Like I mentioned before, Kal-L (as we knew him in Earth-2 pre IC) had no ties with the Legion. Hopefully the hand coming out of the grave in front of PG in the previews of the first issue of JSA is a red herring. Of course, that still leaves another 50 possible Supermen out there, and if my hunch is correct, we’ll be seeing KC Supes soon enough.

  4. Brent F.
    June 20, 2007 at 2:17 pm — Reply

    I have a theory as to who the Legion was after… the Black Flash.

  5. June 20, 2007 at 2:26 pm — Reply

    More confusing resurrections and maddening alter-reality plots…all wrapped up in an unrealistically voluptuous Power Girl cover. Yep…just another day at DC.

    Did you know that every single member of the Thunderbolts has been dead, some of them numerous times? :D

  6. June 20, 2007 at 2:28 pm — Reply

    I have a theory as to who the Legion was after… the Black Flash.

    Interesting… They seem to have captured SOMETHING, and the Black Flash would, in fact, fit the image shown…

  7. Josh
    June 20, 2007 at 2:51 pm — Reply

    The Kal L ressurrection can still happen. The preview page in the first issue of JSA was for the whole year, and it’s only been six issues. Six more to go.

  8. Brent F.
    June 20, 2007 at 4:18 pm — Reply

    Ok, I actually have two theories:

    1.) The Black Flash

    The Legion may have a problem in the future or the present involving a speedster and they traveled to the past at this specific time because they knew Bart Allen was going to die. Using this knowledge they hatched a plan to capture the Black Flash while he was around to harvest Bart’s soul. Brainiac 5 probably has some sort of genius plan to harness the power of the Black Flash in order to aid them against the mystery speedster in the future or the preset.

    2.) Bart Allen

    The Flash essence trapped by the Legion is Bart Allen, ressurected at the point of his death so that the Legion could bring him back to the future in order to aid them with a Crisis of their own, believing that his heritage and his powers are their last hope. Bart is restored in the future by Brainiac 5 and his powers are restored, he then becomes the Legion’s very own Flash!

  9. Maximus Rift
    June 20, 2007 at 5:15 pm — Reply

    All those point are interesting, but I wanna know more about the twins.

    Do they have their papa’s powers? Are we getting new teen super heroine’s?

    And what about the Speed Force? Are the other speedsters in DC getting a boost?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  10. Maximus Rift
    June 20, 2007 at 5:18 pm — Reply

    Oh, and there’s another person it could be: Zoom.

  11. Brent F.
    June 20, 2007 at 5:26 pm — Reply

    I think Zoom would be an anti-climatic reveal.

  12. June 20, 2007 at 6:09 pm — Reply

    Zoom’s not a speedster. He has time manipulation powers…

  13. Brent F.
    June 20, 2007 at 6:28 pm — Reply

    Zoom still has the Flash style costume though.

  14. C. M. Heights
    June 20, 2007 at 6:58 pm — Reply

    I was thinking Zoom too but more along of the lines of Professor Zoom. He could have come back to save his “Grandson” in some sort of fashion since he has a tendancy of time travelling.

    And if it was truly the Black Flash, would Bart still have been considered a speedster since he lost his connection to the speed force? Shouldn’t it have been the Black Racer?

  15. Baal
    June 20, 2007 at 10:55 pm — Reply

    The Black Racer? Ugh. Kirby at his worst.

    And what about those villains? I can’t wait for McDuffie to clean up this series the same way he saved Fantastic Four from JMS.

  16. June 21, 2007 at 2:29 am — Reply

    I’m incredibly glad Sensor Girl gets that bad-ass full body suit, given the choices I’ve seen in her Hero History.

  17. Jim
    June 21, 2007 at 9:17 am — Reply

    So I assume we’re going to see more of not only Starman and KK, but also the future LSH since we never really found out *why* they came back?

    I have liked Meltzer’s run of JLA for the most part, but he does have an annoying habit of obfuscation getting in the way of story. I like complex narratives and a bit of experimentation as much as anyone, but Meltzer’s frequent round-robin multiple voiceover narration is just confusing. I get that it’s color coded so we’re supposed to know who’s talking, and that’s easy when it’s Grey or Green, but how do we know white is Starman? I liked the issue and the “ticking clock” effect worked great, but I felt like I was constantly taken out of the story by thoughts of “who’s saying that?”

    Still, it’s good to have Wally back.

  18. June 21, 2007 at 10:42 am — Reply

    So I assume we’re going to see more of not only Starman and KK, but also the future LSH since we never really found out *why* they came back?

    Yeeeap… Given Val’s role in Countdown, I’m thinking we may see more of the LSH there.

  19. Mark I.
    June 21, 2007 at 11:56 am — Reply

    Ahh, when Karate Kid says “I ducked,” ya just wanna hear:

    YOU’RE THE BEST! AROUND!
    NOTHINGS GONNA EVER BRING YOU DOWN!

    Yes I know which KK came first and no I don’t care. If DC ever does an “Ultimate” Legion, KK had better look like Daniel-san and cry like a 10-year-old every time he gets hit!

  20. Brent F.
    June 21, 2007 at 1:24 pm — Reply

    I’m curious about the powers the twins possess. Waid has said their powers will be speed based but they won’t be speedsters like their pop.

  21. June 21, 2007 at 2:47 pm — Reply

    Yes I know which KK came first and no I don’t care. If DC ever does an “Ultimate” Legion, KK had better look like Daniel-san and cry like a 10-year-old every time he gets hit!

    Then you, sir, are my nemesis!!! I will fight against you to my dying breath while you wait for the inevitable ascension of jazz!

  22. Mark I.
    June 21, 2007 at 3:12 pm — Reply

    Hey, I like the O.G. Karate Kid, but if Sam Jackson can be Ultimate Nick Fury (for REAL now in the Iron man movie) then Ralph Macchio can be Ultimate Karate Kid! In fact, the original cast of THE OUTSIDERS can be the rest of the Ultimate Legion: Rob Lowe as Lightning Lad… Emiliooo!!! Estevez as Cosmic Boy… Matt Dillon as Timber Wolf… Diane Lane as Saturn Girl… Tom Cruise as Brainiac 5… Leif Garret as Proty…

    …and Patrick Swayze as M****F***in’ BLOK.

  23. Brent F.
    June 21, 2007 at 3:19 pm — Reply

    I think Karate Kid’s collar should grow and glow as his anger increases.

  24. Brent F.
    June 21, 2007 at 4:23 pm — Reply

    Just wondering, did anyone else interpret Batman’s surprise as him being disappointed that it wasn’t Barry?

  25. Jim
    June 21, 2007 at 10:21 pm — Reply

    Brent, yeah, I got that, too. I thought that was a nice character moment, like even though everyone loves Wally, for Bats the Flash will always be Barry.

  26. June 21, 2007 at 10:28 pm — Reply

    Just wondering, did anyone else interpret Batman’s surprise as him being disappointed that it wasn’t Barry?

    Actually, I read it as puzzlement. Batman recognized the site where he was as the place where (in Crisis on Infinite Earths #2) he last saw Barry’s crumbling body as he traveled back through time… Not only THAT, it seemed to me that the locations chosen had more relevance to returning Barry than they did Wally. Which is why I suspect that the face in the lightning rod IS Barry, and that getting him back was the actual goal.

    After all, Brainiac 5 was SURPRISED to hear that the West family returned, indicating that it probably wasn’t his primary goal, as a Coluan 12th level intellect always factors in as many variables as possible…

  27. June 21, 2007 at 10:30 pm — Reply

    Hey, I like the O.G. Karate Kid, but if Sam Jackson can be Ultimate Nick Fury (for REAL now in the Iron man movie) then Ralph Macchio can be Ultimate Karate Kid! In fact, the original cast of THE OUTSIDERS can be the rest of the Ultimate Legion: Rob Lowe as Lightning Lad… Emiliooo!!! Estevez as Cosmic Boy… Matt Dillon as Timber Wolf… Diane Lane as Saturn Girl… Tom Cruise as Brainiac 5… Leif Garret as Proty…

    …and Patrick Swayze as M****F***in’ BLOK.

    See, I would have gone with Rob Lowe as Blok, Swayze as Lightning Lad, Cruise as Cosmic Boy, and Emilio as Brainiac. With a special guest appearance by Charlie Sheen as Duplicate Boy…

  28. Brent F.
    June 21, 2007 at 11:31 pm — Reply

    I think timing also factors into what the Legion was doing. If they needed Barry then they could have revived him in any time, but they came back at the specific point in time where Bart Allen dies.

  29. Mark I.
    June 21, 2007 at 11:50 pm — Reply

    But see, like Blok, Patrick Swayze was the cooler! And I’m sure Brainy is chock full of thetans.

  30. MicroEric
    June 22, 2007 at 12:47 am — Reply

    Now then, the big question is, will there be a Legion series in our future with these characters? Or will they just appear in other books from time to time.

  31. June 22, 2007 at 7:03 am — Reply

    Now then, the big question is, will there be a Legion series in our future with these characters? Or will they just appear in other books from time to time.

    No idea. DC is currently publishing two different Legion books (though, admittedly, one is tied to the cartoon) so it’s not as if there isn’t precedent for it… I’m a big fan of the current Legion iteration, though, and would hate to see it get “Barted” (the new comic book term for being offed to return to a previous idea…)

  32. June 22, 2007 at 10:01 am — Reply

    Has anyone thought that Val (Karate Kid) didn’t die because Bart Allen (Falsh 4) did?
    KK wasn’t supposed to die, he had a shield, they all did. Brainy would know the historical fact that Bart was going to die and sent them back to harvest the lightnign of the speed force making Barts death into a greater good.

    The countdown is on and Barry Allen is alive again.
    See you at the Crisis Party next year.
    I love what DC has been doing for the past couple of years.

  33. June 23, 2007 at 7:32 am — Reply

    Minor point: Is anyone else truly baffled by the exchange between Wally and Jay? Wally was not dead, and neither were Linda and the kids. They were safe in the future. Jay was there when Bart remembered the details, so he has no excuse.

    – Z

  34. June 23, 2007 at 7:38 am — Reply

    Minor point: Is anyone else truly baffled by the exchange between Wally and Jay? Wally was not dead, and neither were Linda and the kids. They were safe in the future. Jay was there when Bart remembered the details, so he has no excuse.

    I do not remember that…

    I remember Bart saying that Linda, Wally, and the kids were safe in the SPEED FORCE, which is also where Bart was when he grew up. I don’t recall there being any mention of the future.

  35. pedantic peasant
    June 24, 2007 at 9:53 pm — Reply

    Okay, I don’t follow Flash as a rule. I picked up #1 to get that Bart was the new Flash, and I know he wasn’r in the JLA, so where are Matty and Brent getting that this is taking place at the exact moment of Bart’s death? (and I am assuming he was just killed in his own title?)

    Second, I suspect this is a “new” legion for the post Countdown/Crisis whatever that DC is working toward, but one major interesting point in the last few pages with Wildfire and Brainy Wildfire make his speech about the universe having justice, and what does Brainy respond?

    “That’s a truly inspiring and useless speech, Drake Burroughs, but for THIS universe all I really care about is that we got WHO we wanted.”

    Now that emphasis can certainly be read to imply that this legion is not quite from the same universe as the JLA JSA.

    Now interestingly, at the same time in Brave and Bold Batman has been welded to Tharok and is meeting the “current” Legion. So is he going to remember this and ask why that Legion isn’t the same Legion?

    Third, I agree with Matt that Brainiac’s comments indicate West was unexpected. Barry WAS the target, and MUST (relatively speaking) be in the rod. Why? Look at Timber Wolf’s comments to Hal after he recognizes the lab where Barry was doused:
    “You understand now, Don’t you? Records say he saved your life too. Plenty of times.” That’s not Bart, it might be Wally, but that and the “Crisis-image” to Batman can only be Barry Allen.

    Also, following the “West. Curious” comment when Wildfire talks about history surprising Brainy, Brainy says “This alteration was not about history” So, is he talking about their actions (presumably grabbing Barry) or does he mean the sudden appearance of Wally was the alteration OF HIS PLAN.

    A couple further thoughts:
    If Val had his shield down (and he did) why is it up when the lightning strikes? (See the globe in picture at top)
    KK is not faster than Wally, so who is he talking about when he says Wally’s not faster than anyone?
    Does he mean he’s faster? Val can’t outrun him, but with his ability to recognize weaknesses and etc., could he turn the shield in the ring on right at the moment of “capture” and protect himself from the rest of the bolt? Or is he talking of someone else? And if so, who?
    I suspect this is mostly right, since as they’re all leaving, Jeckie comes running over and says “Val, you knew where the lightning would strike?”
    Also, none of the Legionairres died, but Dreamy swore someone would … so did she see the moment of electrocution and decide someone died when no one did, or was she (gasp) wrong?

    Again, I think Matthew’s right on Batman’s disappointment. Mr. Terrific’s earlier comment to Batman, right after Bat’s recognises the location, is “Bruce, what are you waiting for? Don’t you want to stop them?” This would certainly go with the end panel that Batman was expecting Barry.

    Now, what’s the deal with Wildfire and Red Tornado?

    When Red catched up to Wildfire and Reddy says you don’t have to do this, Wildfire replies “Sure I do. Don’t forget, I’m you, John.”

    Their next section Reddy says “You’re angering me” and Wildfire replies, “I remember, and I know where that anger comes from, John.”

    Then as they all fade out, and Reddy asks where Wildfire is going, Wildfire says, “Our mission is done. Fight what’s inside you, John.”

    Is this a metaphorical thing, saying that both of them are alike in their non-humanity? Or is this some subtle new character that somehow Reddy’s consciousness eventually gets subsumed in the energies that blast Drake Burroughs? That they are, literally, the same?

    Finally, Countdown is talking about Bats and Hal needing to give the Book of Destiny to the four people who don’t appear in the book:

    Jason,
    Kyle,
    Donna, and …

    Wally?

  36. dvsjr
    July 28, 2007 at 11:34 pm — Reply

    It’s not Barry, its Bart. Just wanted to go on record. He’s back in the future, where he came from. I wish with all my heart it was Barry, but I know it aint.

  37. Generic Lad
    October 12, 2007 at 5:17 am — Reply

    Mickey Rourke as Blok! Just slap a little more of that Marv from Sin City makeup on him…

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