Or – “In The Interests of Verisimilitude And Historical Significance…”

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Here at Stately Spoilers Manor, we like to keep abreast of the latest and greatest in comic excellence, as well as moments that are unique. Action Comics, the book that pretty much started the whole superhero genre back in ’38, hits a milestone with this issue, the first comic to reach number 850. Of course, it may have cheated a little bit, having been weekly for eight or nine months in the late 80’s, but it’s still an impressive achievement and worth noting. This issue also features a guest gig by everyone’s favorite future teens, which might explain how it ended up in my sack of comics…

Ac1.jpgPreviously on Action Comics: Insert the entire history of comic books here…

We start our action, you should excuse the expression, in the 31st Century, where Kara Zor-El, the jailbait Kryptonian known as Supergirl has been stranded by unknown means. Luckily for her, though, she has landed in the midst of a group of teens likewise imbued with great power who have taken her in. Brainiac 5, 12th level computer mind of the planet Colu, has been working on some mechanism to allow Supergirl to return home to the 20th century. His answer is a machine called the Chronexus, designed to allow him to view events that happened in the past, and (eventually) to allow him to transfer Kara back home. “I’ve been identifying chronal particles and seeking a way to isolate and manipulate them,” Brainy explains, “which should allow me–” “To stay cooped up in the lab for the rest of your life?” comes a snotty voice from outside…

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Brainiac asks if she’s ready, and Supergirl hesitates… “There’s things I don’t remember, and I don’t think this is how I want to find them out…” She’s afraid to see her future, worrying that if she knows too much, she might somehow affect her past, or change her destiny. “I want to be who I’m going to be, which might not be who I WAS… Does that make sense?” Brainiac responds, “Wasn’t really listening. Shall we test it anyway?” Heh. Supergirl asks if it has to be HER past, and Brainiac advises that it must be hers, or someone close to her and she quickly tells them she wants to know more about Superman. The Legionnaires are a little surprised that she doesn’t know about her own cousin, but Kara responds that what she mostly remembers is him being a bossy jerk. They look into the viewer and see Metropolis, circa 1938. A group of thugs is robbing a bank, but they’re suddenly stopped by a mysterious man in blue…

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The Legionnaires are impressed that it worked so quickly, but Brainiac knows the truth. This may be A Superman, but it’s not THE Superman, certainly not the one they need. Those of us playing the home game may know that this is actually probably Kal-L of Earth-2, not the proper Superman for Kara. Ultra Boy is confused, as it LOOKS like the right guy, but Brainiac adjusts the vertical hold a bit and finds others who almost fit the bill…

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Heh. Mxyzptlk’s magic muffins would be a good name for a hippie bakery on a college campus… They lock in on the proper harmonic signature (ain’t technobabble grand?) and click back to the beginning of Superman’s cycle. We see Lara Jor-El, going into premature labor, and the Legion marvels that they’re really seeing ancient Krypton. Superman’s proud papa helps her to the medical suite, but breaks the bad news: the rocket that he had created to get her away from Krypton safely only has life support for one person. He could have sent her, pregnant, but now they must make a horrible decision, and send little Kal alone. They put the baby in the ship, and rocket him away just as the planet explodes…

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Awww… baby Superman is adorable, and my parenting instincts can’t stand seeing a crying baby. Invisible Kid remarks the same thing that I feel, how sad he feels for the tiny Superbaby. Supergirl snarks that he doesn’t have it so bad, since he lands and is adopted by the nicest people on planet Earth. Jon and Martha Kent raise him right, and the timeline keeps jumping forward, seeing him gain his powers, and when he seems to be about ten, it locks in on a funeral. One of Martha’s relatives has died, and she is devastated to be the last of the Clarks. When little Tom Welling asks papa Bo Duke why, Jon demonstrates his status as super-wise salt-of-the-earth ultra-daddy…

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Supergirl again rolls her eyes, and Chameleon rebukes her. “Do you TRULY have no sympathy for him? Even Brainiac 5 was moved by that!” (“Was not,” replies Brainy.) We move forward a bit, to see young Clark interacting with Lana, but Brainiac can’t keep the signal… Conveniently, this jumps past a few lingering questions, and moves to Superman’s first public appearance in costume. He is freaked out by the attention, and flies home to his new Metropolis apartment. The phone rings, and it’s Mama Kent, telling him that he was on the news…

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Hmm. Once again we’re shown that there are at least TWO Legions out there, and that Clark’s team isn’t the same as Kara’s. Superman continues fighting his never-ending battle, meeting up with Lois Lane and developing a huge crush on her. When a local mad scientist nearly destroys the city, Lois shows up to investigate, and Clark arrives immediately after Superman leaves. He reveals that he has a few leads of his own and invites her to dinner to share their information. They end up sharing a bit more than that.

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Way to ruin a date, Clark. We click forward again (Brainiac watches the past the way I watch cable…) to a moment right after the formation of the JLA. Superman is a little taken aback at having others around who share his abilities, and when Green Lantern asks him to help with the cleanup, he apologizes, saying he was distracted by the sense of belonging. “It feels good to work with other heroes. Others like us. You know how it is.” Actually, I’d bet Hal doesn’t care, Clark…

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Supergirl is weirded out seeing her cousin so human, and tells the Legionnaires to stop looking at her so accusatorily. We cut forward again, to the apartment of Mr. and Mrs. Clark Kent. Lois welcomes her man home, and teases that her father is in town. “He’s still going on about Grandkids… has his heart set on seeing one at West Point before he dies…” Clark stops short, looking like somebody punched him in the gut with a Kryptonite blackjack.

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Lois kisses him, trying to smooth the whole thing over, but it’s obvious that Clark is hurt. “It’s okay, hon. My dad will just have to deal with the disappointment. I mean, did you even WANT kids?” He says no, but it’s obvious to you, me, and Lois that he’s lying through his perfect bulletproof teeth. Wee see him hovering flying out to a low Earth orbit, looking down sadly at the planet beneath him. “Oh, please…” says Supergirl. “Now he’s just MOPING.” Invisible Kid needles her that she does the same thing, and adds “Besides, I think when you do it from orbit, it’s called brooding.” Even Brainiac is floored by this revelation of the man inside the Super. “He’s like no one he knows… No one he ever expects to know. It’s only natural for a being like that to reflect from time to time on his isolation, on the gulf between him and those around him.” Chameleon asks if Brainiac is talking about Superman or himself, and the Coluan brusquely kicks the machine forward again, catching Kara’s first day on Earth, then fast-forwarding through her history. We see Clark and Lois again, but this time he’s talking over the Supergirl thing with Lois. She finally asks him, “If you’re so worried, Clark…”

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That one affected even Kara… The machine locks in again on another time node, this one a fight with Blackstar (an updated version of a pre-Crisis Supergirl villain, a nice nod to continuity) just as she gets the jump on Superman and girl. Supergirl panics, telling Brainiac that she has to help, to save herself and her cousin, but he tells her he can’t send a body back yet. Invisible Kid, no science slouch himself, suggests using the feedback as a bridge, but Brainiac says it would only support mental waves. Supergirl insists that they send her mind back, and he reluctantly agrees. She is sent back, but lands in SUPERMAN’s body, quickly knocking Blackstar for a loop. She fires his heat vision for a few seconds, just as the machine goes up in flames. Brainiac’s forcefield saves the Legionnaires, but they get a few last images before it is disintegrated…

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The team isn’t sure what the images mean, especially the last one, which seems to be taking place on Krypton (or something very much like it.) Kara catches some debris, asking if those images were what was coming in Superman’s (subjective) future, and Brainiac starts to dissemble. “There are… well, things you shouldn’t know and those timelines could be altered…” “Brainy!” chides Ultra Boy, “if you don’t know, just say ‘I don’t know,’ all right?” Heh. He admits that he doesn’t, and Invisible Kid wonders if the machine can be replaced, noting that they couldn’t even send Kara’s MIND back to her body. “Who says I went back to MY body?” she asks…

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Every time I write Supergirl off as just a spoiled teenager, she surprises me. Then she does something else that annoys me… This issue was nicely done, a “clip show” without seeming too obvious. I liked bits and pieces of it, but was frustrated at how many questions were deftly (and openly) avoided, like any mention of a superhero career before his Superman one, and any real clue about Clark’s legion. I don’t know what’s going on with Superman’s storyline, though, and I wonder if this change-of-pace issue is jarring to those who read the book every month. Still, it was a nice look at his history, and the nods to continuity were nicely done as well.

Renato Guedes has a peculiar art style, but one that I like, reminding me of Tony Harris from ‘Starman’ and ‘Ex Machina.’ His battle sequences are nicely done and he has very expressive faces, not to mention a pretty sexy Lois Lane. It’s a little weird to see this Legion in an art style so different from Barry Kitson’s, but it works for me, and I strongly suspect that we’ll be seeing at least some investigation of the multiple Legions in Action Comics in the future, which may bring me back to Superman’s books for the first time since he had long hair… This is a good issue, easily ranking 3 out of 5 stars… It”s good to see that the big blue boy scout seehas life left in him, even 70 years later.

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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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6 Comments

  1. Mark I.
    June 25, 2007 at 2:38 pm — Reply

    What an odd mix of Byrne-era, Tom Welling, and Routh/Reeve this (pre-Final Crisis, I suppose) Superman is shaping up to be. It’s really interesting, but then I’m a sucker for Superman stories that incorporate his convoluted history as a whole, no matter how far-fetched the idea really is (obviously why I loved SUPREME so much.)

  2. Brent F.
    June 25, 2007 at 3:11 pm — Reply

    I loved this issue and I really like Supergirl. It really has to be annoying to have your baby cousin looking out for you like a guardian.

    My guess is that either the Threeboot Legion or the Classic Legion has their own Earth where time has gone by faster than on the other Earths. I think it’s probably the Threeboot Legion that exists on their own Earth.

  3. June 25, 2007 at 6:50 pm — Reply

    My guess is that either the Threeboot Legion or the Classic Legion has their own Earth where time has gone by faster than on the other Earths. I think it’s probably the Threeboot Legion that exists on their own Earth.

    Possibly… I still wonder if the original Legion isn’t on Earth-2, just because that’s where the original heroes came from, pre-Crisis.

  4. Brent F.
    June 25, 2007 at 7:09 pm — Reply

    Earth-2 Superman never had any adventures with the Legion though. The classic Legionaires obviously know Kal-El and the monument in the Fortress of Solitude is depicts the Classic Legion.

  5. June 26, 2007 at 12:21 am — Reply

    Earth-2 Superman never had any adventures with the Legion though. The classic Legionaires obviously know Kal-El and the monument in the Fortress of Solitude is depicts the Classic Legion.

    Mmm… Either way, the future is no longer set in stone, and I like that a lot.

  6. Baal
    June 26, 2007 at 1:27 am — Reply

    Why can’t all three Legions be New Earth’s? The future is limitless and not set in stone. They each could be in a different alternate future…

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