Or – “Time, See What’s Become Of Me…”

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Geez, where in the hell have *I* been?  Turns out, much like your missing keys, I was between the couch cushions the whole time.  In any case, it’s review time (or, as the French might say, “rev-WAH”) and we’re ready (though somewhat later than the rest of the world) to touch on the series that has made me look forward to Final Crisis, in complete disregard for my usual feelings on company-wide crossovers.  If you’ve ever been to the site before, you’re probably aware that I occasionally peruse a Legion of Super-Heroes title.  Now, the original Legion, the one that started it all back in ’58, is back in the spotlight, but the question might be, where have they been and what in the 3 worlds have they been up to?

Previously, on Legion of 3 Worlds:  3 kids from different corners of the galaxy chanced to be on the same flight with Rene Jacques Brande, the richest man in the universe, a legendary philanthropist.  When L3W1.jpgassassins conspired to try and kill Brande, they responded.  Garth Ranzz, of planet Winath, used his lightning-casting powers.  Rokk Krinn, of planet Braal, used his magnetic abilities.  Imra Ardeen, of Saturn’s moon Titan, used her telepathic powers.  Thanks to their actions, Brande’s life was saved, and he provided financial backing to form a club of heroes, eventually numbering over two score, and even inducting a young Clark Kent into their ranks.  When the Crisis on Infinite Earths struck some years ago, (twenty for us, probably less than 8 for the heroes of the DCU) the Legion of Super-Heroes stopped visiting our century, and Superman seemingly forgot about them.  After Infinite Crisis and 52 restored the knowledge of the multiverse to the heroes of the DCU, this original Legion was finally forced to show themselves again, returning Wally West to life through mysterious means, and even calling on Superman again to aid them when all seemed lost.  This is a Legion that didn’t go through the events of the Five Year Gap, didn’t face Zero Hour, but they’ve still been through hell and back.  Whatever happened to the bright and shiny future?

We open at Vanishing Point, the literal end of the ever-loving universe, a place where only two things are hardy enough to survive.  The inevitable cockroaches, and a mysterious being in a purple sheet, musing on his hatred for the Legion of Super-Heroes: The Time Trapper.  The Trapper has just gotten the news that the kids who tortured him are still extant in the universe, and he ain’t happy.  “Insects…  That’s what they are.  The Legionnaires are cockroaches.  Filthy, disgusting bugs.  Why won’t you DIE?”  He reaches back into time, realizing that his gambit to make them forget Superman has failed (a long story which you can get some background on by reading our Major Spoilers Hero Histories.)  Since he can’t make them FORGET the Big Red S, the Trapper reaches into the mists of time to try and use that very legacy against them, grabbing a child named Clark Kent from the timestream, and hurling him through space to Smallville, Kansas. 

Rather than being met by loving, accepting parents, this Clark finds himself at the end of the gunbarrels of a xenophobic moron.  He incinerates the old man, and flies into Smallville proper, only to find that things aren’t what they seemed to be.  His x-ray vision shows him a museum, dedicated to his much-hated doppelganger, and the other shoe drops.  “Yeah.  I’m in the stupid future.”  Heh.  The traveller is revealed to be Tom Welling-Prime (a.k.a Superman-Prime, Superboy-Prime, and Punch-Here-To-Resurrect-a-Dead-Robin Lad) is stunned to see a museum devoted to the exploits of the man he believes to be a cheap imitation.  A holographic Jimmy Olsen pops into view and starts showing him around the place, explaining about Superman’s friends, his foes, his time with the Legion, and his very worst villains.  Worst of all, Prime finds his own statue stuck back in a disused closet (though presumably NOT behind a sign that said “Beware of the Leopard”) and is told that his legacy was to be “just a minor annoyance to Superman.”  The kid flies off in a rage, destroying the museum, until “Jimmy” mentions the Legion of Super-Villains.  “The what?” says Prime, a gleam in his rage-filled laser eyes…

Elsewhere in Metropolis, the founding members of the Legion face the central Council of the United Planets, to find out the verdict on their team.  “This galaxy has no more use for the Legion of Super-Heroes.  You’ve failed.”  Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy try to listen, but the delegates are blaming them for the ongoing problems in the galaxy, claiming them to be childish, to be foolish, to cling to ridiculous idealism.  “Maybe it is time you grew up,” intones one of the councillors, and Lightning Lad’s patience is officially done.  “GROW UP?  We GREW UP saving YOUR asses every other day!”  Go, Garth!  Elsewhere, Phantom Girl, Lightning Lass, and Shadow Lass come together to retrieve Mon-El from the Phantom Zone.  Sun Boy is left powerless after his ordeal at the hands of Earth-Man (in recent issues of Action comics) and even one of the team’s former members (Myg, the second Karate Kid, a story I’ll get to soon enough) stands up and announces that their time is done.  Just as all seems lost, a voice pipes up from the stands.  “I’m here to tell you why the Legion must ALWAYS exist,” harrumphs none other than R.J. Brande, and even the Legion is amazed to see the U.P. Council ready to listen.

The evil Supersomething Prime, having gathered as much intelligence as he could from the museum (as well as his old ugly armor) flies to prison planet Takron-Galtos to bust out enough friends to give him an edge against Superman’s Legion, but even he is surprised to see that Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen, and Cosmic King of the LSV consider him to be THEIR inspiration.  “We hoped this day would come,” says Cosmic King, “when you would lead OUR Legion to final victory.”  Back in the Council Chambers, R.J. Brande opines that the Legion is about more than teenagers in tight pants punching sorcerors in the face, it’s about an ideal, it’s about Truth, about Justice, and about the American Way.  His speech is a bit schmaltzy (though not out of character for R.J.) and is actually working until Leland McCauley (Brande’s oldest business rival) leaps out of the stands and guns the old man down.  The xenophobes in the council watch, as Brande returns to his regular form, that of Ren Daggle, Durlan shape-shifter and father of Chameleon Boy…  The Legionnaires are suddenly attacked by U.P. guards, but Cos and company make short work of the Science Police, watching in horror as McCauley withers and dies before their eyes, courtesy of the Time Trapper.

The remaining Legionnaires (notably minus some of their key members, including Dream Girl, Element Lad, Chameleon Boy, and Blok ((well, key to ME, anyway))) gather for a memorial of their lost spiritual leader.  They decide that they have to prove the United Planets (including Colu, run by a newly crowned Brainiac 6) wrong, once again realizing they have to call in their most powerful and idealistic member.  Superman arrives in the 30th century, and is horrified to find that Takron-Galtos has been destroyed, left in flames…  flames that form a familiar five-sided S-symbol.  Superman immediately realizes that this leaves Prime leading hundreds of super-villains, and that even a group the size of the LSH needs backup.  “Two OTHER Legions?” asks Mon-El as Brainiac brings up the images of the Reboot AND the Threeboot versions of the LSH, but Superman realizes that they’ll need to do even more than just fight him.  “He won’t stop,” remarks Big Blue about his counterpart.  “He won’t ever stop, not unless we do something drastic.”  The team is horrified to hear Supes talking about killing, but he’s got an even worse fate in mind.  “We need to REDEEM Superboy-Prime.”

So.  That was a reeeeee-hee-hee-hee-heeeeeeally long review.  This book has a ton of things going on, including reviewing virtually everything we know about the 30th Century, re-establishing relationships, worlds, the core of the Legion, killing off Brande, restoring Prime to dangerous levels, and showing over 100 different Legionnaires for at least a panel or two (including Tyroc, Matter-Eater Lad, and even Bouncing Boy.)  It’s a well-written book, but parts of it seem almost over-written, such as R.J.’s speech to the U.P. representatives.  Even for me, knowing what I know, there were a couple of moments where I had to go, wait, which one is that again?  It’s NOT an easy book to get on board with, but if you’re looking to see where the LSH goes in their 50th year, this is the place to be.  There were a couple of issues with the art for me, as well, with Perez doing a stellar job on Superman and Mon-El’s classic costumes, but having a bit more trouble with the Francis Manapul-designed Threeboot Legion, and some of Gary Frank’s costume designs for the original Legion.  It’s a well-done issue, though, and I throughly enjoyed it.  Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1 earns a very well-done 4 out of 5 stars.

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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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11 Comments

  1. Brother129
    August 30, 2008 at 6:51 pm — Reply

    I’m pretty sure I would read anything written by Johns and drawn by Perez. That aside, the concept of three legions is pretty cool, even if it makes your head hurt. After all of the background built up in issues of Action Comics related to Mon-El’s disease; Braniac 5 curing him in 5 seconds was a bit of a letdown for me. How come Superman didn’t think of that before? I can understand why the Boy Scout doesn’t want to kill Prime, but redeeming him? I’m not buying that concept. He’s killed way too many people. Why not send him to the phantom zone or something?

  2. August 30, 2008 at 7:02 pm — Reply

    Bear in mind, this is the original Legion, Brother. Brainiac killed him years ago, their time. This was just an update of the original process (hence the remarks about Earth-Man having put Mon back in, and his relationship with Shadow Lass being intact.)

    We’ll have to see where this all goes…

  3. August 30, 2008 at 7:02 pm — Reply

    The 5YL Legion under Giffen was my favorite era but this one will do. My hopes tho’ is if they unboot and feature this Legion from here on in, they don’t give the project to Mister Johns. As much as I’m enjoying this (and all of the Action arc except for that insipid emotional spectrum getting a mention*) Johns can not write a utopia to save his life and that’s what the Legion’s future needs to be. Otherwise it’s just another future story.

    *WILL POWER IS NOT AN EMOTION!!!!!!

  4. smith TEAM uno
    August 31, 2008 at 1:18 am — Reply

    I found the issue stellar. Johns behind the Legion is exactly what this needs to springboard into. Also, here’s hoping they pick and choose a legion following this with members from each of the incarnations… And dos anyone else think Supe’s redeeming of Prime is just a way of putting a big red S back in the Legion while leaving all the prominent ones in the DCU time line proper?

    Of course they could always bring back good old Connor

  5. August 31, 2008 at 2:50 am — Reply

    I agree it was definitely worth reading – some of the characteristics of the other legions they get at the end are very similar to the tv series versions!

  6. mosdef
    August 31, 2008 at 6:26 am — Reply

    Awlright, im not a big dc fan , as readers of this site might know. but this issue was awesome, i didnt have to know much about any of the legion characters, (aside from matthews hero histories) i didnt know crap. but thsi was a great issue. geoff johns is a comic god, heres to next issue. superman prime=best bad guy ever. well maybe not better than sepiroth

  7. Bean525
    August 31, 2008 at 6:49 pm — Reply

    I liked this quite a bit, I think it’s actually pretty astute of Superman to realize that Prime needs redemption. As bad as S-boy Prime has been, it really all stems from the fact that he wasn’t raised like Superman was, he didn’t even know about his heritage until it was thrust upon him. He’s just a cinfused kid, and instead of making things better for himself, he just becomes more irrational, because he is constantly thrust into situations he can’t control.

    I may be reading waaaaaaay too much into this, but I am kind of hoping he does get redeemed, as this is the first story since the old DC Presents issues that introduced him that I remotely give a care about the character.

  8. August 31, 2008 at 7:13 pm — Reply

    “some of the characteristics of the other legions they get at the end are very similar to the tv series versions!”

    Elaborate.

  9. August 31, 2008 at 8:41 pm — Reply

    He disemboweled Wildebeest, beheaded Pantha, and ripped off Risk’s arm with glee.

    Pretty sure I’m not going to be a fan of any redemption for the boy… :)

  10. Randallw
    August 31, 2008 at 9:56 pm — Reply

    I wouldn’t say it was with glee, in fact he went a bit emo over how no one undertsands him, it’s not his fault and everyone should just leave him alone. Do I feel sorry for him? No. I’m not looking for his redemption.

    One thing about his fight with Connor Kent, and the other Titans, I found was that Superboy Prime is Pre-Crisis (naturally). He can move planets, so he really should have taken Connor Kent’s head off with only slightly more difficulty than the Titans he dismembered.

  11. jman
    September 2, 2008 at 9:07 pm — Reply

    ^^wow, glad to see that I’m not the only person who noticed that. If this kid is that strong physically, he really should have beaten all the DC Heroes himself(let alone get his butt handed to him in Sinestro’s war; why just sit on the moon when you can fly to Earth and POWER-UP?!)

    But I suppose you have to job him somewhat to make the story work. Also, doesn’t he know Superman’s secret identity?(actually, if all of the other heroes on earth-prime were just comic characters, he should know all of their secrets…)

    As for redemption, I don’t see it possible. I think he’s gone FAR past the point of no return. The only thing they can do for him is kill him at this point. Or else have him go out as a hero in Final Crisis somehow…

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