Or – “The Far-Flung World Of 1935!”

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“Boss, boss!  I got the next big thing in them funnybooks!  We’ll call it “Adventure Comics #1!”  This ought to be a big hit, see?  And we’re thinking that if this Adventure thing works out, we’ve got something called Action Comics ready to go, and Detective Comics in the wings, and maybe even a Fun Comics if we’re freeling really froogy.  As soon as we get back from seeing this new play called “Our Town,” we should think of things to put in this here new comics book.  Maybe some sort of future characters with bubble helmets and flyin’ belts!  Ooh, and y’know that Superman thing Joe and I have been working on for the last couple years?  How ’bout we do that same character, only as a boy, see?  That way, my kids can sue the pants off the company in 70 years or so!  Let’s hope President Roosevelt can put a lid on that Spanish Civil War thingy so this book will sell like hotcakes!”

Yes, I am aware that Adventure Comics didn’t actually start with a #1 in 1935. 

AC1.jpgPreviously, on Adventure Comics:  During the world-shattering events known as Infinite Crisis, Kon-El (a human/Kryptonian hybrid created from the DNA of arch-enemies Superman and Lex Luthor) laid down his life to save the various universes.  His body was laid to rest in Metropolis, and remained undisturbed until Brainiac 5 of the Legion of Super-Heroes was forced to put into action his last-ditch plan.  Placing Kon’s remains in a Kryptonian regeneration matrix, Starman of the LSH allowed Kon-El’s wounds to heal themselves, and the Boy of Steel was resurrected just in time to fight off another heir to his superhero name.  Returned to his own time, Kon-El is now rebuilding the rest of his life as well…

The Legion of Super-Heroes has returned after a long absence, during which the world of the 20th century interacted with several different alternate versions of themselves.  THREE different Legions were finally necessary to stop the evil of Superman-Prime and his Legion of Super-Villains, but now the original Legionnaires are back, and their adventures (you should pardon the expression) during the missing years are starting to come to light.  What sort of shenanigans have the original super-team been up to during their long absence from the spotlight?  And where ARE those missing Legionnaires, anyway?

We rejoin Kon-El, a.k.a. Connor Kent, on a seemingly idyllic day in Smallville.  He’s washed the dishes, plowed the south forty, taken out the trash, and is preparing to play catch with Krypto the super-dog in the fields around the Kent farm.  “I can’t believe I ever hated Smallville,” says Kon wistfully as Ma Kent welcomes him back home again.  We see excerpts from his diary, during which he makes a checklist: “What did Superman do?”  He checks off “Lived with the Kents,” “Went to Smallville High,” and “Joined A Team Of Superheroes,” and we get an interesting moment with a reconstituted Kid Flash and Kon destroying the monuments that commemorate their respective deaths.  (Turns out Mark Twain wasn’t the only one about whom exaggerations may have been made.)  Kon saves girl from a collapsing bridge (Krypto does most of the saving, actually) and is somewhat amazed to find her leaping into his arms to be flown home.  That’s not at all odd or ominous.  Elsewhere, a young boy named Simon Valentine has a run-in with a sludge monster in Bruin Lake, during which the monster mentions that Simon will be “his greatest friend and his greatest enemy.”  See earlier comments, re: odd/ominous.  Kon ends his day at the abandoned Luthor farmhouse, and has a discussion with big brother Kal, promising to leave Luthor alone.  We end the story with Kon reading down his to-do list, then turning the page to find a list titled “What does Lex Luthor Do?”  Remembering his interactions with his Big Blue ‘Brother’, he then checks off “Lies To Superman” as we fade to black.

The second story of the book (I’m not sure I love the term “co-feature”, but it’s better than calling it a backup story) quickly recaps the origins of Superman (dead planet boom, rocket crash, farmers) and the Legion (three kids, assassination attempt, rich old loon, bubble helmet) before showing us a two-page spread of the team in it’s current incarnation, including new recruit Yera Allon (Chameleon Girl) and not-so-new recruit Lydda Jath (Night Girl, though she’s labeled as Shadow Lass and vice versa, which makes me very, very annoyed) as they fly over Metropolis.  We cut immediately to time-lost Legionnaire Starman (the former Star Boy), who has been telling the story to a flock of birds as he flies over Smallville.  “I’m one of the secret members of the Legion Espionage Squad,” he enthuses to a bewildered pigeon.  “Do you want to join my team?  I’m sure the others hidden in the past won’t mind.”  Before he can explain this tantalizing bit of business, Starman crashes into a neon sign, and ends up smashing through Smallville’s bowling alley.  Hijinks ensue (“TOUCHDOWN!” he cries after putting a ball through the back wall of the alley and through a car in the parking lot.)  He arrives at what I think is Bruin Lake, seen in the first story, and greets… TELLUS!  The telepathic purple iguana is back in town!  Tellus tries to help Starman with his mental issues, but cannot fully offset the progress of the disease.  Starman begs him for help, telling his teammate that they have to find Dream Girl and save the future before his mind is completely gone…

We also get some interesting bits of Legionnaire business, in the coming attractions section that Geoff Johns seems to put in his #1’s these days, including hints about Dream Girl, Mon-El, Element Lad, complications for Blok and a fist wearing both a Legion flight ring and a Green Lantern ring.  Clay Henry nails the Legion portion of the issue, even giving life to some of those weird Gary Frank costume designs from Action Comics, while Francis Manapul tries out a softer, more “pencilly” style in the Kon portion of the title, creating a nostalgic feel for the kid’s homecoming.  This issue was pretty much a laying of groundwork on both fronts, with enough information to bring those unfamiliar into the stories, while giving those of us who have been following the characters in “Legion of 3 Worlds” something new and shiny to obsess over.  In three words or less?  It’s good.  Good to see Kon back, good to have a Legion title again, good to have the ORIGINAL Legion back.  Questions of continuity and blah blah blah aside, this is a nice launch for the new series, and I am finding myself enjoying both halves of the comic.  There were some little touches that bothered me, notably the mislabeling of two (admittedly rather minor) Legionnaires, and the nearly unreadable captions when giving the LSHers name/history/vital stats, but they weren’t deal-breakers.  Adventure Comics #1 did some good work, earning 4 out 5 stars overall, giving Kon-El some interesting depth and texture, returning a missing hero to the fold, and teasing us with what’s to come.  I’ll say this, Faithful Spoilerites: that Geoff Johns kid knows how to write some stories, folks.

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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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12 Comments

  1. August 14, 2009 at 4:01 pm — Reply

    Tellus also appeared recently in Superman #690, for those that wish to be completists…

  2. August 14, 2009 at 4:11 pm — Reply

    Or those who wish to steal Matthew’s thunder. Was that a Mon-El issue?

  3. Greg A
    August 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm — Reply

    While I enjoyed this issue far more than I expected (the Legion portion more than the Superboy), I couldn’t help but feel a little gypped off that a good portion of Superboy story had been part of the Adventure Comics preview. I appreciate DC promoting Adventure Comics in other titles, but I kinda wish the preview had been an extended “Coming Up For…” like the one at the end of the Legion story rather than six pages of the actual story.

    When this site or others post multi-page previews, I have the option of ignoring it at no cost. However at $3.99 an issue, I really don’t feeling like I paid twice for content.

    Enough of angry old guy ranting.

  4. ~wyntermute~
    August 14, 2009 at 4:42 pm — Reply

    I’ve been “calling” that Tellus moment since The Clone Guardian saved his amphibutt from that tank he was trapped in. I don’t expect any prizes or anything, but it’s nice to be vindicated this quickly. :D

  5. ~wyntermute~
    August 14, 2009 at 4:46 pm — Reply

    Oh, and I fully agree with Greg with regards to the “freeviews” DC has been doing lately. For instance, this month’s “Magog” preview: I _hate_ the character, I tire of his “militaristic” adventures, but I gotta look at his face in EVERY EFFING COMIC DC puts out this month. My suggestion? Have two or three DIFFERENT free-views. It doesn’t actually solve the problem that Greg & I have (re-reading the same story and paying for it), but at least it breaks up the monotony. That way, unless you collect EVERYTHING (or most everything) there is a chance you won’t read all the freeviews.

  6. August 14, 2009 at 5:38 pm — Reply

    “..and the nearly unreadable captions when giving the LSHers name/history/vital stats..”

    I had been wondering if it was just a really crappy printing run for those pages.. The left side of that splash was a little hard to read, but doable, the right side…

    It hurt just looking at the words, nevermind they were completely illegible. >_<

  7. Ricco
    August 14, 2009 at 5:43 pm — Reply

    I think the first time we saw Tellus in current continuity, his name makes him sound like a phone service provider (just saying), was during the “Adventure Comics Special – The Guardian 01” which means that story has gone full circle.

    If this turns out to be half as good as the other Kryptonian titles I’ll have to get a second mortage on my soul to pay for all them comcis…

    Concerning the Thing’s retarded cousin, just kidding Matthew put the bathlet away, I think he’ll either turn to onyx/diamond or organic so he can have kids and a happy ending with the White Witch.

  8. August 14, 2009 at 7:34 pm — Reply

    I was honestly left wondering what aspect of the Superboy story was an “Adventure” comic. Really. I feel a little wacky for saying it, but Kon-El was beyond boring–Manapul’s artwork is swell, but he’s stuck drawing Kon-El going to school (but without a close enough view to have actual development of a supporting cast yet) and then having yet another bland heart-to-heart with Superman where they talk about his identity crisis. He’s Superboy! Smack a monster around! Have an adventure! I know this is a first issue, but given that the stories are now smaller to make room for back-ups, so maybe it’s time to put decompression in the closet and start out at a run.

    The peril of the issue was saving a girl from drowning in a river. Huh.

    The Legion feature was basically an extended preview with four of the eight pages taken up by the teasers, splash pages, and origin recap–but it was leaps and bounds better than the Kon-El feature. It had a lot more energy even if it was, again, more set-up.

  9. ~wyntermute~
    August 14, 2009 at 7:55 pm — Reply

    There isn’t going to be a happy ending with the “White Witch”, I don’t think. She went all Gothemoblacknesshate, and c’mon.. she’s WAY more interesting that way, at least for a while. At least, “dramatically speaking” she has the potential to be interesting. The “evil ex-girlfriend” dealing with “leftover feelings of blah blah blah”, or the “doesn’t like being nasty, but will sacrifice for the good of blah blah blah”. If her & Blok are united, it’s one less thing to write about because they just vanish off-panel and have kids until something urgent comes along.

  10. Adam
    August 15, 2009 at 4:31 pm — Reply

    I’ve been waiting for this issue for a while. It’s a blast to finally have Conner back, and trying to find himself and his place in the world. I can’t wait for more. Granted, he’s my favorite character, so I’m bias, but still. Coming of age stories with fantastic art, plus The Legion. It’s a Win-Win.

  11. Sanlear
    August 17, 2009 at 7:46 am — Reply

    “Or those who wish to steal Matthew’s thunder. Was that a Mon-El issue?”

    The appearance concerns Mon-El (who is barely in that issue). Tellus stops Sodam Yat from meeting Mon-El, saying that bad things will happen if they do meet in the present (past?). Sodam gives Tellus a crystal with the history of Daxam to give to Mon-El (setting up for the upcoming Superman Annual).

  12. August 17, 2009 at 2:49 pm — Reply

    Hey, Shady is NOT a minor Legionnaire!!!

    Anyway, I loved the final page preview–looking forward to seeing each of these stories!

    Although I kinda wish Brainy could send some of Thom’s meds back to the 21st century–why is that so difficult???

    I love Gary Frank’s costumes. They look like costumes people could actually wear (sort of like the X-Men movies). I wish Franks would redesign the entire DC Universe. (In particular, I can’t take seriously any male hero who wears trunks over his leggings — Franks is right: just give them pants!)

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