Of all the characters this site has had a go with over the years, Tom Welling Prime (aka Superboy Prime, aka Superman Prime, aka Whiner Lad) is the one that gets the most attention.Â Following the end of Legion of 3 Worlds, Prime found himself back on his home world of Earth-Prime, and quite possibly out of the lives of readers forever. But when has DC ever been able to leave a character alone?Â This week, Matthew and Stephen attempt to tackle the self-referential Adventure Comics #4, that doesnâ€™t feature the young Christopher Reeve, but does feature Tom Welling Prime.
ADVENTURE COMICS #4
Written by Geoff Johns
Co-feature written by Geoff Johns & Michael Shoemaker
Art by Jerry Ordway
Co-feature art by Clayton Henry
Cover by Jerry Ordway and Francis Manapul
Variant cover by Francis Manapul
Previously, on Adventure Comics: Waaaaay back in 1954, Barry Allen was seen reading comic books featuring Jay Garrick, the original Flash.Â Obviously, a meeting between Flashes was inevitable, interdimensional vortices created to explain such, and thus was created Earth-2.Â (Don’t bother to figure out why the first one was numbered 2, best to just move on.)Â Soon after came Earth-3, Earth-4, Earth-S, Earth-X, Earth-6 and more, but in all the myriad alternate worlds that followed, none had a stranger history that Earth-Prime.Â Originally created to represent OUR world, where the real comic creators told stories of worlds where the heroes were real, it too eventually gained super-heroes (albeit short-lived ones like Ultraa.)Â During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was even revealed to have a Clark Kent, who became Earth-Prime’s Superboy.Â After the Crisis, though, Superboy was relegated to a corner of the multiverse, going slowly insane as he watched the new DC Universe through reality portals.Â Eventually, he broke out, and went El Bonzo Seco all over the DCU, finally being shunted back to Earth-Prime at the end of Legion of 3 Worlds, where he haunts message boards to this very day….
Stephen: I donâ€™t know why DC decided to use Adventure Comics to drop in an Tom Welling Prime story, as the Blackest Night tie-in completely disrupts the young Christopher Reeve Superman reboot that was going on.Â That being said, the story wasnâ€™t that bad.Â I really expected Tom Welling Prime to be a complete douche-nozzle from page one, but in Geoff Johns hands, he comes off as not too bad of a guy.Â He loves his parents, even if he does use his powers to get them to do what he wants them to do. He almost comes off like the Bill Mumy character from â€œItâ€™s a Good Lifeâ€.Â However, instead of wishing people to the cornfield, he simply wants to know what happens to him next as he reads this very issue.
Matthew: I’m pretty sure I do know why they did it.Â This book is about Superboy and the Legion, but both of those names have multiple characters who fit.Â Thus, Adventure Comics isn’t specifically about Kon-El and the new/old LSH, but about all versions of the character.Â Tom Welling-Prime hasn’t always been written as a whinging, preening dirtbag, and this issue touches on his original characterization waaaay back in DC Comics Present in ’87.Â Â Still, just loving your mommy and not wanting to die isn’t enough for me to really get involved in Junior’s story, here, though Jerry Ordway’s art is always fun to see.Â I also really liked the little “behind the scenes at Blackest Night” moment when Alexander Luthor of Earth-3 decides to avoid the zombie bum-rush and look up his old colleague in universal domination.
Stephen: With some of the other things going on in the DC books this past week (namely the JSA 80-page Giant) I wonder if Johns is bringing Tom Welling Prime into the story just to snark back at the Intardwebz and those that inhabit it with all their rage.Â Of course Major Spoilers is free of all that rage MOST of the time, so trying to say the Intardwebz is a prime source of rage is a bit off the mark.
Matthew: Welllll, yes and no.Â It’s quite clear that young Clark’s awareness of the nerd-rage about him is fun to write about, and it’s also kinda fun to read…Â When your character gimmick is coming from the “real world” using that real world’s trappings and pop culture, it gives you wonderful little meta-moments that you can play with.Â And even here at Stately Spoilers Manor, Tom Welling is the target of much venom, though ours is (hopefully) slightly more clever and less rabid than others.
Stephen: It was kind of nice to see the Earth-Prime Legion of Super-Heroes make an appearance, even if it was only a one page â€œHey! How yâ€™all doinâ€™?â€ moment.
Matthew: Johns has said that this book is going to feature more than just “A” Legion, that Adventure could feature any and all Legions at one point or another, so I wasn’t surprised by that.Â I’m glad to see that the Threeboot Legion still exists in some form, even with it’s weird sexual politics near the end.Â It’s also delightful to see Brainiac 5 digging up the “historical documents” of old-Earth, i.e. the comic books that tell the tales of the multiverse.Â This particular iteration of the Earth-Prime mystique is the best one since Elliot Maggin and Cary Bates crossed over the Earth-1 and became the villains for the Justice League in the very issues that they were writing.
Stephen: Do you think Tom Welling Prime redeemed himself at all, when he jumped in to save his parents?Â Thatâ€™s kind of how I read it, and that moment of sacrifice (even though he knew he wouldnâ€™t be hurt) shows he not a totally self absorbed turd.
Matthew: Maybe he’s not completely self-absorbed, but he’s still a schmuck from head to toe…Â The only reason that Prime even exists was so that the original Crisis on Infinite Earths could have SOME representation from a Superboy (who had long been a major character in the company’s history.)Â When the original Superman, the original Lois Lane, and Superboy disappeared into the rift at the end of CoIE #12, it was a moment designed to metaphorically close the book on the DC Universe as we all knew it at the time.Â Bottom line?Â Prime Clark is and was nothing more than a plot device, and no matter how much depth or humanity he is given in this series, he’ll still be the whiny little bitch whose tantrums killed dozens for no reason other than hubris.
Stephen: I havenâ€™t followed all of Tom Welling Primeâ€™s adventures when he was knocking around the DCU.Â Were all of the dead that appeared in the closing pages of the story characters Prime killed during the Crisis?Â Or were those villains from the many DCU title-side cross over events?
Matthew: Those are TW-P’s various victims, I believe.Â Aside from Sun Boy and Element Lad, killed in Legion of 3 Worlds, there’s Bushido, Razorsharp, Ballistic, Geist, Mongrel, what may be Charaxes (the creature that evolved out of Killer Moth) but even *I* don’t recognize the man with the half-mask or the girl with the knives.Â The identifiedÂ victims came from his rampages in Final and Infinite Crisis, as I recall.Â And the issue ends with my new favorite comic book quote: “Spoiler alert:Â Superboy-Prime dies next issue!”
With one feature down, we turn our attentions to the 31st Century, as Dryad’s favorite son has had all he can stands, and he can’t stands no more!
Stephen: Youâ€™ve got to be pretty happy to get a Blok full page splash in this issue, right?
Matthew: I am quite happy with it, though I was happier before reading the whole issue.Â This issue also remembers Blok’s energy absorption powers and that his schtick is more than just being a gray Ben Grimm.Â After his injuries in L3W, Blok is looking a bit crumbly, though.
Stephen: Apparently, his connection to the White Witch following the Crisis of Three Worlds series has him literally falling apart over the loss of his love.
Matthew: Indeed.Â For those who missed it, the Legion of 3 Worlds miniseries gave us the revelation that Kinetix of the Rebooted Legion contained ALL the magic power of her universe, which was absorbed by Mordru the Merciless, who was in turn absorbed by Mysa, the Legion’s White Witch.Â At the end of that series, Mysa returned to Sorcerer’s World as a supremely-powerful and probably evil “Dark White Witch.”Â She now sits on her throne on an abandoned world, trying to control the eldritch power roiling within her.
Stephen: As spooky as the Black Witch has become, I rather like how sheâ€™s using the black magic to do good instead of go all Willow on everyone and everything, and Blokâ€™s willingness to become Black Blok was a really nice touch to the love story.
Matthew: Yeah…Â In a way, this was a rare character showpiece for Blok, as it was one of the few stories since Paul Levitz left the Legion in 1988 that really seemed to have a handle on how I view Blok’s personality.Â What really hurt, though, was that this new focus on character led him to Sorceror’s World and transformed him into a super-handsome new form, then pulled him out of the Legion…Â Dammit.Â Mysa transforming back into her normal self for a second is a sweet moment, as she entreats her rock to stay by her side. Of course, he does, and Dawnstar and Wildfire (who broke the rules to get Blok to Zerox) fly off into the sunset together, marveling at their teammates love, and the sacrifices they make.Â We have a sweet moment with Drake and Dawny not quite telling each other how much in love they are.
Stephen: My guess is one of your Hero Histories touches on the Wildfire/Dawnstar romance?
Stephen: While the Legion story was a nice love story, it ends up being a bitter love story for these two.Â By the end of the issue, I was a bit sad for the two who can never be together.Â Or rather they could, if they wanted one moment of â€œhotâ€ romance.
Matthew: Whereas I was left heartbroken to see Blok and Mysa finally get their couply moment in the sun, and immediately be danced offstage.Â The older I get, the more I suspect that nobody knows what to do with most of the Legionnaires that came after 1965.Â The old Volume 4 Legion took Blok out with a grenade, which at least gave him a heroic death.Â Here, he and Mysa are seemingly pushed aside for no reason.Â I hope I’m worrying too much, and that Johns has a long-term plan for ALL the Legionnaires to be awesome again.
Stephen: While I liked the Tom Welling Prime Blackest Night story, I really wish this had been turned into a Blackest Night one-shot or two issue-mini instead of an issue of Adventure Comics.Â For the next two months, readers will have to wait to see how the Christopher Reeve story plays out.Â I really liked the Legion story – even if these characters arenâ€™t MY Legion of Super Heroes.Â I liked both stories, the art was good, but am troubled that DC canâ€™t leave Tom Welling Prime gone and forgotten.Â I did enjoy the issue for what it was, and am giving it 4 out of 5 Stars.
Matthew: As for me, I am glad that Adventure Comics is doing wild, weird stuff, Ed, and would mention that anybody who wonders what’s up with Kon-El can read his zombie-land adventures as chronicled in the ‘Blackest Night: Superman’ series.Â (For once, I understand the continuity at DC as far as what comes first…)Â As for the LSH tale, these ARE my Legionnaires.Â Indeed, these are four of my very favorites, all back from obscurity to brighten my day.Â While the ending made me sad, it made me sad in a very proud way, like I was watching my Legion kids grow up.Â This issue was pretty awesome from front to back, and earns 4.5 out of 4 stars overall.Â With any luck, Tom Welling Prime will actually meet his final end next issue.Â Or at least get a decent new beginning.