Or “Silver Age Represent, Yo!”

Three dark and dangerous heroes of the near past… 

Three bright and shiny teens from the future…

Can these two teams successfully interact?  And will they be able to coexist long enough to save the world?

The Brave And The Bold #34
Art and cover by JESUS SAIZ
Letters by ROB LEIGH
Colors by TOM CHU
Published by DC COMICS

Previously, on The Brave and The Bold:  In the not-so-distant past, Professor Niles Caulder gathered together three people who had been traumatized and scarred by misfortun. Cliff Steele, aka Robotman:  His body essentially destroyed, Cliff’s brain lives on in a body of steel and wires.  Larry Trainer, aka Negative Man:  His body home to a creature of pure negative energy, Larry must remain forever entombed in treated bandages, or die of radiation poisoning.  Rita Farr, aka Elasti-Girl: Exposure to radioactive gases left Rita able to expand her body, in whole or in part, and ended her Hollywood career forever.  Together, they are the Doom Patrol!

In the far distant future, three teens from different planets combined forces to save the life of the galaxies richest man, and were rewarded with his support for their heroic endeavors.  Rokk Krinn, aka Cosmic Boy:  Like all natives of the planet Braal, Rokk controls massive magnetic forces with a flick of a finger.  Garth Ranzz, aka Lightning Lad:  Infused with energy by and alien lightning beast, Garth is a dynamo of tremendous electric energes.  Imra Ardeen, aka Saturn Girl:  One of the most powerful telepaths of her world, Imra knows most minds better than their owners.  Together, they are the founding members of the Legion of Super-Heroes!

This issue starts in the 31st Century, with Saturn Girl fast asleep in the Legion’s inverted-rocketship clubhouse.  She is suddenly wakened by a crash in the courtyard and races out to see what the trouble is, still in her pajamas.  (This, I believe, is a first for the Legionnaires.)  She and Cosmic Boy arrive just in time to find their teammate Lightning Lad, having crash-landed, telling a tale of his interaction with a massive collapsar headed straight for Earth.  Impossibly, they are greeted by the sight of the black hole entering Earth’s atmosphere in a complete contravention of the laws of physics.  The team leaps into action, heading for their Time Bubble, but the bubble suddenly disappears, then reappears.  (I suspect shenanigans.)  The Legion leaps forward a bit in time to see what they can do, only to see the entire planet engulfed in flames, destroyed by the massive spacial anomaly.  They’re confused for a moment (they’ve all BEEN to the future, after all) before realizing that someone has changed the timestream.  Saturn Girl uses his wits and sets a course for 1000 years ago in their past, hoping to travel back and save the world before it is ever endangered…

Have you ever noticed that whenever the Leigon needs help, they always travel back to the contemporary DCU?  It always strains my disbelief that whatever is going on in 3000-whatever is always tied to our present day.  J. Mike Straczynski is apparently also bothered by this, as the Legionnaires don’t arrive in 2010, but in 1964 (or, as they call it in the DCU, “about ten years ago.”)  Niles Caulder’s Doom Patrol is testing their powers when the teenagers arrive with a message.  “Help us, Larry Trainor!  You’re our only hope!”  Before you can say “Gardner Fox,” both teams are in motion headed for the far-flung future.  “Has anyone but me noticed how casually we’re all taking this?” asks Elasti-Girl?  Heh..  Their flight is stopped for a moment by a problem with the time-bubbles fuel line, which is found to be blocked with a strange pink fluff.  Cosmic Boy is aghast that his pals think he had something to do with it, but Saturn Girl replies, “It IS your color.”  “If it’s your fluff, you can tell us,” quips Lightning Lad as they get back on their way.  Back in the future, the team combines their forces (Lighning Lad and Negative Man providing the juice, Cosmic Boy providing the magnetic bubble, Robotman acting as the ground wire, Saturn Girl as the commlink, and Elasti-Girl flying the ship.  A quick wham-bam-superhero sequence later, and the black hole is defeated.  The Legion takes the DP home, a bond forged between them, as the Chief ominously mentions what a bad day he has had in their absence…

First of all, I have to say that I kinda LOVE this issue…  There’s something to be said for a nice done-in-one traditional hero story, and Straczyinski delivers some nice character moments and an exciting climax for the tale, and it’s nice to have no crossovers, no complications, no fancy-schmancy Bendis dialogue.  Oddly enough, this issue is part one of two (the mystery of the pink fluff, the moving time bubble, and the Chief’s bad day will be told next time, we’re promised) even though we have a clear start, middle and end, but in any case it works for me.  It’s well-written, well-drawn, and cleverly paced, and gets the job done.  The Brave and The Bold #34 takes two concepts that are pretty much polar opposites and puts them together smoothly and without fuss, earning an impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall.  This series is designed to showcase whatever the heck J. Mike wants to come up with in his new exclusive playground, and I’m very impressed with the results here…

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Given recent discussions of meta-storytelling and Grant Morrison’s stream of consciousness Bruce-Wayne-as-Billy-Pilgrim conceit, is there still room for a simple, fun story like this?  Or are we all too sophisticated and jaded for the Silver Age storytelling style?

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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  1. Kirby
    June 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm — Reply

    Silver Age tales are pretty sweet, but for the best it should be in small doses.

  2. MaximusRift
    June 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm — Reply

    My philosophy is that there is room for everybody. Both jaded and not.

  3. ~wyntermute~
    June 2, 2010 at 11:35 pm — Reply

    I _LOVED_ this issue…. It’s a perfect “This is what happened, next time we show you HOW it _really_ happened!” type of story. I suspect that the “backstage” part is a bit more significant than we might think, especially given how many “continuity slips” there are in the story as-is: the amazing location-changing bubble, the pink fluff, the bad day, the sudden Shazam-away of the black hole, etc. I think this is what literature wonks call an “iceberg story”, because there’s a LOT going on beneath the surface. :)

    • ~wyntermute~
      June 2, 2010 at 11:37 pm — Reply

      (hopefully this also serves as a roundabout answer to your query, because I think there is a LOT of room for things like this… It could, however, be personal bias at work. :D)

  4. Mokin
    June 3, 2010 at 6:59 am — Reply

    I’m the same age you are, sir Matthew, and I’ve been collecting for nigh on 30 years, and I can safely say I miss those fun stories.

    In these days of the “6-issue TPB” driven market, I miss well written stories that are told in one or two issues, because that’s the number of pages that’s required to tell the story; nowadays, too many stories are stretched to capitalize on the title and the revenue the author/artist will bring by putting his name on it.

    That’s why I’ll go to an author like STRACZYNSKI, BUSIEK or WAID for my stuff. They are all equally adept at short stories as they are on longer story arcs.

    So it’s not a matter of “is there still room”; it’s a matter of why isn’t there more room for these one or two issue stories.

    My opinion.

  5. Brian G.
    June 3, 2010 at 7:04 am — Reply

    I want titles like Batman to be major arc stories while I want titles like Detective to be a series of one shots and mini arcs. I read Superman/Batman for a decent mix of both (even if they aren’t the best stories all the time).

  6. brainypirate
    June 3, 2010 at 8:41 am — Reply

    I loved this issue too, and I’d love to see more fun stories like this. I’m at the point where any story-arc that goes more than three issues is just too long.

    At the same time, I love that the Silver Age Legion aren’t the super-jerks they were back in the Silver Age stories.

    As for the pajamas, I recall lots of pajama-clad conversations back in the 70s and 80s books.

    And I have noticed how overly-connected the Legion is to the 20th/21st centuries. We know there are heroes from the 1,000 years in between us and them — why don’t the Legion ever go back to the 25th century to get help? (Maybe this is what Levitz means by “chronicler’s error”?)

    Heh…. maybe the Legion should

    • brainypirate
      June 3, 2010 at 8:52 am — Reply

      oops–didn’t get to complete my thought….

      Maybe the Legion should go back and get the help of Pirate Bruce Wayne?

  7. brainypirate
    June 3, 2010 at 8:59 am — Reply

    P.S.: Does anyone else think that Rokk and Garth look better in hot-pants/gym-shorts than they do in the bikini briefs we normally see?

    • June 3, 2010 at 11:30 am — Reply

      P.S.: Does anyone else think that Rokk and Garth look better in hot-pants/gym-shorts than they do in the bikini briefs we normally see?

      Well, I hadn’t thought about it, but now that you mention it, the old costumes look pretty good with the trunks in that style. I was, admittedly, a little distracted by Imra’s jammies…

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