ROBOT OVERLORD: The only things standing in the way of me becoming the supreme ruler of this planet, are the number of government agencies tracking my every online move, and a good pair of walking legs. For those who seek to do wrong in the funny pages, it’s up to the superheroes of the world to thwart their schemes. But what happens when my man Joseph McCarthy tells them to unmask? I’ll let my underlings fill you in.
DCU: LEGACIES #2
Writer: Len Wein
Artists: Scott Kolins, Andy Kubert (main) J.H. Williams III (co-feature)
Inker: Joe Kubert (main)
Colors: Mike Atiyeh, Brad Anderson (main)
Covers: Andy and Joe Kubert, JH Williams III
Editor: Mike Carlin
Publisher: DC Comics
Previously in DC Universe: Legacies: As the second World War dawned in Europe, the shores of America were host to a lot of strange circumstances. Through various means mystical, scientific or otherwise, dozens of men, women and children began putting on cape and mask and fighting injustice. Some had powers, some did not, but all had a thirst for justice and a desire to serve the greater good. From Little Boy Blue to the Atom to the Flash to the almighty Spectre, these heroic types fought the good fight against gangsters, Nazis, mummies and bald world-breakers and what-have-you. And no matter how hard Mr. Johns and Mr. Didio want to work to prove otherwise, Superman and Batman were there, too…
STEPHEN: The only thing that puts this entire series in question to me is where exactly this series fits into the DC Universe? Is this a rewriting of history, the expanding of stories we are vaguely familiar with, or an entirely new universe? Beyond that, this second issue seems to follow along quite closely with the flashback sequences we saw in The Golden Age Else World’s series from years ago. Once again we get to see the world through the eyes of Paul Lincoln, as his life intersects with heroes like The Guardian and the Newsboy Legion, all while he follows the Justice Society of America through the ages.
MATTHEW: Well, here’s my take on it… This series is firmly set in the post-Final Crisis version of New Earth, which for all intents and purposes seems to be the same continuity that we saw post-Crisis. My expectation is that they’re going to be telling the history of the DC Universe via the man-on-the-street, and filling in some of the blanks of who was where, when in the newest version of the continuity. As for the Golden Age story-structure, the chronicled events in this issue (specifically those involving House Unamerican Affairs Committee) were in-continuity before that, with parts of it dating back to the revival of All-Star Comics in the ’70s. That said, are you getting the same sense of Deja Vu that I am about the nature of Paul’s tale?
STEPHEN: That’s the only thing that disappoints me in this series. We’ve seen this story telling technique before from both Marvel and DC, and while it is cool to see how the Average Joe views the world with heroes in it, there’s nothing really outstanding in this issue – unless you want to see how the HUAC forced the JSA to retire completely from heroing.
MATTHEW: And, with the exception of some additional dialogue, that sequence has been told half a dozen times before…
STEPHEN: I guess there are some values and good morals moments going on, as our narrator does chose between right and wrong. And from what I’ve read, most of the stories of that time did focus on making the right decision, with the bad guy (in this case the narrator’s childhood chum Jimmy) getting his comeuppance.
MATTHEW: Blah blah blah fishcakes, as Phil Sheldon said to Norman McCay. I didn’t really care for the whole good kid/bad kid scenario last issue, and I’m not any warmer to it this time around. The bit where Paul tells off his old pal and wins the kid’s sister is cute enough, but it’s a familiar bit of storytelling. I will say this: The art team of Andy Kuburt inked by his legendary dad Joe would have made this book a must-have… at a $2.99 price point.
STEPHEN: As far as the art in the main feature goes, the teaming of Kubert and Kubert is one that I’ve always loved and seeing page after page of Kubert art is always a joy. I wish I could say the same thing about the Kolins work in the opening though, as the water coloring effect applied does nothing for me.
MATTHEW: I believe that it’s supposed to look more real-worldy? Either way, I didn’t even notice as we immediately got a spectacular double-page splash featuring a host of favorite Golden Age heroes including the obscure Air-Wave, Max Mercury in his Quicksilver incarnation, Doll-Man, Sargon, Robotman and more. (But I don’t recognize the blue-faced man behind Vigilante. Maybe Paul Kirk as Manhunter?)
STEPHEN: This is a 10-issue series, and we’ve come to the end of the Golden Age. Even though the Golden Age is the furthest thing from the mind of the Chief Creative Officer at DC, It’s a shame that the legacy of the Golden Age is swept under the table in two short issues.
MATTHEW: I do believe that this is going to be a sweeping epic history of the entire DCU, and two issues dedicated to the Golden Age is probably more than the 70’s era will get. The last time DC chose to do a history, it was just a two issue book filled with static shots and random dialogue, so this is a step up. It’s great to see Simon and Kirby’s Newsboy Legion treated as an important part of DCU history here, and it’s good to see more than just the Trinity treated with respect.
STEPHEN: I think DC has done a really good thing by including the co-feature in many of their books as a kind of justification for the cover price hike, and the Seven Soldiers of Victory story is a real plus here – well, except for that whole broken English Asian narration readers are subjugated to. That aside, it’s a perfect example of the villain taunting the heroes, thinking he’s going to win, but loses in the end.
MATTHEW: Maybe it’s just me, but I appreciate the fact that they’re willing to admit that Wing existed, even if he was embarrassing. Just as Power Man and Black Lightning had some messed-up aspects of their histories, jive turkeys, characters like Wing and the Blackhawks Chop-Chop are important. Wing may be the DCU’s first character who wasn’t just a white guy who put on a hat and punched things, and even if he was created to knock-off Kato, he’s still as much a part of DC history as the Ultra-Humanite, Kite-Man and Doctor Double-X.
STEPHEN: I simply love J.H. WIlliams III art in this co-feature. If anyone wondered if Williams could change his style, one only has to look at this story. With each hero team we see trouncing the bad guys, Williams style changes to match. In this day and age when books have multiple artists on books to cover schedules, it is refreshing to see one artist take on full duties, and give us something unique on each page. I LOVE IT!
MATTHEW: It’s an impressive art job to be sure, but the story itself is pretty much a by-the-numbers Golden Age affair… In fact, I do believe that this backup tale is a reworking of the Seven Soldiers’ battle with Black Star from Leading Comics #2, with TNT and Dan The Dyna-Mite stepping in for the retconned Green Arrow and Speedy.
STEPHEN: Even though the ending was telegraphed in the opening panel, I really got a kick out of this story – mainly for the art than anything else. Overall, this issue kind of tarnishes the shine of the Golden Age, but I still found it an enjoyable. I’d say pick this issue up for the nostalgia value, and give it 3.5 out of 5 Stars.
MATTHEW: I didn’t have nearly the enthusiasm for this issue that you did. The art is pretty on both halves of the story, but there just isn’t a clear REASON for this story to exist other than telling the latest short version of how the history of the DCU stacks up. The problem with these sort of relaunches is their shelf-life, in that it only took about a year after the Crisis on Infinite Earths for the revitalized continuity to have massive glitches, and periodic reboots have required that we retell this same story every half-decade or so since. While the art is pretty phenomenal, and I love seeing characters like Plastic Man or the Guardian on-board, the story being told has yet to warrant me dedicating forty dollars to seeing it completed. DC Universe – Legacies #2 earns only 2 out of 5 stars overall from me… Good art can cover for a number of sins, but when a brand-new book creates this level of deja vu, I can’t justify the price point, no matter how wonderful the rendering.