The Marvel Universe exists on a sliding timeline.  Sometimes, that slide allows for some entirely new events to spontaneously erupt…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Marvel: The Lost Generation #12 awaits!

Writer: Roger Stern/John Byrne
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Al Milgrom
Colorist: Glynis Oliver
Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00

Previously in Marvel: The Lost Generation: It’s a paradox.  It’s a mystery.  It’s the will of Franklin Richards.  Whatever you call it, the truth is that Captain America was active in World War II, was frozen, and some years later, the ‘Heroic Age’ at Marvel began with the debut of the Fantastic Four.  At the time of publication, that time gap was roughly 15 years.  As of this writing,  it is nearly 75, leading to curiosity about what might have happened in those missing years.  The same question was on Marvel’s mind circa 2000…

Of course, being Marvel circa 2000, nothing is ever simple or easy.  The time is “a few years ago.”  This issue bears #12, the final issue in sequence for the series, but was actually the first issue released, with no context or hints as to what is going on, save the always-apocalyptic presence of Uatu The Watcher, explaining to a time traveler named Cassandra that she is witness to the end of an era…

(Click to embiggen)

Immediately, we are given the panoramic view of this Lost Generation of heroes in action (although, without context, it’s kind of hard to tell what the hell is going on and the murky coloring doesn’t help on that score, as the heroes blend into the backgrounds as often as not) all of whom are engaging a Skrull invasion fleet in orbit above the Earth.  Cassandra The Time Traveler begs The Watcher to interfere, but he refuses, having not yet met the Galactus watershed that would, in a few years, cause him to break his vow of noninterference.  Instead, she is forced to act on her own…

Having made it onto one of the Skrull ships, she is immediately waylaid by the massive Yeti, who rushes off with the body of the Skrull woman, leaving Cassandra with broken ribs at a key moment in time.  Enter: Nightingale.

As Nightingale succumbs to her wounds, Cassandra realizes that her words implied that they had met before, in the hero’s past, which sets her mind in motion about how to stop all this carnage.  We are introduced to (and shown the terrible ends of) three more heroes, Templar, Mako and The Squire before the story begins following Oxbow and Pixie, our designated cute couple.  After breaking through the Skrull lines, the encounter the dying Batman Black Fox…

I do admit, I love the fact that Black Fox, a retired 50s hero, has the exact mask and nose-piece that 50s Batman had in the time-period.  Of course, that’s once again with context, as this issue is all sturm, drang and final countdown.  Black Fox is discovered by The Gadfly, and their romantic moment ends with their brutal double murder, but Ox and Pixie soldier on, trying to find Effigy, another of their comrades.  For her part, Cassandra gets waylaid by a hero called Mister Justice, who wants to know why she’s wearing his dead brother’s belt…

Mister Justice is killed by The Skrulls, and as Cassandra continues, more heroes are briefly introduced and then atomized on-panel…

It’s an interesting approach, and having read this series both forward and backward in the decade-and-a-half since it debuted, I can tell you it works better as the ending than it does as the beginning.  It does, however convey the deadly seriousness of the menace before these heroes, as they are mowed down by murderous aliens from beyond.  Pixie discovers the lost Effigy, only to discover that he is himself a Skrull!  Fortunately for her, he’s a renegade, who has patched into the invasion fleet’s control codes and set up a destruct mechanism that might turn the tide.  Cassandra arrives to stop her, but it’s too late on all fronts.  Cassandra departs for the past, to try to stop this war before it happens, while Pixie makes the only decision she can…

…and KABOOM.

As the issue ends, Uatu reveals that, even though they’re keeping it secret, the United States government is well aware that the Skrulls will likely return, in greater numbers.  As such, they’ve begun funding certain scientists who might help them to develop the next generation of heroes: Dr. Reed Richards, Dr. Bruce Banner, and entomologist Dr. Henry Pym.  Because entomology is always one of the keys to planetary defense…

We also find out who it is Uatu has been talking to…

This is a relatively unique experience in comic books: a first issue that is also a last issue, but it’s more successful as an ending than it is as a beginning.  Indeed, having read it half a dozen times or more, Marvel: The Lost Generation #12 which-is-actually-number-one succeeds as a final issue, is very wobbly as a first issue, but still makes for a gripping bit of adventure story, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  In the final analysis, the book would have benefited from stronger characters, a different inker and a little less ambiguity about the exact year it takes place, but it’s still the kickoff to a series that doesn’t deserve to be as forgotten as it is…



Counting down backwards and promising the full story on a generation of heroes we never knew, it's a tantalizing premise (that sadly doesn't achieve it's potential.)

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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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