Considering that I write on a blog about comics, I really don't keep up a whole lot with the comics world chatter. In fact, other than reading my fellow dissemblers on this blog, the only other blog I read regularly is Chris Sims's ISB. That being said, I have picked up here and there that DC's Final Crisis was generally considered a dud. Considering I reviewed Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, and Final Crisis not all that long ago, it should come as no surprise that I agree. However, some of the ancillary series to Final Crisis were quite good. Two in particular come to mind. I'll write about Rogue's Revenge at a later time, but today, in keeping with the theme of reviewing completed story arcs, I'm writing about Legion of 3 Worlds by Geoff Johns, George Perez and Scott Koblish.
Now, I'm something of a Johns fan, and I'm certainly a Perez fan, so we're off to a promising start already. Then there's the lead villain. I always thought Superboy, especially of Earth-Prime, was a lame character. It was like he had next to none of the travails of puberty and was just a littler version of Superman. So when Infinite Crisis turned him into a killing, raging, yet still dorky, teenager in extremis, I thought it was a great improvement. That he's the lead villain in this set piece is just another plus.
I'm less interested in the Legion of Super Heroes, an admittedly minority position on this blog. I don't know who a lot of the tertiary members are, nor am I familiar with all the various iterations of the Legion that are the source of the titular Legions of 3 worlds. Nonetheless, Johns made this tale accessible to the fan less connected to the Legion and its long history.
Set predominantly in the year 3008, the story tells the tale of Superboy-Prime, Prime for short from here out, who is pulled out of the time stream by a long time Legion nemesis named the Time Trapper, who is the lone intelligent being at the end of time. (At least this universe's time. Theoretically, there is no end of time.) The Time Trapper has a serious hate on for the Legion and its ethos of promoting the things for which Superman stood. He's laid many a plan to destroy the Legion, aparently, to no avail. His new tool, Prime, had been adrift in the time stream after the events of the Sinestro Corps War, another Johns project.
Prime lands in a farm outside Smallville, KS in 3008. Turning the sweet, caring Ma and Pa Kent to a diametrical opposite, the older couple who own and work the farm are avid racists, opposed to any extraterrestrial aliens and willing to kill anyone they think might be a stray alien on sight. This doesn't work out too well for them. They shoot first on seeing Prime, which leads to him vaporizing them. Prime then goes to a largely empty Smallville and finds the Superman museum there. He's given a guided tour by a virtual Jimmy Olsen, who fills him in on Earth history. It's a convient and well played way of filling in the reader, too. It's here that Prime learns of the prison planet, Takron Galtos, and that it's full of enemies of the Legion. He immediately flies off and sets the prisoners free and quickly learns that all of them are disciples of his chaotic outlook.
From there it's Prime and his Legion of Super Villains attacking. Of course, there are all sorts of complicatioins for the Legion of Super Heroes. There's the disintegrating United Planets government. There's the banishment of Brainiac 5 by his people. There's the discovery that a human industrialist who helped found the Legion was not actually human, which is discovered after he's assassinated by a human, angering both humans and his shape shifting people. There's Prime allying with a near supremely powerful magician named Mordru in the fight, too.
But, the Legion manages to free Mon-El from the Phantom Zone and bring Superman to the future to buffer their forces. Still, perceiving that to be insufficient in the face of the opposition, Brainiac manages to bring in the Legion of Super Heroes from 2 other worlds to aid them. One of these Legions is from a universe that was not reconstituted in 52. They have been wandering a void within the multiverse. The last surviving Green Lantern, Sodam Yat, also joins the Legion, after the only other Green Lantern is killed by Prime and his forces.
Prime is motivated, as always, by wiping out the mythos of Superman. His rage revolves around the loss of his own universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths, including his parents and his girlfriend, and his jealousy that Superman receives all the accolades he feels he deserves. Toward the end, the Time Trapper reaches back through time and grabs Superman, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad, the original founders of the Legion, and takes them to the end of time, where it's learned that the Time Trapper is Prime, much aged. Prime asserts that he's seen what will happen in the fight between his younger self and the Legion in 3008 and that he'll win, but it's soon revealed that things that happen in the fight in 3008 are changing the future at the end of time. Superman, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad, with the help of Brainiac, manage to bring the Time Trapper to 3008, where the two Prime's egos and rage lead to the inevitable punch thrown between them, which then wipes out the Time Trapper and sends Prime to Earth-Prime, which has come back to existence.
It pushes close to cutesy and self indulgent at this point, like Grant Morrison's conclusion to his run on Animal Man. The conceit of Earth-Prime is that its inhabitants know of the super heroes of the main DCU continuity Earth, by reading about them in comics. Prime is the only super hero of that Earth. He knew all about the DCU heroes before Crisis on Infinite Earths from his extensive comics reading. He's the ultimate comics geek who gets his wish to be one of the heroes he fantasizes about being. So, when Prime lands at the farm of his Ma and Pa Kent, they and Lori, his girlfriend, know all about all the people he's killed because they've been reading it in comics. They're afraid of him and want nothing to do with him. Johns is coming close to putting himself in the story, like Morrision did, but doesn't quite do it. He is attacking the barrier between the characters and the readers, but by not taking that last step that would make it all about him. That works much better than Morrison's Animal Man, for me.
In terms of DCU continuity, the primary results of this series are the revival of the Connor Kent Superboy, who had been killed by Prime in Infinite Crisis, and the Bart Allen Kid Flash. With the Green Lantern Rebirth and the current Flash Rebirth, Johns is turning into the king of dead hero revival. I would think that would put him really low on Pops's Christmas card list, especially if his name shows up anywhere around Batman.
I think the story cleaned up some Legion continuity, too, but being less familiar with the Legion, I can't say for certain.
There's a lot of nice detail work, both in the writing by Johns and the art by Perez. I don't want to give Perez short shrift here, having spent most of my time talking about the plotting and writing, but there's really not enough praise that can be heaped on Perez's art. Pops has commented on it previously, but the details Perez puts in are nonpareil. Of course, this was likely the reason it took an entire year for this five issue series to conclude, but it was worth the wait. With anywhere from 30 to 36 pages of story and art in each issue, it was worth the $20, too. Naturally, it's already out in HC.
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