Genesis #1 (October, 1997)
Writer – John Byrne
Penciller – Ron Wagner
Inker – Joe Rubenstein
Colorist – Patricia Mulvihill
Letterer – Clem Robins
Assistant Editor – Jason Hernandez Rosenblatt
Editor – Paul Kupperberg
Cover Price: $1.95
Sometimes a story’s reputation proceeds itself. Such is the case with today’s offering, the first chapter of 1997’s Genesis event. This is a book that I don’t believe I’ve heard a single good thing about… well, outside of the Alan Davis covers, anyway.
I’ve heard so many complaints about this story that, at some point, I thought I’d read it! In light of our recent trip down Millennium Lane, I figured this might be the best time to revisit another of DC’s, um… weaker (?) events.
So, I head up to my library to fetch my copies… only to realize, I didn’t have it! In order to rectify that, I stopped by the shop while I was running errands and snagged the entire story. Got home, cracked it open, and… didn’t recognize it at all! At this point, I’m not sure I’ve ever read this. I mean, part of me knows that I have… but, another part of me thinks this is all new to me.
Either way, I suppose we’re about to find out if Genesis lives down to its reputation… together.
It begins with a shot of the Sun rising/setting over a planet. It’s not terribly detailed, so I can’t say for certain whether or not it’s meant to be Earth. The story proper opens in Keystone City where the Flash is chasing a missile down the street before it blows a hole in a bank. Everything looks to be going fine and dandy, until… Flash finds he cannot keep up! In a desperation move, he hurls a garbage can at it, to knock it off course. It explodes in a (hopefully) vacant parking lot.
We shift scenes to New York City, where Green Lantern is in a heated battle with Sonar… when, the ring quits working! Just as this happens, Sonar’s own powers appears to amplify. He hammers the ground with a terrific blast… and then, somehow, Kyle’s ring starts working again! Hmm…
Next stop, Gateway City. Officer Mike Schorr is repelling down from the roof of an apartment building so he can break up an intense domestic squabble a few floors down. Firearm drawn, he peers into the window… inside, a man has a woman and young girl bound… and he’s threatening to blow both their brains out. Schorr goes to make his move… but, something stops him. He just stands there…
The baddie catches wind that there’s a man on the ledge, and decides it’s time to make his move. Mike is still motionless. Luckily, the SWAT team break down the door and fill the gunman full of holes before any innocents can be hurt. When asked, Schorr says he’d just lost all of his nerve and faith.
We then shift to Fawcett City, where Captain Marvel loses his power of flight and slams down to a car below. He notes that it’s lucky that his invulnerability is still intact, otherwise he’d likely not have survived the fall. We also learn that neither he, Mary, nor Freddie have been able to revert to their child-selves.
Next stop, Happy Harbor… the current home of the time-displaced Legionnaires. Guess what? Their powers are all outta whack too! Seems a few had their powers amplified and others negated.
The last stop on our prelude tour is Metropolis, where ol’ Electric Blue is battling a giant robot, when his strange new powers go haywire as well. The Daily Planet headline the next morning reports the news of his and the other heroes power struggle that night.
This brings us to the amalgamated New Genesis/Apokolips planet. We see the Highfather being addressed by Orion and Takion about the fluctuation of energy… something so troubling that event The Source is bothered. What’s The Source? We’ll get there. Takion believes that the likely culprit for all the hoo-doo is… Darkseid. Well, no duh.
We return to the heroes who have assembled at the Justice League Watchtower on the Moon. Batman is on the video monitor, and as an “ordinary” human, has not been affected by whatever is going on. Aquaman mentions that he has also not been affected. This further confuses Kyle Rayner who has no powers outside of his ring… an accessory! Batman thinks on it a moment, and excuses himself to crunch the clues.
We then shift to… oh, wow… the Young Heroes in Love?! Well, knock me over with a feather… didn’t expect to see them here. Anyhoo, Bonfire is worried about her on-again/off-again Frostbite… and Thunderhead exhibits brand new powers when he KABOOM’s across the room. The scene wraps with Frostbite losing control over his powers.
In Opal City, Jack Knight’s Cosmic Rod quits working. In Manchester, Max Mercury loses his link to the Speed Force… Impulse loses his speed, but begins vibrating uncontrollably (which he kinda digs)… Jesse Quick, however, is unaffected. All throughout the world, several other heroes, powered and otherwise, feel the effects of the power flux.
We return to Takion who reports back to Highfather that he was unable to locate Darkseid on the darkside (heh!) of the planet. The only folks over yonder were the Hunger Dogs.
We get a brief scene featuring Donna Troy fretting over a premonition she had before returning to the Watchtower. Kitty Faulkner videos in to share her findings. She claims that there was a sharp decline in the level of what she calls the Kurtzberg Field… which is further explained as a low-level background radiation which was discovered by a Professor Kurtzberg in 1937. Okay, fair enough. Anyhoo, we’re currently seeing the resonance effect of long-passed waves of radiation. My head’s beginning to hurt.
Now that we have an idea, it’s time for Batman to chime in. He claims that heroes only from this universe appear to be affected. He notices that Supergirl appears to be immune, and deduces that she must be from a different universe. Welp, easy enough. The issue ends with an alien armada heading straight toward Earth. What timing! Now, what can our crew of depowered heroes do?
This wasn’t quite as bad as I was expecting. Perhaps my expectations were artificially deflated… or, perhaps it’s just because we’re only a single-issue in so far. If I’m remembering right, I was quite optimistic on Millennium after reading the first issue. Not that I liked this issue, because… I didn’t. It was kind of a chore to get through, but could’a been worse. Maybe it will be… guess we’ll find out!
More than anything, this was… dull. There is no feeling of urgency here, and it’s hard to believe that this was the DC Comics event of 1997. Say whatcha want about contemporary comics events, but I doubt very highly that such a bland tale would be front and center these days.
Before we unpack the story… let’s talk about the writing and art for a bit. This story feels way overwritten. I mean, I had to read the Kurtzman Field page a few times for it to even almost make sense. There’s info-dump… then there’s this. I get that it may turn out to be an interesting or clever angle, but the explanation was wayyy too dense. The art, on the other hand, while not bad, is… I dunno, uninspired? The storytelling is fine, and the action is tight… but it’s just not my cup of tea. It definitely doesn’t fill me with that “big event” feel. I suppose had the art been a bit more dynamic it might have livened up the issue… but, if I’m being honest, it comes across just as dull as the story.
Now… let’s unpack. If I were writing this, I think I’d have started with Superman’s scene. At this point, Superman is still getting acquainted with his new electrical powers… and any hiccups could have been easily explained away. Then we could move forward showing that he’s not alone. It doesn’t really make the story more interesting, but it prolongs identifying the threat.
I like that Supergirl’s powers are still intact. I think that’s an interesting idea, and an organic way for Batman to conclude that this is a universal threat… and perhaps not an extra-universal one. I feel like I’ve been reading an awful lot of “BatGod” bat-books lately… so, I must admit I kinda sighed when I saw his big head on the vid-screen. He’s still the smartest dude in the room… even when he’s in a different one, but at least he’s not just pulling wisdom out of his backside.
We did get to see a lot of heroes (including the Young Heroes) which is cool. We also get to see a certain member of the Gateway PD. Now, I can’t claim to know a whole lot about Mr. Mike Schorr. My minimal research tells me that he’s a Wonder Woman supporting character… which is probably why he’s in Gateway City. Not sure if he’s got any Meta in him, but I’m kinda interested in seeing if his loss of “faith” and “nerve” have anything to do with the radiation dip.
Overall… hmm. I can’t honestly say that this issue, in and of itself, was terrible. That being said, I still can’t recommend it. Ya see, one of my “pillars” of reviewing… if what I do here can even be called such… is “Did I have fun reading this?” That answer… is no. I can’t say that I hated it, but I also can’t say that I enjoyed my time with it. It’s Claremontian levels of overwritten, without any of the charm. We’ll check out the second issue tomorrow… probably, maybe.
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