Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1 (October, 2008)
“Legion of 3 Worlds, Book One”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – George Perez
Inker – Scott Koblish
Colorist – Hi-Fi
Letterer – Nick Napolitano
Assistant Editor – Adam Schlagman
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
Methinks I might’a bit off a bit more than I can chew here, you guys. I’m still very much a Legion of Super-Heroes kindergartner… and this series feels like a rather “advanced” course in Legion-Learnin’.
I keep hearing that this is a series that kinda makes everything “fit”… and lemme tell ya, I’m all about making things fit. Izzit gonna work? Am I gonna be left scratchin’ my head? I guess we’re about to find out…
We open at the end of time with our old friend the Time Trapper. He laments the fact that the Legion of Super-Heroes are sorta like cockroaches… refusing to die. He looks into the cosmos and might just have found the answer to all of his problems, a time-lost boy… filled to the brim with angst and rage. He decides to use this boy, sending him back in time to 31st-century Smallville, right outside the farm of an elderly couple who go by the names of Mara and Jun… we can probably call them the “Kants”.
Inside, the Kants are watching the evening news reporting that Legionnaire reject Earth-Man had been found guilty of xenophobic crimes, the result of which is an upcoming Earthgov trial in Metropolis. While Jun complains about all the “extraterrestrial trash” on Earth (laying it on a bit thick, though thankfully Johns left out the sad and trite “dey turk er jerbs” reference here). Anyhoo, they hear the boom on their land and go out to check it out. Unlike Jonathan and Martha Kent who met their bounty with love… Jun and Mara meet theirs’… with a shotgun! It’s here that learn that the troubled Boy the Time Trapper sent was, in fact… Superboy-Prime!
Jun recognizes him as “Superboy”, and gets vaporized for his troubles. From here, Prime heads out to take a look at his new digs. He is annoyed at all of the “Home of Superman” signage, and actually happens across the Superman Museum! Hey, we just read about one of those!
Inside, he is greeted by a Jimmy Olsen holographic tour guide. The first stop on his guided tour is to, well the entirety of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen from the looks of it. Does this mean that those wacky Silver Age stories are in continuity? Eh, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
Holo-Jimmy then shares stories of Nightwing and Flamebird in Kandor, before discussing the Secret Origin of Superman… which is still around a year away from being published. This was a weird time in Super-Fandom. Post-Infinite Crisis, we sorta had an idea that stuff was changing, but it would take DC Comics like four years before they’d get around to sharing just how! Then, of course… two years after that, they flushed their entire universe down the toilet… ahem, I probably oughta rein myself in.
It’s now that Jimmy introduces Prime to the stars of our story… the Legion of Super-Heroes! If I’m not mistaken (and I very well might be!), this is the Legion from the Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes story arc in Action Comics. Prime comments that he likes the Legions’ “old costumes” better. Holo-Olsen is happy to oblige, and gives the gang a decidedly more early-80’s flair.
Using his x-ray vision, Prime scans the museum’s Hall of Villains. He sees all the biggies… Lex Luthor, Doomsday, Brainiac… Mxy, Mongul, Cyborg Superman… the list goes on. The one villain he doesn’t see is himself… the Superboy-Prime statue is hidden in a darkened corner! It turns out that his “legend” has been lost to time. Holo-Jimmy even comments that the statue should be in storage somewhere, because Prime hadn’t been heard of since the Sinestro Corps War (which they were in the middle of around now).
Jimmy continues, giving Prime a very different interpretation of the events of Infinite Crisis… in this version, Conner Kent wins their fight. Superboy-Prime does what he does best… he loses his cool and throws a temper tantrum! He destroys all of the villain displays, then turns his attention to the Teen Titans exhibit, featuring that Superboy he knows he’d killed… Kon-El! He makes a mess of that too. Then he freezes some guards with his super breath, and blows up the Legion exhibit for good measure.
Which brings us to… the Legion! We shift to the United Planets Council in Metropolis, where the founding Legionnaires, Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl are being grilled for their perceived “failure”, stuff to do with Earth-Man and his xenophobic crimes, I think. The Council refers to the Legion as being an outdated concept… which, ya gotta figure might just be some meta-commentary on some fans who “don’t get” the Legion… ahem. They go so far as to comment that, although the Legionnaires are all adults… they still refer to themselves as “Boys” Lads” and “Lasses”. They might just have a point there.
As Lightning Lad’s blood begins to boil, we shift over to the Phantom Zone where Legionnaires Phantom Girl, Lightning Lass and Shadow Lass are fleeing from General Zod and his gaggle of goons. They come across and nab Mon-El before Brainiac 5 is able to free them.
We shift scenes again… now we join Sun Boy and Polar Boy, in a scene that reminds me of that 5YL story we took a look at a few months ago. Polar Boy is pleading with Sun Boy to get back in the game… but ol’ Dirk’s burnt out.
Back at the tribunal, the Legion are still being raked over the coals. The United Planets unanimously decide it would be best for the Legion to disband… when suddenly, a cloaked figure stands up and is revealed to be… Captain Kangaroo! Er, I mean R.J. Brande. Little did I know, he was pivotal in the Legion’s origin. He proclaims that the universe needs the Legion… and to the shock of Lightning Lad, the UP decides to give him the floor.
We rejoin Superboy-Prime and Holo-Jimmy as the latter is chatting up the former about Takron-Galtos… hey, that’s the prison planet! Ya know, the one that Star Boy did some stuff on. Holo-Jimmy continues, and shares the story of the Legion of Super-Villains… including the three baddest of the bads… Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen, and Cosmic King! And so, Superboy-Prime decides to put together a Legion of his own!
Back at the trial, Brande is pontificating about the importance of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He points to the founders as each being a piece of Superman’s motto… Saturn Girl taught him Truth, Lightning Lad showed him the value of Justice, and Cosmic Boy’s inclusivity is indicative of the American Way. Just when it seems that his point is getting across… the poor goof gets shot in the head!
The sniper is revealed to be Leland McCauley… who, I just learned is/was R.J. Brande’s biggest rival. It’s revealed that Brande was never human, but instead a Durlan shape-shifter. This makes it so McCauley is actually the most successful human industrialist in the galaxy… so, whoop tee doo. He begins to rapidly age… and ultimately turns to dust. At this point, we can briefly see the Time Trapper lurking.
As this is going down, the Universe ain’t taking it all that well. Riots are occurring, the Legion is being booted from other planets. And so, the “core” crew convenes to discuss their future. They decide that they’re going to need… him. Yup, they’re going to call in the biggest gun of ’em all… Superman.
He arrives as the Legion is looking at a live image of Takron-Galtos… which has been scorched with a Superman “S” symbol. We learn there was a similar one left in Smallville. They show him an image of Superboy-Prime, and Kal fills them in on his deal. The chapter concludes with the gang knowing their best bet against a parallel worlder would be… Legions of Parallel Worlds! Together they will endeavor to… redeeeeeem Superboy-Prime?!
Well, damn but that was a whole lotta information!
Not so much where I felt lost… or, completely lost, anyway. I feel like I’m starting to at least be able to identify a lot of these characters on sight… couldn’t tell ya their real names, or their planets of origin… or even their personality quirks, but I can pick (most of ’em) out of a crowd. Gotta say, I was expecting like hundreds of colorfully clad kids beboppin’ around this book… I was pleased that it was left to, I dunno… a dozen?
Being a big fan of comics lore, and trying to make everything “fit” and “matter”… I’m looking forward to getting a better handle on all of this… I think, perhaps naively, that it will actually help me revisit the older stories. Just knowing that they “matter” might make them more inviting, if ya follow. Could be talking out my backside here, but who knows…
I really dug the opening here with Superboy-Prime’s landing in Smallville echoing Kal-El’s own. I’m also rapidly becoming a sucker for Superhero Museums. So much fun seeing all of the exhibits and what-not… especially in times of nebulous continuity, knowing what “happened” is really cool. The last thing I was expecting to see was that ridiculous room of a thousand Olsens, or whatever that was. Too much fun.
The Legion’s tribunal felt, at least to me, a bit on the nose. Like I said in the synopsis, I really feel like there was a bit of meta-commentary here. I think there is a contingent of DC Comics fans (and perhaps creators and executives as well) who do think the Legion is an outmoded concept that doesn’t quite fit anymore. Having Captain Kangaroo return to plead their case was akin to having the entire Legion concept interviewing for new readership. Then again, maybe I’m just thinking too hard.
Let’s chat up the art. I think I can sum it up in a single syllable… “damn”. Perez is the perfect fella for a book this character-dense… and boy howdy did he bring his A-Game. I gotta definitely give a mention to Hi-Fi’s always-amazing colors… really makes Perez’s work pop. Overall, I had a really good time with this and would recommend checking it out.