Legacy of Superman #1 (Guardian)
“The Guardians of Metropolis!”
Writer – Karl Kesel
Art – Walter Simonson
Letters – John Workman
Colors – Glenn Whitmore
Assistant Editor – Jennifer Frank
Editor – Mike Carlin
With our Bonus Books coverage firmly in the rear-view (at least for now… ya never know when we might find another “extra” we’ll want to take a look at), and with the my chosen topic for the most recent Super-Blog Team-Up still occupying my short-term memory, I’ve decided to devote these next five or six days to a book that I bought when it came out… and never actually read!
I’m sure most people reading this already know, but during the time between Funeral for a Friend and Reign of the Supermen, the Super-Books went on a three-month hiatus… which is to say, there were no Superman books on the racks… except this one (and a Supergirl and Team Luthor special… but I didn’t care about that one, even back then!).
I snagged it, still hungry for more of the Super-story… and upon opening it, I was faced with a whooooole bunch of characters I had no experience with nor interest in. I quickly closed the thing, and tossed it into my modest, at the time, DC Comics stack. I’ve attempted to give it a solid “go” in the years since… but, truth be told, I’ve just never been able to get the job done.
Well, we’re going to fix that this week. We’ve got five chapters… five days, with a good ol’-fashioned “compilation post” on the sixth. That’ll end us off on January 29… only two days before this place celebrates FOUR SOLID YEARS of daily discussions!
Let’s start this little party with… The Guardian!
We open at Cadmus, where a gaggle of geeks are attempting to scrape some Super-cells off of Superman’s corpse. This is proving to be rather a daunting, if not completely impossible, task. That fact does not please Director Paul Westfield. He and the Guardian are checking on the progress of this project… when, suddenly… the Newsboys burst in the place to tawk ol’ New Yawk and generally make nuisances of themselves. Westfield’s ticked that they’re in a Classified Area (Classified… area? Do you mean “Restricted”?). Anyhoo, all that does is make me wonder why doors at Cadmus don’t seem to have locks?
While the sassiness commences, some scientists rush in with the news that… they did it! They’ve managed to, via approximations and estimations, replicated the D.N.A. code of Superman! Westfield is overjoyed… and demands they hand the data disc over.
Well, not so fast there, kemosabe… they still need to run tests on the stuff before declaring it a complete success. Kinda begs the question… why in all hells did they burst into the lab to share the good news, if the thing ain’t done yet? C’mon guys. The Guardian, who hasn’t said anything just yet, pipes in with the suggestion that they just clone him! An army of Guardians should suffice in keeping Metropolis safe until such a time where they can effectively clone another Superman. The Newsboys chime in with their ideas on how the Guardian might be diversified… and somewhere, Axel Alonso weeps.
This suggestion reminds Westfield that he’s got something he wants to show off. He takes the Science Team down to Sub-Level Four… Toppest of Top Secret. He informs the Newsboys that they ain’t welcome down there… though, we all know they’ll find a way. Now, down at Sub-Level Four, Director Westfield introduces his team to… Auron!
No, wait… that doesn’t look right at all. Let’s try again. Director Westfield introduces his team to… Auron!
That’s the ticket. This Auron is a “Super-Soldier of the Future”… which, I think accounts for about half the characters introduced into comics during this era. He packs a bad-ass jet-pak, which is cybernetically linked with his mind… so, like, whatever he can think… he can do. Pretty cool, right? The Guardian notices that this Auron has a very familiar voice… and there’s a good reason for that, ya see… Auron… like the Guardian himself, is a clone of Jim Harper! Wha-a-a-a-a?
Westfield commands Auron to snag that Superman D.N.A. Data-Disc by initiating “Sanction Blue”. Auron belts The Guardian, however, before he can procure the disc… the Newsboys slide in and steal it first!
The kids rush into a nearby (and wildly convenient) subway car to make their getaway. Auron gives chase… after punching the Guardian again one more time for good measure. The Newsboys reach their weird sewer hideout, and attempt to lock Auron out long enough for them to load into the Whiz Wagon. Auron is hot on their heels… however, is slowed by a Mental Jolt from Dubbilex, who just happened to be in his path.
The Newsboys floor it like a Lightning Racer and attempt to escape the facility and reach the remains of Habitat. If you recall, the battle between Superman and Doomsday kinda wrecked that place. Since the Whiz Wagon ain’t all that great at turning on a dime, Auron is able to catch up pretty quick. He grabs the rig by it’s spoiler, and sends it crashing to the ground below. It’s here that the Newsboys devise a plan to appeal to Auron’s inner Jim Harper by… dog-piling him? Really?
Auron easily wipes the floor with the kids, and procures the Data Disc. Director Westfield arrives on the scene and requests he hand over the information. Instead, Auron crushes the disc in his hand! Ya see, the Newsboys were, in fact, able to appeal to his inner-Harper. He knows that, in the wrong hands, Superman’s D.N.A. would be a very dangerous weapon. He tells Guardian that the information is safe inside his computer-mind, and he will leave the planet in order to protect it.
We wrap up with a bit of a soliloquy from The Guardian, reminding us how Superman was the true Guardian of Metropolis… and it’s up to them to preserve his Legacy.
This was alright! Didn’t bore me nearly as much as it did when I was a kid! I’m sure having a better-rounded familiarity with the characters was a big help in that. Not sure what I was thinking snagging this off the rack when I was a kid… I should’ve at least flipped through the thing before plunkin’ my ten-quarters on the counter. Maybe I was subconsciously speculating?! I mean, this was the first (of three) appearance of… the Legendary Auron!
The story itself was… ehhh… nothin’ all that special, though, it did continue the thread of Cadmus trying to clone Superman… which is important going forward into The Reign. Auron’s introduction, I dunno… he’s made to look really important, right? Like, a character who would (and should) show up from time to time going forward. I mean, he’s got Superman’s D.N.A. uploaded into himself… stands to reason, he’d be something of a “player” from this point on, no? Fact is, he doesn’t wind up doing a whole heckuva lot after this.
It was neat seeing the Newsboys… it usually is. They can be a bit “one note”, so it’s a good thing that it’s a fun note. They don’t overstay their welcome. The Guardian… kind of a background player here, though I suppose he was a necessary presence to play off the other Harper clone… and to make an inspiring speech at the end.
The art? I know it’s an unpopular stance, but I’m not the biggest Simonson fan. There’s plenty of Walter’s work that I do like… but, I think, if I’m being honest, I run like 50/50 with him. Here… well, this story kind of embodies my hot and cold take on his art. There were some panels here that looked pretty great… and others that came across like a blocky, scratchy mess. Nothing worth getting mad at, but still, worth mentioning.
Overall… this was okay. Not likely to rock any socks… but, also, unlikely to offend.
Tomorrow: Every Rose has its… well, you know