Legacy of… Linear Men…?

Legacy of Superman #1 (Linear Men)
Story & Layouts – Dan Jurgens
Finishes – Trevor Scott
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Glenn Whitmore
Assistant Editor – Jennifer Frank
Editor – Mike Carlin

Today we wrap up our look at the Legacy of Superman Special, with a chapter featuring… Waverider and the Linear Men.  Woof.  I tells ya what, if there were a group of characters that even the Challengers of the Unknown can turn their noses up at for being boring… the Linear Men are it.  Err… that of course is supposing that we haven’t reached a point in society where we’re pretending to find the Challs entertaining and interesting, are we?  Because, c’mon. 

Let’s see how this all wraps up!

We open at… Vanishing Point.  Hey, hey… c’mon, wake up!  Where the Linear Men… aw c’mon, quit snoring… this is going to be okay, I promise!  Let’s try that again.  We open at Vanishing Point, where the Linear Men are taking Waverider to the Library of Time.  They’re here to show the golden fella one of the most significant moments of the late-twentieth century… that moment being, the Death of Superman!

Waverider is positively beside himself at the sight… especially with the realization that the death occurred like two days after the last time he’d chummed up with the Man of Steel.  Waverider, with his time-traveling hoo-doo, sees no other option than to go back in time, and stop this event from happening!  One of the boring Linear Men (the one that kinda looks like Cable) tell him that’s a “no-go”… but, ain’t nothin’ gonna stop Goldie from doin’ what he feels he needs to do!

And so, before we know it, Waverider is in Metropolis… on that day.  He watches as Doomsday and Superman exchange blows, realizing the futility of the fight… and then, he pauses time so he can plan his next move.

Just as he does so, however, he finds himself joined by Linear Man, Matthew Ryder… who is, pretty much Waverider, just an “alternate” version.  Matt tries to interject some critical thinking into the endeavor.  Sure, they save Superman… this time.  So, what happens… next time?  And the time after that?  Are they literally just granting Superman immortality?  I gotta say, I know what they’re going for here… but, ya know what?  That doesn’t sound like a half-bad idea, does it?

Matthew then plays the “where does it end?” card… ya know, asking why they don’t just save everybody… superheroes, historical figures, just ordinary folks… everybody.  A resigned Waverider quickly comes around to Matthew’s way of thinking.

And so, Waverider unfreezes time… and decides to just sit back and watch the inevitable.  And by “watch”, I mean exactly that… he doesn’t turn away from the brutality or “killing blow”, he just watches it happen.

The story… and this special, ends the same way Superman #75 did… the way it was always supposed to.

Heyyy, how about that, I really liked this one!  Well, mostly, anyway.

I still couldn’t give a rip about the Linear Men… however, as a “device” for this outing, I think Waverider served his role well.  He’s depicted as naive, brash, and well-intentioned… but, sometimes there’s more to making a decision than who it might benefit in the immediate.  He learns a pretty valuable lesson here… with more than a dash of “with great power…”

I wanna take everything we know about how this arc played out out of the equation for a minute.  I really wonder if any of the folks who bought this off the racks… actually thought, for even a half-second, that this story would result in the death being “un-done”.  I mean, it’s almost ludicrous to consider… but, I mean… even for a fraction of a second, did Jurgens and Company actually get a “gotcha”?  Were there readers who thought this was DC’s “Get Out of Jail Free” card?  A way to walk back the Death?  I’d certainly be interested in finding out!

As for the story itself… I liked seeing all of the familiar “trappings” of Superman #75.  The bits and pieces of art shown at the Library of Time was a hoot… and also, seeing Waverider and Matthew Ryder sorta-kinda “Forrest Gumped” into the familiar and iconic panels of the “death issue” was really cool!

The “message” here… I mean, the point of it is well-taken.  If you use your great power to save Superman, each and every time he’s in danger… well, then… where does it end?  Right?  Some of the examples Ryder gives here are Albert Einstein, Dr. Martin Luthor King Jr., and Beethoven.  If you could save them/keep them alive… would you?  Perhaps more importantly, should you?

It’s a pretty “heavy” topic… and one that I have a hard time making “jive” in the fantastical world of superhero comics, where the “rules” of the world are vastly (and often incomparably) different… but, again… the point is well-taken.

We’ve looked at a story that had similar themes way back in the long ago here at the blog… and it also included Dan Jurgens’ name in the credits!  Booster Gold (vol.2) #5 (2008) featured the titular character attempting to un-do The Killing Joke… and failing time and again, until he finally learned his lesson about the amount of power a time-traveler potentially wields.

All told, this was a very strong way to close out the Special… with both a glimmer of hope that the whole magilla will be un-done, and the ultimate realization that nothing was actually going to change.  Worth noting, the art here was prrrrrrrrretty phenomenal.

Tomorrow: T-Minus two-days til the blog’s Four Year Anniversary… with a Compilation Post!

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