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Legion of Super-Heroes: What Went Wrong

Legion of Super-Heroes #1-16, Annual #1, Legion of Super-Villains Special, by Paul Levitz, Yildiray Cinar, Francis Portela, Wayne Faucher, et. al., DC, 2010-2011


Following the reintroduction of the “classic” (and now adult) Legion of Super-Heroes in Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes and Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, Paul Levitz – who wrote the series briefly in the 1970s and then for most of the 1980s – returned to write a new series with the classic team, picking up from where those stories left off. Now, I wasn’t a fan of Levitz’ second, more celebrated run (he screwed up and killed off many of my favorite characters, which made the book a whole lot of Not Fun for me), but having enjoyed those two recent series, I was curious to see what he’d do here. I was impressed with the practical way he wrote off chunks of earlier continuity and started with the new status quo established by Geoff Johns, and the book was being illustrated by Yildiray Cinar, who I wasn’t familiar with but who has a clean, futuristic look to his art.

Unfortunately, the book never really gelled for me, and it’s been cancelled with #16, to be relaunched as two titles in the DC relaunch next month. What went wrong?

Fundamentally, what went wrong is that – as happened his last time around – Levitz gets too caught up trying to write the book like a soap opera, with lots of little plots running, each getting a small amount of attention in each issue, so it becomes hard to follow what’s going on, and the ultimate pay-off of each plot thread is too diffused to be satisfying. It’s as if the book is being written to minimize the dramatic impact.

Here are the stories Levitz crammed into the 18 issues of the series:

  1. Earth-Man joins the team (#1-7, 16): The villain of Superman and the Legion, Earth-Man is a Legion reject who became a xenophobic tyrant, and Earthgov forces him on the team for decidedly implausible reasons. His story is I guess supposed to be one of redemption, and he does make the ultimate sacrifice in the end, but sleeping with Shadow Lass and his overall attitude still point him as a bastard, and you never really root for him. This thread was ill-conceived and comes to a pointless resolution.
  2. The destruction of Titan (#1-5, 7): Saturn Girl’s homeworld is destroyed and her people are scattered across the cosmos. This is the genesis of the main story at the beginning of the series.
  3. Saturn Girl’s children and kidnapped (#1-4): And she steals a time sphere to pursue them, and ends up finding a cult devoted to Darkseid. (Darkseid is intimated connected to the kids, which would be intriguing if Darkseid were even remotely interesting as a villain. In fact his sell-by date passed over 30 years ago.)
  4. The mysterious Professor Li (#1-2, 4-5, 7, 11-16): A scientist at the Time Institute, who seems to know something about why Titan was destroyed. We eventually learn where she comes from, but honestly I couldn’t care less. She’s a pointless character with uninteresting mystery behind her.
  5. The next last Green Lantern (#1-7, 10-16): An entity named Dyogene decides someone other than Sodam Yat needs to become a Green Lantern to carry on the tradition. First it chooses Earth-Man, who rejects it, and then it chooses Mon-El, who accepts it for a while, and then steps down. There was never really any point to all of this, so I don’t see why Levitz bothered.
  6. The assassins from Durla (#2, 5, 7-10): Some shape-shifting assassins from Chameleon Boy’s homeworld come to Earth to punish the United Planets council for letting R.J. Brande die. This story suffers badly from being chopped up among multiple issues, and the capturing of the assassins and revelation of their identities is sapped of any dramatic impact.
  7. Saturn Queen and the Legion of Super-Villains (#2-3, LSV special, 11-16): Spurred by the destruction of Titan, Saturn Queen assembles a new Legion of Super-Villains, which dominates the last third of the series. Yes, another LSV arc, yawn. There’s a hint that she’s been used by a greater power to accomplish some mysterious goal, but the revelation of what’s going on is not really interesting. The best part of this arc is Saturn Queen’s imperious behavior, and her ally Lightning Lord chafing at taking orders from her.
  8. Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet go on holiday (#6, Annual #1): I guess some fans enjoy seeing the Legion’s lesbian couple, but since their heterosexual relationships of years past were the subjects of two of my favorite Legion stories, I’m not one of them. Still, the Annual, with the return of the Emerald Empress, and a check-in with Sensor Girl’s medieval homeworld, was one of the most entertaining issues of the series.
  9. Mon-El becomes Legion leader (#8, 10-16): Potentially an interesting story, especially since he and Shadow Lass have broken up and he seems adrift in his life, but it gets subsumed by the LSV storyline, and he becomes a Green Lantern too which additionally dilutes the story. Really a lost opportunity to work with the character, much as the Durlan assassins story was a lost opportunity to work with Chameleon Boy’s character.
  10. Star Boy returns (#11-16): Having been in a pointless exile in the 20th century for the last few years, Star Boy returns and somehow is a component in revealing the secret of Professor Li. Pretty much everything involving Star Boy and Legionnaires in the 20th century has been a storytelling disaster, and even thought this is a small piece of the series, I’m still scratching my head over why Levitz wasted pages on this. (And why is he wearing the stupid half-mask for much of the story, when he’s back with his friends in the 30th century, who all know who he is?)

So the stories didn’t work in two ways: Some of them were too diffuse, so it was difficult to keep track of what was happening in them, and some of them were too long, like the seemingly-endless throwdown with the Legion of Super-Villains (let’s fight this guy, now let’s fight this guy, now these guys, now these guys, and now let’s have a couple of big battles with everyone). I was not a fan of the Great Darkness Saga which was the keynote story of Levitz’ previous run, but at least it was a focused story in 5 issues, steadily building to its climax. But this series just thrashes around without seemingly knowing what it’s trying to accomplish or where it’s going. It was less than the sum of its parts.

The series also had the annoying gimmick of introducing every single character, every single issue, with their name, homeworld, and powers. It’s a crutch which quickly gets distracting. The Legion has decades of stories without this schtick, and it’s not like characters with names like “Sun Boy” and “Lightning Lass” really need this crutch.

To be sure, the art by the two main pencillers, Cinar and Francis Portela, is terrific, and almost makes the series worth reading by itself. (Cinar is pencilling the upcoming Firestorm series, and I’m going to pick it up mainly because of him.) But the stories, despite having promise, were just very poorly executed. Juggling the Legion’s large cast has chewed up plenty of writers, but keeping it simple and making the stories manageable, or focusing on just a few characters at a time, is usually the key. Levitz seems to have completely lost his touch in this regard, and the end of this series is a good time for me to stop buying the book until a writer whose work I’m more interested in comes on board.

My One Little Steve Jobs Anecdote

So Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple CEO yesterday, and people far and wide are sharing their stories of the man. Mine might be the smallest of any you’ll read, but I hope you’ll enjoy it anyway.

The reason I tell it is that once I started working at Apple (in 1999, a couple of years after Steve returns to the company), people started asking me if I’d met him. Something about the way they asked, or a look in their eye, made me realize what they really wanted was a “blood in the water” story about the CEO with the famous temper, or temperament, or something. I’d heard stories myself (one is that he’d sometimes ask people he encountered in the elevator what they worked on, and basically make them justify their job right there and then), but they were just stories to me. Oh, I had no doubt that he was emphatic in arguing about things, but I didn’t know any credible stories of him really laying into an employee he’d met at random.

Still, after just a few years it had become kind of ridiculous how many people asked me if I’d met Steve, who seemed to have an expectation of a good, juicy Steve story. I think at least a few of them asked if he’d yelled at me.

Indeed, I did pass Steve from time to time on the Apple campus. At least twice we simply made eye contact, smiled, and said “Hello” to each other, and continued on our ways. Once I saw him approaching with a look on his face that said “I’m on a mission and no one is going to get in my way.” I got out of his way and he walked on by.

But here’s the real story I have to tell:

In 2003 I started biking to work regularly. For a number of years I worked in Infinite Loop 1 – 2 floors below the CEO’s office. Despite being only on the second floor, I always took the elevator to bring my bike to and from my office: My office was big enough to hold my bike comfortably (so I didn’t have to lock it up outside), and it was awkward to carry it up and down the stairs; I was always afraid I’d damage the wall or the bike. I would wait for an empty elevator if someone else was waiting so I didn’t inconvenience them.

So one warm summer day (2004, maybe?) I’m leaving work, in full “biking dork” regalia (biking shorts, helmet, gloves, clip-on shoes), and I go to the elevator and hit the “down” button. The elevator arrives and (of course) there stands Steve. I think, “Great, he’s wondering why I can’t just walk my bike down one flight of stairs rather than stopping his elevator.” But since it would be truly stupid to let him go on without me (“I’m going to inconvenience you and do so for no reason whatsoever because I’m an idiot!”), I get in the elevator. The doors close.

Steve looks at the bike, looks at me, and says, “Beautiful day for a bike ride.”

I’m not very comfortable talking to famous or powerful people (you should see me stammer when I meet a science fiction author whose work I admire). Thinking quickly but not clearly (in other words, being something of an idiot), I say something like, “It’s nice. A little warm, though.” Steve is having none of this and responds along the lines that I’m picking nits. I allow that he may be right. By this time we’ve left the elevator and walked out the front doors of the building.

I remember thinking as we went outside that it was a little warm, but in the grand scheme of things, here we were in Silicon Valley where it’s almost always a beautiful day for a bike ride. So what did I really have to complain about?

I bet there are lots of employees with stories like this. The “blood in the water” stories seem more like legends (or, more likely, the stuff of high-level meetings among people whose job descriptions include going at it tooth-and-nail with the CEO, meeting a line worker like me would never hear about). Maybe he was different his first go-round at Apple, but if so, he’d grown a lot by the time he returned.

Oh, and no one I’ve told this story to has seemed disappointed by it. So maybe they didn’t really want the blood after all.

Bad Vacation Day

I took a couple of days off this week, today and tomorrow, to catch up on some stuff and run some errands that Debbi wouldn’t be so interested in, while she’s away.

Today started off pretty good: I got up and mowed the lawn, which now takes about an hour when I factor in edging the lawn. Then I puttered around for most of the morning until I headed down to pick up this week’s comic books. The fateful decision I made was to take Debbi’s car. I gassed up her car, wiped the windows, picked up my comics, and grabbed lunch. Then, on a whim, I decided to make one more stop at another comic book store that I don’t often go to.

When we came back from our Boston trip last year, we had a problem where we ran some errands, and then Debbi’s car wouldn’t start when we were at the grocery store. We walked home, got my car, and drove over to jump-start it. We took it to the dealer, who said the battery looked fine, but needed to be charged, perhaps having drained while we were away. I was skeptical, but it seemed to do the trick and Debbi hasn’t had any problems since.

Until today, when the car wouldn’t start after I came out of the store.

I was too far to walk home, but I wasn’t too far from the dealer, who I called, and they said if I could get there by 3:15 then they could look at it. It was 2:30 at this point, and I worried that if I called AAA they might not show up for a while and it would be too late. So I called my friend Subrata, who came over and helped me get jumped. (He has a Prius, and had to figure out where the battery was. Meanwhile another guy noticed us messing around and offered us the use of his SUV, though we used Subrata’s cables.) I drove to the dealer, and sure enough, the battery was dead. So I got it replaced (the price seemed reasonable, too). One advantage to the down economy has been that getting convenient appointments at the car dealership’s service deprtment has been pretty easy, and it paid off today.

So I was pretty frazzled about that by the time I got back, and I come home to the news bombshell that Steve Jobs has stepped down as Apple’s CEO. I think this is less of an issue in practice than Wall Street does (AAPL was down 5% after hours), as I agree with the savvier analysts that Apple still has a great management team in place and the company is in great shape going forward. But it’s still something of a world-changing event for those of us who work there.

I also had some more stuff to deal with in prepping the townhouse to sell. That’s been taking a lot longer than I’d expected, and it’s getting to be a drag.

So it ended up being a downer of a day.

I did bake cookies this afternoon though and drove them over to Subrata’s at just the right time between dinner time and his son’s bed time, so I got to say hi to everyone and thank him again for coming to bail me out. So that was a nice point. But otherwise: Guh.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a much better day. Because it’d suck to take two days off and go back to work more stressed out than I left it.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger might be the perfect superhero movie (so far, anyway): It’s exciting, fun, has a hero who’s heroic but not perfect, and makes you feel for the characters. And it honors its source material rather than belittling it as many superhero films these days seem to (taking the source material seriously is a big reason why Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are the best superhero films of the new century so far).

I get tired of movies always showing the character’s origin (previews in the theater showed the trailer for the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man, which looks like it will show Spidey’s origin again; really?), but Cap’s story is very well done here, and showing Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) – the prototypical 90-pound comic book weakling – and his determination to join the army to fight in World War II, his friendship with the much more physically-able James “Bucky” Barnes Sebastian Stan), and his recruitment by Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) to be the test subject for the super-soldier program are an essential part of humanizing Cap. Despite his frail physique, Steve never backs down from a fight, but when Erskine asks him whether he wants to go kill some Nazis, Steve’s character is summed up when he responds, “I don’t want to kill anyone. I just hate bullies.”

One could do all sorts of between-the-lines reading about the jingoistic heroism of the film, but that would miss the point that it’s a World War II film named Captain America, and bringing 21st-century cynicism into it would miss the point of the film (I’m sure we’ll get plenty of that in next year’s Avengers movie). Instead, this is about a good, flawed man fighting the good fight for his friends and his country. Even the somewhat-painful scene of Cap being used as a showman to sell war bonds ultimately pays off when he has the opportunity to show his stuff and becomes the army’s secret weapon against Hitler’s mysticism-loving scientist, Johann Schmidt, the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving).

While it won’t win any awards, the acting is surprisingly good for a superhero film. Chris Evans played the fun-loving Human Torch in the two unremarkable Fantastic Four films, but he’s a completely different character here. (If anything, I wish they’d processed his voice early in the film since its deepness and richness seems incongruous coming from his body when it’s been CGI’ed into Steve’s pre-treatment physique.) Weaving chews the necessary scenery as the Skull (though Toby Jones as his lead scientist, Arnim Zola, overshadows him at times with his Peter Lorre-esque performance), as does Tommy Lee Jones as the general overseeing Cap’s special forces unit. Hayley Atwell as Steve’s love interest Peggy Carter isn’t exactly the weak link, but she’s not given a lot to do – Dominic Cooper’s role as Howard Stark (father of the future Iron Man, I presume) is smaller, but he frequently upstages her.

The film looks good, too, a little grimy in the European war scenes, with flat colors in many of the New York street scenes, and bright colors at the World’s Fair and during Cap’s tour selling war bonds. The CGI in the action scenes looks fluid, although it still underscores how unnatural superhero fighting is, and what an accomplishment it was for Jack Kirby, et. al., to make it look natural in those old comic books. And the film neatly sidesteps one of my big gripes about superhero films, that they’re always contriving ways for the heroes to lose their masks so the stars can show off their real faces; the extensive focus on Steve makes it feel natural for Evans to appear as himself, but there are plenty of scenes with Cap as Cap.

The weakest part of the film is the Red Skull’s plot. He finds the Cosmic Cube (which in the comics allows a person’s wishes to become reality, but here is simply an über-energy source) and plans to use it to rule the world. He harnesses the power to create energy weapons, and plans to destroy yhe capitals of the major world powers, but since his men are unable to take on the U.S. Army even with their weapons, it’s not really clear how he plans to actually take control of the world, much less maintain control. The story would have made more sense if he were simply causing mayhem to further the conquests of Nazi Germany (in the comics, the Skull is an ardent Nazi and had the utmost respect for Hitler), but oh well. At least it’s a pretext for some lively action scenes.

Cap’s story is, ultimately, a tragedy, but the film ends without really exploring the depths of that tragedy. Presumably the plan is for the Avengers film to work through some of that, but I doubt they’ll really do it justice given the larger cast and the (presumed) need to fit some adventure story in there. (I think Avengers could be a fun film, too, but I think it’ll be easy for the story to get away from the writers and director if they’re not careful.) However, what we do see here is pretty effective.

Overall, Captain America is a really fun ride, only dragging in a few places, but otherwise engaging, action-packed, and even touching. Why can’t they all be like this?

A Much-Needed Vacation, But Not Mine

I’m back from dropping Debbi off at the airport. She’s flying back east to visit her sisters for a week and a half. Her company, you see, has a sabbatical program, so after 6 years working there she gets 6 weeks off. Lucky duck! But it does mean I’m on my own for 10 days.

Well, me and the cats, anyway.

I could use a vacation, too, given how busy it’s been lately. Work has been pretty nutty, filled with the unreproducible bugs, and the impossible-to-diagnose bugs. Especially the last of these, late this past week. I am going to take a couple of days off next week to catch up on some stuff that Debbi wouldn’t be interested in, though; should be nice.

On other fronts, Blackjack is hanging in there. Actually, the vet says he’s doing very well, but he’s been low-energy lately. She thinks he might just be tired of going in to the vet every other week. Certainly it’s getting to be a drag to bring him in – last week was the first time I actually had to chase him to put him in his carrier. But, it seems he has only two more chemo treatments and then he’ll be done! Yay!

I’m not really that worried about keeping myself busy while Debbi’s gone, but I am going to miss her. Especially when I go to bed. I’m not completely comfortable in our new house, I think, and being here by myself is going to make it feel a little weirder. I think the cats are going to miss her, too, and will be confused when I’m the only one home at night.

But we’ll make it through, and she’ll have a good trip.

Now I just have to keep myself from staying up too late at night. 🙂

New Biking Gear

This weekend I had a productive round of shopping for new biking gear:

  1. I bought a new helmet. It was really hard to find a large-size helmet; I kept finding Giro one-size-fits-all-helmets, which didn’t fit my head. I also wanted a blue helmet to match my bike, and a helmet with a visor, since a visor obviates the need for wearing sunglasses while riding (for me). I finally found a nice blue Bell Influx helmet at REI which fits great. I think the last helmet I bought cost me $90 or more; this one was $65.
  2. Also at REI I found a bike tire gauge. I’ve had people at bike stores tell me they don’t make those – “Why would you want one? Just check the pressure by feeling the tire” they’d say. When pumping a replaced tube with my hand pump I can’t really tell if I’ve overfilled the tire my hand, so I’m pretty happy to have found this tire gauge, which now lives in my seat pack along with my tube-changing equipment.
  3. I also picked up a couple of new tubes. Tubes are cheap, so it’s easier to replace the whole tube than try to patch the punctured one.
  4. Lastly, I bought a new water bottle, since the old one was getting a bit long in the tooth. I like the Polar Bottles.

I took the new gear out with me on my ride to work today. I was especially glad to have the new helmet, since my old Giro one was definitely, well, old. (I understand you should replace your helmet about every five years, for safety.) I liked the Giro, too, but I couldn’t find the one I wanted from them in searching for a replacement, so I’m happy with the Bell.

I got a late start on biking to work this year thanks to moving, but I’ve been going twice a week for the last month (often with my coworker Sean). I may not catch up to the number of rides I did last year, but I should have a fair number by the end of Daylight Savings Time.

Spider-Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff

Spider-Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff HC, by Peter David, Rich Buckler, Sal Buscema, Brett Breeding, Vince Colletta & others, Marvel, 2011

Creators can be a little frustrated when you point to an early work of their as your favorite. Naturally, they feel that they’ve grown and developed as a creator since their early stuff, and that their newer work is generally better. But while skills can improve with experience, sometimes other factors in an early work overwhelm the arguably-weaker craft that went into a work and make it the favorite of some of their fans.

So it is with me and The Death of Jean DeWolff, which is no-question, it’s-not-even-close, my favorite of all the works I’ve ever read by writer Peter David, yet it is (to my knowledge) his first published comics work. Some years ago I had him autograph my paperback collection at a convention, and I was a little put off that he sort of mumbled something I didn’t catch when I said how much I loved the story, and signed it with a Star Trek symbol next to his name (he was deep in the Star Trek era of his career, I think). Maybe he harbors some bad memories about the time he wrote Spider-Man, but perhaps more likely he felt a little awkward having a fan gush over his earliest work when he’s done so much more since then that he probably feels is more sophisticated and just-plain-better. I don’t know – I certainly wasn’t inclined to ask him at the time.

Nonetheless, here we are: I’m delighted to see that Marvel has given The Death of Jean DeWolff, in my judgment Peter David’s best work, the deluxe hardcover treatment.

Now, when this came out in 1985 I was not following Spider-Man, and even today I’ve never read another story with Jean DeWolff in it. Apparently she was a supporting character on the police force in Spidey’s books for a few years. But she was enough of a character in his life that when she’s brutally executed at the beginning of the story Spidey is motivated to help the police find the killer. Teaming up with wry police detective Stan Carter, he learns that a masked nut named Sin-Eater killed her, and is killing other prominent figures in New York.

While the mystery of the Sin-Eater’s identity is what initially drives the story, what makes it great is the conflicts the hunt imposes on Spider-Man: The Sin-Eater is all-too-willing to let loose with his shotgun in the middle of a crowd when Spidey’s after him, raising questions about whether Spider-Man’s partly responsible for anyone who gets hurt. (Similar issues come up in the real world when someone gets hurt when the police elect to engage in a high-speed chase.) Spidey’s fellow hero Daredevil, and his alter-ego of lawyer Matt Murdock, also gets involved when a friend of Matt’s is killed, demonstrating the contrast between the two heroes (at least, at the time): Spider-Man is a hero who works to do what’s right, but it basically a vigilante with something of a black-and-white outlook on justice, while Daredevil, who’s both a lawyer and is somewhat older and more worldly, has a more nuanced view, though one which sometimes conflicts with his own vigilante adventures. The two end up on opposite ends of a thorny ethical debate at the conclusion of the story which David handles deftly and satisfyingly. It’s a very emotional and human story, but one which would be difficult to tell with characters who weren’t masked vigilantes.

This story includes everything I most enjoyed about David’s writing: His humor is sharp and pointed, with few cheap shots, and his characterizations are vivid (several of Spidey’s supporting cast shine along the way). The plot is tight and there’s little wasted space or verbiage; the pacing is perfect, down to the issue-by-issue cliffhangers. The storytelling is helped considerably by Rich Buckler’s pencils; Buckler is something of a forgotten man in comics history, it seems to be, having been one of a number of Neal Adams-influenced pencillers (the best of them, really), but one who never illustrated any hugely popular stories. With terrific inks (mainly by Brett Breeding), he really shines here.

The one downside to this collection is that it left out David’s excellent foreword and afterward from the paperback collection (published in 1990). In particular, this paragraph has stayed with me:

[We] killed off a character who had a lot of potential. Readers couldn’t fathom why we did that, “Why kill off a character with whom you could have done so much?” Ah, but where is the dramatic impact in killing off someone with no potential? Someone who the readers are sick of? There’s no drama in that, no sense of “It might have been.” Death should be a tragedy, not a relief. Perhaps in a world where moviegoers laugh at innocent teens being slaughtered by masked madmen, that’s been forgotten.

That this story works so well even for me, who had no emotional connection at all to Jean DeWolff, both proves David’s point, and further illustrates how well he executed this story.

The new hardcover also has the 3-issue sequel to the original story (from 1987). I was disappointed in this story when it came out, in large part because it’s illustrated by Sal Buscema, of whose art I’ve never been fond (I always preferred his brother John’s style). But reading it today I think it works fine. Once more it’s about the consequences of power as wielded by Spider-Man, and about the demons that haunt a man who’s done terrible things, and whether he can ever truly be rid of them. As a sort of variation on a theme compared to the original, and bringing some closure to some matters left over from the first story, it’s a success.

This is one of the great superhero comics, and a high point for a character who’s seen plenty of them in the last half-century. Seize this opportunity to check it out.

The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde #1-4, by Cole Haddon & M.S. Corley, Dark Horse, 2011

Since Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen came on the scene a decade or so ago, there’s been a steady stream of victorian and early-20th-century comic books plumbing the depths of public-domain characters from that era. While LoEG has gotten byzantine to the point of being tiresome (the series’ “easter eggs” have overwhelmed what little story remains, as Chris Sims’ review of the second volume of Century describes), other stories have been worth the effort. I’ve particular enjoyed this little Dark Horse mini-series, The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde.

On the face of it, it’s not a terribly clever premise: There are so many real and fictional characters lurking around late 19th century Europe that we’ll probably see every possible combination of them eventually. This one is Jeckyll-and-Hyde and Jack the Ripper, but it’s done well.

Inspector Thomas Adye (a fictional character, as far as I can tell) is assigned to the Ripper case, but he enlists the help of Dr. Henry Jeckyll to help profile the killer. The problem is that Jeckyll is himself stashed away in a dank prison, after his exploits as the dangerous Edward Hyde some years earlier.

Jeckyll’s descent into depravity is shown in little pieces and in flashback, just enough to show how he was once a good man but is now a calculating lunatic. He’s a much stronger figure than the character in LoEG. Adye is also a strong character, but a bit naive and credulous, just enough so to be taken in by Jeckyll’s tantalizing promises, but also mistrustful of his superiors and feeling he needs Jeckyll to crack the case. And crack the case the pair ultimately does, but with some consequences for each of them.

Corley’s art complements Haddon’s story quite well. He has a clean style, a bit stiff at times, but a good portrayal of the period elements. I occasionally had trouble telling Jeckyll and Adye apart, as the two are each clean-shaven, brown-haired men, but that aside Corley has quite a range of facial expressions. Hopefully this is only the beginning for him.

Naturally, there’s a collection coming out. Check it out if you can’t find the individual issues.