This Week’s Haul

Wow, a tiny week this week:

  • Blackest Night #4, by Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Ivan Reis, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Oclair Albert, Vicente Cifuentes & David Beaty (DC)
  • DC Universe: Legacies #2 of 10, by Len Wein, Andy Kubert, Joe Kubert, Scott Kolins & J.H. Williams (DC)
  • Fables #96, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham & Andrew Pepoy (DC/Vertigo)
  • The Boys #43, by Garth Ennis & Darick Robertson (Dynamite)
That cover to Brightest Day #4 has nothing at all to do with the contents of the issue. Okay, the two men who are the parts of Firestorm do show up, but the hero himself doesn’t, never mind as the “Black Lantern” version. What in the world is DC thinking? Do they have such little faith in the story that they can’t be bothered to come up with a cover that matches it?

To be sure, there’s very little story here, which is pretty much what happens when you only devote a few pages to each of a dozen or so characters. Hawkman and Hawkgirl are still following their stolen bodies from past lives, and have finally ended up in some alternate dimension. Something’s still up with Firestorm. Hawk has demanded that Deadman use the white power ring to try to bring his brother (the first Dove) back to life. Corpses show up in the Bermuda Triangle, and Mera seems to still be under the spell of the red power ring.

Brightest Day has been a total snooze-fest so far.

The second issue of DC Universe: Legacies reverses the pattern of the first one: The backup story, about the Seven Soldiers of Victory, is a total throwaway, unlike the interesting take on the Spectre and Doctor Fate in the back of the first issue. But the main story here is better than in the first issue, as it follows the main character through to the early 50s and the disbanding of the Justice Society, and the downfall of his friend who decided to go the criminal route. The story overall is not terribly strong, as the inspiration of the heroes on our protagonist is strong but simplistic, and I wonder how writer Len Wein can draw out this influence for the remaining 10 issues. I also wonder how he’ll cover the 50s through the 80s in this volume, as thanks to the march of time that’s a period when most of DC’s big-name heroes weren’t active (Superman, after all, would have only started his career in the mid/late 90s). Marvel had a whole series about this “missing era” in its history (Marvel: The Lost Generation, worth seeking out), but DC has mostly glossed over it. It’ll be hard for Wein to do the same here.

The big questions, though, are: Will this be more than a recapitulation of DC universe history, and what exactly are the “legacies” going to be? Or is the title going to end up not really being relevant to the story?

My enthusiasm for Fables has flagged a bit since the first story wrapped up in issue #75, but I think a lot of that is because the two main characters of that arc (Bigby Wolf and Boy Blue) have stepped off the stage, and no one’s really come in to replace them. There are many interesting plot elements, but the characters aren’t keeping me engaged.

Presently the series is doing a piece about Rose Red, the sister of Snow White, illuminating their childhood and how they ended up as such different people. While Rose Red is anything but a sympathetic character (she’s a schemer and a whiner, frankly), this run is otherwise one of the better stories of the last couple of years, as writer Bill Willingham gets to tell his reinterpretation of classic fairy tales, where he always takes their darker nature to heart. Here he presents Snow White’s famous tale (hinted at in the graphic novel 1001 Nights of Snowfall), and how and way it came to pass. And it’ll clearly be a big part of why Rose Red turned out the way she did. Fun stuff.

I do hope that the story gets back to the larger arc of the Dark Man who destroyed Fabletown, and presents some more heroic figures we can get behind in the fight against him, though.

4 thoughts on “This Week’s Haul”

  1. Michael, I’m confused by this sentence: “I also wonder how he’ll cover the 50s through the 80s in this volume, as thanks to the march of time that’s a period when most of DC’s big-name heroes weren’t active (Superman, after all, would have only started his career in the mid/late 90s).” Can you explain? I’m not sure what you mean. (E-mail me, if you’d like.)

  2. Well, think about it: How old is Superman? He’s consistently portrayed as a a mature adult, but not yet middle-aged. That makes him 40 at the oldest, probably younger. (In years past he was always considered to be 29, “officially”, but I think he’s considered to be a little older than that now.) So that means he started his career around 1995, or a little later.

    And since most other DC heroes (other than the JSA) are his age or younger (Batman is older, probably his early/mid 40s), that means there was a gap from about 1952 to 1990 when neither the JSA nor the current heroes were active. So… what’s Legacies going to do about that period of time, which is going to account for half the life of the narrator? (It looks like they’re going to ignore it.)

    Superhero comics of course have a long tradition of ignoring the question of the true ages of the characters, but every so often a series like Legacies comes along which is closely tied to the timeline (the narrator is a child in 1939, and an old man in the present day, and is telling the story of how superheroes changed his life). Such stories are hard to tell without a greater-than-usual suspension of disbelief since the chronology doesn’t work.

    It will be interesting to see how DC tries to spin the existence of the original JSAers in another 10 or 20 years. After all, Flash and Green Lantern were born no later than 1921 (Flash got his powers in college, around 1939; Green Lantern was probably in his late 20s when he got his ring, as he was already a seasoned professional engineer), which means they’re going to be 100 years old soon. Even with the shenanigans which have been played to adjust their lifespans, that’s starting to strain credulity, as long as they’re tied to World War II. (And Green Lantern has kids, who must be pushing 50 themselves, even though they’re portrayed as 20somethings.)

  3. Ah, that’s what I thought you were getting at, but the sentence just didn’t make any sense.

    I’ve been thinking about superhero ages lately, too, and agree that it’s a tough topic to handle literally. But I don’t think you can take it literally. I mean, assume that 100 years from now two other geeks are discussing this notion. Does it really make sense to pretend that the history of Superman begins in 2095, ignoring 150+ years of stories?

    I don’t know of any elegant solution, of course. The only thing that really makes sense is to allow the characters to age (and die), passing their names and costumes on to others, when possible. That’s not really going to happen, though…

    This is the primary reason I’ve decided to make my own serious collecting end with 1983 (give or take). That’s when I stopped reading seriously, and if I stop then, I don’t have to wrestle with time issues and retcons. 🙂

    (That’s not to say I won’t pick up occasional modern stuff — I’m just not going to read it religiously. I could spend a lifetime reading and collecting older material, so that’s what I’ll focus on.)

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