Sunday, March 30, 2008

Long live the Legion !

I couldn´t sleep tonight so - once again - I´m spending the time writing on my blog. And it´s waaaay overdue since I wanted to write a few posts before going to Spain on Tuesday.

Yes, my days are numbered.....but in a good way. Tomorrow I´m off to the land of affordable comics, uncut movies and great tv entertainment. Compared to Spanish tv the German tv program is for monks and eunuchs. The spanish tv is more like in Italy.

I´m going to Spain to attend the SALON DEL COMIC DE BARCELONA 2008. Last year was my first time there and it was a really great experience so I´m really excited to go. Of course I am ill right before leaving Germany which is probably Germany´s way of saying : " Now don´t you forget why you are leaving. Here´s a little cough to remind you. And since you´re already sick how about a running nose ? " Man, that totally sucks. So that´s one reason why I can´t sleep tonight. Then I also had to get up and finally finish the CD with the music I´m going to take with me to Spain.

For the last two days I´m trying to finish it ( I´m going to save all my files on the computer to get the harddrive clean ) but my brother is always writing something and I don´t know if I have mentioned it......but if my brother is working I can´t do anything. Everything is a distraction so playing music was totally out of the question. Last night I made the mistake to stay awake to wait for him to finally go to sleep. The result was that five minutes after I was too tired to stay awake and finally went to sleep he decided to do the same. Which also meant that he got up ten minutes after me the next day. Looks like he´s gone back to ghosting me. Splinter would be proud.

Anyway, last night I didn´t wait for him to go to sleep but I didn´t get any more sleep either. At least I´m writing another post for my blog even if it will probably be my last post for the next few months. Since my mother is also flying to Spain I´m going to stay there for a few months to look for a job. There has to be more in life for a 40 year old guy who speaks four languages and who has a degree as a salesman than working for almost nothing or sweating at the factory.

And since I don´t have a return ticket yet I´m guessing that it will be three months till I come back and have internet access.

So for this post I have decided to write the all spoilers post about the SUPERMAN AND THE LEGION OF SUPER - HEROES story in ACTION COMICS. I was hoping that up to this point I was already finished with the SUPERMAN issues by Carlos Pacheco but again I didn´t get to it. So like it´s already a tradition I´m taking some Superman comics done by Carlos Pacheco with me to read.

Last year it were the SUPERMAN / BATMAN issues by Pacheco and the following issues by Ed McGuiness and the year before the first storyline by Ed McGuiness. If you ever take something with you to read at a house in the middle of nowhere ( like the one I´m going to ) than take somethin you can re - read at least ten times. And as a small tip : better take the stories done by Carlos Pacheco and Ed McGuiness - the rest is just downhill.

I don´t know why they are still publishing the book. I mean the first 25, 27 issues were gold ( with a few exceptions ) but after that the stories and the art got worse and worse. I couldn´t even look at the issues guest - starring the Metal Men. This book used to be the best of the best of DC and now the stories are even worse than what´s printed in the regular issues of Superman. I mean on one side you have the regular issues with Pacheco and Gary Frank and on the other side......well, it seems DC never heard about quitting while you´re ahead.

Anyway, the Superman issues are the only reading material I´m taking with me this year. Anything else I need to get sketches ( I bought a brandnew, mother - f - ing big sketchbook for this convention because my old little book has just a few pages left ) I will buy at the convention because it´s way cheaper there. And this year I will take the Pacheco Superman issues with me to the convention. Last year I didn´t take the SUPERMAN / BATMAN issues with me to the convention and I could have them all signed.

Well, maybe that´s a blessing in disguise since he signed all my AVENGERS FOREVER issues when he was in Erlangen and now I´m reluctant to read the issues. I have the trade of OBEY OR DIE ( or how it is lately called ABSOLUTE POWER ) but somehow I prefer to read the single issues. Anyway, I got my Wonder Woman sketch by Carlos Pacheco and that´s the important thing.

But most important is the real topic of this post which is Superman and the Legion of Super - Heroes. Like I already mentioned this post will be full of spoilers so if you want to enjoy all the surprises, twists and shocking cliffhangers then skip right to the clip section. You have been warned.


When it was announced that Gary Frank would be the new regular artist on ACTION COMICS I didn´t immediatelly jump and put it on my pull list. One of the reasons was that I expected my brother to put it on his pull list. He has way more money to spend and for the last few years he has had most Superman titles on his pull list even when the quality wasn´t very high. So I thought he would leap at the chance to get such an high quality book in his comic collection. Which for some strange reason he didn´t. Just one of the reasons why I have given up on understanding why my brother has certain comics on his pull list.

The other reason was that every time when a " hot " new creative team is announced you can count yourself lucky if they have no fill - in artists in the first five issues. So I decided to get the issues without putting it on my pull list. Who knows how the story will be ? If they´re good then I can keep an eye out for more issues.

So, are the issues any good ? You have no idea. It´s so good to have the Legion back as a part of the Superman continuity. The Legion is back with a vengeance. It´s like when you suddenly walk into your best friend that you haven´t seen in years. You know, back in the day you were best friends like till - the - end - of - the - world - best - friends but something happened. You moved and lost his address and phone number or one day he was gone without a word and you couldn´t find him or whatever. Something happened and your paths branched of and it´s been so many years that you have forgotten it. And than - bam - you two meet by accident and it´s like nothing happened. Like no time has passed at all. You´re going for a few drinks and you spend five hours just talking and it´s like old times. Well, that´s how the storyline is.

It´s a little weird to see Clark Kent as the deliberate awkward and oafish outsider at the Daily Planet again.

I mean, every time a new writer comes aboard a Superman title Clark´s personality changes. That may be a writer´s prerogative but as a longtime reader it´s a bit hard to swallow to see him go from seasoned pro and father figure to Olsen to burnt out ex - star reporter who has been demoted to insecure newbie with no reason whatsoever. A little bit of editorial oversight would be really appreciated here. But thankfully that´s not the main focus here even though the whole clumsy Clark routine is done superbly and just adds to the overall nostalgia feeling of the storyline.

And when I´m talking about nostalgia I´m not talking about the stories that are written exclusively for older fans and new readers can´t understand. I speak of an story that combines the best of the best elements of Superman and form an instant classic like the Porsche 911 of Superman comics. Like Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely´s ALL STAR SUPERMAN.

So in the first issue we learn that Superman had forgotten all about the Legion ( besides his encounters with the group as an adult like I retold in my last post about the Legion ) but thanks to the events in the JLA / JSA crossover THE LIGHTNING SAGA he knew that they had been best friends, they had many adventures together but one day the skies turned red and he never heard of them again till he was all grown up. In the first issue Brainiac 5 contacts him to help with some great desaster in the future and so Superman literally remembers Tomorrow - he remembers the days he spent in the future.

The first impression when I read the first issue was that aside from the exceptional art one has come to expect from Gary Frank Geoff Johns has a knack for explaining how alone Superboy really was before meeting the Legion. After being unique for many years it must have been pure joy to meet teenagers who were like Superboy. Kind of like when you´re at your first comic convention.

So of course Superman agrees to travel through time ( did I mention that I just love good time travel stories ? ) only to find out that like always the time machine was damaged, he didn´t arrive when he was supposed to arrive and when he finally meets some Legionnaries they are not too thrilled to see him.


Well, it seems that Brainiac 5 didn´t listen to the other Legionnaries ( what else is new ) when he contacted Superman. It has been mentioned in THE LIGHTNING SAGA that : Superman must not return to the 32nd century ! Okay, maybe that has a little " Harry Potter must not return to Hogwarts ! " vibe going. But it´s like they always say : If you have to borrow borrow from the best. And of course it added a whole new level of mystery to why the Legion never contacted Superboy again. It´s not what you would expect and let me just say that not all´s like Superman remembers in the future. There have been some changes since he left and not all of them are for the better.

One of the changes makes Superman´s stay in the future tougher than he expected if not outright life threatening. I´m not going to say what it is since it´s the big surprise ending of the first issue but there is a very good reason why the Legion voted against Superman´s return.

But Geoff Johns wouldn´t be Geoff Johns if that was all to it. No, to add another wrinkle to it there has been another change that forces Superman to confront the legacy he left behind and what history makes out it. And not in a good way.


For the villains in this story Geoff Johns has really dug deep in Legion history. Although they seem to be new creations all the bad guys have appeared in Legion comics before. They were all rejected by the Legion but unlike Polar Boy who formed the LEGION OF SUBSTITUTE HEROES ( my favorite part of the Legion franchise ) and who later earned the respect and finally a place in the real Legion those guys went the other way and became villains.

So here are the bady guys and what they looked like in their first appearances :

Golden Boy

I was always a little baffled by the reasons the Legion chose their members and by which they rejected some of the guys. I´m not sure but being able to turn things into gold is a genuine superpower. And should the possible dangers to the economy really be one of the main reasons for rejecting someone ? Shouldn´t it be possible to be a hero if you vow only to use your power for good ? No, they just outright say that he is going to cause interplanetary economic disaster. I mean, Superman can turn coal into diamonds ? But was he rejected because if he made millions of diamonds that would be bad for the economy ? I think they just didn´t like him and had to come up with some stupid excuse to give him the boot.

And that´s not the only one. Just look at Radiation Boy

Rejected because he couldn´t turn his power off ? That´s totally bogus. Can Wildfire turn his powers off ? No he can´t. He even has to wear a freaking containment suit to stay in human form. Without it he is just a pulsating cloud of energy. Well, Radiation Boy has him beat on that level. He doesn´t need a stinking containment suit to have a human body - although it would help with the deadly radiation. Now, last time I read a comic with the Legion they said that their spacesuits shield them from radiation. So all they had to give him would have been one of their old suits ? Man, that´s cold. Anyway, Radiaton Boy - better than Wildfire. Hmm, I begin to see why they are so pissed off to begin with. I would also be angry if I got rejected because of some nitpicking. Like in the case with Storm Boy

Rejected because he didn´t have a real superpower. He only was a genius who could build a machine to control the weather. He was rejected because let´s face it - he´s just very Brainiac 5. That´s right. Brainiac 5 also has no superpowers. All that he can contribute to the Legion is his intelligence and the things he builds like his forcefield belt or his time machine. It´s like building a machine that could say.......control the weather ! What´s going on here ? This guy got rejected for the same reason that Brainiac 5 is IN the Legion. Being very clever. Maybe Brainiac 5 didn´t want another member who could someday replace him and make him obsolete. It´s like in X - Static when the Anarchist is freaked out because there is another brother on the team. You have two very smart Legionnaries and all of a sudden it´s : You better don´t start any long holo fictions, Brainiac 5. So no membership for guys who are good at building things ( unless they´re green ) which means that Iron Man would have no chance to become a Legion member.

Another guy who had no chance was Tusker

He just got a bit nervous and got his tusks stuck in a tree. So what´s the Legion´s sensible response to the poor guy who just embarrassed himself in front of his heroes ?


It seems that in the future you don´t need social skills to be a hero. There goes one super hero to be. Scarred for life. Nice going dudes. So am I supposed to feel sympathy for the Legion in Geoff John´s new story ? More and more it looks like they only got what they deserved. No, really. The more I see about the tryouts for new members the more it seems that they admit whomever they like and they reject who they want if they feel like it.

I mean in Murphy´s laws there is such a thing like the effect of the demonstration. Which means that you can go and do something as many times as you want at home. Every time you do it at home it works perfectly. But then you want to do it in front of an audience and of course all of a sudden it goes wrong. And not only does it go wrong but it goes wrong in the worst way possible. Like for Spider Girl

Rejected for pissing off Saturn girl. Hmm, first this guy who was kind of like Iron Man and now this girl who is kind of like Medusa. I´m not sure but did Marvel build its heroes out of old Legion rejects ? Next thing you know Marvel will go and make a comic about someone called Spider Girl. Wait a minute.....they already have.

Now here´s what I find so fantastic about copyright laws and how DC deals with them. Superboy had to die because of some stupid thing concerning copyrights but it´s okay to have someone in an actual comic whose name is a ripp - off of a Marvel character. That sucks ! You just can´t understand it. And I don´t even try anymore.

But we have one last Legion reject who is also their team leader : Earth Man or TSHFKAAB which means " the Super Hero formerly known as Absorbancy Boy ". With a name like that I would also change it to Earth Man.

His superpower ? Kind of like Animal Man´s powers. He can absorb any residue superpowers. That´s like Amazo only better. Amazo can duplicate every superpower of every super hero who´s present. Now Earth Man´s powers go even a step further. He can duplicate the powers of every hero when they have already left. Which means that if he enters the meeting room of the Legion of Super Heroes right after a full membership meeting he´s one hell of a powerful guy.

Which in turn makes total sense that they rejected him and chose Tyroc. I mean Earth Man could have any superpower you want if you just have the right Legion members leaving the room. That´s way too powerful. And we don´t want guys who are too powerful in the Legion. I mean where would be the challange ? It´s better to have someone like Tyroc whose power it is to do whatever the story needs with his voice. No matter if it means burning up flying saucers or to turn elephants into flowers. Tyroc just screams and presto - instant story resolution. No wonder they imprisoned him in Brigadoon.

So there you have it. Somehow the Legion brought this one upon themsleves and now the whole universe has to suffer. What else is new ? But that´s what happens when a bunch of Teenagers pick favorites for a super team. We like to think that people with superpowers are like Peter Petrelli but the truth is they have more in common with Paris Hilton.

" You´re hot and you´re not. And I only want hot people on my super team. "

Somehow it´s really strange how the creators of the Legion could tell that in the future young people with special abilities would gather to be chosen to join a small group. Somehow they could see the future but they did not foresee that it would happen on television. There you have it : Legion tryouts = Star Search with superpowers.

Damn them all to hell. Who wants to be in their damn team anyway. I don´t care if I always get picked last. One day I´m going to show all them suckers.......heh, got a little carried away. I was playing a bit of devil´s advocate for the villains. Just to get the point across. Not like I would know how it feels like to be in their shoes.

In his new story Geoof Johns has Brainiac 5 say that the process by which the Legion decided the worthiness of the contestant was not based on superpowers alone.

Probably because nobody could really understand why someone was picked and others weren´t now Saturn Girl was doing telepatic scans of the contestants. To check for signs of mental instability or other disturbing stuff - at least that's what they say. But who knows what she really did while inside those minds and which ideas she might have planted.

So, not only did the Legion mock and belittle the poor schmucks who failed their so called " tryout " they also violated their civil rights and read their minds without asking them for permission or even telling them they were doing it. Forget about the government hacking your computer to fight terrorism. Here we have a case of Teenagers invading other peoples innermost thoughts for fun and membership in their little faschists club. But what can you expect from someone who thinks it´s okay to repeatedly mindwipe Superboy ?


The Legion Rejects have taken over and are now calling themselves the JUSTICE LEAGUE. Superman´s legacy besmirched and turned into a lie. The Legion imprisioned or on the brink of defeat. The universe five minutes away from a total intergalactic war. You know what time it is ?

Time to call in the subs. It seems young SUBZERO wasn´t the only one with a special fondness of the coolest assembly of super heroes for whom failure was just the beginning. Apparently Geoff Johns also likes the substitutes since they are the inofficial stars of the book. Right from the moment Brek Bannin a.k.a. Polar Boy appears the subs steal the spotlight.

Many writers would just cast them off as Losers but Johns puts the right spin on this little team that could. If you don´t have big, cool powers like the normal Legionnaries you have to work twice as hard and you have to be three times as tough. And of course much more crazy to mix it up with super villains. Especially if you can´t control your powers 100 percent. All you have is your will power and the hope that somehow you will win. Or like Brainiac 5 says : " Although, please note that I don´t approve of the substitutes´impetuous modus operandi. They don´t just jump into the deep end of the pool without looking. They do it backwards and handcuffed. "

To which Polar Boy grinning replies : " Hey, Brainy, when you´ve never had anything to lose you can get a bit reckless. " Which pretty much says all there is to say about the subs´attitude.

Geoff Johns just knows how to thread the thin line between cool and insane. His Chlorophyll Kid thinks he can communicate with plants ( which he clearly can not ), his Rainbow Girl strikes fear into the hearts of evildoers and Stone Boy takes the time to strike a cool victory pose before turning to stone and acting as a living battery ram. Which reminded me of the scene in ONE PIECE when Zorro, Nami and Vivi are slowly turned into wax figures and Zorro strikes a cool pose for posteriority.

So far only five of the six parts have come out but so far the story is incredibly good. Geoof Johns makes the subs cool and the rejects menacing. Earth Man becomes an unstoppable, allpowerful menace and the Legion has to fight against overwhelming odds. Just when the Man of Steel is turning 70 this story shows us what´s so special about the Legion and why they just belong into Superman continuity like signal watches and bottled cities. The future is no nice, clean utopia but a grim and gritty urban jungle where survival of the fittest is the only law.

Aside from Geoff John´s great story the visuals of Gary Frank really help bringing the reality of the bleak future home. There are many cool double page spreads and there are hints of the history of the DC universe throughout the book.

The ideal story for Legion fans as well as for comic readers who always wanted to know what´s so special about the Legion.

Now before closing the topic of the Legion before I spoil too much there is one thing I have to mention : the costumes. Or rather the new costumes. Or rather the new old costumes. I know that the whole story has kind of a classic vibe which may be the reason why Gary Frank designed his costumes to resemble the initial costumes. But in my mind that´s a mistake since the costumes of the 70s looked much more " futuristic " for lack of a better word than the originals. The new costumes look more like spacesuits designed in today´s day and age covering up waay too much skin especially where the ladies are concerned. And as the authority on all things COMICBABE BATTLE I just have to cry foul. What has happened here ? The costumes just get more restrictive over time. I mean Dawnstar has a small cleavage window left in her costume.

Not that I´m complaining about cleavage windows, I´m all for them and more power to the artists drawing them. But just a few months back Dawnstar appeared in the LIGHTNING SAGA and boy did she wear something different there.

Holey Moley ! Now that´s what I call a costume. Am I the only one for whom this is the classic costume of Dawnstar ? As far as I can think back that´s the costume she always had in the legion stories and the new one just looks weird. Much too heavy for a flyer. But all the costumes that have been changed in the past few incarnations have changed for the worse.

What Princess Projectra used to look like.

And how she looked after the re - design.

It doesn´t even look like the same person anymore.

Or Phantom Girl. Here she is in her stylish 70s outfit.

And here´s the re - done political correct version.

That´s not right ! The only Legion lady that shows her 70s roots in the story is Shadow Lass who wears something at least resembling her disco era costume. The original.

And the costume she wears in the new storyline.

Pretty close, huh ? I don´t know why the costumes were redesigned but in my opinion they didn´t have to do it. Aside from that minor flaw the story is really a high octane blockbuster action comic - like the name ACTION COMICS implies. The last part hasn´t come out and I don´t think I can read it before I go to Spain ( no, I´m pretty sure I won´t read it before I go to Spain ) but so far it has really become one of my favorite Legion stories and whenever I finished an issue I was more excited than before to read the next issue. I´m sure Geoff Johns will find an intelligent and surprising way to wrap it all up in the final issue. After a long time this is finally a Superman comic that in my opinion is well worth the money.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN :

  • top ten posts

  • more posts of interest

  • 1 comment:

    Gloria said...

    I'm enjoying this Superman/Legion story, too... maybe because it has the pre-crisis Legion; which is my favourite version.

    I hope you enjoy your stay in Barcelona... but, mind me, re looking for a job here:the salaries are very, very low here.