Thursday, April 30, 2009
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: George Perez
Inks: Scott Koblish
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Starman in a graveyard getting ready to dig up a body. Thom yammers on about how Brainy told him that Thom would help save the future and that Thom would get a gold star. Thom starts digging up a grave. We see on the tombstone the word "Kent" but the first name is in shadows. (Well, we all know where this is headed. It looks like everyone's suspicions are about to be proved true.)
We zip back to the 31st century where the three Legions are battling Superboy Prime's Legion of Super Villains. We then cut to the Legion's clubhouse and see Kid Flash kicking Prime's ass. Brainiac reveals that they simply reconstituted part of Bart Allen. That Bart's aging had been artificially accelerated.
Bart comments that when the Rogues killed him he had an out of body experience and saw the adult part of him die. Brainiac 5 comments that he had a team of Legionnaires bottle up Bart's youth at the moment that Bart died. Brainy continues that even if Bart had not been killed by the Rogues that he would have died from old age within the month due to his accelerated aging. (Wow, this accelerated aging seems to be the swine flu of the DCU. It is everywhere. Bart, Wally's two kids and Christopher Kent. Someone better call the CDC before the rest of DC's teen characters come down with this disease.)
Brainy reveals that Dream Girl saw Bart's return in her vision of Prime destroying their Earth in a cataclysmic crisis. Brainy continues that he just hopes that Star Boy has not gone totally insane and that he can still complete his part of Brainy's final experiment. Bart continues to beat up Prime. Bart comments how he has never felt so fast. That it is as if there was a surge in the Speed Force. The three Brainiac 5's then take Gates and Light Lass with them to complete the final stage of their plan.
Time Trapper just captured the four heroes.
We cut to the end of time where Superman, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are stranded with the Time Trapper standing in front of them. Time Trapper rants how he has spent his existence trying to erase Superman's influence from this timeline. Time Trapper admits that he is the person who plucked Prime out from the past and brought him to the 31st century.
Time Trapper says that his focus has always been on destroying the Legion for what they did to him. But, after countless failures, Time Trapper went to the root of his pain: Superman. Time Trapper attempted to remove any memories of Superboy from the Legion, but he still could not erase Superman. Therefore, Time Trapper has decided to replace Superman. Time Trapper says that he wanted the Legion's three founders and Superman here so they could witness the fall of the Superman dynasty while they painfully die at his hand. (I might painfully die from this cheesy dialogue.) Time Trapper then blasts the four heroes.
We cut back to the three Legions brawling with Prime. Prime kills Kinetix. (So Johns does have a use for the Legion of Cannon Fodder in this story after all.) Prime yells "Ta-Da! I made Lame-Lass disappear!" (*sigh* I know that Prime's character is supposed to be immature and annoying. It still does not make him any more interesting to read.)
We cut to the Pre-Crisis Sun Boy listening to the news reports about Prime's rampage. Dirk hears about the fact that one of the Sun Boys was killed by Prime. Dirk thinks how the Legion needs him. Dirk thinks how he has lost his powers and his passion. That he is burned out. Dirk picks up his Legion flight ring and puts it on. We then see flames shoot from his eyes.
We shift back to the three Legions brawling with Prime. Element Lad turns the rocks around Prime into green Kryptonite. Prime laughs that Kryptonite does not hurt him. Suddenly, Prime collapses in pain. For some reason, this Kryptonite does hurt Prime. Prime then picks up a rock and throws it through Element Lad which kills him. (Ah, yes. Keep the slaughterfest coming. It just wouldn't be a Johns event without plenty o' killing.)
Cosmic King then uses his powers to transform the Kryptonite radiation inside of Prime into yellow sunlight. Mordru then reveals that he has gained the knowledge of Dream Girl's vision. Mordru says that if Prime does not burn Superman's Fortress of Solitude to the ground then the Legion will prevail. Prime then blasts off to the Fortress. Kid Flash, Sodam Yat and the Legionnaires all take off after Prime.
We zip to the Fortress of Solitude where the three Brainiac 5's are impatiently waiting for Polar Boy, Wildfire and Dawnstar. Suddenly, their time sphere appears and Polar Boy hands Brainy a strand of Lex Luthor's hair. Polar Boy asks what the hair is for. Brainiac 5 asks if Polar Boy ever read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. (Wow, you mean even in the 31st century that book is still going to be relevant? Way to go Mary Shelley.)
Brainy then places Lex's hair strand into the Chrysalis. Brainy comments that in this case the healing process has taken over a thousand years. Brainy continues that Lex's strand of hair will complete the other half of the process. Brainy then initiates DNA integration. The Chrysalis then states that Brainy has 80 seconds to select the correct crystal or full meltdown will occur.
Suddenly, Prime comes crashing into the scene. And wouldn't you know it, but all three Brainiacs get taken out. Polar Boy then says he will go deal with Prime while Dawnstar uses her high intellect and tracking powers to figure out the correct crystal to pull. Dawny struggles and says that the path is blurred.
We cut to Polar Boy brawling with Prime. Prime proceeds to kick Polar Boy's ass. Polar Boy then delivers a big speech about the meaning of the Legion. Polar Boy says that Prime cannot kill the Legion. That the dream that Superman started will never die. Prime is about to kill Polar Boy. Polar Boy grits his teeth and says "Long Live the Legion." Suddenly, Sun Boy appears on the scene and blasts Prime.
This scene is 3 parts totally random and 1 part cheese.)
Of course, Wildfire picks the right crystal and the Chrysalis begins the human regeneration process. The Chrysalis then says that the Kryptonian/Human regeneration process is complete. We cut back to Prime getting the upper hand on Sun Boy and Polar Boy. Prime takes down both heroes because they are nothing more than members of the Legion of Cannon Fodder.
Luckily, someone non-Legion related arrives on the scene to save the day. We see Conner Kent come streaking in and punching Prime. Wildfire comments that they just got another Superman on their team. Conner replies "Don't call me Superman…call me Superboy!" (And evidently, DC must have come to some sort of settlement agreement with the Siegel family over the rights to Superboy. I know that in 2008 the judge ordered settlement mediation between the parties concerning the rights to Superboy.)
We cut to the end of time where Superman sees Conner's return to life. Our four heroes continue to battle with Time Trapper while Superboy and the Legion of Support Characters brawl with Prime. Conner yells that he is going to kill Prime. At the same time, in the end of time, Time Trapper squares off in front of Superman, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl and tells them that despite Conner's amazing appearance that Conner and the Legion will lose.
The Good: Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 was another serviceable read depending on how you viewed it. As a Legion story it sucked. However, as just a general DCU "Crisis" story it was a solid read. There were several positive aspects to this issue. Without a doubt, Johns has done his best to make this event appeal to a huge cross section of fans that have never liked the Legion or do not know anything about the Legion. And Johns has done this by taking his pet characters from the DCU who happen to be quite popular and giving them very prominent roles in this story.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 offers the reader plenty of big-name characters outside of the Legion in Kid Flash, Sodam Yat, Superman and Superboy. The inclusion of the popular Green Lantern Corps, Superman Family and Flash Family characters is a wise move as far as generating large sales numbers is concerned. These three franchises are more popular than the Legion has ever been. And their prominent roles in this story is sure to mean that readers who would probably pass on a true Legion story only featuring the Legion will more than likely give Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds a try.
So, there is no doubt that Johns has succeeded in giving Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 plenty of mass appeal. And the wide scope of characters involved ranging across the three different DCU franchises helps to give this story the feel of a truly large "crisis" event. This story is huge in scope and Johns does a fine job juggling the huge roster of characters and making this feel like a big event. And this is no surprise since Johns is usually a good big event writer.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 was a fast paced issue. Johns hit the ground running with the start and never lets up until the end. The story zigs and zags in several different directions and hold the reader's interest through the entire issue. This issue also delivers tons of action. If you like brawling then you will certainly enjoy Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 was an excellently plotted issue. I am continually amazed at how Johns can handle big events that contain so many different plotlines. I love how all the pieces slid together in this issue from the various the various plotlines that Johns started way back in the JLA/JSA crossover in Justice Society of America 4-7 and Justice League of America 8-10. Johns has such incredible patience and long-term vision when it comes to plotting. Johns has been building up to this moment for years and everything came together in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 in quite a satisfying and enjoyable fashion.
We finally learn that Starman's mission was to dig up Conner's body and to place him in the Chrysalis in the Fortress of Solitude. This mysterious mission has been hinted to for a very long time. It was nice to finally see it come to fruition.
Johns also did a fine job cleaning up the mess with Bart's character that existed ever since the ending to Infinite Crisis. Was it a bit goofy and unoriginal with yet another character affected by an unexplainable rapid aging problem? Yeah, but it made enough sense in terms of comic book logic and it worked for me. And more importantly, it effectively cleaned up the mess that was made with Bart's character since Infinite Crisis.
The big deal about Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 was the predictable, but dramatic, return of Conner Kent. I may not like the constant upstaging of the Legion in their supposed own title, but I have to admit that it was great to see Conner back and better than ever. I have huge criticisms for Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds as a Legion story, but I am thrilled that both Superboy and Kid Flash are back.
I am sure that Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 is going to draw rave reviews and tons of praise from the vast majority of fans simply because Conner is back. And that is certainly understandable. I liked how Johns brought Conner back. Yes, it was predictable, but that does not mean it was not good. It is often the execution of a plotline that matters and not whether the plotline's end result was predictable or not. I would much prefer well constructed and internally consistent stories that are slightly predictable than get constant swerves to plotlines that are poorly executed and lack internal logic.
And Conner's return was certainly dramatic. Even though the reader knew what was coming, the moment that Conner actually makes his appearance has quite an impact on the reader. I have never been much of a Conner fan, but even I was cheering out loud when we arrived at the double page splash shot of Conner blasting into Prime. I know that Conner fans have been dying for this moment for years. Enjoy it, guys. Your boy is back.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 boasts some gorgeous artwork. George Perez is one of my all-time favorite artists. And nobody can handle a big event better than Perez. It is so impressive how Perez can deftly handle such a large roster of characters. Perez does a wonderful job choreographing the fight scenes in this issue. Perez successfully conveys the grand scope of this story and is the main reason why this book feels like such a huge event.
The amount of detail that Perez packs into each panel is simply amazing. To deliver so much detail into a story with so many character would make most artists curl up into a fetal position and cry. Perez, however, takes on such a Herculean task and does it in such a fine fashion that few artists could ever hope to do so.
The Bad: I still have my fair share of criticisms for Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4. There were plenty of defects on this story that were masked by the dynamic action scenes, quick pace, "surprising" swerves and the return of a fan favorite character. While Johns plotting is enjoyable, the general progression of this story feels very mechanical. The story clunks along rather predictably as Johns telegraphs each move from a mile away. Readers who prefer surprises and a story that requires some effort from the reader will not be impressed with this story. Johns simply spoon feeds the reader too much with this story.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 is also a bit of a thin read. There really is not much going on other than a bunch of mindless rampaging by Prime and the return of Conner Kent. It is much like the last issue that was basically a bunch of mindless rampaging by Prime and the return of Bart Allen. It seems that Johns did not have enough substance for this story to warrant a five issue mini-series. Based on the shallowness of this story, it seems that Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds could have been effectively delivered in just three issues.
Johns delivers some average dialogue. At certain points the dialogue is simply generic. At other times the dialogue is downright cheesy and ham-fisted. There is also a complete lack of character work. The Legionnaires have as much personality as your grunt infantry man from a typical war movie. Of course, to be fair, the lack of character work and poor dialogue is understandable given such a huge roster of characters and the fact that this is a big event that relies more on plot swerves and action to carry the story than dialogue and character work.
Dirk ends up saving Polar Boy from getting killed and then promptly gets taken out by Prime and then has to be saved by Superboy. Unless Johns has something huge in store for Dirk in the next issue I have to say that this was tons of unnecessary build up for very little pay-off. It seems that these scenes involving Dirk were nothing more than filler designed to fluff up the story a bit to help it stretch over the course of five issues.
The surprise reveal of Prime as the Time Trapper did absolutely nothing for me. This reveal felt cheap, forced and a bit uncreative. I know that Superboy-Prime first appeared in 1985 and has technically existed for several decades. However, the fact is that he was only around for a year prior to the original Crisis relegating him to limbo. So, I view Prime as a new villain that Johns created for Infinite Crisis.
On the other hand, the Time Trapper first appeared in 1958 as Ty. M. Master and then later in 1964 as the Time Trapper. This is a classic Legion villain from over the past forty years. And I am not crazy about the idea of revealing a new villain in Prime to be the identity of such an old and classic Legion character. Also, Time Trapper's style and mode of operating has always been quite different from Prime's style. Prime is a dumb and blunt weapon. Being the Time Trapper simply is not his style.
Also, the reveal of Prime as Time Trapper just seemed lazy and way too convenient. Especially after the other two "surprises" in the return of Bart and Conner, this reveal of Prime as Time Trapper felt like Johns was overdosing on "clever" swerves. It also smacked of inbreeding. I know that Johns feels that everything even remotely attached to the Legion has to somehow work its way back to Superman. But having the Legion's long-time arch nemesis turn out to be simply Superman-Prime makes the inbreeding between Superman and the Legion just too much.
Of course, to be fair, I will give Johns the next issue to sell me on this reveal. Maybe Johns has a great explanation for this that will make it seem to make more sense.
It is quite obvious that Johns could care less about the Legion of Super Heroes. It is glaringly apparent that Johns views the Legionnaires as mere supporting characters to the great and famous Superman mythos. Johns truly views the Legion as nothing more than odd and inconsequential support characters to Superman.
The Legion of Super Heroes serve absolutely no other purpose in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds other than to act as cannon fodder for the huge fight scene and to act as simple and convenient plot devices to help Johns come up with ways to bring back his pet characters in Bart Allen and Conner Kent.
Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 is obviously part of DC's concerted push to bring the modern DCU more in line with the Silver Age DCU that has been evident in many other titles. And Johns has certainly succeeded in doing that with the Legion on this title. Johns has managed to make the Legion inconsequential and insignificant support characters to Superman and Superboy just like they were in the Silver Age.
It is sad to see all the growth and progress that the Legion gained once they broke free from Superboy back in January of 1980 with Legion of Super Heroes #259 flushed away and forgotten. It was great when the Legion finally gained their own title, history and purpose and were allowed to grow and flourish into their own franchise with their own unique identity during the 1980's.
Of course, who wants growth and evolution when we can just turn back to the clock to the Silver Age and keep the Legion as characters with stunted growth and purpose. It is disheartening to see that DiDio and DC lack any progressive vision for the Legion within the current DCU and for the foreseeable future.
Overall: Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 was a solid big event story. This issue is absolutely a must read for Superboy fans. If you like Conner Kent then you should run to your nearest comic book shop and pick up this issue. Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #4 should also appeal to DCU fans in general. This story has a nice cross-section of the various franchises from across the DCU which should help make this a very popular issue. Plus, the amount of action should make this issue entertaining enough to readers who like a good brawlfest. However, if you are expecting a Legion centric story that focuses on the Legionnaires and pays homage to the Legion's history then I would recommend passing on this issue.