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Sunday Slugfest: Legion of 3 Worlds #3

Posted: Sunday, February 8, 2009
By: Thom Young

Geoff Johns
George Perez (p) with Scott Koblish (i)
DC Comics
Superboy-Prime's rage knows no bounds, but it can be checked, as the boy who admits no rivals has them after all. The Brainiac Fives all collaborate to run the show, and two of them are even helpful--but the show is about more than the Legion, as other pantheons loom larger than ever.

Shawn Hill:

Paul Brian McCoy:

Kyle Garret:

Thom Young:

Shawn Hill

By now we're used to the masterful George Perez and his ability to come up with distinct costume and character designs for the numerous Legionnaires, even when they are multiplied by three. He knocks himself out making sure Spark and Livewire don't look like Lightning Lad and Light Lass, who don't look like their other namesakes, either.

Well, all the Aylas look a bit like Nicole Kidman--but at distinctly different ages.

It's a rousing moment when Brainy unveils his coup de grace, as the Legions of two other worlds burst forth into New Earth's imperiled future. At least I think that's what happens. It's a very dense spectacle. Why does one Earth (of the 52) have to assume primacy, and be the key planet, anyway? Who wants to know they're from an Earth fifty-two places away from the authentic one? Brainy effectively tells the other teams they're imitations, even as he demands their help.

Of course, they're all Legionnaires, so they give it willingly. But what happens to them when the evil legion attacks end? Brainy’s dense two-page exposition of a lost mission that initially introduced them all to each other has been in Johns's plans since Infinite Crisis and the re-launch of JSA, but it's a lot of techno babble that makes little sense. It would have worked out much better as a fully fleshed-out story than as a summary of events rushing by in a blur. The best part is that it does link up with what we know of XS's back-story, and she was one of the new spotlight characters of the “Reboot Legion” (as they came to be known).

In fact, Johns honors the original intentions for the character, which were to have an explicit legacy connection to present-day DC in the reboot team since the Tornado Twins, including her mother, née Dawn Allen, had already been established as future descendants of Barry Allen, the Flash (albeit in a then-erased timeline). There's been an eternal discussion over whether the Legion needs such direct connections to Superman, or the Flash family, or the Green Lanterns. Even the Shazam crew has had brief ties before. (Interestingly, I can't recall anyone ever worrying about the legacy of the Amazons in the 31st century too much--or Gotham City, come to think of it.)

This issue features significant Flash connections, and also makes a lot of time for Johns's other area of interest, Oa. To this I say: finally! I've been of the same mind as Johns since he began The Lightning Saga in JSA/JLA. My fondest Legion memories seem to be his as well, and I've always been in favor of admitting that while the Legion are specifically a subset of the Superman Family, they also deserve to have Green Lantern and Flash in their legacy--and why not Wonder Woman and Batman and connections, too?

I like to see direct connections to our own heroic era, though perhaps the Flashes (who are time travelers) and the Lanterns (who are aliens) make the most sense.

The story tries to boil down to the convention of artifacts that might as well be magic: Power Rings, Cosmic Treadmills, Daxamite Lightning Rods, historically significant strands of hair. Now, has Johns set us up to wonder how or why these things have been assembled? Do we have a real sense of a mystery unfolding?

No, all of the creative juices seem to have gone in the direction of making sure everyone looks right, and that the huge cast each get spotlight moments that capture their unique qualities. And they do: Night Girl explaining her powers, Sussa Paka getting a tri-colored punch to the face, Sun Boy meeting another grim fate (Dirk Morgna is like the opposite of a Mary Sue to Johns), Rond Vidar getting a noble funeral, the bizarre footnote that Reboot Garth ended up in Element Lad's body, but with a crystal head.

In sum, Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds is the complete opposite of the stylish economy of means used by Morrison in the similarly populous and continuity-rich main Final Crisis series. Johns’s series is more like a densely packed tray of Fabergé eggs, a goldmine designed for the long-running Legion fan.

Superboy-Prime is the excuse to rifle through and endanger a history that the character doesn't understand, but we do. And it seems that so Johns does, too--though the storytelling is the writer’s popular method of alternating between expository scenes and violent murders that informed his Infinite Crisis.

Paul Brian McCoy:

Man, I am so not the audience for Legion of Three Worlds.

From late 1979 through 1982 I didn't miss an issue of (Superboy and) The Legion of Superheroes and then, suddenly, I just stopped. I don't even remember why I stopped reading them, but they just weren't interesting to me anymore. I understand that I've missed great things, but I can't read everything. So when it comes to a story like Legion of Three Worlds, there are just some areas where I'm not going to have the knowledge and background that some other readers have.

So why am I even buying this horrible piece of crap?

I really don't know anymore.

Have you ever seen the film Visitor Q? It's a Japanese film, directed by Takashi Miike, and it is one of the most seriously disturbed films I've ever seen. Funny as hell, too. But disturbed. Check it out if you have a high tolerance for taboo busting.

For example, at one point the main character, a father with serious issues with bullies and bullying, has sex with a dead woman. I won't go into the details of how she wound up dead, but needless to say, it's awful. Anyway, during coitus, she locks up with rigor mortis, um, trapping him inside. What follows is a very funny, in a dark and deeply disturbed way, attempt to get unstuck.

That's kind of how I feel about this series.

The book is attractive and I want to like it, but I just can't. What I'd hoped would be warm and inviting and amazing, thanks to the glowing reviews of the first issue, turns out to be cold, empty, and useless. And now I'm trapped. I want out, but there are only two issues left, so I can't make myself drop it. I am mentally ill.

Really, every aspect of this book is failing for me. Even if I had a nostalgic love for all things Legion, Johns is just making shit up however he feels, tossing out whatever history he didn't care for, and changing basic details about characters. While it would be great to see the Legion back in continuity, this isn't that Legion. It's a bastardized version as related by a hack writer.

Sure, it's the same thing Bendis does. He also doesn't get a pass unless the story works with the changes. With this one, the initial idea seems fine, but then the execution just gums it all up.

The plot pretends to be complex, but there's really nothing to it. It is essentially the same as each big event comic that I've read by Johns in the past. An army of villains has assembled. An army of heroes has assembled. Now they're fighting. Lots of characters are dying in an attempt to create some semblance of emotional reaction, but what reaction can there be? The only valid response I can imagine would be outrage at one's favorite heroes being murdered in tiny panels. Welcome back! Now watch your beloved characters die for no reason. Thanks for coming!

And honestly, the opening pages with depressed, self-pitying Sodam Yat (who's so hairy that his chest hair is bursting from his plunging neckline, yet he has time and inclination to shave his Mohawked head smooth and shiny), contain some of the worst dialogue I've read in a comic since, well, since the last issue of this series was released many moons ago.

Yat's motivations are clichéd, his costume is horrible, and his dialogue is melodramatic claptrap. There is nothing good about this entire scene, unless you want to search for some Easter Eggs that give you hints about what's coming up in Green Lantern.

Even though the utilization of the old Alan Moore prophecy about the end of the Green Lantern Corps seems cool at first, Johns has already crapped up the prophecy as established by Moore, and then reiterated by Johns himself, by having Yat alive at all.

But then, that's Johns's way. A stupid plot twist based on the fudging of details for no reason other than to make fanboys wet their knickers with "cool" moments that don't add up later. And to get completely ridiculous on my part, Moore's Yat had sideburns. He was much cooler looking in that one panel all those years ago than what we get here.

I read a lot of people online who are flagellating themselves bloody in praise of George Perez's artwork here. "No one else could draw this!" is what many fans are saying. They're probably right, too. Other artists would show some restraint and layout skills to help make the story work. Some pages here have up to sixteen panels. There are so many characters in the big, two-page splash that it's utter chaos.

From the look of the layout and the backgrounds, future Metropolis is apparently a big, arena-shaped city with walls of sparsely windowed buildings of a variety of styles but no spaces or streets in between. The sense of depth here is a visual trick rather than an actual design element, as some characters are so small they seem to be far off in the distance, but they're still inside the boundaries of the buildings.

When we do see an overhead shot (in a tiny panel on the next page), there isn't even an arena-shaped area. The buildings fill the panel with no space between them, like blades of grass on a lawn. Then, when we next get a scene with backgrounds inside the city, there's apparently a mile or so of open space between where the battle is raging and the United Planets Council Building.

Seriously, this is atrocious. Add to that the fact that the hundreds of characters that fill each tiny panel are unidentified, some having new variations of classic costumes, making them difficult to identify even if you know who they're supposed to be.

It only gets worse when, in classic Johns manner, most of the Legion is killed or defeated, but suddenly Brainiac Five arrives with two and a half more entire Legions. What makes it even worse is that Perez doesn't seem to differentiate between the ages of multiversal versions of the same characters.

For example, on one page two longhaired teen Ultra Boys help a longhaired adult Ultra Boy (next to a clean cut Ultra Boy statue) and the identical teen Phantom Girls actually say, "That's what Jo looks like when he grows up? Ultra Man is hot!" All three versions of Ultra Boy look exactly the same except for superficial differences in their costumes. I guess bare arms make a man look more mature and “hot”--if, that is, the one with bare arms is the older one. I can't really tell.

The rest of my complaints are basically just variations on the ones I’ve listed: The writing is horrible, the art is sloppy, repeat until the end of the issue.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the absurdity Brainy's plan. Apparently it's a three-pronged plan (for 3 Legions, get it?). The first prong being, I guess, get into a huge fist fight with an army of villains, dying and being maimed right and left.

Prong two involves going back in time to steal a strand of Lex Luthor's hair on the day he begins going bald. That's all we get of that prong this issue, and I know it's premature to judge it, but it seems stupid stupid stupid. Are they going to clone him? Who knows? Can't second-guess someone as smart as Brainiac Five, right? I really can't see anything good coming from this prong.

The third prong is something that was set up in the Johns-and-Meltzer-penned Lightning Saga. Remember how that ended? With a tiny face trapped in a lightning rod and Brainy saying, "We got who we came for?"

At the time there was some speculation as to whether or not that was Barry in the rod. However, some people guessed that it was the newly deceased Bart Allen. Well, Barry's back in Final Crisis, so guess who this is.

Yep, Bart’s back from wherever he's been since he was clumsily sacrificed after his short tenure as The Flash in his gods-awful series of a few years ago. Anyway, can I just repeat for the record that I think what Johns has done to Superboy-Prime is criminally bad writing on every single level.

Prime's stuttering fear of Bart Allen is so ridiculous that I just can't take it seriously. I know Johns has seeded this in every freaking appearance of the character, including "The Sinestro Corps War," but it's like something out of a horrible after school special about standing up to bullies. It's awful.

And while we're on the subject of Prong Three, I have three more points specific to this prong that I want to bitch about plot-wise. The first is Superboy-Prime's armor.

His original armor stored yellow solar energy to keep him powered up to level 11 (kind of stupid, but whatever). However, it was destroyed at the end of Infinite Crisis. He was given a new set of armor by Sinestro that looked similar and did the same job, but that was taken when he was defeated and caged on Oa. This armor he's wearing here, he stole from a mannequin at the Superman Museum in the 31st Century.

It's costume armor. It shouldn't work. There is no explanation about why it apparently does work. It works so well, in fact, that the Legion targets it specifically so that they can make Superboy-Prime vulnerable to red sunlight again.

That's just stupid.

Second, the Legionnaire known as XS, the speedster cousin of Bart Allen, has to run as fast as she can in order to access the Speed Force and allow the Legion to yank Bart out. For an unexplained reason, all the lightning powered heroes have to shoot lightning at her while she does this (without actually hitting her?). At the same time, Light Lass (who controls mass) has to use her power to keep XS from becoming so heavy that she becomes a singularity that will "rip open the universe and destroy us all!" Even though this has never been an issue with any other speedster when approaching light speed and contacting the Speed Force--not even in other stories written by Johns.

That's just stupid.

And as a subset of this bitching point, it seems the lightning is all so that it can strike the lightning rod from The Lightning Saga and zap Bart out alive and well, even though the when the Daxamite-created lightning rod is used in this manner someone is supposed to die. Of course, Johns fudged that one too (just like his fudging of Yat's prophecy), so this time the possibility of the death of someone else is not even a threat mentioned in passing.

In another subset, Live Wire is back! Who? Never mind. The important thing is that thanks to the living lightning in the same lightning rod mentioned above, Brainy's able to zap him to somehow amplify his transmutation powers (he's been trapped in Element Lad's body somehow), and he changes back to his own body. But if he was trapped in Element Lad's body, then wha . . .? Oh never mind. It doesn't' matter. It's just stupid.

My third and final bitching point is more of an annoyance than a problem. Structurally, there's nothing really wrong with the two-page retelling of the adventure that never actually occurred in continuity, which just so happened to also be called "The Legion of 3 Worlds." No one except the adult Brainy can remember anything about it.

Apparently, it involved an explosion that tore open the multiverse, but everything turned out okay in the end. It’s then explained that this “crisis” is why Starman's costume is a map of the multiverse and why he can open up black holes that are gateways to alternate Earths. Was this bit of Legion lore established somewhere else? It's just casually mentioned as though it were obvious here.

At this point, Johns is apparently rewriting the origins of both Bart Allen and XS. Now, rather than Bart having a hyper-accelerated metabolism that caused him to rapidly age, both of the cousins aged from children to teens in a matter of days--but, according to her past history, XS did not show any signs of speedster powers until she saved her father from the Dominators.

I guess this is just a different XS and Bart, now. Sort of. I don't know. It really doesn't make any sense with established history. It seems to be Johns just fudging things so he can make it work for him without having to really make it work with every other writer who has written the characters before.

Is that a crime? As with Bendis, it depends on the quality of the story being written, and here, there's not much quality to be found.

Oh! I was wrong. There's a subset to this bitching point, too. Johns also just casually tosses in the fact that when time traveling, "one can shift into the multiverse," meaning, I suppose, that all these little fudged details aren't fudged at all. Joy! If Johns contradicts something previously established, that was just an alternate Legion or alternate Flash or alternate whatever that was in that story. It happens all the time, Brainy says, as if, of course it happens all the time. This isn't something new. It's not a cop-out. It's always been this way. Don't be stupid.

I won't even comment on Johns's idiotic interview found elsewhere online where he says that this ties in with Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis thematically, but more importantly because this is Final Crisis for readers who want the story told the traditional way, without all that experimentation and imagination and whatnot. There. I didn't comment on it.

Man this book is crappy, and my review ain't all that, either. Did you keep reading after the necrophilia bit? Why? What's wrong with you? You're just going to keep reading Legion of 3 Worlds, too, aren't you? I suppose I will too. I don't know why, though. I just can't pull out no matter how hard I struggle and cry.


Kyle Garret:

And it all came crashing down.

As a long time Legion fan, I have loved the heck out of this series so far. I’ve also been really impressed with how Geoff Johns has gone out of his way to make it as accessible as possible--finding new and creative ways to give us page after page of exposition while keeping it entertaining.

But then this issue came out, and the fine line Johns was walking seemed to disappear completely.

I’ve followed every incarnation of the Legion, and even I can’t fully explain away pages 21-23 of this comic. I don’t know how to make all the pieces of the story that Brainiac 5 tells work with that single panel of Earth-247 in Infinite Crisis (just after it was created and just after it was destroyed by Alex Luthor), or with the end of the Teen Titans/Legion Special, or with anything that has to do with multiple earths or the DC Universe.

I’ve spent the last 48 hours trying to make it all make sense and it just doesn’t. And if I can’t figure it out, how must a person who is new to the Legion feel?

What’s even worse is that I’m not sure how much of it is necessary within this story. I understand that Johns wanted to establish that Jenni Ognits (aka XS) and her cousin, Bart Allen, are from the same Earth as the original Legion--most likely so that, once this series is over, Johns can add XS to the Earth-0 roster. I get that. However, it could have taken roughly two panels to explain it, something along the lines of “you and your entire family fled this Earth to hide from Professor Zoom, one of the Flash’s villains. But you were born here, on Earth-0.”

The question, then, is why go into all that confusing back-story about the first meeting of the three Legions and their fight against Zoom? Why even mention Earth-247 at all? Why create back-story for a team that already has so freaking much of it? Or, at the very least, why bring it all up now?

I suppose the real question, though, for the purpose of this review, is this: How can I find so many problems with this issue and still give it four bullets?

Because the problems were concentrated over just a few pages, and the rest of the issue was just chalk full of awesome--an awesome named George Perez.

It might come across as exaggeration, but only George Perez could do this book justice. There is a complexity and energy to his work that you just can’t get from any other artist. There have been complaints about the lateness of this book, but I can’t imagine getting a fill-in artist for a story this large. No one can do a story like this better than Perez.

The original, pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Legion battles the new Legion of Super-Villains, now led by Superboy-Prime. It’s a pretty intense battle, and our heroes appear to be on the ropes until the newly arrived Legions from two other worlds step in to save the day--or at least pull things to a draw.

While the battle rages on, the Earth-0 Brainiac 5 takes his two doppelgangers, all the lightning-wielding characters, the aforementioned XS, and fellow 247-Legionnaire Gates (perhaps the only other 247-Legionnaire that fans want to appear in a regular Legion book) to the Legion Clubhouse to initiate stage two of his master plan to stop the LSV and Prime.

While results of stage two might be the completely telegraphed, predicted-by-everyone, resurrection of a character who had been unceremoniously killed off not long ago, it was still a nice moment, and a good way to end this chapter. Perhaps more interesting, though, is stage three--which hints at a possible resurrection of another much-beloved character.

This is a great Legion adventure, but with this issue I think Johns is attempting to do too much. I suppose that’s the price of telling a story with a cast who may or may not get another book any time in the near future (they’re only supposed to be rotating stars of the new Adventure Comics), but I think Johns would have been better off taking on one story at a time, as opposed to delving into issues of the multiverse and continuity.

Still, each issue has had me excited for the next, and I can’t wait to see how it all ends.

Thom Young:

Well, this series is progressing along nicely. I gave the first issue a rating of four bullets, the second issue dropped a point to three bullets, and now this third issue drops yet another point to two bullets--which means, of course, that I should be giving the next issue only one bullet followed by the final issue receiving the never-before-bestowed honor here at Comics Bulletin of zero bullets (though I think Ray Tate tried to give a comic zero bullets at some point but had to settle for giving it a half bullet).

However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s plenty of time to give out one-bullet and zero-bullet ratings for future issues. Let’s discuss the current issue for now.

Actually, let’s start by discussing the first two issues for now.

I thought the first issue showed a lot of promise (thus my four-bullet rating). I thought Johns had displayed growth as a writer in the organization and structure of a story. Sure it was basic storytelling skills, but in this industry where so many people don’t seem to have a grasp of the fundamentals the organization and structure of the first issue was a pleasant surprise.

Johns was even able to bring in the expository scenes for readers new to the Legion mythos in a way that was not awkward--a museum tour presented by a computerized holographic projection of Jimmy Olsen. With the second issue, I found things to neither like nor dislike. It was simply a standard comic book story that did nothing to call attention to itself one way or the other.

Now we have the third issue, and it definitely calls attention to itself--but not in a good way.

Geoff Johns is not a writer given to experimenting with storytelling forms. Even though my preference is for complex storytelling structures that challenge the reader, I’m not opposed to stories that rely on the basic straightforward approach. In fact, one of my all-time favorite comic book writers, Steve Englehart, uses that approach (and I think 75% of the stories he’s written have been good to great in quality). Thus, despite that accusations that have been directed at me by some of Geoff Johns’s fans, I don’t believe I am predisposed to not like a story simply because it is by Geoff Johns (I point to my four-bullet rating of Legion of Three Worlds #1 in my defense).

I am also not predisposed to give a good review to a work with a “challenging narrative structure” just because it’s experimental. I try to assess each work by the aesthetics that informed that work and then determine how well it succeeded.

Every work by Johns that I have ever read has followed a chronological sequence of events (save for expository scenes that incorporate flashback sequences that are related by a character to other characters within the chronological sequence of the story). Johns also adheres to Gustav Freytag’s five-point plot structure: Exposition, climbing action, climax, falling action, and dénouement.

The only “experimentation” that Johns might engage in is in breaking up those five points and scattering them throughout a story. Thus, the first issue of this series opened with the Time Trapper pulling Superboy-Prime through time to the 31st century before going into the main exposition sequence of the holographic Jimmy Olsen giving Superboy-Prime the tour of the museum to inform him (and the readers) of the history that has led to the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Similarly, Johns has a chunk of exposition in this third issue that informs the readers about some information that is not really vital to the story and serves no apparent purpose other than to feed into the larger context of “DC universe history” for readers who are concerned with how things might all factor into a convoluted continuity.

Specifically, we learn that the character known as XS has a convoluted history that involves being born in the 30th century of one Earth but raised in the 30th and 31st centuries of another Earth in order to make her the cousin of the Bart Allen of Earth-0 rather than of the Bart Allen of Earth-247 (if there is one).

This convoluted “Secret Origin of XS” also involves exposition about an earlier “Legion of Three Worlds” case that Superman alluded to in The Lightning Saga story that ran through the Justice League of America and Justice Society of America series of a few years ago--which is the story in which the Legion of Earth-0 came back in time to capture the soul of Bart Allen in a Daxamite Lightning Rod similar to the one that restored Lightning Lad to life in Adventure Comics #312 (later ret-conned to have not been the resurrection of Lightning Lad in a post-Crisis on Infinite Earths story). Whew!

Anyway, after reading The Lightning Saga, I was intrigued about the “Legion of Three Worlds” case that Superman alluded to. I thought I was going to get that story when this current series was announced. Instead, Brainiac Five alluded to an earlier “Legion of Three Worlds” case (either at the end of the first issue or somewhere in the second issue, I don’t care enough to find those issues and be more specific). At that time I thought, “Oh, well that’s the story I was hoping to read. Perhaps this one is going to involve a time traveling element in which it will be necessary for events to tie into that earlier untold story.”

It’s still possible that this series is going to reveal more about that untold “Legion of Three Worlds” case, but it’s not probable. Instead, that earlier story gets told in a brief exposition about the Legions of three parallel universes being stranded on an unknown Earth and finding their way back to their own Earths by drawing a map of the multiverse on Star Boy’s costume--which isn’t actually a map of the multiverse but could be construed, sort of, as a map of the Milky Way Galaxy (but not really)--or something like that.

It appears that the only real reason for that exposition about the earlier untold “Legion of Three Worlds” story is to explain why Star Boy had a “map of the multiverse” on his costume in Johns’s run on Justice Society of America and how XS could be from Earth-247 while also being the cousin of the Bart Allen of Earth-0.

Does all of that seem needlessly convoluted in a story from a writer who isn’t interested in experimental narrative structures?

This story really doesn’t need to offer an explanation about Star Boy’s costume in Johns’s other series--except, perhaps, that John’s may have also alluded to the “Legion of Three Worlds” case in Justice Society of America. If that’s the case (I did not read every issue of that series, so I don’t know for certain), then it seems likely that Johns had long been planning a different “Legion of Three Worlds” story but ended up with the story that he’s telling in this series instead.

I guess Johns may have wanted to tie up a loose end from his other series and so shoehorned it into this series through Brainiac Five’s expository flashback.

Additionally, of course, this convoluted "XS is from Earth-247 but was actually born on Earth-0" nonsense didn’t need to be handled this way either. The fact that Johns chose to handle it this way indicates that he still doesn’t understand how parallel universe theory works.

When I first read in this current issue that the post-Zero Hour Legion was from “Earth-247,” two thoughts crossed my mind:
  1. Hey! Johns realizes that a thousand years into the future the DC multiverse would no longer be limited to just 52 parallel universes! (More on that in a minute.)

  2. Hey, why are they giving specific numerical designations to the various universes? Only the Monitors were doing such things based on a universe’s position in the Orrery of Worlds (from Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis). Now that the Monitors are gone, there is no one to give these types of numerical designations based on position in the Orrery.
Okay, so Johns is falling back on the Silver Age (and current Marvel) method of just arbitrarily assigning numerical designations to universes. Still, I was very impressed at Johns’s apparent acknowledgment that there would be more than 52 universes in the DC Multiverse a millennium from now. Then I found out that “Earth-247” is a reference to one of the infinite Earths that Alexander Luthor brought back for a short time in Infinite Crisis (which I have no interest in looking through to try to find the exact reference).

Okay, so follow along with this internal logic from one Geoff Johns story (Infinite Crisis) to another (Legion of Three Worlds): Earth-247 would have been one of the infinite Earths that Marv Wolfman wiped out of the DC Multiverse in Crisis on Infinite Earths but Alexander Luthor brought it back temporarily in Johns’s sequel to Wolfman’s story, Infinite Crisis, where it was then wiped out again when Alexander Luthor’s plot fell apart.

So . . . this post-Zero Hour Legion is from a parallel Earth that was wiped out of existence before their stories were ever told following the big cosmic event of 1994 known as Zero Hour (which, let’s not forget, was subtitled Crisis in Time, making it one of the “Crisis” events as well). That series was intended to wipe out the entire convoluted and contradictory timeline of the single universe that was created when five universes merged into one in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

In other words, the Legion of Super-Heroes continuity that came out of Zero Hour: Crisis in Time was supposed to be the one-and-only version of the Legion that arose out of the one-and-only timeline of the one-and-only Earth of DC Comics. Then, when Alexander Luthor temporarily brought back the old multiverse, that version of the Legion was sent off to Earth-247 (where they were subsequently wiped out of existence after the villain’s plans were defeated) so that a new (third) version of the Legion could be introduced in the post-Infinite Crisis universe (the 2005 reboot of the franchise).

Okay, did you get all that?

One of the three Legions in this series was wiped out of existence in Infinite Crisis. Yet, here they are, looking okay for the most part. Though the obvious question is: How did the Earth-247 that was wiped out of existence in Infinite Crisis manage to come back into existence for this story (and, I guess, for the untold “Legion of Three Worlds” case that Brainiac Five briefly mentions)?

Uhm . . . ah dunno.

Though there does seem to be some vague allusions to one or more of the past “Crisis” events in Brainiac Five’s tale. It’s all very muddled for such a “straightforward narrative.” It even confuses the Brainiac Five of the just-completed Legion of Super-Heroes series (the one in which DC promised a conclusion by Jim Shooter and then published a conclusion that didn’t make sense as the finale of the story Shooter had been telling).

The Brainiac Five of that world (who should be intelligent enough to already know the answer) responds to the adult Brainiac Five’s expository tale by saying, “Completely illogical. How can our Legion be from a different world than ‘Earth’? We interacted with Supergirl--”

The adult Brainiac Five from Earth-0 replies, “When time-traveling one can shift into the multiverse (sic). You interacted with our Earth’s history, like Earth-247’s Legion did on many occasions.”

It was at this point that I realized that Geoff Johns still doesn’t understand parallel universe theory at all or how two parallel Earths in the future could follow a timeline into the past to the same historical event.

Let’s say there are a finite number of parallel universes at some point in the multiverse--say, 52, for instance. Then let’s look at just one of those 52 universes--say, Earth-0, for instance. During the course of that universe’s progression through time new parallel universes will branch off due to each person’s various decisions in his or her life.

For instance, if I choose to marry one woman, then an alternate version of me suddenly comes into existence in a newly created parallel universe who chose not to marry that woman--although, from his perspective, I’m the alternate Thom Young who chose to marry that woman after he chose not to do so. Thus, there are now two versions of me in separate parallel universes--both of whom view the pre-marriage decision as part of their personal history, and one that occurred on a pre-divergent Earth.

Is that just as confusing as what Johns has concocted?

Well, let me place it into the context of the story. However, I won’t have the post-Infinite Crisis Brainiac Five act confused (since he should be intelligent enough to know this already). Instead, let’s have the post-Infinite Crisis Ultra Boy be confused about how this stuff works:
Ultra Boy: What? I don’t follow. How can our Legion be from a different Earth? We interacted with your Supergirl.

Brainiac Five: How do you know you interacted with my Earth’s Supergirl?

Ultra Boy: Uhm . . . because it said so in the comic books that were published in my Earth about your Earth’s past.

Brainiac Five: What? Oh, never mind. Your Earth and my Earth could well have diverged from a shared history--like two branches on a tree diverging from the same trunk.

Ultra Boy: Oh. Okay. I’m sure my Brainiac Five understands what you mean. That’s good enough for me.
Johns burdened his story with a bunch of drivel to try to make sense out of a convoluted continuity. Thus, he ended up with a 31st-century Legion from a parallel universe that was supposedly destroyed in the 21st century after being in existence for a short time due to Alexander Luthor’s re-creation of a universe that was originally destroyed in the 20th century but which then incorporated a version of the Legion that was ret-conned into existence following the Crisis in Time events . . . uhm, yeah, let’s just say that Johns doesn’t understand how he could have simplified his story and then let’s move on.

Okay, moving on.

Here is the five-point Freytag structure of John’s story:
Exposition: The Legion of Super-Heroes are the 31st-century superheroes who were inspired by the heroic deeds of Superman (possibly from when he was a boy in Smallville).

Superboy-Prime is the only survivor from a parallel universe once designated as “Earth-Prime,” and he hates the Superman of Earth-0 (as well as some other heroes from Earth-0, but mostly Superman) because Superman has lived the life that he might have lived if the Anti-Monitor had not destroyed his universe.

Rising Action: The Time Trapper, who hates the Legion of Super-Heroes for reasons that are not yet specified in this series, pulls Superboy-Prime through time to use as his weapon against the Legion.

Upon learning that Superman inspired the creation of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Superboy decides to destroy the Legion. He also discovers that he inspired the creation of a Legion of Super-Villains, who had been waiting for Superboy-Prime to lead them against the Legion of Super-Heroes as prophesied.

Faced with the release of every super-villain from the prison planet of the 31st century, Brainiac Five realizes that the only way to defeat the Superboy-Prime-led Legion of Super-Villains is to bring in the Legion of Super-Heroes from two parallel universes. Why? Uhm, because the title of this series is Legion of Three Worlds, which means it needs the Legion of two other worlds to be brought in to fulfill the promise of the title.

Climax, Falling Action, and Dénouement: Not yet revealed.
In other words, this is really a very simple plot that is hardly worth five issues. If it weren't for the fact that we needed to bring in two other Legions for no other reason than because the title of the series indicates that we have to have three Legions, this whole story could be told in two issues or one double-sized issue (since climax, falling action, and dénouement can be wrapped up quickly in most stories.

It would have made more sense, of course, if the threat the three Legions was facing was actually a threat to all three of their respective universes (such as the threats in the original Silver Age crises that involved the JLA and the JSA in their annual summer team-ups). A triple-universe threat would actually provide a reason for the three Legions to team up. However, Johns seems to be focusing on one Legion having one huge problem that can only be addressed (supposedly) by bringing in two completely arbitrary alternate Legions in order to tie up some loose plot threads from two previous stories he wrote.

This is just a bunch of nonsense that is being cobbled together and then packed with a lot of mindless professional wrestling action (albeit with the deaths of various Legionnaires) while Superboy-Prime flies about whining in a never-ending shrill variation of “My life has not been fair.”

My six-year-old daughter had a temper tantrum like that last night after she was told to stop jumping off the furniture: “It’s not fair! You never let me have any fun!”

The problem, of course, is that Superboy-Prime isn’t supposed to be six years old. He’s supposed to at least be sixteen years old--which doesn’t mean he can’t have behavioral problems, but they should be expressed differently than “No fair! I don’t l-like the dark!” or “Don’t call me Clark! That’s a geek name!”

Of course, Superboy-Prime isn’t the only villain who is given inane dialog to spout. Dr. Regulus gets to say, “Where is Dirk Morgna? Where is Sun Boy? They promised me the corpse of the arrogant child who took my dignity.”

The corpse of the arrogant child who took my dignity?

Like Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns is enamored of the comic books he read when he was a boy, and he is trying to incorporate aspects of them into his work. Unlike Morrison, Johns isn’t enamored of the sense of wonder and feelings of the sublime. Instead, Johns seems to be enamored with the over-the-top dialog and the contrived plot twists that were still typical of most of the comics of his childhood.

Anyway, if you like melodramatic dialog, shrill temper tantrums, mindless action for action’s sake, and convoluted plot twists that don’t have any internal logic to them, then this story’s for you!

However, it makes me regret ever thinking that the first issue of this series showed promise.

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