"Doomsday Minus One"
Writer/Artist: John Byrne, Alex Sinclair(c)
I never read Lab Rats, and I'm sure my colleague J. Hues of "Rolling with the Punches," a column that makes me laugh every time I read it, will be the first to tell me what genius I missed. Authors like to try new things. They often do not succeed. Arthur Conan Doyle for instance desperately wanted to shed Sherlock Holmes from his reputation, but his fans would have none of it. Doyle grew to deeply love his creation and no longer see him as a means to an ends. If Byrne feels trapped by Generations, he is at least comfortable with his imprisonment. That level of comfort he imbues to the characterization, dialogue rife with inside jokes and a shamelessly referential plot. Because of the comfort, Generations reads smoothly and carries a pleasant rhythm.
The story begins with the introduction of Knightwing's children Supergirl-Red and Supergirl-Blue denoted by their capes. The kids also allude to the Powerpuff Girls and Doctor Who. "Icy-Hot!" is close to "Ice-Hot!" which was Kang slang synonymous with "Ace!" and found in the seventh Doctor's "Paradise Towers." We also see a nod to the good Doctor in Luthor's predicament, which mirror that of Davros and Morbius. Of course, such a science fiction staple goes all the way back to Curt Siodmak's Donovan's Brain if not further to the pulps. The setup allows for a winning display of the Supergirls' charms. Byrne also subtly distinguishes them in their fighting styles. The calmer Supergirl-Red delicately decks a parademon; Supergirl-Blue, who is more wilder ala' Buttercup, uppercuts a parademon ten feet or so across the room.
Mr. Byrne always had a perfect idea of how kryptonite should affect super-people. While the green meteors in the old days merely floored the man of steel, Mr. Byrne always was the one who emphasized just how much pain a Kryptonian experiences when exposed to the kitschy bane. The scenes here become more intense because the Red and Blue team are really little girls--and drawn that way thank you very much. The display of suffering is so intense that the reader is actually relieved when reading in the dialogue that the exposure will "not be enough to kill them." They are not however having fun.
Meanwhile, back on the farm--The Kent farm, that is--Batman and Superman, the originals granted immortality by Lana Lang of all people in the original Generations mini-series, return to earth for a visit and to scratch the itch a time-traveling Saturn Girl from last issue caused. The comprised scenes are the less dynamic of the two plots, and yet Byrne does not fail to intrigue the reader. The dialogue sounds as if spoken by Batman and Superman. Batman cannot fly under his own power, but we see him flying with Kal-el. Byrne makes certain that he shows Batman adjusting something on his belt buckle as he flies. It's a small but welcome and necessary detail. When Batman and Superman contact this century's Justice League, a neat means, with a fannish insight, to create a Boom Tube is provided. There's even some subtext between Batman and Blackhawk: who piqued my curiosity in the second Generations series. They stand arm and arm. A father/daughter? Two old lovers? Two close colleagues? The reader really wants to learn the history behind the two.
Other hints of Byrne's talent for writing comic books surface. A guest-star makes a surprise appearance. The scenes involving New Genesis ring true. Izaya looks like Izaya in the only way Byrne can draw the character. There's just a volume of information within an interesting story to be dissected and a plethora of heroic characters to enjoy.
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