Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From The Comic Stands: The Legion of Three Worlds

If a casual observer of comics had come up to me and asked, "is Final Crisis worth getting into?", I would have said, "Sure!". But, I would not have pointed them towards Grant Morrison's misfire of a story, but towards superhero comic mastercraftsman Geoff Johns, and his spectacular Legion of Three Worlds, the true Final Crisis, if there was one!

In the present American comic industry, there is possibly only a handful of comic writers that can write a good superhero yarn...that perfect balance of character and spectacle, embracing the science fiction and fantasy of the four-colored world, while introducing a strong sense of believability and human factor to the players in the story. Sure, every comic fan can rattle off great stories of the comic medium...Watchmen, for example. But how many can rattle off good superhero stories that don't strip away the very essence of the story, that sense of naive fantasy and adventure, of wish fulfillment? For me, a good example of an awesome tale that celebrates its superhero trappings is Kurt Busiek and George Perez's JLA/Avengers.

Anyway, Perez's awesome pencils are hard at work in this superhero saga as well! Legion of Three Worlds is, in truth, an organic build-up of elements from other various Geoff John-penned stories. The main villian of the story, Earth-Prime Superboy, originated from 2005's Infinite Crisis, where he was revealed to be one of the story's primary antagonists, setting up the various elements in the story(such as moving planets to set up the Rann-Thanagar War), and becoming the Big Bad by story's end. Pushed through the red sun of former Krypton by two Superman(the "regular" Superman of Earth-1 and the Golden-Age Superman of Earth-2), Superboy-Prime was stripped of his very vast superpowers(which dwarved both Supermen), as well as an harness modeled after the Anti-Monitor's armor that directly fed him yellow sunlight. Captured by the Green Lantern Corps(which he murdered several dozens of them), he was imprisoned on Oa.

He reappears in the next Geoff Johns-penned story, the Sinestro Corps War, escaping from his containment on Oa and joining the Sinestro Corps as a herald of the Anti-Monitor, wearing a Sinestro-Corps version of his infamous harness. His most famous act in this story is his brutal, DBZ-style battle with Sodom Yat, a Daxamite(a cousin race of the Kryptonians, with the same powers, but a weakness of lead) who is not only also a Green Lantern, but the possesor of the Ion entity, making him one of the most powerful beings in the universe. This brawl of superpowers ends with Yat impaled in lead pipes(and nearly dying in the process). After that battle, Superboy-Prime would become one of the of the deciding factors in the final battle, impatiently tossing the wounded Anti-Monitor into space, and survives a suicidal attack by a Guardian, only to be warped into another universe.

Besides Superboy-Prime, the other major elements of the story are the reintroduction of the Legion of Superheroes, and the current xenophobia of the planet Earth. This reintroduction of the Legion occured first in The Lightning Saga, a crossover between Brad Meltzer's Justice League of America and Johns' Justice Society of America. It should be noted that also at this time, there was another version of the Legion that had a series. However, what sets the two apart is that the Legion of the Lightning Saga(and thus Final Crisis) count Clark as a member of their team, a reintroduction of Superman's Silver Age status as a member of the future assemblage. Anyway, after their introduction in the Lightning Saga, Superman's membership is firmly established in the Superman and the Legion of Superheroes arc of Action Comics, again penned by Geoff Johns.

Here, Superman is brought to the future, where Earth has become a xenophoic society that hates aliens, lead by Earth-Man(former Legion reject Absorbancy Boy) and his human-based Justice League of Earth. Thanks to some manipulation by Earth-Man, the Earth sun has been turned red, thus Superman loses his great powers. However, thanks to some major teamwork, the Man of Steel and his friends manage to defeat the JLE, and show humankind how beneficial aliens are. Or so it seems.

This all culminates in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, where the Time Trapper, the eternal enemy of the Legion, plucks Earth-Prime Superboy from the time stream, and send him on a crash course with the 31st Century. After laying waste to Smallville and the Superman Museum over a temper tantrum of not being considered the Metropolis Marvel's main adversary, Superboy-Prime dons his old harness and decides to create a Legion of his own...of Super-Villains. Meanwhile, the Legion is trying to maintain order in crumbling relationships between themselves, the United Planets, and Earth, who still maintain their hatred for aliens. When Superboy-Prime attacks the group in their time of ultimate weakness, resident genius Brainiac 5 has no choice but to summon allies...from Superman himself and last Guardian of the Universe Sodom Legions from two other universes. The end result? An awesome super-war on Earth between the forces of 31st Century good and well as a fight at the end of time itself!

Doesn't that make you tingle all over?!

Johns weaves a spectacular tale, and even throws some twists in. Revelations are abound, and a few resurrections occur. And in my opinion, Perez is one of the, if not THE, main superhero artist to have for a superhero epic! As a reader who enjoy long-term storytelling done right, I loved how Johns delivered on the seeds he had planted in his earlier works.

So what's my grade on this? A+. If you like just simple, fun, superhero stories that deliver on wonderful characterization and awesome spectacles, this is the story for you. Go out and get the trade, right away! I'm serious!!!

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