Growing up, I was never much of a comic book reader. I didn’t grow up with Superman, didn’t grow up loving the Man of Steel, and so when I finally did start reading comics late in high school, and get really interested in comics in college, I never understood the adulation he got, his place in the pantheon of All-Time Pop Culture Greats. I thought he was boring. Who cares about an hero who can’t get hurt? Who can do everything?
Nice cover trick, putting Bart on the cover is a nice touch. This series feels like Geoff Johns’ version of Sin City. No, it’s not full of hookers, but like Sin City, this comic is incredibly indulgent. Just about everything and everyone Johns loves is in this book. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Hal Jordan showed up in the last chapter. I won’t even bother to mention that Final Crisis, which finished late, ended three months ago.
I’m actually going to keep this review spoiler-free. I’m pleased with the return in this issue. If you want to know who came back, check this out. Even though there are too many characters returning from the grave, especially in DC, I was happy with this. It had a great “Hell Yeah!” feel to it, and it was explained well. I am, however, not that fond of Bart’s return. The Legion bottled his youth? WTF!? It’s a bit nonsensical.
George Perez provides the art, and it looks very pretty. “Some of his best work,” I would say. However, with the way Johns is writing this comic, and with Perez on the interiors, this really does feel like a 70’s comic, and that’s a bad thing. Now, I’ve talked about how Hulk feels like a modern Stan Lee comic, but it’s still modern. Legion of 3 Worlds seems to be leading the charge of an old man telling kids to get off their lousy skateboards. Attempting to regress the medium is horrible.
However, even with all of this book’s flaws, I’m still enjoying it. This issue is filled with exposition and action. Also, if you’re a fan of Johns’ recent Legion work, there are a couple of nice character moments. Once again, this comic provides a last-page reveal. I have a feeling that a lot of fans are going to be pissed about it.
The third issue is here! Only two issues of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds left. Final Crisis…already concluded? Yeah, that’s pretty ridiculous. I find it amusing that Final Crisis finished one month after it was supposed to and everybody bitched about the delays. I haven’t heard any complaints about this book’s punctuality. I think it’s nice that Morrison included LO3W into Final Crisis continuity. So, in FC #3, Superman goes into Superman Beyond to save Lois. He returns immediately. Then he goes to LO3W. The Legion have always returned him to the right moment in the past, but this time he comes back in FC #6 to find Batman dead and Earth in the firm grasp of Darkseid. Oops! I hope Johns actually mentions this in the fifth issue. If not, why wasn’t this called, “Buy Adventure Comics!”
Having said all that, I actually do enjoy this series. It’s kind of a Silver Age throwback with a modern twist. That’s a good summary of most Geoff Johns books, actually. It’s not just Perez’s art. It also shares the Silver Age spirit of packing as much story as possible into every issue. This will take you a half an hour to read. That’s pretty refreshing in these decompressed times of ours.
While I’m on this Silver Age rant, why not talk about George Perez’s art? I’ve never been much of a fan. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t reading comics during his hay-day. I do admire his work. If you want to cram an entire universe into two pages, he’s your man. But other than that, his art always looks bland and even a bit uninspired to me. However, LO3W is the best George Perez has ever looked. Maybe it’s because of a fantastic supporting team, but Perez’s work here looks genuinely epic. His renderings capture the book’s scope perfectly. And Perez makes the large quantity of story content possible. So much is crammed into every page, but thankfully, it doesn’t feel forced.
If you’re a fan of Johns or Perez, this series is a must. Both men are at the top of their game. They provide a thoroughly entertaining and dense adventure. It’s not perfect and I’m not the biggest Legion fan, but it undeniably gives you your money’s worth. Oh and as usual, this book is an essential part of the Geoff Johns mythos. This issue in particular. “Something big happens! Go buy now!”
Every few months, I decide to give Geoff Johns a shot. I hear glowing reviews of everything he writes, and think, maybe I was just in a bad mood when I read his last book. Maybe Infinite Crisis was only bad because of editorial mandates? Maybe I thought his Teen Titans was trite, angst-ridden garbage because I had just outgrown the whiny teen angst sub-genre of superheroics? Maybe Green Lantern: Rebirth was just a particularly weak moment of his. After all, 52 was a work of extreme quality, and while Booster Gold’s “Blue and Gold” arc was pretty bad, the opening arc of the book was a lot of fun.
Final Crisis offered another opportunity to give Johns a shot, as he was working on three tie-ins: Legion of Three Worlds, Rogues’ Revenge, and Rage of the Red Lanterns. Based on the strength of the opening issues of Final Crisis and the fact that I was reaching another point where I thought he deserved a shot, I decided to get Rogues’ Revenge and take it from there, but the first issue of RR was strong enough to warrant trying out L3W.
Today, Rogues’ Revenge ended with the weakest issue of the three-issue mini. Part of this weakness comes from the circular nature of comics – in the opening issue, we were given the premise that the Rogues wanted to retire, but needed revenge, wanted a clean slate before they did so. It was a strong premise well-executed, but the end of the mini leaves me undeniably cynical.
I have never understood the appeal of Kollins’ art, and this issue did nothing to change my mind. Some panels were quite strong, but I think that his action panels were sloppy and static. As always, Johns’ nails the Rogues’ interactions, and it’s those panels that are strongest. The opening scenes with the Weather Wizard were powerful – a great deal of the emotional core of the series was. And the series as a whole was an interesting tie-in, used to strip Libra of the weapons he had planned to use against the Flashes. Like a decent tie-in, it contributes to the main story without taking anything away from it. Still, there’s no way I can read the end of the book without feeling just a little bit sour at the state of the industry as a whole.
Meanwhile, Legion of Three Worlds is an example of everything I dislike about Johns, a massive continuity-wank to his old-school fetishes, ignoring or insulting the modern equivalents. With Perez on pencils, the book feels even more old-school, and not necessarily in a good way. The action is static, and too much of the emotional punch of the book depends on coming into a series with a deep connection to the Legionnaires he’s using. Some writers can make me care quite a bit about the life and death of a character I’ve never met before in a single issue. Some can do it in a few pages. Johns isn’t one of those writers. Empty action and emotionless exchanges make a subpar book and the first Final Crisis tie-in I would call a true failure.
RR #3 Grade: B-
FC RR Grade: B+
L3W #2 Grade: C-
Billy Batson and The Magic of Shazam! #2 (****1/2)
This is one of my favorite new books and I don’t care that I’m just about 20 years past the target demographic. This comic rocks. It’s better than 90% of the “adult” super heroes comics being published today and here’s why: 1) It’s super fun. 2) The art is Amazo-ing. I love the whole “unfinished sketch/storyboard/panels within panels thing Mike Kunkel has going on. It’s brilliant! 3) It’s fricking cheap! $2.25! Who cares if the paper isn’t glossy!?! It’s $2.25! 4) OH! And every issue has a section in the back that’s in code and you have to use “The Monster Society Code” to break it! FUN!!! 5) And for those interested in continuity, this book is a direct sequel to last year’s Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil mini series by Jeff Smith. I loved that book, but I have to admit, Mike Kunkel’s Shazam is miles better. No lie. Apparently, Kunkel used to do a little book called Hero Bear that I’d heard of but never read and consequently missed the boat on. Totally feel like an idiot. So, if you like fun and great art, give this book a try. If you don’t like it, then you, sir, have no taste.
Fables #75 (****)
Ah, this really hit the spot. Finally. This is the type of Fables war story I’ve been waiting for. Huge epic battles combined with intimate character moments. It took him 75 issues, but Willingham finally forced me to care about Prince Charming! And the art was also superb. Mark Buckingham grinds out another fabulous issue. What an underrated talent that guy is, right? This isn’t the final issue of the series, but it could easily have been so. My only complaint is that I kind of wish Boy Blue and Bigby had died. Boy Blue’s charm has been running thin as of late and I’m sick and tired of the “all-powerful” Bigby wolf. Like, the guy isn’t God, or Jesus, or Moses even. Get over yourself, you hairy monster.
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #1 (****)
Sometimes, and I may get blasted for this, but sometimes I can’t take George Perez pencils. They just… bother me. His layouts are busy and a lot of his faces start repeating. BLAH. What I’m trying to say is that this time I enjoyed his art. It was still uber-busy, of course, but somehow Geoff Johns expert dialoguing mitigated the groan factor. As far as this being a Final Crisis tie-in, I don’t know. How does this story fit exactly? Isn’t Superman zooming through the Multiverse at this point in the FC plot? And what does the Legion have to do with anything? This mini, unlike Revelations, feels like it could’ve been just as well served without the FC banner. Could I be missing the obvious link to FC? Maybe. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Green Lantern Corps #28 (***1/2)
I really want to love this issue, and this arc in general, but the art is just SOOOOO pedestrian. Boring. It feels like fill-in art on some crappy mid-90’s Marvel book. I really like this Sixth Sense character though. I bet Johns and Tomasi are gonna get a ton of mileage out of him once “Blackest Night” starts.
Spawn #182 (****)
Again, WHY? Why are they changing directions? YET! AGAIN! When the story has been so good lately! ARRGH! Admittedly, this issue was a bit of a dip in quality, mostly due to the extraneous amounts of exposition… but… it was still better than 90% of the first 100 issues. At what point do I finally cut my losses and break up with Spawn? Is it time? Yes, I think it is.
Legion of 3 Worlds (*****)
This was epic. I’ll start off my mentioning the biggest complaint I have about this comic. It didn’t really have much to do with Final Crisis. That’s all! This issue’s overall quality is more than enough for me to forgive that. Especially since it’s only the first issue and like all of the FC tie-ins, you don’t have to read FC to enjoy this. This could almost be its own event.
This was written by Geoff Johns and drawn by George Perez and they both bring their A-game. Yes Perez draws a lot of characters, but they all seem like they’re needed. Part of this is because of Johns. He definitely knows how to write for his artists. This issue features a Superman museum. So I’m sure you can imagine all the fun Perez had rendering that one. This issue is worth the price of admission simply to see an old master demonstrate why he’s considered a legend.
Speaking of price, this issue costs 4 bucks which is a bit steep in this American economy I live in. To say I got my money’s worth is an understatement. I read an interview with Johns and he said that the issue would take 30 minutes to read. I wasn’t bored at all while reading the issue so I didn’t look at the clock, but I think it may have taken a bit longer than half an hour. Over 30 minutes of entertainment for 4 bucks is pretty good with gas the price it is.
It’s true there are a lot of words in this book, but not in a bad way. Johns does give us some explanation, but he does so in clever ways like the aforementioned museum. The exposition also helps out new readers and even old ones. I didn’t know that much about the Legion nor did I care to until now. I’m also happy to report that this is a bit of a sequel to Johns’ Superman Legion arc that was recently featured in Action Comics. The villain behind the scenes within this issue also made a recent appearance in Action Comics. Did you need to read these stories to understand this issue? No, but it’s a little treat for Johns’ fans.
The art is astonishing. The writing is superb. You get your money’s worth and then some. You’re hungry for the next issue. What else could you ask from a comic?