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Zero Hour Revisited – Legionnaires #18

90srevisited_zerohour

legionnaires_0018End of an Era part 4: Changing Times

Story: Mark Waid
Pencils: Chris Gardner
Inks: Dennis Cramer
Letterer: Pat Brosser
Co-Plotter/Colorist: Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor: Mike McAvennie
Editor: KC Carlson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I continue to find myself a bit disappointed at these early tie-ins to Zero Hour…as they don’t really seem very much like tie-ins, or only just briefly, tangentially tie in to the Event story.

This issue is both a Zero Hour issue as well as chapter 4 of a 6-part 3-title crossover. Coming in on the start of the back half of the story is not the best place…especially with no "previously" page or such to highlight key developments so far. In that regard–the lack of conscious context makes this seem a lot more like it’d fit contemporary comics, where "jumping in" at the fourth chapter of six is not very prudent.

The main thrust of this issue is that the current Legionnaires fail to stop a couple of baddies from gaining Ultimate Power…and said baddies remake the universe–or at least parts of it…including their own "dark" Legionnaires. Combine that with time-issues associated with Zero Hour anyway, and it’s a bit confusing for a reader not overly familiar with the characters involved. Adding to the confusion is the knowledge (or so I think) that the Legionnaires are "younger versions" of the older Legion of Super-Heroes characters so there’s already at least two versions of several characters without even getting to Time anomalies. We do see several Legionnaires trapped in the 20th century who receive the Superman/Green Lantern/Metron call-to-arms, but outside of that, this issue has nothing useful to add or expand upon regarding Zero Hour itself so far.

The art’s not bad, though I’m not now (nor have ever been) all that familiar with the characters, so there’s no significantly defining version of the characters nor a favorite artist for me to compare this to. Even elements I’m lost on are more my own lack of immersion than necessarily any fault of the art…the characters just ARE what they are…and they’re familiar enough that I’d just have to say that I have no problem with the art itself.

I’m also in a weird place in trying to critically consider the writing…because as said, this is the FOURTH chapter of six…so while I did not enjoy the story, it’s not to say that it’s bad writing or anything. It’s my slogging forward into  this chapter due to it having the Zero Hour banner on the cover, instead of going back to seek out the first three chapters of this story, at least, to gain context on what’s up.

I’m pretty sure I remember Zero Hour being a fairly major "break point" for the Legion books, or so I’d heard, and that would make sense–this seems like an ok chapter within the context of the Legion/Valor stuff…but this really adds nothing of particular value to my reading of the Event itself, and is an issue that should be easy enough to skip without missing out if you were to try to read the event in general.

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time [Review]

jlaadventurestrappedintimedvd_0129While I’m not thrilled at the idea of the “classic” (for me, this means 1986-2011) DC stories being scrapped in favor of New-52-centric stories being adapted for DC‘s line of direct-to-home-media release, I’ve been looking forward to Justice League: War for awhile, if only just to see how they adapt the story to the screen, given it seemed like basically a lengthy fight scene to me when I read it.

There was no Fall 2013 new release (instead, we got a “special edition” that combined Dark Knight Returns parts 1 & 2 into a single feature)…so I’ve been looking forward to the next NEW film for quite awhile.

Imagine, then, my surprise when I came across JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time while browsing a Target Sunday evening. At first I mistook it for another Superfriends release, yet it had the “classic” JLA logo I’m familiar with from the ’90s/early-2000s, so it got my curiosity up. Target‘s had that “exclusive” line of DC figures under the Justice League branding; so I may have partially wondered if this was a new line of “re-presenting” Superfriends episodes through Target.

But according to the box, it was an original animated movie, albeit Target-exclusive. I wrestled with leaving it–after all, I’d NOT been looking forward to THIS one, and I’ve never been a fan of the Superfriends stuff, so I put it back. Then I picked it up again. And ultimately bought it along with my groceries and such.

In broad strokes, this reminded me of those mini comics that came in boxes of cereal several years back…fun enough, familiar-looking characters, passable stuff that’s fun as something different, but by no means anything special.

I liked the animation well enough…it wasn’t anything phenomenal, but it wasn’t terrible. My primary “issue” with the animation has to do with the character designs themselves–what fault I may have found with the animation probably comes more from this aspect.

The costumes are a blend of preNew 52 and current…Superman’s lacks the ugly collar-and-armor look BUT has the red belt in place of the trunks. Truthfully–I have no issue here as I don’t know if I would have noticed if I’d not been looking for it.

Bizarro and Cheetah looked “off” a bit, while Black Manta, Grodd, and others looked ok enough. Luthor looks like a sleeker, higher quality rendition of something pre-1986 to me, or at least what I unconsciously associate with that earlier period.

Story-wise, this is fairly typical fare for superhero shenanigans. Heroes beat the villains, villains use time-travel to change a key moment in history and thus undo the heroes; “b-list” heroes not affected by the time change (um…wibbly-wobbly, time-wimey stuff) must emerge and put things right.

The use of the Time Trapper here is probably the most accessible version I’ve encountered of the character. Rather than being a known villain of the Legion of Super-Heroes or such, he’s just an entity released from an artifact in the LoS’ museum a la a genie from a bottle. Granted, this makes him/it more of a plot point than any sort of character with any depth, it works for the story. I’m sure my own lack of experience with the Legion–they’re a definite blind spot in my experiential DC knowledge–lends itself to my ready acceptance of this interpretation of the character, where those far more familiar with Legion stuff may well take issue with it.

I didn’t recognize any of the voice actors offhand…but this honestly doesn’t bother me at all. Perhaps largely for not even expecting this movie and having no vested interest in its particular version of the characters (it’s not based on/adapting anything I’m familiar with specifically nor is it a continuation of the ’90s Batman, Superman, or Justice League/Justice League Unlimited animated series or previous direct-to-home-media film).

Since I’m not expecting the “traditional” voice actors for Superman, Batman, or Luthor and had no expectations for any of the other characters, I took stuff at “face value,” wherein all voices fit if only for the fact that none of them particularly DIDN’T fit; no one “sounded weird” to me or had odd voices coming from an otherwise familiar appearance.

In the end, this is–to me–a rather mediocre thing, though. It’s not bad, but it’s not wonderful. Ultimately it’s rather forgettable. JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time is enjoyable in the moment, having watched it…but on the whole it doesn’t strike me as anything worth rushing out to buy. A rental would be an adequate way of scratching any “curiosity itch” one has regarding this for now.

The NEW DC Universe

With the relaunch of DC’s superhero line in September, things start off with 52 #1 issues. Justice League August 31st, and the other 51 in September. The titles for this initial launch have been reported as follows:

  • ACTION COMICS
  • ALL-STAR WESTERN
  • ANIMAL MAN
  • AQUAMAN
  • BATGIRL
  • BATMAN
  • BATMAN & ROBIN
  • BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT
  • BATWING
  • BATWOMAN
  • BIRDS OF PREY
  • BLACKHAWKS
  • BLUE BEETLE
  • CAPTAIN ATOM
  • CATWOMAN
  • DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS
  • DEATHSTROKE
  • DEMON KNIGHTS
  • DETECTIVE COMICS
  • FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE
  • GREEN ARROW
  • GREEN LANTERN
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS
  • GREEN LANTERN: THE NEW GUARDIANS
  • GRIFTER
  • HAWK & DOVE

Continue reading

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Not Bad
Story Title: Yesterday’s Hero

The Legion members recount how a young Superman came to be part of their team…

legionofsuperheroesinthe31stcentury001Writer: J. Torres
Art: Chynna Clugston
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Rob Clark Jr.
Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Cover Art: Steve Uy
Publisher: Johnny-DC/DC Comics

The initial draw for me to this issue was the price. The prospect of buying a new issue with no discounts at a bricks and mortar store for just over the $2 mark grabbed my interest out of principle (though I sheepishly admit to virtually ignoring all Johnny-DC books for the last couple years). It’s a first issue, it’s cheap, and it features characters I’m not terribly familiar with…so hey, might as well check it out, right?
The first thing I noticed with the issue was the paper quality. Very thin, and if it isn’t, sure feels like the classic newsprint from comics of days gone by…which explains the cover price.

The story is pretty simple and straight-forward: the Legionaires have conflicting views on what exactly it was that led to a young man of steel being part of their 31st-century team. We basically get several narratives from the characters, recounting a couple of quick adventures, collectively serving as a first-issue introduction-and-origin of the team and info about its starring characters.

We’re given a look at the Legionaires "interviewing" the young man of steel to see that he’s eligible to join (this seems vaguely familiar to me as something from one of the original Legion of Super-Heroes stories from way-back-when); and then a fight with the Fatal Five.

The art is also fairly simple and not terribly detailed (which is not to say there’s no detail), and somewhat manga-ish. I realize this is to have it fit with the actual cartoon this series is a companion to (though I’m not sure if the first episode’s aired yet). It’s not particularly my cup of tea so to speak, but it fits the tone of the book, the characters are distinct and recognizeable, and so I really can’t complain about it in and of itself.

I’m not sure how this book will go over with long-time Legion of Super-Heroes fans, as my primary knowledge of the characters comes from the first year of the current iteration in the mainline DCU, but while this is definitely much different from that, I found it to be entertaining enough. I’m not a huge fan of the "Americanized-manga" styling, and a seemingly-on-the-surface over-simplification of things (the perception of which has largely kept out of the Teen Titans animated and Teen Titans Go! comic series). But as a simple, fun story not bogged down in continuity, this definitely isn’t bad.

It’s also a self-contained "full" story, in a debut issue of a new series, that actually introduces the main/core team, gives a look at all the characters and interacts with them…which scores points in MY book.

This is worth checking out if you’re looking (at least) for a quick diversion from all the heavy seriousness of many other current fare, and wouldn’t be a terrible issue to offer to the younger crowd–or read WITH them. Nothing all that spectacular, but certainly NOT bad at all.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

Adventure Comics #0 [Review]

Quick Rating: Decent
Story Title: The Legion of Super-Heroes / Origins & Omens

Superboy meets super-powered teens from the future, and a new Luthor/Brainiac team is introduced.

Writer: (AC247) Otto Binder, (O&O) Geoff Johns
Artist: (AC247) Al Plastino, (O&O) Francis Manapul
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Letterer: Swands
Associate Editor: Sean Ryan
Editor: Elisabeth V. Gehrlein
Cover: Aaron Lopresti
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue is primarily reprint material, reprinting the story from Adventure Comics #247…a silver-age comic. This was the story that introduced Superboy to a super-hero club–the Legion of Super-Heroes. Encountering several individuals who know that he is Superboy AND Clark Kent, Superboy agrees to go 1,000 years into the future with these super-powered teens, who invite him to join their club as an honorary member if he can pass their initiation.

At the end of the issue is a 6-page sequence–the Origins & Omens story (one of which will be found in each of a number of other DC titles this month). This one continues a thread from the recently-concluded New Krypton story and sets the stage for the earliest issues of this series.

The story and art on the reprint are instantly recognizeable as silver age fare. While I appreciate concepts of the silver-age and greatly enjoyed time spent reading through my grandfather’s collection of comics half a lifetime ago, these days I find such stories in a bit of opposition with my interest. However, this story was decent, and it IS interesting to see the early/original version of the characters that would go on to have so much more depth in the years since this introduction.

The Origins & Omens bit seemed extremely short, but it has me interested in what’s to come. And I couldn’t help but recall Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? as I read this latest version of a Luthor/Brainiac interaction. The writing’s familiar–it’s Johns, after all–and the art is solid.

However, I’m doubtful that the Origins & Omens sequence is itself enough to justify the cover price. If you want the reprint and/or especially enjoy the Lopresti cover, this issue is well worth the $1. And if you’ve never read this story, there are few better ways to get a piece of history added to your “read” pile.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art:
3/5
Overall:
3/5

Adventure Comics #10 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5/5
Art: 2.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Adventure Comics #8 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

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