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Sunday Slugfest: Legion of Three Worlds #5

Posted: Sunday, July 26, 2009
By: Thom Young

Geoff Johns
George Perez (p) and Scott Koblish (i)
DC Comics
The Legion has been here before--at the end of all time with the Time Trapper mocking their every achievement--but not usually in all their iterations, and not previously with this version of the Trapper.

Shawn Hill:
Paul Brian McCoy:
Charles Webb:
Kyle Garret:
Thom Young:




Shawn Hill

The Time Trapper is sort of like an evil monk. Watching, recording, observing, collecting . . . and also manipulating and taking vengeance while being annoyed at the freewheeling antics of the team of super-teens. Whereas the Legion of Superheroes represents camaraderie and teamwork, the Trapper represents isolation, reflection, and judgment.

Geoff Johns covers all his bases in this issue. He explains away every plot discrepancy with an overload of references about multiple timelines, convergent possibilities, and an assurance that even if it doesn't make sense, it can seem to--because we're only seeing fragments of the larger infinity after all. Or something like that.

As a coherent theory, it's somewhere between a rationale and a universal Deus ex machina, and Johns couldn't have pulled it off this well if not for the collaboration of George Perez, who seems right there with Johns in every gnarled bit of continuity. Perez produces another double-page splash of bodies in this issue that brings back Legionnaires even I don't remember, and I've been reading the Legion's exploits for thirty years--but not fifty years. Both creators have done their homework, and eras from the earliest days are acknowledged.

It's also nice that Koblish provides the sole inking credit this issue, as that's rare enough these days (especially on delayed comics) and he has a light touch that provides a nice consistency to Perez's ambitious pencils.

One of the best moments comes when the Trapper confronts the younger version of himself, and it's a win for both writer and artist. Perez expertly compares the wizened (okay, he probably looks about 55, max, but that's ancient when you're dealing with super-teens) version of Prime with his youthful, whiny, raging brat counterpart. When even the older Prime-as-Trapper is annoyed at how stupid he was, you feel a final conclusion coming--and it's an interesting one that breaks the fourth wall (however tentatively) and cycles back to the origin of the character, as Clark Kent-Prime throws a punch that ruins all his plans.

In returning to the character's point of origin, Johns mixes meta-fiction with his ongoing narrative in a novel means of reducing the threat of the over-powered main foe. He also uses this reduced version of Prime to get in some digs at the fanboys--indicating that Prime's immature rage was always a version of the writer's inner demons given an on-panel outlet.

I'm not quite sure how the mechanics of Prime's fate work logically--but though it's bad news for his family, it's good news for our heroes that he's literally taken himself off the playing field. Quite by accident, he's given us a kind of closure.

Other strong facets include the Legion's core teamwork (even across different iterations of each other), and some unexpected character arcs. Johns has been working to redeem Sun Boy for several years, and while he's provided happy beats for the character and the future Green Lanterns, he's spiraled the White Witch into a predictable (but for her, potentially intriguing) period of darkness. Starman's been left on his journey in the 21st Century, and the three Legion teams that starred in this series find out their fates.

The Legion Lost crew (who were formerly the Reboot Legion) choose to remain lost, while the "eat it grandpa!" team turn out to have Superboy Prime's legacy to cope with directly. Meanwhile, it seems the Levitz/Giffen League (from just before to the five-year Gap) are back to being our main team--with a revived Superboy (Conner Kent) set to share some new adventures with them.

I approve. Long Live the Legion!




Paul Brian McCoy:

Legion of 3 Worlds #5 has finally arrived. Thus ends one of the worst mini-series I've ever read. Don't expect any witty banter or clever critiques from me. This final issue doesn't deserve the effort. I don't give a shit that it was late. I'm disgusted that the thing saw print in the first place.

This issue was borderline incomprehensible--except for the really stupid parts, which seemed like they were written by a child.

WTF Moment #1: The Time Trapper is a "sentient alternate timeline rebelling against" the "true timeline"? His history and identity change as the "true timeline marches on"? Are you serious?

WTF Moment #2: Duplicate Damsel? So killing off both of her original duplicates means she now can make as many duplicates as she wants? What? Does that mean every member of her race can do the same? And no one in the history of the planet Cargg ever knew this?

WTF Moment #3: Superboy Prime vs. Time Trapper? They touch each other and explode/disintegrate/erase? You're kidding me. Is this a Saturday morning cartoon? Are they matter and anti-matter? What's really funny is that Johns doesn't even try to explain it. Brainy has a theory that he doesn't elaborate on, and then they become a "cosmic reset button."

WTF Moment #4: The Legion of Earth Prime? Really? Who inspired them to form in a universe without a Superboy--or with only Superboy Prime? Were they inspired by the comics published in Universe Prime about themselves? Which makes me wonder, why didn't they get the Superboys/Supermen from all these different realities? That would have put a quick end to this stupidity.

WTF Moment #5: What happened to Final Crisis? Are we just supposed to pretend that never happened? Remember the old Miracle Machine? We can't even get a passing mention of the DEATH AND REBIRTH OF ALL TIME AND SPACE?

WTF Moment #6: SuperFanboy Prime? That's how you want to end it, Johns? With Superboy Prime trolling the DC message boards and living in his parents' basement? And everyone who compared this ending with Grant Morrison's work on Animal Man should be kicked in the teeth and urinated on.

Preferably at the same time.

Any critic who praises Legion of 3 Worlds #5 as good, solid storytelling, then your critical judgment is forevermore in question. If you just liked the art, then I suppose you get a pass. Although the orgasmic, "don't pay any attention to what you're about to read, just be hypnotized by my boobs" cover of Dawnstar is embarrassing.

Why didn't we get a cover with one of the guys shoving his dick at the reader? That's fair, right?

And honestly, the art is extremely inconsistent this issue, with some pages looking as good as Perez' best work, but with more pages being sloppy and lacking detail and definition. I suspect those pages are more the work of the inker taking on some of the burden. They're not bad, but they're not up to the standard I expect from Perez.

There, it's done. Now stop talking about it and go read something good.




Charles Webb:

So, the big surprise for me is how much I was disappointed by this long-delayed Final Crisis tie-in. Sure, Geoff Johns is a master of bombast in his work (which to some extent Iíve defended in recent reviews), but the premise that opened this Legion of 3 Worlds series--the redemption of Superboy Prime--was so downright corny and optimistic that the cynical ending given to us here feels hollow and like an afterthought.

After discovering that Prime is an enemy on two fronts--both in the 31st Century as well as at the end of time in the guise of the Time Trapper--the Legions of three worlds, alongside the resurrected Conner Kent and Bart Allen, press their surprise advantage against the reeling Legion of Super Villains. From there on, a lot more punching ensues--with none of the wow moments of the previous installments.

I actually had a little emotional reaction when Bart came back in the third issue, and I donít even have any real connection to that particular character. This issue has nothing of that sort of reaction in mind. Instead, it's about putting all the toys back in place with a soft reboot of the Legion membership, some mildly interesting teases about the future of the franchise, and that mean-spirited ending involving Prime.

About that ending: Itís been discussed elsewhere on the Internet, and Iím sure many of you may have even seen the final image of Prime, confined to his home universe, surrounded by comics at a desk, furiously posting to the DC message boards. Iíve never been fond of Prime as the man-baby he's been overtly presented as since Countdown or thereabouts. However, I quite liked the way he was presented in Infinite Crisis where he just wanted to be the best Superman, and then goes a bit mad when heís thwarted at this.

My hope was that the Infinite Crisis concept of the character was the path down which Johns would be approaching Prime and his ultimate redemption. Instead, Johns abandons Superman's announced intention at the beginning of this series to focus instead on the obvious meta-commentary.

Yes, comic fandom can be vocal, obnoxious, opinionated, and much too invested in corporate-owned properties. Iím even willing to bet that Johns has been the target of their ire once or twice (I do hope youíve caught the hint of understatement here), but theyíre such a noisome, pitiful target, and Iím disappointed that Johns chose to target his narrative towards them.

If youíre writing a book about the Legion of Superheroes, you are writing to a very specific audience. Thus, it feels to a certain extent that Johns is insulting that target audience with this book. While I have very little patience for the overly passionate segment of fandom that is too emotionally invested in corporate-owned characters, I think Johns has miscalculated in targeting this emotional and vocal element of his readership.

In sacrificing the originally stated ending for one that completes a full arc for Superboy Prime by essentially shuffling him back to where he was in the beginning, Johns has lost some credit with me for taking the cheap and obvious shot when he could have done something interesting.

If you liked this review, be sure to check out more of the authorís work at Monster In Your Veins




Kyle Garret:

I eagerly await the Legion of Superheroes series that we've been promised. You know, that one written by Geoff Johns and drawn by George Perez. I hope itís better than this Superboy Prime series I just spent all this money on.

Whatís that?

This was the Legion of Superheroes book we were supposed to get?

So youíre telling me that the resurrection of Kid Flash, non-Clark Kent Superboy, and the Green Lantern Corps have something to do with the Legion of Superheroes?

Youíre telling me that death for shock value has something to do with the Legion of Superheroes? Youíre telling me that this whiney, red-eyed character with the scars on his chest has something to do with the Legion of Superheroes?

And I though the Threeboot Legion was bad.

To be fair, I was onboard with this series when it started. I thought Johns did a decent job of setting everything up in the first issue, something that could not have been easy. The second issue, while alarming at certain points, was still decent enough. However, then, slowly but surely, the wheels came off the wagon.

At some point, Johns quit writing about the Legion and started writing about Superboy Prime--and he actually made the character even worse than normal, which is hard to believe. Yet, there were still things I liked about this issue.

Iíve always found the White Witch kind of boring, so her change here is a welcome one--and it was left vague enough that perhaps a better writer could do something with it. Johns had the sense to suggest that the Time Trapper could be anyone at any time, and that perhaps the one we got in this series isnít necessarily the one weíll get in the future-- which is an explanation that saves me a lot of time that I would otherwise spend on Superboy Prime being the Time Trapper. Finally, I also got to see a single shot of Kent Shakespeare--the "replacement Superman" created by inker Al Gordon for the series that was plotted and penciled by Keith Giffen in the early 1990s.

In fact, I even thought Johns's solution to the Superboy Prime problem was a nice one--until he took it too far and made it really bad. The idea of Superboy Prime finally getting what he wanted, and then having to face the people he was using as an excuse for his actions is great. Itís probably the most poetic notion Johns have ever put into a comic.

However, Johns then completely undermines it for the sake of . . . I donít know what, exactly. Some people seem to think he was taking potshots at readers. Others think he was trying to be clever. I just think it was dumb.

It should also be noted that Geoff Johns is a stickler for continuity as long as itís his continuity. The return of Earth Prime goes against everything that was established in 52, a book he co-wrote (not to mention in contrast to JSA, a book he also wrote).

The new multiverse, while sharing similarities to the old one, is supposed to be completely new. Itís why Power Girl still doesnít have a universe to call her original home. Yet, thatís not the case at all here, Superboy Prime can return to his original universe because Geoff Johns says so.

The rest of the story resolutions arenít much better. The Threeboot Legion is the Legion of Earth Prime, which is something that I think most people figured out early on. However, the first reboot Legion no longer has a universe to call home--so they decide theyíre going to wander from place to place in the multiverse to try to find others who are lost and without a universe. Johns then throws in a geek joke (ďI guess you can call us the New WanderersĒ) and then has two members of that team jump ship.

Given the revelations we learned about XS, I can swallow her decision. However, Gates, who happens to be the only member of that team who can teleport, decides to stay because ďThis Legion needs a lot more input from invertebrates if itís serious about confronting their universe of xenophobic bipeds.Ē

What? How does Gates even know that?

I had high hopes for this title, mostly because Iím a Legion fan and I love George Perezís artwork. Sadly, though, it wasnít enough to save this title from falling further and further in my eyes. If part of the point of this series was to get me to read the new Adventure Comics title, it didnít do a very good job.

I donít know that Iím going to waste four dollars a month for what could be eight pages of new Legion stories that might very well be like this series. Hereís hoping DC lets a different writer have a shot at this team sooner rather than later.




Thom Young:

After reading Legion of 3 Worlds #5, I realized I had just read a typical Geoff Johns comic--i.e., mindless violence, inane dialog, and errors in logic throughout the plot. I then realized that the review I had started to compose in my head was nearly identical to the review of the third issue that was posted as part of a Sunday Slugfest on February 8, 2009. It was also nearly identical to my original review that I was going to write for the fourth issue before I wrote my review that was posted as part of the Sunday Slugfest on May 3, 2009.

I guess that in the nearly five and a half months since the third issue and the nearly two and a half months since the fourth issue I had forgotten what I had thought about those two previous installments of this haphazard series. Upon realizing that I was essentially having the same thoughts for the fifth issue (with some of the details swapped out, of course), I considered not even bothering to write a review of this issue. Iíd just let my colleague Paul Brian McCoy have at it.

After all, I had already said what I wanted to say five and a half months ago. However, two things happened on the way to the forum. First, I only agree with about 50% of what Paul complained about in his review--which is not to say that I think Paul is wrong with the other 50%, just that I have a slightly different take on it. Second, I sort of liked the final 11 pages of this issue's main story (not counting the preview pages of Adventure Comics #1, which I will also discuss later in this review).

The reason I like those final 11 pages isn't because they include the Postmodern concept of self-referential metafiction. I don't think that the ending is at all comparable to the conclusion of Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man 19 years and one month ago in Animal Man #26--though I do believe Geoff Johns specifically had that issue in mind when he came up with the ending for Legion of 3 Worlds.

I like those last 11 pages because they don't involve non-stop mindless violence (though some mindless violence is implied as having occurred off panel). I also like them because they are mostly void of inane dialog--though Superboy Prime is in some of those final pages, so they're not completely free of inane dialog.

Anyway, yes, this issue contains more of the same shrill histrionics and mindless violence that were in the second, third, and fourth issues of Legion of 3 Worlds. I actually like the first issue, and I had high hopes for Johns delivering the rare story that I actually might enjoy (such as he did with his "Brainiac" arc in Action Comics #866-70). However, after that promising first issue (and Superman's promise at the end of that first issue), this series as a whole degenerated into an overly crowded takeoff on WWE's pro wrestling program for SyFy.

Yes, Legion of 3 Worlds is an ECW-styled pro rasslin' spectacle.

I can only stomach watching about five minutes or so of ECW whenever I happen to catch it on SyFy. However, from what I can tell, this brand of Vince McMahon's WWE has even more over-the-top shrill histrionics than the regular WWE brand. I imagine that if I bothered to follow any of the "stories" in ECW--such as which "rasslers" hate whom and for what reasons, which silicone-filled babes (in breasts and head) are being fought over by which testosterone-filled brutes, et cetera--I'd find even more there that compares with the internal logic of this Johns-scripted series.

It amazes me that anyone actually watches ECW (or any professional wrestling for that matter). However, SyFy (formerly the Sci-Fi Channel) continues to broadcast the spectacle. I suppose it's a relatively inexpensive program for the network to buy from WWE, and it obviously generates enough advertising revenue (and enough viewers) to keep it on the air.

The same must be true for Johns-scripted comics that are filled with mindless violence, shrill histrionics, and errors in logic--there must be enough of people buying this stuff that Paul Levitz and Dan Didio (the head honchos of DC Comics) are committed to publishing it without the benefit of a true editor overseeing the story.

Of course, when people like Paul McCoy, Kyle Garret, and me continue to buy this stuff even though we don't like it, we're sending the wrong message to DC with our hard-earned dollars. However, like Kyle, I have a long history as a fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and so I bought this series even though I knew after the second issue that it wasn't to my taste.

I'll also buy the first issue of Adventure Comics--especially since the preview in the back of this issue didn't look too bad. It had some very good illustrations by Francis Manapul (much better than what he produced for Jim Shooter in the recently canceled Legion of Super-Heroes series), and the dialog by Johns was not filled with shrill histrionics nor was the action just an extended sequence of mindless violence.

There wasn't much of a plot in these preview pages--Conner "Superboy" Kent flying around and doing things that Clark "Superboy" Kent might have done 50 years ago (with some details, such as computers and Titans Tower, swapped out, of course)--but it was a charming and quiet story that piqued my interest.

However, I've learned my lesson with Legion of 3 Worlds (a lesson I have to keep learning after originally learning it with Infinite Crisis). I have too little money to spend, and I can't waste it on poorly written comics that I buy for no other reason than nostalgic sentiment in the hope that characters I once loved will be presented in good stories.

While Johns didn't give me a Legion that reminded me of the Shooter and Levitz stories of the 1970s and 1980s, he did give me a conclusion that I believe was supposed to remind me of the Postmodern Grant Morrison stories of the 1990s--of which I am also a "fan." However, instead of Animal Man realizing that he's a character in a comic book whose "life" is being controlled by Morrison, Superboy Prime realizes that he's a character in a comic book whose "life" (or part of it anyway) is being read by Thom Young.

Yes, that's right! I see you there on page 30, Superboy Prime! I know you're looking at and talking to me, personally!

I'll stare at you if I damn well want to, and you can't do anything to stop me! You may not be going away, but neither am I!

I see you there posting on the DC Comics message boards! It's a good thing they don't have rigid standards in their forum. However, I'm the Master of the Comics Bulletin Message Boards, and there is no way in hell you will ever have an activated account here!


Uhm . . . uh . . . anyway . . . yeah, this entire series was mostly crap, and I wasted a lot of good money on it.

As for the parts of Paul's criticisms that I sort of disagree with--let's look at all six of Paul's "What the Fuck" moments (but not in order):
WTF Moment #5: What happened to Final Crisis? Are we just supposed to pretend that never happened? Remember the old Miracle Machine? We can't even get a passing mention of the DEATH AND REBIRTH OF ALL TIME AND SPACE?
Well, the fact that this series is published under the Final Crisis logo and is supposedly a tie-in to Morrison's series is a joke. It was just yet another example of DC attempting to generate sales by claiming that various series tie into a major event when they really don't--just as they also did with the almost-as-bad Final Crisis: Revelations series.

Should this series have had some sort of connection to the opening sequence of Final Crisis #6?

Yeah, it might have been a good idea, but I really didn't expect it since this series obviously had no real connection to Morrison's series aside from the shared "Final Crisis" logo on the cover.

WTF Moment #6: SuperFanboy Prime? That's how you want to end it, Johns? With Superboy Prime trolling the DC message boards and living in his parents' basement? And everyone who compared this ending with Grant Morrison's work on Animal Man should be kicked in the teeth and urinated on.
See my above message to Superboy Prime.

Yeah, you, Prime! You heard me! (Uhm, read me.)

WTF Moment #1: The Time Trapper is a "sentient alternate timeline rebelling against" the "true timeline"? His history and identity change as the "true timeline marches on"? Are you serious?
Actually, this isn't too far off from what has been used as the Time Trapper's "identity" in recent years.

With so many characters having been revealed to be the Time Trapper--including Cosmic Boy and Glorith, if I remember correctly--it's sort of been accepted that the character isn't actually a "person" as much as it's a cosmic force of nature that adapts whatever persona it currently needs to be to disrupt the Legion.

There are obvious flaws with that scenario--the most obvious of which is why does a "cosmic force of nature" hate Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes so much? However, if we get past that obvious problem for the character's motivation, then the idea of a cosmic force of nature (something akin to a deity, I guess) that takes on the identity of an avatar when its identity is supposedly revealed to the Legion is an interesting one.

However, I would think by now the Legion (especially the Levitz Legion that Johns is primarily using here) would simply say, "Oh, so this time you want us to believe you're Superboy Prime, huh? You haven't been able to make that trick work on us since you revealed yourself to be Cosmic Boy."

Nevertheless, I'm glad to see that Johns isn't really under the impression that Superboy Prime should eventually become the Time Trapper. Rather, it's yet another example of the Time Trapper becoming a character that the Legion knows (not just taking on the appearance of that character, but actually becoming the character) as part of its scheme against the Legion.

Ultimately, though, I'd rather the Time Trapper wasn't a congenital "cosmic force of nature." Instead, I'd prefer he was revealed to be a character who has obvious ties to Superman and the Legion, and who has a rational reason for hating them.

Back in the 1970s, Marvel essentially had a convoluted story in which Doctor Doom, Rama-Tut, and Kang the Conqueror were all manifestations of the same person (Victor von Doom) but altered through the character's mastery of time, and then reinvented in different eras as a time-traveling super-villain. Marvel eventually did away with that connection between Doom, Rama-Tut, and Kang. However, I thought it made for an interesting concept when I first came across it in 1977 or 78.

DC won't do it, of course, but I'd like to see the Time Trapper not only be revealed to be the "Time Master" who battled Wonder Woman in 1958 (in Wonder Woman #101) but also Rip Hunter, Time Master. Of course, if they want to throw Michael "Booster Gold" Carter in there, too, as an aspect of the character, that would be acceptable as well.

Through Rip Hunter/Michael Carter's interaction with the time stream--and the mind-altering effect of weaving in and out of timelines--the character could be shown to develop a hatred for Superman and the Legion in various timelines (parallel universes), which eventually lead to him attempting his first villainous attack on Wonder Woman in 1958 as the "Time Master" (which was Rip Hunter's own sobriquet a year later in 1959 in Showcase #20).

As he takes on more temporal energy over the decades, eventually making him immortal, Hunter/Carter briefly takes the place of Destiny of the Endless (first from Weird Mystery Tales and, later, from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series) when the real Destiny was out of commission (the same way that Gaiman had the various incarnations of the Golden Age Sandman and Jack Kirby's 1970s character fill in for Morpheus when he was out of commission). In this way, the Time Trapper came to start dressing in a purple robe.

Eventually, filled with an abundance of temporal energy, Rip Hunter/Michael Carter became a "cosmic force of nature" and the Time Trapper is born--as a deity clad in a purple robe just like Destiny.

Of course, it's recently been revealed that Rip Hunter is the son of Michael Carter, but that might not necessarily be the truth either--and a deity who is both the Son and the Father (and the Holy Spirit or "Destiny") is not exactly an alien concept in our culture.

Anyway, Johns gets a pass from me on this notion--though he certainly could have explained it better than "a sentient alternate timeline rebelling against" the adult Legion's timeline--though I guess this explanation can be used to explain why Keith Giffen's "five years later" Legion (after Paul Levitz) isn't part of the Adult Legion timeline that Johns is using.

WTF Moment #2: Duplicate Damsel? So killing off both of her original duplicates means she now can make as many duplicates as she wants? What? Does that mean every member of her race can do the same? And no one in the history of the planet Cargg ever knew this?
You know, until Paul pointed out the error in internal logic with this concept, I was willing to go along with it. After all, part of what Johns is doing is trying to give us the "nonsensical" stories that made up the DC Universe in the Silver Age--such as those stories scripted by Edmond Hamilton, Gardner Fox, John Broome, et cetera.

The notion of Triplicate Girl becoming Duplicate Damsel after two of her three bodies are killed is the sort of thing that Edmond Hamilton might have come up with in Adventure Comics #341 had two of Triplicate Girl's bodies been destroyed in the previous issue (which was written by Jerry Siegel) instead of just one body.

It might have been explained that when Computo killed Triplicate Girl (or two of her bodies instead of just one), he inadvertently released some sort of energy that allowed her to suddenly unlock her hidden potential to make an infinite number of bodies.

However, this isn't the Silver Age and comics are no longer being written for 10-year-old boys (just for 40-year-old men with a lot of arrested social development that goes back to when we were 10-year-old boys). Johns can't have the "wacky Silver Age explanations" that he wants to liberally mix with the gruesome Dark Age gore and violence.

Well, he can--obviously there are enough readers who enjoy that type of dichotomy in a Geoff Johns story to make it profitable for DC. Still, it's my contention that the Silver Age's disregard for internal logic and the Dark Age's embrace of gore-filled carnage blend together about as well as do oil and water--and it's one of the main reasons I don't care for most of what Geoff Johns writes.

So, yeah, shouldn't everyone on Cargg who ever lost two bodies to death suddenly be able to create multiple bodies? Wouldn't that discovery actually have caused a number of Carggites over the years to commit suicide twice in order to unleash their full potential?

It's yet another ridiculous Geoff Johns notion in which the internal logic of the fictional reality doesn't matter as long as it seems like a cool concept on the surface.

WTF Moment #3: Superboy Prime vs. Time Trapper? They touch each other and explode/disintegrate/erase? You're kidding me. Is this a Saturday morning cartoon? Are they matter and anti-matter? What's really funny is that Johns doesn't even try to explain it. Brainy has a theory that he doesn't elaborate on, and then they become a "cosmic reset button."
Well, here would have been a good place to have introduced the Miracle Machine into this series--tying it to Final Crisis #6 and even giving a logical explanation (internally logical, at least) for Duo Damsel to suddenly become Duplicate Damsel.

Perhaps when that "cosmic force of nature" that is the Time Trapper actually touches the person whose identity it's assumed they then explode and . . . uhm . . . they then . . . uh . . . get transported through the multiverse to wherever they want to go?

Sort of like clicking the heels of your ruby (or silver) slippers together and saying, "There's no place like home"--I guess.

WTF Moment #4: The Legion of Earth Prime? Really? Who inspired them to form in a universe without a Superboy--or with only Superboy Prime? Were they inspired by the comics published in Universe Prime about themselves? Which makes me wonder, why didn't they get the Superboys/Supermen from all these different realities? That would have put a quick end to this stupidity.
Ah, the Earth Prime conundrum.

Of course, on the one hand Paul's right. It makes absolutely no sense for a Legion of Super-Heroes to have ever developed on "Earth Prime."

On the other hand, it makes perfect sense for this particular iteration to be "the Earth Prime Legion of Super-Heroes" since that's essentially the best explanation of why Mark Waid (and then Jim Shooter) had so many old DC comic books lying around in the Legion Headquarters in the recently canceled Legion series.

For those who don't know, Earth Prime was a concept first created by Julius Schwartz and Cary Bates in 1968 in Flash #179 in a story titled "The Flash--Fact or Fiction?" In that story, Barry "The Flash" Allen is thrown into a parallel universe while battling a hurricane-like creature. He then finds that he can't cross the dimensional barrier back to Earth-1 by vibrating his atoms to the Earth-1 frequency (the way he could if he was on Earth-2).

The Flash discovers that he is on a parallel world that has no superheroes and in which he is considered a comic book character, so he visits the one man who will believe that he is a super-hero from a parallel world who can't go home--Julius Schwartz, the man who edits the comic book adventures of The Flash.

At the offices of National Periodical Publications (the official name of "DC Comics" at that time), the Flash meets Julius Schwartz and proves that he is who he says he is. Schwartz then gathers machine parts for Barry to build his first Cosmic Treadmill so that he can go home.

During the story, the world on which Julius Schwartz lived was designated Earth-Prime. However, a case could be made that the first appearance of Earth-Prime occurred three and a half months earlier in Inferior Five #6 in which the big boss at National Periodicals who is known as I.D. (Irwin Donnenfeld, the owner, president, and publisher at the time) seeks out Jack Miller, the editor of Inferior Five.

I.D. informs Miller that the next issue of Inferior Five is due at the printer, so Miller gets E. Nelson Bridwell to write a script. Miller and Bridwell then walk through the building to get other staffers (artists, letterers, and colorists) to get them to finish the issue.

When they return to Miller's office, a bald villain attacks them. It's decided, though, that the villain should be used in a better comic book, so he's removed from the building. Bridwell finishes his script while Miller is dragged away to a psychiatric hospital. Meanwhile, the stars of the book, were asleep in Miller's office--missing out on the story in their own comic book.

Julius Schwartz made an appearance in that Inferior Five issue, but the Earth on which the offices of National existed was not called "Earth-Prime." I've often wondered if that Inferior Five issue was the story that inspired Schwartz and Bates to create their Earth-Prime story in Flash #179.

Six years later, in Flash #228 (an issue edited by Schwartz and written by Bates), Cary Bates crossed over to Earth-1 in a story titled "The Day I Saved the Life of the Flash"--which was the story that first introduced me to the concept of "Earth Prime." That story referenced the earlier story in which Schwartz met the Flash, and it explained that Earth-Prime was "our world"--a universe in which comic book characters were considered fictional, but that their actual exploits in parallel universes were published by National Periodical Publications.

When I was a kid and first read Flash #228, I was enamored with the idea that my favorite characters actually existed in parallel universes (Earths One and Two), and that it was possible for them to cross over to "our world"--and that we could cross over to their worlds (a later Justice League and Justice Society team-up story had both Cary Bates and Eliot S. Maggin crossing over to Earths One and Two).

Of course there was a part of me that knew it was complete fiction, but there was a part of me that hoped it was true, too. We now know that parallel universes are very likely to be real--see Dr. Max Tegmark's "Parallel Universes: The Mystery of Probability: What Are the Odds?" in the May 2003 issue of Scientific American--so there's still a part of me that thinks, "Well, it's possible. . . ."

However, DC eventually took away the illusion that our world was Earth-Prime and that these events might be real. Ten years after the idea of Earth-Prime was officially introduced in Flash #179, "our world" was introduced to "Earth's First and Last Superhero" in Justice League of America #153 in a story once again edited by Julius Schwartz and written by Gerry Conway.

Ultraa, the first superhero of Earth-Prime made five more appearances in Justice League of America over the next four years. I was firmly entrenched in my late teens by then (and early 20s for the final Ultraa story), so I was no longer operating under the wishful childhood fantasy that these stories could actually be true.

However, the fantasy took its greatest hit when the Superboy of Earth-Prime was introduced in DC Comics Presents #87. The issue was again edited by Julius Schwartz, and the two stories in it were written by Eliot S. Maggin--"Year of the Comet" and "The Origin of Superboy-Prime."

At first I thought, this is strange that they're introducing a Superboy (Superman) to Earth-Prime. For one thing, Ultraa was already the "Superman of Earth-Prime" after having been rocketed to Earth as an infant to escape his home planet's destruction (though he landed in the Australian Outback and was raised by Aborigines). Additionally, why would DC create a new Superboy/Superman since they already had one on Earth-One and another (the original) on Earth-Two?

The answer came several months later with the destruction of all parallel universes in the DC Multiverse with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Superboy-Prime had been created so that both "Superboy" and the original Superman could both be retired (along with the original Lois Lane) as they passed through a doorway into oblivion. The Golden Age Batman (and Robin) would probably have passed through that doorway to oblivion, too, but he had already been killed in 1979 in Adventure Comics #462.

I knew then that Earth-Prime was no more, but the world outside my window still existed. However, Grant Morrison brought Earth-Prime back--not in Final Crisis, but in his short-lived (two issues) Authority series at the end of 2006.

So, yeah, it makes sense that Mark Waid's recent version of the Legion in which so many old DC comic books were lying around their clubhouse is the "Earth Prime Legion of Super-Heroes." I guess it could be argued that Ultraa inspired them to become the Legion. Of course, it would have been nice for Johns to have mentioned Ultraa as the inspiration for that Legion.

Anyway, this series is finally over, and my wallet can rest at ease.

Buyer beware.



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