Trade Post: Legion Of Super-Heroes The Beginning Of Tomorrow

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: THE BEGINNING OF TOMORROW (DC)
Written by Tom McCraw, Tom Peyer & Mark Waid, drawn by Lee Moder, Jeffrey Moy, Brian Arthorp, Scott Benefiel, Stuart Immonen & Yancy Labat
Collects Legion Of Super-Heroes #0, 62-65, Legionnaires #0, 19-22

Even though I had a few Legion comics in my collection coming up, it wasn’t a concept that captured my attention. Honestly, if I hadn’t gotten a few issues in a random DC 10- or 12-pack from Toys “R” Us in my youth, I probably wouldn’t have even heard of the book until they eventually crossed over into the regular books I was reading. At the time I wasn’t intimidated by the vast, X-Men like continuity of the franchise because I didn’t know about any of that. They’d just gotten a reboot during Zero Hour which made the Legion surprisingly accessible. Since then I’ve read some comics from the original Legion run, specifically An Eye For An Eye (I’ve got my eye on that new Great Darkness Saga hardcover), really liked Mark Waid’s reboot that lead into Supergirl And The Legion Of Super-Heroes and even kind of sort of enjoyed Geoff Johns bringing back the originals. That was mostly because he was writing them and the amazing Gary Frank was drawing them. Aside from that I didn’t see the point in jumping backwards and making things even more confusing, though I guess that won’t be a problem moving forward with DC’s line-wide relaunch.

What I’m saying is that I’m nowhere near a Legion expert, but I’ve read bits and pieces here and there. And the great thing about this collection is that you don’t have to be. Like I mentioned, this trade features a newly rebooted Legion. The collection shows Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Live Wire (formerly Lightning Lad) meeting for the first time and eventually becoming the first three Legionnaires and the team getting put together. From there, it’s adventure time and, with one exception, I thought they were actually pretty boring.

I’m left feeling very uneven about this book having just finished it. I like how the writers handled such a large cast. I don’t know everything about all of them, but that’s fine, those are things that should be revealed in time. I want to learn more. The problem is that missions they go on felt very familiar, in fact, two of them were basically Alien take-offs, one with an actual slime-spitting alien on an abandoned space ship and another with the kids trying to hunt down a killer on an artificial space station. I’m not much of an Alien fan because I’ve only seen the movie a time or two, but I absolutely despise Alien rip-offs that don’t change much up.

But then, the collection ends with a pretty great story showing the Legion trying to save a prison full of the galaxy’s worst that’s set in the center of a star. The systems are failing and when they do finish off, the whole prison will be destroyed. I haven’t seen this kind of story a million times and the solution wound up being pretty smart, so all that was fun. The problem is that the art in those last three issues gets far too loose for my tastes. I get that the artists involved were trying to replicate the look and feel of a place that’s completely surrounded by a sun, but it just didn’t work for me. The lines were too squiggly and loose for my tastes. It’s kind of like a director throwing in an effect in a movie that has good intentions but winds up distracting from the story.

While The Beginning Of Tomorrow has a lot of good and bad elements within it, the biggest disappointment for me is that DC did not follow this collection up with any more (until the recent Legion Lost book which I also want to read). I assume, like all things, this decision came down to money. Considering that this version of the Legion hasn’t been mentioned in a decade aside from their appearance in Legion Of Three Worlds (a comic I adored as it came out and really want to get back to in the near future) I would assume their run will not be collected in the near future unless that Legion Lost thing sells gangbusters and raises interest. It’s a run that my buddy Ben Morse considers underrated as well as overlooked, so I want more! Maybe I’ll just keep an eye out for them in the cheap boxes. This trade alone probably isn’t enough to earn a spot in my permanent collection, but if it was the first in a series of increasingly improving comics, I’d be keeping it.

Oh, also, one last thing I liked: the writers were really forward-thinking in their tech. Brainiac 5 and some other people in the books were essentially using tablet computers!

Trade Post: The Authority Vol. 1-5 (Plus The Monarchy Vol. 1)

2008-12-23
4:10:25 am

So, as I’m sure I mentioned before in my post about loving Wildstorm, but I recently re-read Warren Ellis’ Stormwatch which naturally leads into The Authority. I’m not going to get too in depth on these reviews.

THE AUTHORITY: RELENTLESS (VOL. 1)

Written by Warren Ellis

Drawn by Bryan Hitch

I really dig what Ellis started here. It’s kind of hard to remember reading these books now, but this was one of the first times we ever saw “heroes” take matters into their own hands and change the world how they saw fit to make it a better place. This trade collects two storylines, one introducing the team and pitting them against Kaizen Gamorra and his crazy superpowered kamikaze clones, and the other pitting the team against aliens from an alternate universe. That’s a lot of action in one trade. It’s also a lot of information, especially when it comes to exactly how the carrier works.

I’m not usually a big fan of Ellis’, but he really was dipping into a very cool well of ideas when he was putting this book together. But he doesn’t get too wrapped up in the small details as the big ideas are balanced pretty well with big action. I’d recommend this book to pretty much anyone who’s not easily offended (I love how, every time Jack Hawksmoore, who may be my new favorite superhero, he knocks their jaw or head clean off, that’s awesome). My only negative is that I don’t really get what the big deal about Hitch’s art is. Yeah, he’s pretty good and there’s some killer splash pages in there, but I don’t understand why people would wait so long for him to finish Ultimates (I have no idea how late, if at all, Authority was when he was drawing it, but I’m still waiting for that last issue of Planetary…). But, again, it’s a really great book, which obviously leads into…

THE AUTHORITY: UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT (VOL. 2)

Written by Warren Ellis & Mark Millar

Drawn by Bryan Hitch & Frank Quitely

Warren Ellis’ last arc, which featured the creator of the Earth coming back to terraform Earth for his own fiendish purposes. Plus SPOILER, the death of Jenny Sparks (she was the spirit of the 20th century after all). Again, I’ve got to say how impressed I am by these characters that Ellis created, whether it’s Midnighter or the limited Superman in the form of Apollo to The Doctor and The Engineer. So, yeah, Jenny goes out with a bang, which leads to Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s arc, which isn’t quite as good.

This is the famous arc that has the Authority facing off against Avengers proxies. The problem is that the story doesn’t quite measure up to memory as it seems to take a really long time to get to the point (the Authority kicking the crap out of the Avengers). There’s also a pretty big jump between Ellis and Millar’s runs where the Authority become celebrities which brings up a point I want to make. In both Ellis and Millar’s arcs, things happen that are explained but never shown and it’s a little annoying. For instance, why the heck are they so famous now? We’re never really told. Is it just because Jenny saved the world? If so, they did that before and we never heard about how the general populace reacted. We’re also never really treated to much in the way of origins for The Doctor or the Engineer beyond what we’re told. I’m not the kind of reader that needs everything laid out for me, but it would have been nice to see at least a flashback or something at some point.

Anyway, this arc is still pretty cool, as the Authority does eventually kick the crap out of the evil Avengers. Unfortunately, this trade reminds me of why I didn’t like Frank Quitely until All-Star Superman. This trade has some of the ugliest faces I’ve ever seen and not just the ones that are supposed to be ugly, Shen’s particularly bad looking. There’s still plenty of interesting ideas like the New X-Men-like Hive-Mind, HeadMailing and the Avenger-like group’s invisible hideout in the middle of NYC. Volume 2 is definitely worth buying if you liked the first villain and even though Millar’s arc doesn’t quite match up to Ellis’, it’s still a valiant effort that fits well within the post-Authority Wilstorm Universe.

THE AUTHORITY: EARTH INFERNO & OTHER STORIES

Written by Mark Millar, Joe Casey, Paul Jenkins & Warren Ellis

Drawn by Frank Quitely, Chris Weston, Cully Hamner & Georges Jeanty

With Volume 3, Millar definitely steps his game up. This arc focuses on the Doctor’s drug problems along with a rogue Doctor from the 60s who’s wreaking havoc on the Earth (or something, I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite get it). Wheston handles some of the art chores, which don’t even look as good as Quitely’s not-quite-there-yet art. But, the story makes up for it as we get to see the scale the Authority is working on (they evacuate the entire planet to alternate universes). I also really like how the Doctor comes back and defeats the old Doctor (this whole thing is kinda like Dr. Who isn’t it? I’ve never seen the show, but, it seems similar).

Anyway, this is another good book and we get our first look at Midnighter out of costume (at least in Authority). Apparently he’s blond (but only in this issue, as he appears as a brunette in every other out of costume appearance I’ve noticed). There’s also a few shorter stories here from other writer/artist teams. There’s an annual where Midnight and Apollo have to face off against zombie versions of their old Stormwatch teammates, a short story about the Engineer’s non existent sex life and one starring Jack Hawksmoor (love that guy). Good stuff.

THE MONARCHY: BULLETS OVER BABYLON (VOL. 1)

Written by Doselle Young

Drawn by John McCrea

Authority #21 was written by Doselle Young as a way of spinning Stormwatch’s Jackson King and Christine Trelane off into their own world-changing group The Authority. There’s a lot of cool, Authority-like ideas in this book (and the use of Union, one of the few Image characters I have fond memories of as a kid getting comics from a grab bag), but the problem is that this trade only collects the Authority issue and the first four issues of the 12 issue series, so you don’t really get to see how things play out. Hopefully DC and Wildstorm will put the rest of the series out at some point. Oh, I also really like John McCrea from his work on Hitman, one of the best in-universe mature reader titles of all time.

THE AUTHORITY: TRANSFER OF POWER (VOL. 4)

Written by Mark Millar & Tom Peyer

Drawn by Dustin Nguyen, Art Adams, Frank Quitely & Gary Erskine

And now presenting the trade where everything goes off the rails. Apparently there were some scheduling problems or something that pushed the stories in this book (half written by Millar, half by Peyer) back and made things screwy. I’m not sure if a regular schedule would have saved things as the Authority are seemingly killed and replaced by a new version of the team. It could really have been a 2-3 issue story, but ended up as eight freaking issues. The book really just seems to be spinning its wheels the whole time. Even art by one of my all time favorite artists Art Adams can’t save the issues he drew. I ended up just skimming them, waiting for these new jerks to die and for the Authority to kick some butt, which they eventually do (of course), but it and the marriage of Midnight and Apollo doesn’t save this book. Skip this one if you can.

THE AUTHORITY: HARSH REALMS

Written by Robbie Morrison

Drawn by Dwayne Turner & Tan Eng Huat

So, the Authority took some time off, but eventually came back under the stewardship of Robbie Morrison (don’t be fooled by the cover, which only cites “Morrison and Turner” as the creative folks, very tricky Wildstorm). This particular volume sets the Authority against Reality Incorporated, a group of jerks who use other realities for their own gain. It’s not a very memorable story (I read it over the past two days and still had to go back and see what happened in the issues I didn’t read today. It’s not bad stuff by any means, but it does make one think that the Authority is the kind of team that should maybe just hang out in limbo until someone has a really cool idea for them.

So, I know I haven’t read all things Authority yet, but I did have a lot of fun with the book. I love the characters, especially after this second reading where I’ve gotten a better idea as to who they are and what they can and can’t do. I’d like to check out the rest of the trades, especially the one where they actually take over the world, I’m curious to see how that played out aside from the obvious. I also like how they’re being handled now in the post-apocalyptic playground of the current Wildstorm U. They’re no longer the “we can do anything we want” team, they’ve got problems of their own, though I’m not a big fan of Hawksmoor being city-less. Oh well, we’re see where things go and if I’m able to snag the rest of the trades.