Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Legends #3 and #4

We're back! Check out my previous post for details of my latest podcast appearance. I'll let you know as soon as it's up and available on iTunes.

I'm writing this post from my new laptop, and sadly I don't have my image editing software up and running yet, so no scans to illustrate the posts. Hopefully I'll be properly set in time for the next post.

Anyway, on with the story!

Legends #3
Send For... The Suicide Squad

Plotter: John Ostrander
Scripter: Len Wein
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Karl Kesel
Letterer: Steve Haynie
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Editor: Mike Gold
Cover Artist: John Byrne
Cover Date: January 1987
Release Date: 23/10/1986

Angry mobs lay siege to public headquarters of super-heroes, whose activities have been prevented by executive order. Sarge Steel acts a a chaperone to the Teen Titans, but is unable to follow through his threats of extreme force when Changeling and the Flash decide to head out to help. Meanwhile, Task Force X is given their purpose - carry out missions in exchange for pardons - and with most of the team wearing explosive bracers to keep them in check, are directed to take down Brimstone. They engage the monster at the foot of Mount Rushmore.

Billy Batson, distraught at the death of Macro Man, goes into hiding, meeting a young girl called Lisa who has become separated from her parents. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne visits Jason Todd in hospital. As Bruce comforts his injured sidekick, shots ring out from outside, a symbol of the civil disorder inspired by G. Gordon Godfrey. Wayne leaves, determined to prove that President Reagan's edict was wrong.

During the battle, Blockbuster directly attacks Brimstone, who reaches down and burns the villain to death in his fist. Revelling in the destruction, Brimstone leaves his chest open to attack, and is destroyed by a shot from Deadshot, wielding a specially-constructed laser sniper. In the aftermath, Captain Boomerang realises that everyone on the team was considered to be expendable, including Rick Flag.

At the White House, Superman pledges his support to Reagan's edict, despite his vocal opposition to it. At the same time, Billy Batson is invited to dinner by Lisa's parents. During the meal, G. Gordon Godfrey appears on the TV, provoking a reaction in Lisa's family that intimidates Billy into running away again. Catching up , Lisa tells him that she still believes in super-heroes.

Throughout the issue, Darkseid and the Phantom Stranger debate Darkseid's plans. Observing Lisa's faith, the Stranger declares that this is why Darkseid is doomed to fail. Darkseid refuses to believe this, unveiling the next phase in his strategy - his Warhounds.

Legends #4
Cry Havoc

Plotter: John Ostrander
Scripter: Len Wein
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Karl Kesel
Letterer: Steve Haynie
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Editor: Mike Gold
Cover Art: John Byrne
Cover Date: Feb 1987
Release Date: 24/11/1986

In Star City, an attack by Count Vertigo is foiled by a law-breaking Black Canary. A policeman pulls a gun, attempting to arrest her, but is blocked by his partner. The two argue whilst Black Canary escapes, with the first policeman accidentally shooting and killing the second. Attempting to rationalize his actions, the policeman concludes that Black Canary made him shoot, and thus she murdered his partner.

On Apokolips, Darkseid sees all on Earth, despatching Desaad to the land of Skartaris to destroy the legend of Travis Morgan, the Warlord. Elsewhere in Gotham City, Batman foils a raid by the Joker, apprehending him in defiance of the Presidential Order. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a gang of body-building bank robbers are caught by Guy Gardner. In Chicago, Blue Beetle foils a heist by Chronos, but is forced to let the villain escape when the police arrive and turn their attentions to him. Meanwhile, spurred into action by the growing public hysteria, Doctor Fate returns to service.

In Washington, Rick Flag announces to Task Force X that their actions against Brimstone have earned them their freedom, de-activating their bracelets and letting them free. At the same time, G. Gordon Godfrey addresses a rally in Gotham City calling for a revolt against President Reagan for the weakness of his frequently-flouted edict. He introduces the weapon to be used against the government, human-controlled Warhounds. Enjoying his freedom, Captain Boomerang goes on a rampage, but is quickly caught by the Teen Titans. As they prepare to take him away, Flash and Changeling are attacked by two Warhounds.

On Apokolips, Darkseid turns his attention to Superman, unleashing the power of his Omega Beams.

The middle chapters of Legends feel like they both progress the story and tread water at the same time. There is a large amount of time spent setting up tie-in issues in the fourth chapter, despatching Desaad to participate in the Warlord title, and using the cliffhanger to draw readers into the next month's Superman titles. We also spend a lot of time following various future members of Justice League International as they ignore the presidential edict, although in the case of some members such as Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, they are newer characters within the DC Universe, and in the case of Guy Gardner, a character with a new status quo, having recently received a power ring during the Crisis. Whilst these vignettes were undoubtedly important at the time, knowing where these characters will end up after the crossover makes most of the fourth issue seems like an extended exercise in moving the pieces of the story into position.

I do like the continuation of the Task Force X storyline. It plays very nicely into Darkseid's schemes that Brimstone, the monster that has apparently destroyed the Justice League of America, should be brought down by a morally dubious government-sponsored team of super-villains, hardly an achievement that can be propogandized.

I'll be honest here. I see the Legends crossover in four parts - the opening two issues, these two, the Superman crossover, and then the conclusion. I like the opening, love the Superman crossover, enjoy the ending, but see these issues, especially the fourth, as the bit we have to get through to get to the good stuff. I have nothing against the creators, but apart from the death of Brimstone, it all feels a bit too much 'middle chapter'-ish. The cliffhanger to the third issue, the introduction of the Warhounds, is barely touched upon in the fourth, save for a brief reference to the fact that people get 'turned into' them.

Knowing the great Apokolitian action just around the corner, I think it's best to draw a veil here and reconvene at Darkseid's feet.

Next on World of Superman: Clark Kent vs Apokolips!


  1. A mini series that gets a bit too much undue criticism in my view. Legends is more a celebration of the DCU than a deconstruction and to todays readers who are saturated with and fed a steady diet of deconstruction I'm not surprised it gets lost when looked at today.
    After the upheaval of the Crisis this is the first major mini series DC put out and it really did set up the new universe quite well while serving as its springboard; a celebration of heroism and humans need for their heroes it does what a lot of subsequent such events did not and if you think on it it accomplished a great deal in these six issues. Giving us a new Justice League and Suicide Squad, presenting us with first appearances from Amanda Waller and Brimstone, setting up the Blue Beetle, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and Flash as primetime players and somewhere in there a poke at Marvels (and comics) 'New Universe' johnny-come-lately concepts!

  2. The legacy of Legends is huge, and the series is a real cornerstone for the next few years of the DC Universe and, thanks to the quality of the stories told in Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad and Justice League America, the concepts and characters introduced here have resonated far beyond the crossover. The Justice League International concept has infiltrated DC storytelling over the past five years, from Countdown to that great final page of Justice League: Generation Lost, and the spirit of Suicide Squad permeates Secret Six both subtly and blatantly.

    My problem with these chapter is that, death of Brimstone aside, not much seems to happen. It's not as bad as, say, Fear Itself which has yet to define itself in 2 issues as more than 'Gods leave, heroes shit themselves, hammers arrive', but there is a hell of a lot of plate-spinning. Thankfully, the concluding issues are much stronger and this series certainly has a bearing on the next year's worth of Superman comics.