Monday, October 6, 2008

Legends #5 and Legends #6

Writers: John Ostrander & Len Wein
Artists: John Byrne & Karl Kesel

I think there's something at least theoretically compelling about pitting Darkseid against the Phantom Stranger. Darkseid isn't just a bad guy: he's a philosopher-tyrant. The Stranger - an otherworldly, occult observer of mankind - should make a decent foil. But there's nothing actually compelling about the way they're used here, partly because there's a major disconnect between what they're saying is happening and the action itself.

So, the Phantom Stranger is telling us - I mean, telling Darkseid - that the heroes will win because the children believe in them (or some kind of garbage along those lines and, come to think of it, "because of the children" is a pretty out-of-character thing for the Phantom Stranger to say - even acknowledging that he doesn't have much character beyond "creepy occult guy" to begin with), but what we see is "the children" being used as a plot device/excuse.

(Oh yeah - Darkseid's plan turns out to have a huge hole in it: if your goal is to turn the people of Earth against its heroes then invading Earth with a super-powered army that only the heroes can defeat is not a good idea because it proves to the people of Earth exactly why they need their heroes.)

There's nothing wrong with these issues that isn't wrong with all of the previous ones: some decent top level thinking but fumbled execution. And, while I'm reluctant to place too much value on "goofiness", this series just doesn't even have that kind of spark to bring it to life. It reads like an assignment that none of the creators particularly wanted.

I started reading this as part of my ongoing attempt to work my way through the entire second volume of the Flash series and, I have to admit, these comics were the first time I really felt bogged down. Baron's work on Flash has its flaws and I think that he never really takes advantage of the benefits of continuity in the way that later writers will, but at least it's a consistent vision for the character and he supports this vision with lots of little details. Baron's Flash isn't as good as Baron's work on his own characters, but nothing about it feels like he doesn't care or didn't have time to get it right.

Quick comics reading auto-biographical note: picking up Legends must have been what got me into reading DC comics, because all of the DC comics I ended up following for any lentgh of time - Flash, Justice League, Suicide Squad - were Legends spin-offs.

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