Monday, August 3, 2009

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5

Let's just get this out of the way right now – I may be precisely the wrong person to be reviewing this series. Then again, maybe I'm exactly the right guy to give it an honest run through the wringer. Let me elaborate: I haven't historically been one for the larger DC universe. I've always been a Marvel guy first and foremost, with a bit of a soft spot for DC's big players and something of a curious ignorance of the publisher's lesser-known heroes. Throw me an issue of Detective Comics or Green Arrow and I'm right there with you, but the majority of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths was lost on me. I just couldn't keep up.

I'm no DC historian. If that's who the series is aimed at, it's going to land well short of the mark with me, not to mention the vast majority of its potential audience. I do like to proudly proclaim myself a frothing superhero fanboy, however. If it's got capes and good writing, takes an interesting direction and doesn't require too much of an encyclopedic knowledge of the back catalog, I'll gladly climb on board and enjoy the ride. And that's exactly what I tried to do, but this issue lost me within the first four pages.

The potentially interesting content within Legion of 3 Worlds was way, way over my head. The few moments I could actually comprehend were so overstuffed with corny dialog and the reckless use of superpowers that I was shaking my head and blinking with every new panel. Geoff Johns has produced fine work in the past, so I know he's capable of better, but if this is his love letter to the DCU of the '80s, as it seems, perhaps it's material best left remembered and not revisited. It's one excessively complicated scenario after another, with a random, nameless hero stealing the spotlight around every corner. Sure, if you're a big fan of one particularly obscure character that never gets any page time, you might be able to look really closely and make him or her out somewhere in the scenery, but is that really enough to keep something like this afloat?

Even worse, the central storyline that's supposed to tie it all together is dependent upon the existence and exploitation of a loophole in time and space itself. Right, because things weren't convoluted enough before the introduction of time travel and a routinely rewritten history. God help us.

Furthering the throwback flavor of this series, the legendary George Perez is on hand to provide its artwork. Which should have been expected, really – nobody can manage to toss a hundred unique characters onto a single page as effectively as Perez, and he proves up to the task yet again here. He's at his best during the super-powered gang wars that erupt throughout the issue, but his work does show some of its age when the focus shifts to a single character. Of course, good compositions will never be dated, but it's difficult to imagine anyone managing to balance so much action with so many word balloons without making a few sacrifices along the way. Perez does all he can, which is often good enough, but isn't without his own moments of weakness.

I'm sure this issue is going to hit all the right notes with a very select portion of the comic book audience. I just can't count myself among them, and neither will any curious new readers who happen upon the issue and, impressed by the cover artwork, decide to give it a chance. It takes so much for granted, crosses so many lines, that I can't imagine more than one or two out of a hundred even understanding what's going on, let alone enjoying it. The only thing I gained out of this experience was the knowledge that I shouldn't have read beyond the second page. If you haven't already purchased it and devoured it, you should keep your distance. It's not for you, or for me. Skip it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 1.5


Shamus said...

I think that maybe you should start reading comic books that you like. I agree with you for the most part, but I can't help wondering why you continually bother reading things you clearly don't get much out of.

drqshadow said...

It's all about taking risks with new titles. More times than I can remember, I've sat down with an issue I expect to dislike and been completely blown away as it raced by my expectations. Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, Red Robin, The Twelve and The Mighty are all recent examples. Just because that isn't always the case is no reason to quit trying new things, even if they don't look especially interesting at first glance.

Shamus said...

That's a good point, but given how much crap is out there don't you feel like sometimes you are burning money. I'm glad that you are reviewing a variety of things I do find your reviews thoughtful enough that they give me a good indication of whether or not I want to try something new myself.

I think I came off sounding a little harsher than I meant too!