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If Marvel Can Do It…

June 22, 2010

Hot on the heels of Marvel Comics’ successful Marvels Project, DC releases its own retelling of its history, though more expansive.  The first issue of this series, DC Universe Legacies #1, starts off with an old man remembering his fondness for superheroes.  He remembers the early days, before superheroes, when mobsters seemed to run everything.  The old man, named Paul Lincoln, lived in Suicide Slum back when he was young, and he frequently helped his pal Jimmy Mahoney in… less than savory enterprises to make some money.  For example, when the old owner of a candy shop doesn’t pay up his protection money, Jimmy reports back to their boss, and their boss has the man killed.  Paul doesn’t like how Jimmy reacts to it.  Shortly later, the Crimson Avenger attacks their bosses’ hideout and captures everyone save Paul and Jimmy.  It’s this incident and the awe that the Avenger inspired that first makes Paul start collecting articles about various superheroes.  Shortly later, Jimmy gets them a new gig, also illegal, but it gets broken up by the original Sandman and Atom.  When the Atom is about to get shot, Paul warns him.  After beating the gang, Atom and Sandman talk to Paul and Jimmy, and Paul tells them that he warned them, the Atom gives him his business card, and the Sandman tries to convince them to walk the straight and narrow.  Shortly later, the two of them, along with the original Flash, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and the Spectre, form the Justice Society of America.  That was the Golden Age.  Then, in a short story afterwards, Scott Scanlon, a reporter also known as “Scoop,” goes with his photographer Rusty James to investigate an appearance of Dr. Fate.  During a party, Inza Kramer summoned Fate to help her friend, and he discovered a voodoo doll of the man, defeated a monster, and then found the man behind both instances and stopped him.  The two reporters then go to a nearby railway and discuss the appearance of the Spectre, who seemed to grow giant and defeat some shadow that was attacking the train.  However, Scanlon is skeptical about both cases, as well as the powers of the original Zatara, and he comes up with perfectly logical explanations for their powers.

Okay, so it’s rather obvious why this series was started.  It’s not terribly original on DC’s part, but one would hope that they would tell a decent story anyway.  Unfortunately, they picked as the writer classic DC writer Len Wein.  A man whose writing style hasn’t changed much since the Bronze Age, when he first made himself famous.  Kind of like Chris Claremont.  And they were the two writers responsible for revamping the X-Men.  Anyway, the whole issue, despite dealing with crime and stuff, feels like it should have “gosh” or “gee willikers” stuffed in there somewhere.  I understand that this is supposed to be about a supposedly more innocent time, but considering the superb work that other writers have done with revamping classic DC characters’ origins and making them more stylistically in tune with modern comic books, you’d expect something better.  I don’t have as much a problem with the framing section in the beginning, even if it is a tad clunky.  I like the idea of an old man who lived through this time reflecting on his past.  And the concept of Paul Lincoln is an interesting lens through which to view all these classic periods of DC history.  But my goodness, does everyone have to sound so ridiculous?  And the use of the Crimson Avenger as the first superhero focused on in the issue parallels the Angel in Marvels Project too much.  I know the Crimson Avenger predates Angel by a year, but to avoid parallels, a different character should have been used.  Instead, the smaller story about Dr. Fate and the Spectre is a lot more interesting, especially considering how logical such skepticism would be at that time.  I am a fan of Scott Kolins and J.G. Jones’ work, but I find that their colorists used too light of colors to fit their work.  Everything looks too washed out and bloomy, kind of like the comic book equivalent of a lot of current generation video games.  Andy and Joe Kubert, however, work together perfectly.  It’s cute to think of a father and son team working together.  Andy channels a lot of his father’s artistic sensibilities, and Joe adds more with the inks.  The effect is giving the book a classic visual while keeping some modern artistic qualities because of Andy’s inherent style.  It’s a nice balance between the two that the dialogue unfortunately does not match.  Naturally, I will be reading the rest of this series due to its importance to DC history.  And it is a decently written story.  But it will not be the same pleasure that reading the Marvels Project was, make no mistake.  If I really wanted to read this hokey of dialogue, I would have just gone and laid down a ton of money to get one of the actual comic books from this time period.

Plot: 8.0      Art: 8.8      Dialogue: 5.4      Overall: 7.0

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