Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Living in the basement, Geoff? Really?

So, either you read Legion of 3 Worlds or you didn't. I did, because George Perez was drawing a Legion of Super Heroes stories with three Legions of Super Heroes in it. (Is that how we work the plural of Legion? The Romans didn't make that clear for me when dealing with Legions of Super Heroes.) I'm neither a huge fan nor a detractor of Geoff Johns, if only because I keep remembering that there but for the grace of God we could have had Chuck Austen as the hot DC writer instead.

And to be fair, I don't dislike Johns' take on the Legion. Sure, it's yet another retcon, but come on: we've had so many Legion reboots by now that they were running out of cute ways to combine numbers with the word 'reboot'. Johns' approach - every Legion you ever read about is valid because they come from one of many DC fictional universes - is at once Silver Age enough to tickle me (and I'm long on record as having disliked what Crisis on Infinite Earths did to the DC Multiverse) while it does for the Legion what they somehow missed doing back when there were sixty million alternate Supermen, Wonder Women, Green Lanterns and Hawkmen... it gives them the same metafictive weight as their 2oth/21st Century predecessors. I'm okay with Waid's Legion being the Legion of Earth-Prime. I'm okay if not actually excited with the Adult Legion of the Johns' Action Comics run being around and still interacting with Superman. I'm okay with the Connor Kent/Kon-El clone Superboy being back from the dead (although I really don't get the Lex Luthor connection) and Bart Allen, too, why not?

No, my real problem is with Superboy-Prime, the alternate version of Superman from Earth-Prime who first debuted in a DC Comics Presents back as Crisis on Infinite Earths and who went from an earnest young kid with the power of a Superman and no idea how to live up to it (and who was even aware of Superman, since in the DC Universe's fictional metacommentary on itself Earth Prime is supposed to be OUR world, and so OUR comics are what's published there - basically, you and I live on Earth Prime.) to a monstrously egotistical and moronic teen jackass who punches people's heads off while whining that no one likes him.

The reason I hate the kid, though, isn't that he's a strutting, preening jackass who blames everyone but himself for every bad thing that's ever happened to him, though. Shit, if that's all it took to set me off I'd have had a meltdown within five years of my birth. No, what pisses me off is that the kid is effectively a kind of smug, leering in-joke at comics fandom.

I'm the first to admit that I find fans and fandom irritating. I used to post occasionally on Scans_Daily, after all, and I found their attitude of entitlement and sneering contempt for the people actually making the comics they read unbearable and pretentious. Even as I partook in it. Shut up, I know I'm a hypocritical asshole. Anyway, when you get to the end of a comic book it's taken months and months to get out (hey, you hire George Perez and tell him he can draw any member of the Legion who has ever existed, what the hell do you expect to have happen?) and you see the ultimate villain of the story lurking in his parents basement demanding grilled cheese sandwiches while posting menacingly to DC Comics messageboards then the joke, she is dead.

I'm not saying its not apt.

I'm just saying it's not particularly funny or clever. It's too easy. Yes, we get it, Superboy-Prime is what those annoying trolls on message boards would be like if they had Superman's powers. Thanks, Geoff. We needed this in depth exploration of nerdraging. It's compelling storytelling.

It's a shame, too, because I actually like the majority of what Johns is doing with the Legion, and I'm interested to keep reading it. I like that he's embraced competing narratives, different versions of the LSH and found a way for them to all coexist while still writing the stories he wants to write. I liked his idea for the Time Trapper as a sentient, rebellious timeline that constantly changes and reinvents itself in its battle with the Legion, unable to determine which of the many timelines and realities it can see is the one it has to destroy. I even liked the idea of Superboy-Prime's punishment being what he'd always longed for, a return to his home, only to find the people he'd wanted and loved no longer could stand the sight of him.

But the basement scene? Frankly, it's too much like saying "Get it, get it?" after you tell a joke. Yeah, we get it. If you really feel you have to explain the joke this much, man, it's probably not all that funny.


  1. "I liked his idea for the Time Trapper as a sentient, rebellious timeline that constantly changes and reinvents itself in its battle with the Legion,"

    I will eat my hat if that idea didn't drip down from Grant Morrison.

  2. I'm just tired of meta in-jokes in comics period. It stopped being shocking and clever right after the final issue of Grant Morrison's Animal Man.