Monday, December 15, 2014

DC Comics Presents #13

Reviewer: Anj

DC Comics Presents #13, released in June of 1979, featured a team-up of Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Now, as a youngster back then, I was used to Superboy and the Legion. So this team-up of the grown up Superboy with his teen chums was an interesting change of pace that I appreciated.

While these team-up books were often 'one and done', I liked how DC Comics Presents occasionally had a story run through various issues and guest stars. I also liked how it seemed to be aware of current continuity and even impacted continuity (as you will see later in this issue).

This issue, in particular, sort of resonates with the current Justice League United arc where the Legion comes back to stop something from happening. In this story, they come back to make sure that something happens.

I also think it was an interesting time for Superman as it feels like DC and editor Julie Schwartz were trying to freshen things up and even make some changes in some longstanding issues in the Superman mythos. Two weeks earlier, Kandor was enlarged in Superman #338. And in this issue ...

"To Live In Peace ... Nevermore!" was written by Paul Levitz with art by the legendary duo of Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano. Dillin is *my* Justice League artist, the artist who drew JLA in my formative years. 

We start out with Superman bashing an alien space probe which is invading Earth's space. The probe was putting the astronauts in the capsule in orbit into suspended animation!

Battered but not broken, the space probe limps home and Superman decides to follow to see if he can figure out what's going on.

The probe heads to the home planet of Nyrvn. And after a short period of time eavesdropping, Superman is able to figure out their language. The Nyrvns are a bellicose race, built for fighting, and currently in the midst of an intergalactic war. Worst of all ... and explaining the probe being in Earth ... the Nyrvnians travel to other planets, kidnap beings, and brainwash them into being warriors for the cause.

Superman simply won't let these abductions go on. He is going to shut down the Nyrvn war culture once and for all!

But before he can bring his wrath to bear, the Legion arrives.

They cannot let Superman stop the Nyrvns. They need to continue to carve their bloody swath through the universe.

It turns out that between Superman's present and the Legion's future, the Nyrvnians fought in  The Millenium War.

Later, Earth was nearly overrun and were only able to turn back an 'invader from a distant galaxy' with the help of the Nyrvnian fleet and their ultra-powerful weapons.

And the Nyrvn fleet is only armed like that because they warred for thousands of years, The Millenium War forced them to constantly upgrade their arms until they reached this point.

If Superman shuts down the Nyrvn military, Earth will be overrun. History must unfold.

It isn't easy for Superman to stomach. He has to turn a blind eye to war, death, kidnapping, brainwashing, slavery so the future can be safe. Can he do that??

You know you are on shaky ground when Sun Boy is the voice of reason. But the Legionnaire is able to convince Superman that for the good of Earth, these other races and planets and people must suffer.

I don't know ... it sounds a bit myopic. Why are we better than everyone else?

To make sure history unwinds normally, the Legion even fixes the Nyrvnian fleet Superman has disabled!

Things do get personal though.

Pete Ross' son Jon has been kidnapped. And Pete needs help. He goes to Clark ... and when Clark talks about communicating with Superman, Pete reveals that he has known Clark was Superman all along. "This is no time for pretending!"

How many times have we seen a version of that small panel, Pete seeing Clark change into Superboy in a lightning flash? The answer is many many times.

This is a big change in Superman mythos. No longer is Pete a silent aide. Superman now knows that Pete knows.

But Jon wasn't kidnapped by simple crooks. He was scooped up by the Nyrvnian space probe.

It turns out that Jon is a key part of this Millenium War. He becomes the race's greatest hero because he will become a master at weapons development. Indeed, it is his armaments that lead to victory. He'll save the whole galaxy.

Of course, Jon just wants to go home and he knows that Superman will help him! While Clark didn't know about Pete's knowledge, he told Jon his secret identity earlier that year.

This also seems a bit weird. The Legion wants a kid to become one of the most proficient killers in history?

Superman doesn't think that Jon should live that life either. The future be damned, he is going to rescue Jon.

But, before he can get there, the Legion intercedes one more time. This time, to show him, the Legion takes him into the future to witness a Millenium War battle.

Seeing a massive space battle close up, Superman tries to stop the fight. He flies into the fray and is actually injured by the weapons being fired! Jon has made some good weapons!

If the Nyrvnians don't have those weapons, Earth will lose. Superman can't change history. Jon needs to stay.

Still, there has to be another way.

It turns out that no one knows who the Nyrvnians fought during The Millenium War. So, using his Superman Robots (long dormant because pollution interfered with their mechanisms), Superman sets up a 1000 year wargame. The robots will create ever improving drone fighters to fight the Nyrvnians, forcing them to fine tune their military.

This still seems odd. For the robot army to be considered a real threat, they will have to harm or kill some Nyrvnian troops. Superman says no life will be lost ... but how? That's crazy. Second, this sounds like the perfect recipe for AI to become self-aware and take things over. Telling a super-computer to force an arms race is crazy. And lastly, will this stop the Nyrvnian kidnappings?

But like Kandor and Pete Ross' secret, Superman Robots are now 'gone' from the Superman mythos.

Unfortunately, Jon has to stay. His role can't be so simply replaced.

And Pete Ross isn't happy.
I will say this is a crazy story. The plot is bizarre. The Legion doesn't really do that much. But we do have major changes in the Superman universe tucked inside this random issue of DCCP.

Still, it is great to see Dick Dillin's work and his take on the Legion.

1 comment:

  1. Pete Ross is/was an honorary member of the Legion. Shouldn't they have broken the news to him with Superman? They might have given more credence to the story.