Thursday, April 4, 2019

Reboot: Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #2

Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #2 (January 2000)
title: "Bedtime Story"
writer: Paul Levitz
penciller: Stuart Immonen

inker: George Freeman
lettering: Bill Oakley
colorist: Tom McCraw
advice: Mike McAvennie
editor: Mike Carlin
reviewers: Siskoid & Shotgun

Mission Monitor Board:  
Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Live Wire, Saturn Girl, Spark, Violet, XS

Dawn Allen, Dayla Ranzz, Jeven Ognats, Lady Mysa, Ma and Pa Kent (flashback), Pol Krinn, Superman (flashback); two unnamed archaeologists, Coluan children

Granny Goodness, Lightning Lord; Hunger Dogs

This story takes place before the founding of the Legion of Super-Heroes, towards the end of the 30th Century.

At the very end of the 30th Century, two archaeologists in Earth orbit are investigating an ancient book about Superman, wondering how much of it is real. It's a story that is then told, with various changes, through the ensuing pages, connecting to the lives of various Legionnaires some time in their youth. On Braal, the future Cosmic Boy tells it to his brother. On Winath, Garth and Ayla's other tells it as if it were a twins' story. On Apokolips, Granny uses it to teach her orphans about the weakness of selflessness. On Sorcerer's World, Lady Mysa muses on Superman's human parents and her own father Mordru. On Earth, the future XS is put to bed with part of the story. On Titan, Imra Ardeen does a school project about the Man of Steel. And on Colu, a sleeping Brainiac 5 investigates the legend himself.
We rejoin the archaeologists who can't figure out if the book is legitimate, but it was written by Lois Lane, so we know there should be SOME truth to it. What can't be denied, however, is that the legend of Superman helped mold the worldview of many Legionnaires and made them want to become heroes.
There’s a universal truth in the tale we’re reviewing. No matter where you come from, you will grow up hearing stories and legends. You’ll believe some, recognize the lies in others and you’ll learn from their morals. To think that all races that constitute the United Planets all learn, in one way or another, about the greatness of Superman is weirdly comforting. If only we were able, as a society, to recognize that our heroes are more similar than they’re different, maybe we could reach some sort of greater understanding of one another. Unfortunately, Superman isn’t real, and I fear we’ll never find anything as unifying as the greatest hero of all time.
Enough philosophical thoughts! It’s fun to see the Legionnaire as kids learning so much from a common role model. I hope they can think back about those moments and realize how far they went. They are as brave and bold and caring as Superman. They should be proud of the individuals and the team they became. To finish, I’d like to say that while I’m not sure who that Granny is, I’m glad we were shown how a positive image can be twisted and turned into something vile. Even for them, Superman stories were lessons, but for the worst. Interesting how they proved with this single page that even the sweetest of narratives can be manipulated and turned into propaganda.
A cute turn-of-the-Millennium story and another "end tale" of this phase of the Reboot, with Stuart Immonen even affecting, as best he can, some of the artists of the past (next best thing to actually getting the artists to do a page, I guess, it's an odd conceit). I guess I just wonder if Paul Levitz was the right writer for the job. After all, this isn't his Legion, nor is it about to be. He makes promises he can't keep - Apokolips in the 30th Century, the Ranzz's mom alluding to a secret - and gets some details wrong, most notably that Valor, not Superman, is this Legion's great inspiration (I dare also say Imsk has been portrayed as a world with very little space, so Violet's room is immense). One can't even be sure he meant the XS sequence to be as poignant as it is, as this might the last time Jenni saw her mom before she died.
But I don't want to think about it too hard. Like I said, it's cute, and though I'd be loath to call Shotgun a newbie at this point, the fact that it resonated this much with her despite some unfathomable references is good enough for me. My favorite bit is Brainiac 5's, especially how he projects his own attitude into the Man of Steel's.
Science Police Notes:  
  • "Bedtime Story" is the last feature in the Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #2. Other features include Challengers of the Unknown, Deadman, Beast Boy, Wonder Woman, Metal Men, and Mister Miracle.
  • "Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes" harks back to Adventure Comics, where it was used as the strip's title. The same font is used for the team name.
  • All Legionnaires appear before they joined the Legion, but given their varying ages, not all in the same time frame.
  • Though the legend of Valor has been singled out as THE heroic legend of the Reboot era, this is the first time Superman's has been put on par with Valor's as a potential inspiration for the Legion. In the previous continuity, the Legion was inspired by Superboy (Superman when he was a boy).
  • Seeing as all the other pages (save the archaeologists') feature people who have been, in one continuity or another, Legionnaires, the Granny Goodness page may feature the as-yet not introduced Timber Wolf as the pointy-eared Hunger Dog slapped by Granny at the bottom of the page. His attire does bear similarities with Timber Wolf costumes of the past. Whatever writer Paul Levitz was trying to infer here, none of it was referenced after Timber Wolf was introduced in the Reboot.
  • Mysa's pet dragon looks exactly like Kitty Pryde's Lockheed from the X-Men comics.
  • The potential fates of Superman as per SleepNet includes DC One Million's and "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?".
  • Stuart Immonen and George Freeman adopt different art styles from page to page, with near-pastiches of Keith Giffen, Lee Moder, Bruce Timm(?), Jeff Moy(?), and Colleen Doran, among others(?).

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