Monday, March 9, 2020

From Beyond the Unknown Giant #1

From Beyond the Unknown Giant #1 (March 2020)
title: "Stealth Mode"
writer: Dan Jurgens
art: Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund
lettering: Ryan Christy
colorist: Hi-Fi 
editor: Katie Kubert
cover: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
review by Michael "Nostalgic Kid" Lane

A few years ago, DC began an initiative with Walmart to produce exclusive comics. Their format matched the 100-Page Super-Spectaculars of the 1970s. The general pattern was one new story with several reprints, and those reprints were generally from the Modern Age of comics, i.e., post-2000. In 2019, the deal was no longer exclusive and DC also produced them for the Direct Market. My understanding is that the issues would first be released at Walmart and then become available in the Direct Market with different covers. This issue is one of their recent releases and one of the original stories features the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Several members of the Legion of Super-Heroes are in search of missing teammates and hoping that Dawnstar can find them using her tracking abilities. She discovers that Wildfire and Sunboy are on the next planet of the system they are in, Hustrava.
On Hustrava, we learn from a visit with their people that the planet is dying under a wilting sun and cannot survive on its own. They are hoping that the power of the captured Legionaires will keep their people alive.
Brainiac 5 and Colossal Boy approach the Hustravan base but come under attack. Meanwhile, Dawnstar has used their distraction to approach the citadel where her teammates are held captive. The Hustravans initially laugh off her threat until they discover she has not come alone.
The unofficial "Espionage Squad" goes on the attack and is about to free their companions when one of the Hustravans begs them to stop. Phantom Girl initially dismisses his pleas, but both Sunboy and Wildfire also beg their teammates not to free them.

The Legionnaires cease their attack long enough to learn that the Hustravan's sun and all other power sources are too weak to provide adequate energy for their civilization. Some of them favored reaching out to the Legion of Super-Heroes for help but were overruled. Despite being kidnapped, both Sunboy and Wildfire use their powers to warm the city until a more permanent solution can be reached. sum up...I LOVED THIS COMIC BOOK. And the Legion was just the icing on the cake. In addition to a new Legion story by Dan Jurgens, there was also a new Green Lantern story drawn by Kenneth Rocafort, a new Kamandi story, and classic reprints of a Superman/Adam Strange team-up by David Michelinie and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, and a Batman/Metal Man team-up by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo. I do not recall another one of these Walmart giants that reprinted Bronze Age issues, much less ones by such talented creators.

In some ways, this was a very odd story, which I will get to later. But also, this was a wonderfully nostalgic trip back to the high point of the Paul Levitz era of the early 80s. This was a great sampler of that era, with the team portrayed beautifully by Dan Jurgens' writing and art. We got a nice showcase of several members, particularly of Brainiac 5 serving in a leadership role for this story and Dawnstar acting as field commander for what was essentially the Espionage Squad. Full disclosure, I have a big crush on this version of Dawnstar, so take that as you will.

This story was relatively short but fun and captured the energy and appeal of this era very well. I was thrilled and surprised to see it pop up in this comic, and it made me long for more. I would not have foreseen the Legion being showcased in one of these Walmart issues despite their recent reboot.

Of course, their reboot does raise some questions. Most importantly, why would DC present an original story of the Legion in this Walmart comic that in no way resembles the newest version of the team that they just premiered?  Now, I am not complaining. But presumably, the Walmart comics exist to introduce new readers to DC comics and the newest version of the Legion bares little resembles to this one. My only answer is that perhaps DC is thinking more in terms of introducing readers to their back catalog of graphic novels and reprints (which are quite substantial) more than they are their new comics. It may seem surprising to readers of my age, but given how the market has evolved, it seems possible. After all, The Great Darkness Saga has probably been in print more than any other Legion collection and its now available digitally.

In any event, I am not savvy enough in the industry to do more than speculate as to their reasoning. But I am thankful that this story was produced and included in this issue, and thankful to Dan Jurgens for his work on this story. I am also thankful to DC for including some great Bronze Age reprints here as well. I am trying not to get my hopes up, but I would love for this issue to be the first of many similar Walmart giants to come.


  1. Wow. That cover! And a Legion story from their Golden Age (including the first time I've seen Wildfire's costume drawn correctly in decades). Plus Gim all gung-ho before his marriage to Yera calmed him down; and the Espionage Squad. I need to get my hands on this.

  2. This is a great looking story! Thanks for the review. I may be enticed to pick this up.


    1. Thanks Doug. If you do get it, I hope you like it. If nothing else, you will get two great reprinted stories that are right up your alley.

  3. I'm going to have to keep my eyes open for this one.

  4. The Direct Market edition (likely with a different cover) should be out at the end of March if your comic shop ordered any.

    By the way, the cover art came from DC Comics Presents 4 back in 1979, where the Superman/Adam Strange story was from.

  5. Thank goodness that DC is publishing readable LOSH stories in some fashion, even if I have to go to Walmart to get them.

  6. This one looks great and feels like the Legion I love.