Monday, February 22, 2021

The Last League of Infinity story

Supreme #55 (November 1997)
“Silence at Gettysburg”
Written by: Alan Moore
Art: Chris Sprouse, Gil Kane, Al Gordon
This is the final story review in the “League of Infinity” series.  Unlike the earlier three, which were short, light tales, this story is a full book-length story in a far, far more serious vein.  

For those of us who are just joining us, the “League of Infinity” was (were?) the “Supreme” universe's answer to the Legion of Super-Heroes and were recruited from different times rather than different planets.  

To check out their three earlier appearances,  click on the Alan Moore label below this post. 

On the opening page Supreme, in his Ethan Crane identity, wakes up and goes to get his Supreme costume from the closet.  He finds it somewhat altered.
He goes to work and finds things changed there as well. His boss is now, impossibly, the janitor. A very subservient janitor. 

As for the comic book he works on, it's not “OMNIMAN” anymore, it's “THE KLANSMAN.”

And instead of being “Supreme”, he's “The Supremacist”.  He goes to visit his orbital citadel to discover that he has a black robot for a servant.  Not even an actual servant, but a robot, "Ro-Boy."  How messed up is that?

He realizes that history has changed and that his best bet to understand what has happened is to get a perspective from outside time by visiting the League of Infinity headquarters. So he goes to the Time Tower, but when he gets there.....the place is a shambles.

This panel represents a sly wink to whole comic concept of the “reboot”, where characters and situations and entire continuities are changed.  Legion fans sure know about that, don't we?

Zayla goes on to explain to Supreme that Wild Bill Hickok has altered the outcome of the Civil War.  Then we go to a six page “flashback sequence” illustrated by Gil Kane.  The sequence starts with this beautiful scene which I'm including simply because it's so good.

The story that follows tells of Wild Bill's post-Civil War days as the Marshal of  Abilene and how he became sympathetic toward the Confederate veterans even though he had fought against them.  How he became infatuated with a dance-hall girl named Jessie.  How an accusation of cheating at cards led to a shootout in which Hickok killed his rival for Jessie's affections, two of his men and, by accident, one of Hickock's own deputies.  After the gunfight Jessie wanted nothing to do with Wild Bill, calling him just another Yankee.  But he was determined to win her. 

He travels to the future and obtains a powerful weapon that he delivers to the Confederacy, specifically a ten megaton atomic bomb, which they detonate in Washington D.C.  The flashback sequence ends, as it started, with a full page illustration showing the bomb's deadly result.  Back at the remnants of the Time Tower, Zayla confirms that it is as bad as Supreme thinks it is. 

The League makes plans to try to fix things as Witch Woman (no longer known, it seems, as Witch Wench) offers a plan.

The plan is to travel back and kill Hickok before he can implement his plan.  It's put to a vote and one by one the hands go up with everyone finally voting yes, except for Future Girl and Supreme himself.

They go to the 1876 balcony and find two doors, one for each timeline. 1876 Bill used the Time Tower to go back to the Civil War himself so even though he made his changes to the time-line earlier, stopping him in 1876 was subjectively on his own personal time-line. They decided to stop him in 1876 so that he couldn't go back to the Civil War. The "two doors" sequence sort of explains this. One door leads to the 1876 of the original time-line, the other to the 1876 time-line where Wild Bill time travels.  

They step through the door and Witch Woman casts an illusion spell making them appear in period garb.

They head to the saloon where Hickok awaits, but first Witch Woman makes an alteration to Future Girl's appearance, making her resemble the object of Bill's affections. 

Then Aladdin shoots him in the back.  One is left wondering if Future Girl was giving Bill a moment of happiness before he would die or if she was, perhaps, expressing her actual feelings.  Remember, her and Supreme were the only two who didn't vote for Bill's execution.

The cards shown were an accurate reflection of Wild Bill Hickok's hand when he was killed.  Aces and eights came to be known as “The Deadman's Hand”.  I even discovered, while researching this review, that it's been the title of a couple of movies neither of which, it would seem, had anything to do with Wild Bill Hickok.   The League then returns to the Time Tower to find everything back to normal.

 A great shot here of the tower.

They then visit Hickok's statue in their Memorial Gallery, noting that it has been there all along, as have statues of other members, including Future Girl herself.  One figure seems to be “The Fighting American,” a Captain America analog about whom you can read more here.

So Supreme, in his secret identity, returns to his job finding all has returned to normal.  His boss, who had been the janitor, is now the boss again.  There's a lame joke about slavery and that's basically the end of the story.

As for my thoughts on the story itself, I'm somewhat conflicted about it. It was clearly an ambitious attempt to write about a serious matter, but I felt that it didn't quite hit the mark. Hickok's actions clearly had some horrific consequences but, in the final analysis, it was just another "how do we fix this" kind of story. Although I do have to give Moore credit for the League's decision to handle the problem by "taking out" one of their own. Certainly not something I can ever see the actual Legion doing, although Live Wire's actions at the end of the "Legion Lost" saga came pretty close. So I would have to say "A" for the concept, C+ for the execution. 

Well, that brings us to the end of this series of reviews. The League is, in my opinion, a worthy homage to the Legion.  I hope you've enjoyed reading this series as much as I enjoyed the stories.


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  2. I find it hard to believe that one, and only one, atom bomb would have done the trick--and no nation had the technology to be able to build more of them back then. Other than finding the MacGuffin unbelievable, I thought it was a good story.