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I’ve made no secret of the fact that I prefer character driven stories to plot driven ones. In this series, Plot has loaded the DC Universe on a bus at gunpoint and is driving drunk and at high speed. Like the cover, which shows only a sliver of a scene, the story inside jumps frantically from one snippet to the next, never giving a satisfying moment of development, half the time continued from some other book, and, unfinished, no doubt going on to another. In issue 3 I was happy to see the return of Barry Allen, the Flash I grew up with. In this book he chats a bit, has a brief action scene, and is reunited with his wife, but it all has a rushed, let’s get on with feel, and nothing about Barry himself seems true or real, he’s just another puppet on this mad race of a story. I suppose there are young fans who find the entire epic engrossing, and are reading all the various storylines in other titles, so will get more out of this one, but for me it’s pretty much a waste of time. And I had about concluded that crossover events were just not for me, when…
…I picked up this Final Crisis spinoff written by Geoff Johns, art by George Pérez and Scott Koblish. And, everything I found wanting in the previous book was here in this one. In the opening, the villainous Superboy-Prime lands on the future Earth of the Legion of Super-Heroes, in that time’s Smallville, now a memorial to Superman, and explores the Superman Museum there. This allows us to learn about the character and his twisted view of the world, and about the Superman mythos, while quietly filling in facts about the 30th century. Neatly done, and full of great moments. Then the scene switches to the Legion itself, on trial before the United Planets, who wants to disband the group. Now, courtroom histrionics can be overdone, but here Geoff Johns once again uses them to lay in the background story of the Legion, while keeping us involved in the fate of the characters themselves. The unexpected appearance of an important figure in the history of the group is a development that works well, too, and there’s enough action here to keep things lively, and a shocking ending.
Moving on to issue 2, Superboy-Prime has joined a massive team of Legion enemies, and the Legion itself is soon set on a collision course, not only with them, but with two other versions of the Legion from past chapters in their history, thus the title. There are a ton of characters here, and Johns keeps them all sorted and, where possible, individual. He’s greatly aided by the absolutely top-notch art of George Perez, who seems to thrive on huge casts like no other artist.
I mean, what other artist could make 17 panels of mostly talking heads this involving? And then there are some beautiful double-page group shots where every character is worth looking at, no wooden soldiers, everyone is expressing their powers or personality. The action scenes, when they do happen, are thrilling, but the quiet moments are equally well done. It all comes back to me now, how much I enjoyed his work on CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, the only big crossover I’ve ever really got into, and now I remember why.
So, it’s not the idea of crossovers, its the execution. Sure, even this book is plot-driven, but character holds in equally important place. It’s a balancing act that Johns and Perez pull off perfectly, making it look easy, which so many others have proved is not the case.
FINAL CRISIS is not recommended, and I’m not sure I’ll read any more of it, but LEGION OF 3 WORLDS has all the right stuff and is highly recommended!