Well, all three of the books could potentially impact Supergirl or have some interesting nuggets in them. None have enough Supergirl involvement to warrant a solo review. So here are some quick reviews.
Reign in Hell #2.
The bottom line here is no Linda Danvers in this issue. Thus no long-winded review. The thrust of this issue seems to be the choosing of sides in the war in Hell by various Earth-bound people.
The issue starts with a conference at Stonehenge between Zatanna, Captain Marvel, Detective Chimp, Dr. Fate, and Zauriel. In some ways it echoed a bit of the circle of magic made way back in Swamp Thing #50 by Alan Moore. Zatanna sat at that table too. Her father Zatara died at that table. The discussion here is mostly exposition as the magic wielders talk about how this war in Hell could have impact on this plane and that people should get involved. The majority of the rest of this issue shows heroes and villains (Nightshade, Ibis, Black Alice) deciding who they will back in this war in Hell.
Here Blue Devil decides he will back Satanus in hopes of regaining his humanity (lost when he made a deal with Neron back in Underworld Unleashed).
Not a great issue, but not bad. My one complaint is that there are conversations between characters who are not named or labelled. There is a blond guy and a young dark-haired guy who I really don't know because I did not pick up Shadowpact or similar titles. And of course, no Linda.
Overall grade: C
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 worlds #1.
I am not quite sure exactly how this mini-series fits into the Final Crisis storyline.
The story itself is quite compelling. The Time Trapper plucks Superboy-Prime from his limbo and places him into the future. SB-Prime goes to the Superman museum and becomes infuriated that he is considered a footnote in history below lightweights like Toyman and Prankster.
There are lots of visual goodies in George Perez's museum panels including this museum homage to Kara.
And this museum piece of the Silver Age Comet (lower right)!
SB-Prime decides he will ruin the reputation of Superman and destroy all he loves in the future. To accomplish that, he goes to the prison planet Takron-Galtos and frees a bunch of super-villains including many of the Legion of Super-Villains, specifically Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen, and Cosmic King.
In the meantime, the Legion is politically reeling and is about to have it's funding pulled when out comes RJ Brande to try to save the day. Just when he is about to turn the political tide in the Legion's favor, he is assassinated by Leland McCauley. When Brande reverts to his Durlan form, the tide swings back saying that Durlans are infiltrating Earth.
Realizing they need help to figure out all that is going on, the Legion calls in Superman. To fight the army of Super-villains that are now free, this Legion decides to recruit the Legion from other timelines (the 'Legion Lost' Legion and the 'current' Legion). And that means Supergirl may be recruited too. There she is in the back row!
Superman hopes that somehow they all can redeem SB-Prime, a tall order given the absolute mayhem and death he has spread around the last couple of years.
There was a lot going on here and for an old Legion fan like me, a lot to like. Johns has based this Legion on the Levitz run albeit with some new costumes and new attitudes. It made me feel nostalgic to read the names RJ Brande and Leland McCauley. But redeem SB-Prime? The guy has killed many heroes and even destroyed a whole Earth in Countdown. Is he redeemable? Do we want our heroes to try?
Overall grade: B+
Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1.
This mini-series seems the one most tightly linked to Final Crisis as it looks like the real villain behind it all, Mandrakk the Dark Monitor will be revealed here. Darkseid may be doing stuff on Earth, but Mandrakk seems to be poised to do something multi-universal.
Now this is written in pure Morrison trippiness so I am going to venture some guesses/interpretations here, but other feel free to speak up.
As seen in FC#3, Superman is called upon by a Monitor to leave Earth on a universe saving mission. If successful, the Monitor will give Superman some Ultramenstruum, the stuff of the cosmos that can save Lois.
The monitor has recruited the Superman equivalent of a number of universes including Captain Marvel, a Doctor Manhatten-like Captain Adam, Overman the Nazi Superman, and Ultra-Man. Before the mission can even be discussed, the ship they are in must flee from another ship trying to destroy them. The Supermen guide the ship through universes to comic Limbo, seen in Morrison's Animal Man comic as the place characters go when not written about.
There, Superman discovers a book in the Library of Limbo and it is here that the origin of Mandrakk is revealed. I wish Morrison would have written this piece in a straight-forward way, but instead we get snippets and Grant-speak. From what I can tell, there existed a universal Monitor. This uber-monitor detects within itself a flaw and sends a probe to investigate. (My guess is the flaw is the multi-verse.) When this uber-monitor contacts the flaw it becomes aware of chaotic events happening and calls these events 'stories' (this is all so Morrison meta-textual). Having never seen/heard/experienced stories, it is overwhelmed. It creates a construct to contain the flaw (my guess this is the orrery). But it's contact leads to this:
"An uncanny form", this Superman-like structure stands as a monument in the world of the Monitors where it is revered as being something connected to the first Uber-monitor and later felt to be a doomsday device to save the universe from an ultimate enemy, Mandrakk the Eater of Life. Superman it seems is some archetypal figure born from the first Monitor's Earthly encounters. It's all soooo messianic.
Of course everything I just wrote could be wrong! Ahhh .. the beauty of Grant Morrison. But it sounds like an evil Monitor exists (maybe an anti-monitor?) and somehow Superman is the key to defeating it.
The Supermen opt to leave Limbo. The female monitor who has led them kills Overman and drinks his blood to sustain her own waning life. (Maybe she is the monitor from the Vampire Earth?).
Here is the one Kara bit. Our Superman went on the mission to save Lois. Overman went on the mission to find his beloved cousin, Overgirl, the Nazi Supergirl we saw dead in Final Crisis #3. It wonder if our Superman would make the same sacrifice for our Supergirl?
Anyways, it is a heavy convoluted trippy story. There seems to be a lot of intersting ideas here and I hope I can piece all this together. It is hard to know if Mandrakk shows up here or in the final issues of Final Crisis. The Doug Mahnke art is slick and detailed here. I guess I like Morrison a lot because while I didn't grasp it all, I loved this book.
Overall grade: A.
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