Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review: Adventure Comics #4


It has taken me a week to get up the energy to review Adventure Comics #4.

I realize I am in the minority ... but I just don't like the character of Superboy Prime. I think he has been overused. I think he has become something of a caricature, a joke. And I think breaking the fourth wall when done right (Morrison's Animal Man or even to some extent Byrne's She-Hulk) is interesting but when done wrong is disastrous.

So despite being written by Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates, despite Jerry Ordway's art, I just couldn't get that into the Prime story here. It didn't help that we had just had 3 superior issues about Conner in this title before this cross-over.

The highpoint of the issue was the Legion back-up story which featured my favorite Legionnaire Wildfire in a nice story about his relationship with Dawnstar.



The issue starts in Superboy Prime's basement where he turns and begins talking to the audience.

Surrounded by his long boxes, his action figures and trade paperbacks, his computer open to the DC message boards. He is shown to be reading Adventure Comics #4, the very issue I am reviewing. We get a sense of what may happen later on in this issue when he begins to comment on what he reads. He even wondered why he has been included in the Blackest Night event to begin with. I guess I echo his sentiment.

But something that happens at the end of the issue frightens and angers him. He rushes out of his basement.

Could it be that my dislike of Superboy Prime is that I see a little bit of myself in him? I also have an area in an unfinished basement where my comic books, commissions, and action figures are displayed. Or is it that he represents the stereotypical comic fan too much ... in the basement surrounded by their treasures but alone in the world.



We then bear witness to the resurrection of Alexander Luthor. One thing that I have enjoyed about the Blackest Night crossovers have been these resurrection scenes. They usually come with a "memory download" set of pages which gives the reader some important back story. Here, we are shown Luthor's parts in both Crisis on Infinite Earths as well as Infinite Crisis. One panel I enjoyed was seeing both Prime and Luthor looking at events on Earth when DC was in a dark phase in the 90's. We see shots of Superman's death at the hands of the Doomsday. We seek Bane breaking the back of Batman. We see Wonder Woman fighting with Artemis. We even see Hal Jordan as Parallax. That was a weird and dark time.

So it is no wonder that Luthor is a candidate to be a Black Lantern.

And like many of the Black Lanterns that have arisen, he has a target in mind. He wants to go after Prime.



In the meantime, Prime demands that his parents drive him to his local comic book store so he can read Adventure Comics #5. He wants to find out what happens!

Remember, his family is aware of everything that he did ask Prime in Infinite Crisis. They know that on Earth-0, their son was a ruthless killer. His mother let's him know that she is afraid of him as they drop him off at the store. When Prime runs in, they drive away.

This is the one area of the story that I find somewhat interesting. Prime clearly thinks of himself as a hero, someone trying to right the wrongs in the DCU. But to his family he is a killer. But the people he killed were merely characters in a book his parents read. Are those characters real? Is murdering a character still murder? Are his comic book actions crazy enough to warrant 'real world' fear? Isn't that like judging someone on what their D&D or WoW character does?


Prime runs into the store only to discover that Adventure Comics #5 doesn't come out until next month. Ummm ... couldn't he have looked on-line at home to see when it was supposed to ship?

With no issue to thumb through, he gets on-line in the store hoping to get some spoilers. His web surfing is interrupted by none other than Black Lantern Alex Luthor. Luthor states that he needs Prime to feel the rage he felt before so that he can absorb that emotional energy. As a regular old Earth Prime human, Superboy doesn't carry enough punch. So Luthor somehow recharges Superboy so that he has his powers in this 'normal world'.
And this is where I get sort of lost. Is the world where Prime is right now 'our arth' or does Earth Prime represent something else? Do I really want to see these characters apparently fighting here?



Superboy than attempts to resume a career as a hero. He uses his newly regained powers to fight Luthor.

Throughout the fight, Luthor goads Prime by calling him a bad character, the villain, etc. He hopes to bring out that rage that Prime has felt in the past. Not surprisingly, Superboy falls for the insults. He is full red on the emotional spectrum in no time.



And that is when Luthor springs his trap. He has brought along some friends for Superboy to battle ... all the heroes that Prime has dispatched in the past. The issue ends with the cliffhanger Prime saw earlier on ... with Luthor promising that Superboy will die.

I suppose I could have read this issue in the same way that I watch movies like Army Of Darkness. I could have simply said to myself that Prime is a silly crazy character and this issue is meant to be over the top. Maybe I should roll with everything he does, tongue in cheek.

But my guess is that the creators don't want this to be read that way.

Again, I don't like Superboy Prime. So it was unlikely that I would enjoy this.

In contrast I absolutely loved the Legion back up story.

In this story, Blok decides he needs to go to the Sorceror's world to see Mysa -the once White Witch, now Black Witch. With little chance of stopping him, Wildfire and Dawnstar decide to tag along.

Talk about to eerily similar couples. It is clear that both couples love each other but cannot easily express that physically. Blok sums it nicely - there are many stories of star-crossed lovers.



We see the Black Witch sitting on a throne surrounded by the petrified remains of many of the most powerful magical characters in the current DCU. What a great image.

She tells Blok that she needs to keep this evil magic inside her because she can control it better than anyone else. It is better for the universe if it is housed in her rather than roaming free. And she knows that she is sacrificing herself for the better of all.

She tels Blok that she can handle it better if he is there with her. Blok agrees to stay. They actually kiss. It is a nice moment.

I have always felt bad for the White Witch, a character that is always seems to get a raw deal. In particular, she was put through the wringer in the '5 year later' Legion run.


Wildfire and Dawnstar leave realizing that both Mysa and Blok have sacrificed much for the good of everyone else. They have each other ... but it is not ideal.

Wildfire in his own stilted way confesses he would do the same for Dawnstar.

One of the best parts of the Legion has always been the relationships of the characters. This was a nice little story focusing on four Legionnaires and their romantic conundrums. I thought this was great.

So half good ... half bad. It is a shame that the Conner story was sidelined in this title; I was really enjoying it.

Overall grade: C

8 comments:

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Nikki said...

I really like the meta especially when its funny. I saw this as Ambush Bug #6 really. LOL. I've preferred this issue to the conner stuff because I feel the connor story is going slow and I don't like the checklist idea although its a great method of introducing the character. I wish he had more of his fun back. I find the legion stories more satisfying and I especially like that the threeboot is getting used. I still find it odd when Brainy talks about how people besides him get riled up over love. Thats some fun irony I guess.

Eric said...

Hey Anj- I am with you on Superboy/man Prime. I don't like him as a character and more often than not, he does seem like a big joke. I too am confused as to where this story takes place and it was also unclear to me as to how Black Lantern Alexander Luthor got to another world in the multiverse. Maybe it was because he has some of Alex's residual powers? Regardless, a very bland story that I am not looking forward to reading again.

TalOs said...

Anj said...

Prime clearly thinks of himself as a hero, someone trying to right the wrongs in the DCU. But to his family he is a killer. But the people he killed were merely characters in a book his parents read. Are those characters real? Is murdering a character still murder? Are his comic book actions crazy enough to warrant 'real world' fear? Isn't that like judging someone on what their D&D or WoW character does?

Heh, the above is exactly what went through my mind too upon reading it...that's a truly hard one to come to any definite solid conclusion about...at least to me this is. :/

Question: how can Earth-Prime have a Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century when Superboy-Prime is apparently that Earths only hero to exist and inspire 'em? :/

Alan49 said...

IMO the Earth-Prime Legion was inspired by the Comic book Superboy/man and or Legion not Superboy-Prime who never becomes all that well know on earth prime.

The characters he killed are just as real as Superboy-Prime and his family. Also he killed or did something really bad to his ex-girlfriend and that would've happened on earth-prime.

Anj said...

I really like the meta especially when its funny. I saw this as Ambush Bug #6 really.

Thanks for the post.

That's the thing. I don't know if it supposed to be read like Ambush Bug ...

Anj said...

I too am confused as to where this story takes place and it was also unclear to me as to how Black Lantern Alexander Luthor got to another world in the multiverse. Maybe it was because he has some of Alex's residual powers?

I also didn't know how he jumped dimensions or gave Prime back his powers. He also seemed to corral some of the Black rings early on.

Anj said...

Also he killed or did something really bad to his ex-girlfriend and that would've happened on earth-prime.

Thanks for the post.

I had forgotten about that and that is a great point explaining his parents fears.