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Aalok Deciphers DC-Legends: The Collected Edition

23 Apr

Welcome back to a new edition of Deciphering DC! Here I present the DC Universe as evolved from the ground floor which was CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. My attempt is to build up, and simplify the convoluted structure of the DC Universe, reviewing almost every trade, and covering events mostly chronologically.

Collects: LEGENDS 1-6
Writers: John Ostrander, Len Wein
Artists: John Byrne, Karl Kesel

LEGENDS is the next big event the DCU. Before this we have covered CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOL 1 & BATMAN: YEAR ONE.

LEGENDS features John Ostrander’s DC debut, as
scripter, while Len Wein provides the plot & story. It is here, after a few memorable appearances by Darkseid pre-COIE (Fourth World, Super Powers!, Legion of Super Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga) we see him at his wily worst (for then!). This time he’s out to discredit the super heroes, reveal them as menaces & shatter their psyches.
Darkseid strikes in various ways, first sending the behemoth Brimstone who fights Firestorm, Cosmic Boy & then the Justice League to a standstill. Macro Man then shows up to bedevil Shazam, who inadvertently ends up causing his death. Amanda Waller & Rick Flag are gathering up the villains from all corners of the DCU to form Task Force X-otherwise known as the SUICIDE SQUAD. BATMAN, FLASH (Wally), GREEN LANTERN (Guy), BEAST BOY, BLACK CANARY & BLUE BEETLE face the general public who are inciting against their heroes at the behest of G. Gordon Godfrey, AKA Glorious Godfrey, another minion of Darkseid.
The Suicide Squad succeeds in their 1st mission but at the cost of one of their team mates. Doctor Fate selects the heroes he will need to fend off the threat of Godfrey. The book reads as a formulaic super hero story, wherein Darkseid is content to sit plotting and viewing his minions’ success, with the Phantom Stranger asserting that he will not succeed. No other hero except Superman faces up to Darkseid physically, though the encounter is not visible here.

The main book is only 6 issues long all collected here but the crossovers, spin offs are too many most of which have not yet been collected. This makes the read a bit uneven. Hard to make complete sense of this story without these crossovers.

Three monthly magazines (THE FLASH, JUSTICE LEAGUE & SUICIDE SQUAD) & 1 mini series (SHAZAM: A NEW BEGINNING) arise from LEGENDS.

The story on the whole is entertaining enough. It is from a time when the grim n gritty aspect was coming out but still not concrete enough, so it ends up being a light hearted adventure, an all ages story, if you prefer. This is JOHN OSTRANDER’s first work for DC. However, since the script is by LEN WEIN, too little of John’s own “voice” comes out. It’s difficult to see his genius (except in some places of the SUICIDE SQUAD sequences). The trade paperback features an introduction by Mike Gold, editor which I like. In the old days, all trades used to contain intros by either the writer/artist or editor, a lot more better than some celebrity who writes it just because he’s getting paid or is a big fan as this details what went into creating this work.

Rating: I liked it, 7.5 on 10 stars.

Contains full covers, with covers of the crossover & spin off issues, cover price 9.95 US$. This trade paperback is out of print though, so you’d do good to track it or track the single issues. They’re worth your while.