"I can't wait to see someone do annotations on the first issue"--Geoff Johns
At your service. Before I start my own annotations, I should note that Michael Grabois over at The Legion Omnicom has been gearing up to do some scarily complete annotations for this mini (from which I am stealing lots of information)--even before the appearance of this issue, he'd already posted lists of the first appearances and creators of every character in all three incarnations of the Legion.
Three incarnations? Right. The Legion of Super-Heroes has three separate continuities: the first set is the stories published between 1958 and 1994, the second ran 1994-2004, and the third is 2004-present. They're sometimes called the "pre-ZH Legion" (ZH being ZERO HOUR, the miniseries that reconfigured the timestream), the "reboot" and the "threeboot." For the purposes of notes on this mini-series, I'm just going to call them L(I), L(II) and L(III) when distinctions are necessary.
On top of that, Lo3W builds on "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes," which ran in ACTION COMICS #858-864, and featured an older version of L(I) that nonetheless hadn't lived through the events published in the LEGION series that ran from 1989 to 1994. "Superman and the Legion," in turn, builds on several Legionnaires' appearance in "The Lightning Saga," in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #8-10 and JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #5-6. And, in JSA #6, Superman refers to the "Legion of Three Worlds" being "one of the Legion's greatest adventures." That title is of course a riff on "Flash of Two Worlds", the first story to propose the existence of "Earth-Two" (and the source of Libra's headquarters).
Confused yet? This story will allegedly be how all that stuff gets un-confused. We'll see. And, for all that, this is a fairly self-explanatory story; in the same interview linked up top, Johns claims that "[y]ou don't need to know who Superboy-Prime is when you read issue #1. You don't need to know who the Legion are, and you don't need to know anything about their world. You don't even need to know who Superman is when you pick up issue #1." Nonetheless, it's got more Easter eggs than a PAAS factory.
Also, I'm not noting everybody in every group shot, partly because life is short, and partly because Timothy Callahan's annotations already did all the heavy lifting there. Also, you should read them because they're funnier than mine.
This is the Time Trapper, created by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte, who first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #318 in 1964. (He later retroactively became Time Master, who had appeared in WONDER WOMAN #101 in 1958. This sort of thing happens a lot when he's around.) "The Legion will live no longer" is a riff on the team's catchphrase, "long live the Legion."
Flour beetles are actually likely to survive longer than cockroaches, but the point is made.
The Time Trapper's headquarters may well be Vanishing Point, the HQ of the Linear Men, which is also on an asteroid and also at the end of time; I don't have visual reference for that on hand, though.
As far as I know, none of these years (or the ones elsewhere in the issue) have specific DCU implications.
Smallville is Superman's boyhood home, and this sequence isn't just a parodic replay of Superman's origin, it's a parodic replay of a previous Johns parodic replay--ACTION COMICS #858, where the hyper-xenophobic Jun (originally "Juun") and Mara first appeared. Their names, I suppose, are also 31st-century equivalents of Jonathan and Martha. Kind of amusing that cup/saucer/utensil design hasn't changed in a thousand years, I guess, but Jun and Mara seem like traditionalists anyway. "Boys and girls" may be a riff on the "Attribute Boy" Legion naming paradigm.
Michael Grabois identifies the newscaster as Marella Tao, created by Paul Levitz and Greg LaRoque, who first appeared in 1987's LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #36.
Ah, Superman-Prime. (Although is this the first time Superboy has been called by that name in a new DC comic since the Superboy lawsuit?) Created by Elliot S! Maggin and Curt Swan, he first appeared--as Superboy-Prime--in DC COMICS PRESENTS #87 in 1985. That 1985 is significant: Geoff Johns writes him as an "evil fanboy" who wants everything to be the way it was when he was reading comics in the mid-'80s...
Prime was last seen, I think, in COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #13, destroying moving part 51. Not sure how he got from there to here.
Prime looks rather Li'l Abner in panel 7, doesn't he?
The "Welcome to Smallville" sign should, by rights, be in Interlac, but it was established as being in English in ACTION #858. The sign in the final panel, though, is in Interlac: it says "Superman Museum."
The golden statue in the middle is of course a riff on the cover of ACTION COMICS #1, with exploding Krypton and the Discovery of the El Child behind it. Left, top row, we see Ma and Pa Kent with little Clark; Clark and Lois on their wedding day in SUPERMAN: THE WEDDING ALBUM; Jimmy, Perry and Clark at the Daily Planet offices; Lex Luthor being led away. The second row is an early Joe Shuster-style Superman, the DC One Million version (wait--isn't that still in the far future of this timeline?), the Kingdom Come version, and the TANGENT COMICS: THE SUPERMAN version. Bottom row: Jonathan Kent, Martha Kent, Pete Ross and Lana Lang. Anyone know who that is in the crystal structure?
Right, top row: Power Girl, Steel, Lori Lemaris and the seven core members of the Justice League. Middle row: Krypto, Superwoman (as seen in the pre-Crisis DC COMICS PRESENTS ANNUAL #2 and #4), some version of Supergirl, and Connor Kent/Superboy. Bottom row: Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White.
"Strange visitor" is a phrase that dates back to the very early days of Superman. Apparently the Jimmy-guide speaks in 21st-century American English.
"Hall of 1,000 Olsens" is a riff on JIMMY OLSEN #105--"The World of 1000 Olsens!" In evidence: the Super-Brain Olsen from JIMMY OLSEN #22, the Elastic Lad incarnation of Jimmy who first appeared in JIMMY OLSEN #37, Jupiter Jimmy from JIMMY OLSEN #32, the Wolf-Man of Metropolis from JIMMY OLSEN #44, the Giant Turtle Man from JIMMY OLSEN #53, the Human Octopus from JIMMY OLSEN #41, the Human Flame-Thrower from JIMMY OLSEN #33, the Human Porcupine from JIMMY OLSEN #65, the Fat Boy of Metropolis from JIMMY OLSEN #49, Jimmy the Gorilla Reporter from JIMMY OLSEN #24 although the cover of its reprint in JIMMY OLSEN #116 is funnier, and... who else? Anyone recognize the chicken-footed one or the tornado-like one?
The caped figures are Nightwing and Flamebird, from SUPERMAN #158 and many times thereafter, although, as Jimmy indicates, that's now out of continuity. Ow.
Interlac in Panel 2: "Olsen Photo..." In panel 8, the portrait gallery says "Portrait Ga...," and below the Supermans in the case: "...ster," "Boring," "Swan," "Garcia-Lopez," "...ne," and "L...feld." Those Supermans are drawn in approximations of the styles of Joe Shuster, Wayne Boring, Curt Swan, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, John Byrne--although mostly obscured--and... could the one where almost all you can see is feet be dedicated to Rob Liefeld? [ETA: I misread it: it's actually "H... feld," a tribute to Al Hirschfeld, apparently inserted by inker Scott Koblish: there is a "Nina" on each foot. Thanks to Michael for catching it...] Below the left figure, "Bu..."; below the right figure, "Pérez."
Panel 2: the Interlac does indeed say "...hantom Zone" and "on loan."
Panel 3: L(I), in the incarnation that appeared in "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes."
R.J. Brande first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #350, by E. Nelson Bridwell and Curt Swan, referred to only as "the richest man in the universe"; the story of his attempted assassination (and the beginning of the Legion) appeared in SUPERBOY #147, a few years later. Leland McCauley (only two Cs!) first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #374.
Panel 7: This is the Legion as they appeared in the late '80s, before the "five years later" period. Which segues nicely into reader Joe G.'s question: "Is 'five years later' no longer in continuity? When in Legion continuity (by which I mean assuming 5YL is tossed out) does 'The Lightning Saga' start? When are these Legionnaires from? I guess the Levitz Baxter-paper run?" Glad you asked, Joe G.! I have no idea what the answer is. In ACTION COMICS #864, Batman notes that this Lightning Lad was the one he'd met in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #148--as opposed to the L(II) version from THE FINAL NIGHT and the L(III) version from Waid/Pérez's THE BRAVE & THE BOLD. On the other hand, supposedly "every Legionnaire to have ever existed" is going to appear in this story. Which means that once we see, e.g., Kent Shakespeare and Laurel Gand, things may become clearer. See also the note on Karate Kid II, pg. 22 below.
My best guess right now is that the three Legions are from parallel universes, but the Johnsverse version, the 5YL version, and the original Jim Shooter "Adult Legion" story from ADVENTURE COMICS #354 (which incidentally includes an offhanded reference to Dr. Light!) and #355 are all alternate timelines from a single universe. But who knows? Any speculation is welcome.
Panel 1: Steel's hammer, Superboy's jacket, the Guardian's shield, various varieties of Kryptonite.
Panel 2: Gaston Dominguez-Letelier co-owns Meltdown Comics in Hollywood. Interlac: "...olitude." The exhibit is the key to the Fortress of Solitude, and I think that's Dubbilex in the lower left-hand corner.
Panel 7: He's looking past the Cyborg, Toyman, and... is that the Psycho-Pirate?
That "parallel Earth long dead" is our world!
The fight with the Titans happened in TEEN TITANS #32 in 2006; he actually killed Connor Kent in INFINITE CRISIS #6; the fight with Sodam Yat happened in GREEN LANTERN CORPS #18. Prime is considerably tougher than Jimmy is letting on here. And Neutron is, really, fairly minor, although I'll take this opportunity to link to the cover of his first appearance, ACTION COMICS #525, by Marv Wolfman and Joe Staton.
The diorama is Connor/Superboy out in front of the Titans.
Helmets: "SPD." Vests: "Police." Since when is freezing-breath one of Prime's powers?
Panel 3 includes insets of Comet the Super-Horse, Mary Marvel or Captain Marvel's cape, and some stuff I don't recognize.
Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy and Saturn Girl were all created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, and debuted in ADVENTURE COMICS #247.
Interlac in panel 9: "Saturn."
This sequence, with Mon-El being yanked out of the Phantom Zone, is sort of a recurring motif in Legion comics. In current continuity, he first went into the Phantom Zone in ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #10, and has spent a lot of time in there; as of "Superman and the Legion," he's been re-banished to the Phantom Zone by the Justice League of Earth.
Phantom Girl, created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney, first appeared in ACTION COMICS #276. Lightning Lass, created by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte, first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #308. Shadow Lass, created by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan, first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #365.
General Zod, created by Robert Bernstein and George Papp, first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #283. Ursa first appeared in the 1978 SUPERMAN movie, although she didn't appear in comics until ACTION COMICS #845 in 2006.
Mon-El, created by Robert Bernstein and George Papp, first appeared in SUPERBOY #89. Brainiac 5, created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney, also first appeared in ACTION COMICS #276.
Sun Boy, created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney, was yet another ACTION COMICS #276 debut. Polar Boy, created by Edmond Hamilton, Buddy La Vigne and John Forte, first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #306.
The structure in panel 6 is a building, loosely based on the Legion's original "clubhouse," that appeared in "Superman and the Legion."
Panel 3: Karate Kid II, here, was created by Paul Levitz and Steve Lightle, and first appeared in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #13. But he didn't actually join the Legion until the Five-Year Gap period, which indicates that the Lo3W history diverges sometime after that.
Panel 7: Ah, Dr. Gym'll. Created by Paul Levitz and Pat Broderick, he first appeared in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #284 in 1980.
Panel 8: Taltar is the home world of Spider-Girl (!), although I don't know if Taltarians have previously been established as having green skin. (The Taltarian in ADVENTURE COMICS #368 doesn't, anyway, which is not to say that others don't.)
Panel 11: Nullport appeared in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #285.
Panel 12: Kaffar appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #343. Durla is a can of worms, as we'll see.
Takron-Galtos first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #359; it was destroyed in 1986's LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #18. Hence, it's been rebuilt.
Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen and Cosmic King, created by Jerry Siegel and Curt Swan, first appeared in SUPERMAN #147 in 1961. They all turned up relatively recently in an alternate-future-history story in SUPERMAN/BATMAN #14-18.
Just as Superboy inspired the LSH, Prime inspired the LSV...
"A dark being whose name was never spoken": Interesting. Cain? Darkseid?
Uh, Earthgov has kind of made "the American way" as a phrase obsolete, hasn't it?
As we all know, when you kill a Skrull, they turn back to their--Durlan. Durlan, sorry. R.J. Brande, by the way, was initially revealed as a Durlan in SECRETS OF THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #3, back in 1981. (Which also revealed that he was indeed Chameleon Boy's father.)
It's time for a big round of the "begats." Colossal Boy, created by Otto Binder and Wayne Boring, first appeared in ACTION COMICS #267, and the same goes for Chameleon Boy. Night Girl, created by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte, first appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #306; Hamilton and Forte also created Element Lad (ADVENTURE COMICS #307), Dream Girl (ADVENTURE COMICS #317) and Timber Wolf (ADVENTURE COMICS #327). Shrinking Violet: Siegel, Mooney, ACTION #276 again. Invisible Kid II, created by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen, first appeared in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES ANNUAL #1. Ultra Boy, created by Jerry Siegel and Curt Swan, first appeared in SUPERBOY #98. Blok, created by Gerry Conway and Joe Staton, first appeared in SUPERBOY #253. Dawnstar, created by Paul Levitz and Mike Grell, first appeared in SUPERBOY #226. Wildfire, created by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum, first appeared in SUPERBOY #195.
Also on the screen in the last couple of panels: the White Witch, Duo Damsel, Bouncing Boy... is that Rond Vidar?... Quislet... Sensor Girl/Projectra?... Tellus and Tyroc.
Superman got the "ripcord" ring in ACTION #864.
Prime killed one of the Guardians in GREEN LANTERN #25.
The Legion on the left is L(II); the one on the right is L(III). And no, I'm not going to name all the characters this time. I note, though, that L(III) includes Supergirl in the same outfit she's wearing on pg. 7. And the proposed redemption of Prime is an interesting parallel to the proposed redemption of Inertia over in ROGUES' REVENGE.
Then there's the matter of "a long time ago" (perhaps that was the first "Legion of Three Worlds" adventure), and "the first Crisis." Wasn't Psycho-Pirate the only one who remembered CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS? I'm sure this has been tweaked over the years; can anybody explain it? In "The Lightning Saga," Superman also notes "the last time I saw [the Legion] was after the first Crisis, and they never came back." Maybe he means 1987's SUPERMAN #8?
Bits of Non-Legionnaire Business: There are three, count 'em, three Final Crisis-related titles being published next week: ROGUES' REVENGE #2, SUPERMAN BEYOND #1 (there is still no sign of a #2 in the solicitations for November; perhaps it's been abridged back to a one-shot?) and DC UNIVERSE: LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to post anything here until the following week (when there are no FC-related titles scheduled--and here I was hoping for a roughly one-a-week pace), since I will be on my annual vacation, very far away from the Internet (and comic book stores). In the meantime, I bet David Uzumeri over at Funnybook Babylon will have something interesting to say about SUPERMAN BEYOND, at least. See you in September.