Aug 14, 2020
DC Comics’ Legends #4
The last issue underwhelmed, being a bit too focused on exposition and not enough on action and plot advancement. That being said, it gave us our first look at what would become the Suicide Squad, so it was far from a total loss. So what does issue #4 have in store for us? Will it be another lackluster entry in this follow up to Crisis on Infinite Earths? Strap in and let’s take a look!
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Right away we’re off to a bangin’ start, as a police squad car prowls the riotous streets of Star City. The police officers debate the merits of President Reagan’s zero tolerance policy regarding superheroes. One cop, Andy, points out that without superheroes, supervillains are having a field day, while his partner Joey insists the “so-called heroes” are the “biggest menace of all”. The man’s obviously spouting G. Gordon Godfrey’s hate speech practically verbatim and probably doesn’t even realize it. But before Andy can refute his partner’s propaganda, they’re attacked by the man, the myth, the legend… Count Vertigo?
Count Vertigo’s powers are that he can mess with a person’s sense of balance, which has catastrophic consequences for the cops, and their car crashes. Vertigo figures that now is a good time to rob a nearby bank, but before he can walk two steps, he gets an earful of hyper-sound…
…and a face full of boot. Who is this heroine, you might ask? Why, it’s Black Canary!
No, seriously. It’s Dinah Lance, Black Canary, former Justice Leaguer, and Green Arrow love interest. Maybe you’re a little confused by the costume, and wondering why she isn’t wearing her signature (and timeless) outfit.
You see, at the time, someone over at Marvel had dusted off the character Mockingbird for the 1983 Hawkeye mini-series.
So Marvel had a bird-themed heroine teaming up with an archer. Mockingbird and Hawkeye later got married, and ultimately became charter members of the West Coast Avengers. So what did DC Comics do in the wake of this blatant emulation? With some blatant emulation of their own, by borrowing heavily from Mockingbird’s costume design and revamping Black Canary.
Nobody I know liked it. Sadly, things only got worse for the character before they got better, but the less said about Mike Grell’s overrated run on Green Arrow, the better.
Black Canary gives Vertigo a boot to the belly and exposits about his “electronic illusion casting powers”, and I guess that kind-of sort-of describes what he does, but the way Canary frames it, she could be describing Marvel’s Mysterio as well. Canary plants Vertigo against a wall and is all set to deliver the coup de grâce, when hero-hating cop Joey pulls his piece and tries to arrest our heroine. Andy does exactly the wrong thing in this situation and gets physical with an armed man with an attitude, allowing Canary to escape. However…
It’s only made worse when Joey, incapable of accepting his part in the tragedy, blames Black Canary. Yeah, try using that defense at your Internal Affairs hearing, Joey.
Darkseid and the Phantom Stranger witness the incident from a nearby alleyway and debate the nature of man. The Stranger sticks up for Homo sapiens, but Darkseid is convinced the species is pretty much scum. The Stranger asks what Darkseid’s going to do about the people living inside of the Earth in Skataris, but Darkseid isn’t too concerned with Travis Morgan’s stomping grounds. He sends Desaad off through a “star gate” to deal with Morgan. Maybe editor Mike Gold thought “Boom Tube” was too corny, or something? Did the gang think it wasn’t “gritty” enough for the post-Crisis DCU? Was a pixie-booted Robin getting his ass handed to him by a rabid crowd earlier some sort of metaphor for how this creative team felt about the Silver Age? Has my inner fanboy slipped his leash and started making too much of this?
Cut to Gotham City. Hey, look who’s running amok and killing scores of people!
Joker’s got a new gal who goes by the name “Fungus Souffle”. She sounds positively delightful. Joker has already killed a room full of people for his gal; it turns out for her concept art is literally murder. But Batman is on the scene and makes short work of Joker’s punk pugilists. Damn, the fight’s so short and anticlimactic we don’t even get sound effects for when Bats smashes their skulls together. Not a “Bonk!” or a “Klonk!” or even a “Thwak!”? DC really has gone gritty.
Joker shows his love and devotion to his artistic admirer by sticking a gun in her ear and threatening to add her brains to the exhibition. But Batman has the answer for that. One well-thrown batarang acts as a diversion and…
Okay, there are my sound effects! You had me worried there, DC. Batman makes reference to what Joker did to Catwoman; at this point, she and Bats had become an item, just before Joker captured and brainwashed her into becoming a bad guy again. Hmm, the Bat and the Cat get together and are then torn apart by mind control? Sounds kind of familiar, if you were around for Batman and Catwoman’s non-wedding last year. At least, the most popular theory is Selina Kyle was mind-controlled into crushing Batman’s heart. Wait long enough, and I guess every story gets recycled.
Over in Los Angeles, a bank is being robbed by… “Ms. Magnificent and her Pretty Boys”. It’s like there was this pile of discarded ideas on John Byrne’s desk, and the writers said they needed a disposable bad guy, and John grabbed the first sketch off the stack or something.
The door is weakened by the Pretty Boys’ battering ram, allowing Ms. Magnificent to finish the job with her She-Hulk sized muscles. But before she can lead the gang into Canfield’s Security, a horrific, alien-looking green-hued beast attacks, snatching up Ms. Magnificent in its claws and scattering her boys.
Guy Gardner’s on the case, and let me take a moment to admire the man’s costume. In this state, I thought it was pretty rockin’. You had the slightly oversized boots, the black bodysuit with a turtleneck, a green vest with a popped collar, and a chain belt. It just exuded macho excess and arrogance, and was a radical departure from the standard tights we normally saw. If they had just left well enough alone… Man, I really do need to take a look at that Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League run. Guy proclaims himself the “one true Green Lantern!” and flies off with his prisoner in tow, although where he’s going to take her is kind of a mys—hey, wait a minute! Ms. Magnificent’s bronzed body builder skin, her blonde hair, her yellow bikini; shouldn’t she be immune to Guy’s ring? Foul! Foul, I say!
Now we’re in Chicago, the Windy City! An attractive, bikini-clad brunette enters an… antique clock convention? Um, okay, I guess if Antiques Roadshow is a thing, then Clock Con can be, too. Naturally, the woman attracts the attention of numerous men.
I guess that sonic attack cleaned their clocks, amiright? We see Chronos show up, and was there ever a guy who suffered more from the dichotomy of a way-cool name and a way-lame costume? I hate his choice of fashion; it’s loud and it’s tasteless, and as (another) aside, DC really missed their chance post-Crisis in giving some characters a much needed makeover and just saying they always looked that way. Robin could have finally ditched a getup that looked corny even in the 1940s, and sad bastards like Chronos here could have done with a little…uncomplicating, at least.
Whatever. It looks like clocks are Chronos’ jam, and the woman is a robot. Chronos pops her open at the waist and pulls out an inflatable holder for his timely swag. But before he can make haste…
Pow! Right to the kisser! Now see this costume? A little silly, true, but you’ve got clean lines, and two-toned blue with a little yellow thrown in. Overall, a nice design. But back to the fight.
Chronos isn’t the kind of crook who deals in fisticuffs, and instead of trading blows, he detonates his wind-up girlfriend, who sprays the room with “razor sharp gears”. Blue Beetle dives to safety, and I can’t help but wonder how many antique clocks got trashed just now. Beetle prepares to give chase, but a bunch of security guards (who were probably hiding out in the hall while Blue Beetle was doing their job) delay the Beetle just long enough for Chronos to get away.
In Salem, Mass, there’s a mysterious tower. Inside, a man watches events unfold while a brazier releases smoke, and images of protesters appear. I guess TV reception really sucks in Stephen King Land. This is Kent Nelson, and he’s not alone, as his love interest Inza shows up and says she’s witnessed the craziness first hand. The two talk about it being time for “him”, and they ain’t talking about Kent. It turns out there’s a special gold helmet, and when Kent puts it on, somebody else gets in the driver’s seat.
Now that, boys and girls, is a costume. Nabu, Lord of Order, is now in charge, and tells Inza that he’ll take care of Kent’s body, but what the hell else do you expect him to say? “Hey, Inza, I’m headed down to the local strip club for some expensive cocaine and cheap hookers. I’ll try to remember to wear a condom, but I might be so buzzed on tequila shots that it slips my orderly mind. Remind Kent to get tested for STDs after he takes the helmet off, ‘kay?” Doctor Fate heads out to fight crime… and only fight crime, Inza hopes.
In a super-secret bunker that (almost) nobody in the government knows about, the Suicide Squad is chilling and Captain Boomerang wants his explode-y bracelet removed. I’d talk about how silly his getup is, but honestly I think where he’s concerned, that’s the whole point. I like how this one panel is laid out, with Bronze Tiger keeping an eye on Enchantress, who looks like she’s still smarting from his nerve pinch. It’s nice piece of continuity. Nearby, Amanda Waller is telling Boomerang to get used to the bracelet, just as Col. Flag disables it. Waller blows her stack, but Flag points out a deal’s a deal; Boomerang is free to go. I’m sure he’ll use this new lease on life to turn things around. Maybe he’ll go straight and open up a boomerang throwing school, or something.
In Gotham City, G. Gordon Godfrey’s got a massive audience on hand for his hero hate rally. He’s playing up to the crowd, noting that Pres. Reagan has decided to finally arrest the little troll for inciting riots all across the US. The crowd eats it up, and Godfrey points out a government that ain’t listening to the people ain’t representing it. It’s time for a change, but does Godfrey do what normal people do and run for office? No, he decides to see who wants to become giant killer cyborg dogs.
Cut to New York City, which I guess is a bus ride away from that super secret bunker, because Captain Boomerang has wasted no time doing what he does best.
Well, what he does second best, which is steal stuff. What he does best is get his ass handed to him by the Flash. And lo and behold, the Flash is on hand. Only, Boomerang delivers a burn and calls him “Kid Flash”, then proceeds to school the guy with some timely ‘rangs. It makes sense that Boomerang is kicking Wally’s butt, seeing as how the not-so-super-crook is used to dealing with an opponent who moves ten times faster than Wally can. But before he can score the first win of his entire life, Changeling is on the scene as a boxing kangaroo. Wally tells Changeling to back off because he’s gotta do this one on his own, but before he can lose to Boomerang again…
…we find out that Godfrey got a couple takers on his offer. Elsewhere on Apokolips, Darkseid says things are going quite awesomely. But professional killjoy Phantom Stranger points out his plan won’t work, because guys like Superman are around. Darkseid’s response is to open up another (sigh) star gate. But he’s not going to Metropolis to get Supes; he’s bringing Supes to Apokolips.
All in all, a much better issue than the last, as we got a lot of action and plot development. Will we see Darkseid go toe-to-toe with Supes in Legends #5, or did we have to buy the latest issue of Superman? Tune in next week to find out!