Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 05.19.2010 – DC Universe: Legacies #1

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iFanboy
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441
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.3
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 12.6%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Written by LEN WEIN
Art by ANDY KUBERT, JOE KUBERT and J.G. JONES
Cover by ANDY KUBERT and JOE KUBERT
Variant cover by J.G. JONES

Size: 40 pages
Price: 3.99

I’m super jetlagged…

I strained a muscle in my back yesterday and sitting here at the computer is painful…

And I just read two weeks worth of comics.

Let’s do this.

When I consider this week’s Pick of the Week, the phrase “in my wheelhouse” comes to mind. In case you’re not familiar with the phrase, it originated many decades ago in the sport of baseball and was used to describe a pitch that came into a batter’s sweet spot.

DC Universe: Legacies #1 is right in my wheelhouse.

This issue is all about revisiting the DC Universe’s illustrious past, so let’s take a trip down memory lane. Let’s go back 24 years to 1986. Crisis on Infinite Earths has just ended, and the entirety of the DC Universe was remade: the timeline was rearranged, events were altered, and comic book fans were left to wonder just what this new DC Universe looked like. So in 1986 DC published a two-part prestige format book called History of the DC Universe, written and drawn by the Crisis on Infinite Earths creative team of Marv Wolfman and George Perez. This is one of my favorite mini-series of all-time. I got my hands on it when I was a young lad and just beginning to understand the rich tapestry of characters and stories that made up the DC Universe up until that point in the late 1980s. History of the DC Universe was an invaluable tool in helping me increase my appreciation for DC and helping me to understand the stories and events that had come before that I had yet to read.

Fast forward two and a half decades. Probably the most common e-mail I get from people these days is some form of “I’ve never really read DC comics and with all the stuff going on now I really want to get into them. Can you tell me what I need to know and what stories I need to read?” I used to tell those people that properly answering that question would require a lot more free time than I’d ever have, but now I can just point them to DC Universe: Legacies, which appears to be the modern day version of History of the DC Universe.

Right off the bat, the biggest difference between DC Universe: Legacies and History of the DC Universe is story. As befitting its rather dry title, History of the DC Universe read more like an illustrated textbook, with Harbinger laying out the new timeline for the post-Crisis DC Universe. In DC Universe: Legacies we are getting the history of the DCU told in actual stories. The issue opens with old man Paul Lincoln, widower and avid collector of super hero memorabilia, sitting down with a nice cup of pure Colombian joe to tell us all about the things he’s seen in the DC Universe. We flash back to the late 1930s/early 1940s to find young Paul and his no good friend Jimmy Maloney running around the Suicide Slums of Metropolis doing odd jobs for the local … um, influential civic leader Mike Moran. (Was his nickname “Bugsy”? Probably.)  It’s all fun and games being a young street tough, shaking down small business owners for protection money and helping to load illegal hooch trucks, until some costumed yahoos with names like The Sandman, The Atom, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, The Spectre, Dr. Fate, and Hourman show up causing trouble.

Len Wein isn’t a writer that we tend to associate with modern comics very much these days. He’s old school: his first published comic book gig was in 1968. He’s still got chops, though. This single issue has a few missions to accomplish and it does them very elegantly. He sets up the world and lets us know what life is like for the people in it. We see the crime both petty and serious, and then we see what the arrival of the costumed super heroes who will eventually comprise the Justice Society of America does to this world and the people in it. Our friend Paul Lincoln and his friend Jimmy Maloney react very differently to these super heroes. Paul sees them as the inspiration to forgo the life of petty crime that he has grown up in and Jimmy just hardens and you just know that he will be heading down an even darker and more violent path. Len Wein accomplishes all of this with the skill of someone who spent most of their career writing comic books whose complete stories fit in one or two issues. There’s a lot of information here but it never feels like overload.

As great as the story was, the big news here is the art. After an opening two pages by Scott Kolins (in a very un-Kolins like almost painted style) we are treated to a man story penciled by Andy Kubert and inked by the legendary Joe Kubert. The elder Kubert’s inking style is heavy, so while you can see the Andy Kubert framework, the look and feel is all Joe Kubert.

And guys, this book is gorgeous.

There is no one more suited to portraying the Golden Age of the DC Universe than Joe Kubert (he’s on the next issue as well, which is also set in the time of the Justice Society of America). That signature heavy-lined crosshatching style of Joe Kubert is all over the pages of this book and I found myself sighing with deep contentment every time I turned the page. I wish we could de-age Joe Kubert and have him always draw the Justice Society of America. They just look so… right when he draws them.

The parade of fantastic art doesn’t end there. After the main story, there’s an 8 page short also written by Len Wein with art by J.G. Jones. It chronicles a reporter and a photographer gabbing away while they investigate a disturbance at the old Seaview Manor. It seems that some mysterious character named Dr. Fate was involved. And not only that, but not too far away from the Manor, something called The Spectre fought a giant shadow creature out by the Streamline Limited train. The reporter and the photographer (well, mostly the reporter) can’t believe these new super hero sightings. Everyone must be suffering from mass hysteria. It’s all illusions, I tells ya! You know, just like the kind that bigshot stage magician Zatara cooks up for his shows at the Rialto!

DC Universe: Legacies #1 is packed with atmosphere and it seems like this entire mini-series is going to be a really fun way to tell the new story of the DC Universe. So if you’re one of those people who have sent me a “How can I learn about the DC Universe?” e-mails or if you were planning on sending me one of those e-mails, you might as well jump on this series now, because this is where I am going to send people from now on.

 

Conor Kilpatrick
So I says to Mildred, I says…
conor@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Right there with ya, buddy. 

    Not gonna lie. It was an added thrill that the main character was named Paul. This one was very near and dear.  

  2. I didn’t know both Kubert’s and Jones did this book. It’s gotta be amazing to look at.

    DC has been doing a lot of mini-series lately and I don’t know if I am committed for another long series. But you make a pretty damn good case for this. If my LCS still has it next week I’ll definitely give it a try.

    My pick was Azrael #8. Cause the art team finally put their act together and Nicieza is making Michael Lane’s journey into madness oh so good. 

  3. Oh so pretty!  I thought at first that Joe Kubert had done the pencils, but it looks like his kid channeled him best he could and Joe finished it up.  Also JG Jones doing interiors is always nice to see.  I was a little skeptical that Len Wien was doing this, but he did a fantastic job.

    I became a DC convert about 5-6 years ago now, pretty much completely switching from Marvel.  Although I have done some homework and went back and read a lot of stuff.  A book like this is very much appreciated for the historical purposes as you mention. 

  4. Well, I can’t comment on the book yet, but I can sympathise with the back pain, having done the exact same thing last week, and still being in pain.  Ow.

  5. I have to say this sounds pretty good

  6. I am so happy this is Pick of the Week (It was mine too)…somebody should tell Mr Wein he would be very happy about this.  He’s a super nice guy!!!

  7. may have to go back and pick this one up

  8. Can’t wait to read this. I’m new to reading comics and this sounds like a fun way to learn about some dc history.

  9. I wasn’t really feeling it on this book

    This is probably the best way to go about telling an actual story about the DCU but as someone who hasnt read about these characters previoulsy it wasnt really that exciting

    But hey, maybe this is just the thing for Sandman fans

  10. Seems like something I’ll trade wait on. 

  11. Interesting, I’ll see…

  12. This sounds good but I’m with @davidtobin100. I’ll trade wait becasue I bet this would make a great collected edition, like an even more awesome Encyclopedia of the DC Universe.  I went with American Vampire #3 as my POTW.  I think Stephen King really stepped up on his story and the art was fantastic.

  13. Timmy Wood Timmy Wood (@TimmyWood) says:

    Stop talking about how great this was! I was trying to hold out and read it in trade. I think I might just give in with all the praise it’s getting.

  14. i was very skeptical when i first saw this issue on the shelves. I was scared that it would be watered down golden age stuff that would be modernized and revised for modern fans. I trust Conor’s opinion so I might have to give it a chance. I’m not sure if i have the patience for a 10 issue mini series…Seems like it would be a really nice as a collected volume(s). ahh decisions!!! =p

    @ JesTR…Better still, It was announced earlier in the week that DC and Taschen are going to release a massive coffee table book about the history of DC for the anniversary. I was kinda surprised/disappointed that iFanboy was one of the only comic sites to not mention it.  

  15. My POTW

  16. I wanted to dig this more than I did. I think the man on the street angle kind of killed it for me.  If it was a more omniscient observer narrator like The Angel in The Marvels Project I would of liked it more.  I couldn’t work up much enthusiasm for any of it.  The KubertxDos art was gorgeous.

  17. Great pick, for sure my pick of the week.

  18. @wally: Badass I want something like that for my coffee table. Right now I have the Ultimates omnibus on it.

  19. Reeeaaalllly looking forward to reading this and the rest of the series. can’t wait for hawkman, adam strange, challengers of the unknown among others, to get involved, or at least have cameos in the later issues. is it the old school sandman in this with the gas mask and hat…?

  20. @jesTr–yeah its going to be beyond epic. 15lbs!!!!!

  21. @GloriousGodfrey: Yes.

  22. I was really looking forward to reading this book after reading your review. After reading it, I can’t see what you like about this book. Maybe because you already have a background in DC. I’m guessing nostalgia has a lot to do with it. I’ll stick with it for a few more issues, but I was disappointed. I just couldn’t understand why this book was the pick of the week over Avengers #1.

  23. Looks like I will be making an extra trip to the shop this week.

  24. I liked it, but I actually wanted it to be MORE like the History of the DC Universe. It told a good story, but I don’t feel like we learned much about the big DC characters involved. A good story, but I don’t know that this is where I’d send people if they just wanted to learn about DC’s history; I’d probably tell them to read History of the DC Universe and that the basics are still all there.

  25. I think I would have liked it more if I hadn’t just finished the Marvels Project last week.  What is it with DC and Marvel?  Captian America and Batman, now Dc Universe Legacies and the Marvels Project.  I know they aren’t the same but I’ll be damned if they aren’t REALLY similar.

  26. Loved the concept, loved the art, but the writing just didn’t grab me. I had to take a break when I saw that there was a second story. Hard time picking a POW this week; nothing really jumped out at me. Might go with Avengers.

  27. I am that person just entering the DC Universe, and tough I’m not one of the people who wrote Connor a letter, I sure as hell have thought about it.  I didnt pick it up but after reading the review I realized that obviously this was written specifically for me. 🙂   And though I wasnt looking for another historical superhero story narrated from the publics point of view, I cant pass up the opportunity to really verse myself in DC history.  Thanks Connor, cuz without the review I dont think I would have given this book a second glance.

  28. If y’all don’t review this in vharacter as street toughs on the podcastm I will be dissapointed.

  29. Well, I went back to the shop and picked this up — glad I did. I’m well versed in DC history, and I’ve read a number of stories with these characters, so the basic concept with writer Len Wein didn’t automatically jump out at me. But now that I’ve read it, I have to say that it really put a smile on my face. The writing and the story didn’t blow me away, but I thought they did a nice serviceable job of representing the characters and period. I have a real fondness for the old and especially lesser known DC characters, so it was great to see them represented again. Zatara, Dr. Fate, and the Spectre all drawn by JG Jones? C’mon! And the Sandman by a father-son Kubert team? Yes!

    I wanted to skip this, but… I really enjoyed this read. Now I’m afraid I’m in for all 10. Some other cuts will have to be made to accomodate this.

  30. My budget was initially preventing me from picking this up. Can’t afford to make any more additions, but after this week’s Justice League I have a slot open. Joe Kubert on a DC History mini? How can I pass this up? It’s right in my wheelhouse (that term just feels old-school dirty to me for some reason, like under-carriage).

    Incidentally, The WheelHouse is also the name of my secret lair. 

  31. Really suprised how good this was. I bought it to have some sort of DC history book, but what I got was a real charming story.

  32. I liked it more on the second read and the more I think about it.  Story:4 Art: 5

  33. Are street toughs kind of like the new zombies?

    I hope that doesn’t sound prick-ish because I really am wondering if street toughs are becoming sort of like a trend or kitch-y device like zombies, pirates, ninjas, cowboys, vampires.

    You know what I mean?

  34. this was awesome. really looking forward to the 2nd ish.

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