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Cover date: March 2003
Writer: John Byrne
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: John Byrne
"Century 20 Crosstime Crisis"
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (GarrickMcNider@aol.com)
Ten minutes later at Fort Dexter, Kansas Captain Lane and his men try to determine why every piece of electronic equipment blacked out for ten seconds. A message from Fort Carson in Oklahoma relays that they felt the effect as well but not as strongly. Lane figures if the effect grew weaker over a distance then there may be a way to track the origin of the disturbance by contacting other military facilities.
Meanwhile Superboy discovers a large crater but with no sign of an explosion or meteor impact. Inside the crater armored creatures spot Superboy, mistaking him for Superman. One of the soldiers wonders how this could be if the weapon they had used had worked as the one called Luthor had promised. They open fire with blasters, which Superboy realizes is the most powerful thing he has ever seen.
At Wayne Manor outside of Gotham City Jarvis Pennyworth asks young Bruce Wayne if he is quite certain of his course of action. Bruce tells his butler that he is sure and to not argue with him. Jarvis begins to point out what Bruce's late father would have thought and Bruce angrily responds that he doesn't want to hear about that and that all Jarvis needs to do is serve him as he served his father.
At the Kent house Ma Kent sends a bitter Lana Lang to fetch Doc Morton to help Saturn Girl. While privately musing on how she is treated Lana runs into Pa Kent who has walked home after the power went out at his store. When Lana tells him about the mysterious girl who was looking for Superboy Pa runs into the house. Lana leaves deciding to look for Superboy instead of Doc Morton.
While Bruce Wayne takes flight in his private plane in Gotham City Superboy plays possum as the armored soldiers surround him. After they discuss why Superman looks so small, Superboy comes alive and begins to take the soldiers down. One of them cries out that they have to kill him because if they kill Superboy there will be no Superman. While Superboy dodges blasts the army arrives on the scene and begins their attack of the armored creatures. One of the creatures cries that they should establish a perimeter field until they figure out what they should do. Superboy tries to crack the field but is unable. The Boy of Steel decides to coordinate with the military before deciding his next course of action.
As Superboy lands a young Lois Lane crawls out of her hiding place wondering what she was thinking by stowing away with her father.
Meanwhile, as the armored creatures discuss how they were once in the thousands and now only twelve remain, Superboy and Captain Lane try to figure out why the creatures are there. One of Lane's privates suggests that they are the beachhead of an all-out invasion of Earth. Captain Lane orders his private to lead a small search party to see if they can find anything else connected to the invasion. Superboy privately hopes that the search doesn't lead the army to Saturn Girl.
At the Kent home Saturn Girl tries to get to her feet. Ma and Pa Kent try to convince her to stay still until the doctor gets there, but she tells them that the situation is urgent. She goes on to say that she fled battle to get in touch with Superboy because the greatest threat is to the past if HE succeeds.
Inside the perimeter field one of the armored creatures tells the others that there is no more power for another time jump. Another of their number says that they should make their last stand and orders them to prepare to drop the shield and attack.
Bruce Wayne flies over the crater and through a pair of binoculars sees the force field, the army and Superboy. He brings his aircraft to a landing in a nearby field.
Meanwhile Lois Lane and Lana Lang walk through the woods near the field and come across each other. The two do not get along, but before their bickering can continue they run into Saturn Girl's Time Bubble. The two enter the craft, still snapping at each other.
At the Kent house as Saturn Girl reveals that her injuries are too great to effectively use her powers the search party Captain Lane sent out arrive. They inform the Kents and Saturn Girl that they were following reports of a strange girl in a costume and assume she has something to do with the supposed alien invasion.
Back at the crater the army continues its efforts to penetrate the force field. The field comes down and the aliens begin to attack as Superboy uses his x-ray vision to examine the soldiers. He discovers that the creatures are not actually alive and plows into them with impunity. Bruce Wayne nears the battlefield and realizes that Superboy has discovered their main weakness, which is that they have to drop their force field to fire their weapons. Bruce realizes that he has to find a way to exploit this weakness.
Back at the Kent home the soldiers continue their interrogation of Saturn Girl who refuses to tell them what she knows. Pa Kent tells the soldier that she means what she says, which leads the soldier to believe that they were all traitors. As Pa and the soldier argue Saturn Girl tries one last attempt to pull off a desperate measure.
At the crater Bruce Wayne times the creatures' attacks and sneaks behind their lines. He watches as the creatures prepare a weapon that looks like a large egg. He runs in and grabs the egg, evades the creatures and throws the weapon to Superboy. Superboy uses his body to shield the army and Bruce from the weapon as the army presses forward.
Meanwhile at the Kent house Saturn Girl stands, much to the chagrin of the soldiers. Ma Kent asks what she is doing and Saturn Girl explains that she is dying and that her death will send her Time Bubble back to the 30th Century. If her timing is right her fellow Legionnaires will see its arrival and be forewarned. With her last bit of strength Saturn Girl uses her mental abilities to make everyone involved in the situation forget about the invasion from the 30th Century.
At the crater Superboy, Bruce Wayne and Captain Lane suddenly wonder why they were there. Captain Lane remembers the situation as night maneuvers and asks Superboy if he could fill the crater in for them. Bruce asks Superboy if something is wrong. Superboy replies that he isn't sure but he has this weird feeling that something important has slipped his mind.
Story - 5: Well, that story was all over the place, wasn't it? Not that it's a bad thing, but man did this story jump around a lot.
So, we return to the mythical world of John Byrne's Generations saga and opens with a pretty action packed intro. Unlike the previous two series this story takes place over a twelve issue maxi-series instead of a four issue Prestige Format series. I for one am glad of this because frankly I am getting a little tired of DC popping out so many of those bookshelf comics. There is nothing inherently wrong with the format, but those things are getting pricey. I realize that a twelve issue series at US$2.95 an issue is more expensive than a four issue series at US$5.95 a pop, but we are getting more bang for our buck this way. I'll spend an extra $12 for more story.
Okay. Enough of that. On with the review.
John Byrne's return to the Generations reality kicked off with a really solid start. Despite the fact that the story jumped around to a different location nearly every page I still enjoyed the comic. When you consider the era of comics he is trying to emulate it makes sense. Most comics that were produced during the Silver Age (which seems to be the era John is going for with this story) jumped around leaving little time for in depth characterization. You got a little here and there, but overall the action was the key. Things had to happen to keep the audience's attention.
While Byrne was riffing on the Silver Age it is very apparent that he isn't beholden to it. There were certain events of this issue that would never have happened in the old Superboy comics. I mean Saturn Girl appeared to die. Whether or not she did can still be debated, but still you get the feeling that something happened to cause the death of one of the founding member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. And I thought him having Supergirl killed by her brother was pushing it.
I really enjoyed Byrne's portrayal of Superboy as well. There was a lot of his characterization of Superman in the character, which kind of makes sense when you consider that the Silver Age Superboy didn't really behave like a teenager. He behaved like a tiny version of Superman.
Bruce Wayne was a surprise. I knew he was going to be in the story, but I didn't expect the intensity. The scene with him and Jarvis was one of the better exchanges of the story.
There were other bits and pieces that made the book enjoyable. The bickering between Lana and Lois was amusing and if I'm right then they were in the Time Bubble when it went back to the future. (This, of course, leads to an odd image of Christopher Llyod as R. J. Brande with big poofy hair.) Having Captain Lane was a nice touch and allowed for Lois to enter the story. I liked Pete Ross knowing Clark was Superboy and was surprised to find that Superboy actually knew this, which, in an odd way, ties the story to the current SMALLVILLE series.
Overall I enjoyed the first issue of GENERATIONS 3. I thought highly of the previous series and am looking forward to see what Byrne has in store this time around. I'm interested to see how Luthor plays into all of this and how the whole a hundred years forward for every issue thing is going to work. I hope the rest of the series works as well as the first issue did.
Art - 4: Byrne really delivered art-wise in this issue. Superboy looked great, like an actual teenager even if he didn't look like one. The detail on the army soldier's uniforms was surprising. Usually when Byrne inks himself he leaves a lot of details out. This time he didn't and it showed. The creatures from the future were pure Kirby, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
There were some areas where the art lagged a bit. Byrne seems to have a hard time with drawing girls below the age of eighteen. They always seem to end up looking like little boys with a page-boy haircut. Also, Byrne's line work tends to suffer a bit when he inks himself. It makes the line work heavy.
In the end I liked the artwork. I have a soft spot for Byrne since it was his run on Superman that got me into comics in the first place. I will always want to see Byrne draw Superman, even if it is the adventures of him when he was a boy.
Cover Art - 4: This was a very bold cover. It was a bit busy, but managed to convey the mood of the story. The image of Superman and Batman watching the younger versions of themselves was a nice touch, though Superman doesn't look as buff as Byrne usually draws him. This could have more to do with the fact that the original Superman was a very lithe looking figure. As inside the issue the creatures look very Kirby, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. With Byrne playing with Kirby's toys as much as he has it makes sense. Superboy pulling Bruce Wayne out of the fray with Lois and Lana looking on rounded out a pretty solid, if not cluttered cover.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2003.