Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics [Blu-ray]
THE JOKER, LEX LUTHOR, CATWOMAN, DOOMSDAY, BANE. What makes them so thrillingly watchable? So terribly wonderful? So extremely vital to our super heroes and their worlds? This new feature-length documentary explores these questions across seven decades of DC Comics' hallowed Rogues' Gallery of infamous evildoers.
Cover date: May 2003
Writer: John Byrne
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: John Byrne
"Century 22: Out of the Ashes"
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (GarrickMcNider@aol.com)
In the jungle outside of Metropolis in the year 2125 the man-cub Kam and the anthropomorphic lion/man Sultan search of a nest of Troggies. Sultan warns Kam to be careful and when his warnings go unheeded he privately muses about how he doesn't wish to inform Kam's father of the child's untimely death.
From a distance a squad of masked individuals watches the two. One of the squad comments on how it would take a better marksman to tag Sultan. One of the other squad member's asks why tag him at all? Before the second member could finish his statement the man with the rifle tells him that they will do nothing and that the time is not right for direct intervention. The other squad member asks when will it be time and the rifleman replies that their new technology is up to pre-disaster levels and that it is almost time for the "Eloi" and the "Morlocks" to join together once again.
Meanwhile, in the subway tunnels beneath Metropolis Sultan and Kam continue on their quest to find the nest of the Trogs. Sultan councils caution once more and reminds Kam that none of the search parties who went looking for the nests returned to tell of what they found or even if they had found anything. Kam tells Sultan that they did find something and that the Trogs have made lunch out of their people for the last time.
Meanwhile, the "Morlocks" detect Kam's and Sultan's presence. One of the people at the monitoring station asks Bruce Wayne Jr. if they should send a scoop team. He tells them not quite yet and to let them poke around a bit. He reasons that if they become a problem then they can throw a net over them. As he leaves the monitoring room Bruce muses on the fact that he isn't sure if they could support two more newcomers since their resources are taxed already. He also thinks of the fact that if the decision had not already been made to return to the surface they would have been forced to.
In another part of the underground complex the hero formerly known as Knightwing dons a new uniform to assume the role of Superman. He is uncertain if should even do this. One of the women helping him get into the uniform asks who better to assume the role than Superman's grandson. Clark replies that Superman himself comes to mind. The squad that had been watching Kan and Sultan on the surface returns and reveal themselves to be Bruce Wayne along with Lois and Lara, Clark's daughters. Bruce remind Clark that Superman had been missing for more than a century. Lara almost hates to say it, but before she could continue Lois tells her not to and that Superman just couldn't be dead.
In orbit around the Earth four ships appear out of a temporal displacement. The leader of the Parademons inside asks that all units report in. He is informed that only four ships escaped and the rest of the ships were destroyed because they were outside of the Helix. The Commander asks if the jump was successful and is puzzled when he is informed that the planet below seems to be in a pre-industrial state. He wonders how they could be outside of Earth orbit since that's where the jump occurred. Suddenly an energy source pops up on the radar. When they investigate the Parademons find that it is one of the satellites that the Omacs derived their power from. The Commander order the satellite to be retrieved. When he is informed that it will be difficult the Commander points out that nothing has gone as Desaad had predicted but this is their chance to fix their mistakes. The satellite is brought aboard and although there was massive damage to the physical structure the memory banks were still intact. The Commander orders his men to prepare for download for everything they need for a final victory will be in those circuits.
Back in the Underground Lois and Lara discuss where their Great-Grandfather could be on their way to their medical check-up. They also talk about how Luthor's device was so complete that a whole new technology had to be developed since every power source, including Green Lantern's power ring. When they arrive for their check-up they begin to talk about the fact that they haven't aged for a century since the Luthor's bomb was detonated. Lara complains about all the poking and prodding since even though they haven't aged their minds were not affected. Their doctor says perhaps, but he cannot even begin to think what kind of psychological effect that having a hundred year old intellect trapped in an eleven year old body would have on the girls.
On the Parademons ship the download of Brother Eye is complete. One of the Parademons asks the Commander what they should do with the ship. The Commander explains that the central idea behind the Helix was that they could alter the future as they moved deeper into the past. He then orders them to return Brother Eye to the humans that created it and that they should load the artifact into one of the forward launch tube.
As the new Superman makes his way over the skies of Metropolis to introduce himself to the "Eloi" Bruce Wayne decides it is time for him to become Batman again. As he goes to put on his old costume Bruce Wayne Jr. brings him a new uniform that is more fitting for the harsh environment he is about to enter into.
As Superman introduces himself to a doubtful Kamandi one of the Parademon's ships loses orbut and begins to crash to Earth. In the subway tunnels Kam and Sultan come upon a door that doesn't appear as old as the others doors and that shows a lot of wear. From a distance Batman watches and is impressed and think of how the Thinkers had the right idea in leaving so many humans to fend for themselves. He also thinks of how he can't let these two throw off the time table and swings in kicking Sultan in the face. Mistaking Batman for a humanized bat Kam counter attacks and returns Batman's kick before running off. Batman is dazed, but impressed. As Kam runs through the tunnels Batman suddenly appears and takes the youth into custody.
Meanwhile Superman tries to save the craft that is plummeting to the ground. Rather than be saved the craft opens fire, which only dazes the new Man of Steel. After the craft crashes he flies into space to investigate where the craft came from. Using his x-ray vision on the three final ships Superman sees that there are Parademons inside. Superman attacks immediately but is blown back by a plasma weapon. Lois and Lara arrive on the scene and destroy the plasma cannon. Using the sign language that they developed with their father to communicate in the vacuum of space they continue the attack.
Inside the final ship Skarg and the other Parademons decide that the heirs of Superman are too much for them. Skarg orders all remaining weapons that function and the downloaded Brother Eye in to the portable storage units assembled so they can flee once more into the past.
Outside Lois and Lara wonder why the ship stopped firing on them. Lois flies to the ship only to see the remaining Parademons fading away.
Back underground Batman watches a monitor displaying the damage from the crashed vessel. B.J. reports in and informs him that the fire is under control and that they have found something of interest. Batman is taken aback when he sees Brother Eye, but also wonders what the condition of the data files are and hopes that they aren't damage beyond repair. Kamandi enters the room and wants some information of his own. Batman is pleased to finally meet him face to face. Kamandi is curious how they know so much about him and Batman reveals that they have been keeping tabs on him from behind the scenes. He adds that they are particularly interested in his genetic relationship with Buddy Blank. Kamandi asks how he knows of his grandfather and Batman replies that they met briefly but lost contact when Buddy elected to stay topside.
Batman tells him that the whole story can wait until Kamandi finds out what happened to his son. Kamandi is confused, but it is revealed that Kam is actually a girl who doesn't want to wear the dress she has on. Kamandi is overjoyed to see his daughter safe. Batman says that today is really full of surprises and now that all the pertinent parties are assembled they can talk about the plan to recreate Omac.
Story - 4: This issue took a second reading to really sink in. I don't know if I'm getting old or what but it really didn't make too much sense in the first go-round.
The good of the issue laid in Byrne's use of Jack Kirby's DC creations. As in the previous issue and in most of John Byrne's work you can see a real love for Kirby and his world. I enjoyed the fact that Kam turned out to be Kamandi's kid and a daughter to boot. It was an obvious plot twist, but not an unwelcome one. Even though she didn't get much screen time Kam was an interesting character who I would have liked to have seen Byrne play with more, but since the next issue takes place a hundred years in the future it doesn't seem likely.
Both the new Superman and Batman's returns were well handled. It makes sense that the younger Clark would assume the role of his Grandfather and it makes even more sense that he would be initially uncomfortable with the idea. Clark said that it smacked of hubris and that is such a Superman way of thinking. He stepped into the role quickly, though, which is another way that makes him the right choice to be the "new" Superman and the icon to bring the people above and the people below together.
Batman was just a lot of fun. You could tell he was having a ball being back in the saddle, so to speak. His reaction to being kicked in the face by Kam was amusing and fitting to the Batman Byrne has developed. You could never have the current Batman get caught that flat-footed. It just wouldn't happen with how he is portrayed in the current comics. The current Batman would have known everything about Kam before facing her and would have known that Kam was a girl as well. Since the Batman Byrne developed was more like the Golden Age Batman, who was a little more human in many ways, you can play with the fact that he wouldn't be completely prepared.
Lara and Lois' return was very welcome. I love the characters and while I was taken aback that they hadn't aged I was happy to see them. They are two of the better characters Byrne has created for his Generations world.
The continuation of the story is moving along well, but ties into my main complaint with this issue. The pacing was off to a certain extent and it took me a second reading to really get through all that happened. Byrne seems to be trying to pack so much into one issue, which makes sense when you consider the Kirby vibe he is kicking out. On the other hand if you try to put too much action in the issue the story can get lost. The pacing was a bit of a problem because cutting back and forth so much can cause confusion.
In the end I really liked issue three even if it took me a little while to do so. I hope the pacing will be a little better in the next installment, but I am looking forward to it.
Art - 4: I really enjoyed the artwork in this issue. Byrne really poured himself into it this time around. There was a lot of Kirby in the Kirby characters, which is fitting. Kam and Sultan were very well designed and even though Kam was a younger character she didn't look like the typical Byrne youngster.
The redesign of both Batman and Superman's costumes were interesting, especially Superman's. There is a lot of freedom in an Elseworlds story ad Byrne created a simple but effective Superman costume. I liked the solid black and red look of the outfit.
This issue was pretty solid where the art was concerned. I hope it continues in this direction.
Cover Art - 4: By far this was the best cover of the series. Batman comes off as very spooky, which is fitting since Kam would think that he was a humanized bat. The bat motif drew the eye as well, but it kind of blew in terms of letting you know that Kam was a girl. I have very few complaints with this issue's cover.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2003.