Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
Glen Weldon (Author)
A celebration of Superman's life and history - in time for his 75th birthday. How has the Big Blue Boy Scout stayed so popular for so long? How has he changed with the times, and what essential aspects of him have remained constant? This fascinating biography examines Superman as a cultural phenomenon through 75 years of action-packed adventures, from his early years as a social activist in circus tights to his growth into the internationally renowned demigod he is today.
Hardcover: 352 pages
"Superman: Unbound" Animated Movie
Superman battles Brainiac in order to save his home planet's city of Kandor which has been miniaturized on Brainiac's ship. Based on Geoff Johns' mini series.
Cover date: April 2009
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: George Perez
Inker: Scott Koblish
Cover Art: George Perez & Dave McCaig/George Perez & Hi-Fi
Reviewed by: Barry Freiman
Downtown Metropolis is a frenzy of super-villains and super-heroes engaged in battle. Superman slams into Superboy-Prime. The Legion fights on. Invisible Kid appears to take a fatal or near-fatal power burst.
Over the water, Superman holds Prime in a wrestling hold, with his hand covering Prime's eyes to prevent him from using his heat vision. Superman calls Prime his real name, Clark, and tries to remind him of his parents and girlfriend. Prime reacts with anger and bursts his heat vision right through Superman's hand. Then he freezes Superman with his super-breath and hits him, telling him that Clark is a "geek name".
Cosmic Boy spots trouble at the United Planets Council. That's where Earth-Man and his Justice League are. The former Karate Kid defends the President with his life. Just as the President is about to be killed, the original three Legionnaires arrive and save the President and others. A villain smashes through the roof with Colossal Boy.
Universo complains that he sacrificed his son's life and his son's GL ring to be part of this attack on the Legion, and that Mordru needs to get over his fixation with the White Witch. Mordru sends mystic shadows to draw her out. As Prime returns to the scene, Legionnaires fall all around.
Prime leads the fire-based villains to the Legion statues and has them burn right through all of them. Superman returns to the battle with the Legions of Three Worlds at his side. A huge fight ensures. Element Lad (actually Lightning Lad in Element Lad's body from the Zero Hour Legion) transforms Ferro Lad to Lead which he uses to subdue the evil Daxamite. The original three Legionnaires arrive at the UP Council.
The elder Brainiac 5 begins to explain his plan. Phase one was bringing in the Legions of the Multiverse to stand against the Legion of Super Villains. Stage two, he says, involves every lightning based hero. Gates teleports the Legionnaires back to headquarters for stage two of Brainy's plan.
Back in the 20th Century, Wildfire, Polar Boy, and Dawnstar fly over a sign welcoming newcomers to Smallville with the sign indicating Smallville is "Home of 'The Super-Boy'". The Legion explain Kal is still a suburban legend at this point in time. Wildfire wonders why they aren't heading to the Kent farm. Polar Boy says they aren't here for Kal-El, they're here for another denizen of Smallville - Lex Luthor.
Inside the Luthor home, Lex blames his father for what he "did to Mom!" Lex's father tells him he can't prove it but that we both know who is responsible for what happened to Lex's sister. Lex threatens to kill his father, who replies that he's nothing but empty threats. Lex stomps off to his laboratory. The Legionnaires sneak into Lex's bedroom. Polar Boy finds what they came for - a strand of hair in Lex's bed. Today, he says, is the day Lex Luthor begins to lose his hair. Wildfire is totally confused.
At Legion headquarters, the Legions of Three Worlds get to know one another and discover subtle differences such as different pronunciations for their planet names. Brainiac 5 uses the lightning rod to let the Zero Hour Lightning Lad, Live Wire, to transform back into his own body.
XS has a feeling of déjà vu and Brainy explains it's because she wasn't born on the recently destroyed Earth-247 (the Zero Hour Legion Earth). She was born on this Earth along with her cousin Bart as the grandchildren of Barry Allen. After Barry disappeared, his twins became targets of the Reverse Flash. The Tornado Twins ran away on the cosmic treadmill to a parallel world to hide. But Zoom sabotaged the treadmill and the explosion almost killed them - and it tore a hole in the Multiverse which landed the Legions of different Earths and different times all ended up stranded on an unknown parallel Earth (after defeating Zoom of course).
The three Brainys redesigned Starman's costume (to look like the one in "Justice Society of America") as a map to the Multiverse. Starman opened up black holes that allowed the Legions to return to their proper worlds. The Tornado Twins and their spouses stayed hidden on Earth-247 while XS and Bart Allen reunited with their grandmother Iris West Allen. Iris watched XS and Bart age to teenagers in mere days.
The three-boot Legion Brainy thinks this is illogical, that his team has interacted with this world's past Supergirl. The elder Brainy theorizes that time traveling can result in Multiverse crossing without even realizing it. That is what happened with Supergirl when she joined with the three-boot Legion.
Brainy tells XS bad things have happened with the Flash family and that she can help - by running.
Back at the fight, the Legionnaires use the Cosmic Boys to magnetically pull Prime's yellow-sun boosting armor off him. They succeed but Saturn Queen telepathically warns him to ignore what they're doing, that he needs to get to Legion headquarters to stop them. Prime hears what they're planning from Saturn Queen and freaks out. Prime angrily flies forward, grabs a Sun Boy, and freezes him, then crushes him. The original Sun Boy, still hiding in fear, feels a pain in his chest as Sun Boy dies.
Prime is about to fly off when he's encased in green chains. It's Sodom, Mon, and Shadow Lass. Mon and Sodom hold Prime in green-flame chains while Shadow Lass envelops him in darkness designed to sap the sun from his cells.
At Legion headquarters, the Fatal Five are trying to break through the Legion force field. Inside, XS runs on the cosmic treadmill. Light Lass uses her power to lighten XS - the faster she gets, the heavier she gets. As she approaches light speed, the lightning heroes and heroine charge the treadmill with energy.
Prime breaks free and rushes to Legion HQ, passing the Fatal Five and smashing right into Legion HQ. Prime is fearful of what they're trying to do. Something emerges from the light. Brainy tosses it a ring. The ring flips open and a Kid Flash uniform shoots out and enlarges. Prime comes face to face with a living breathing Bart Allen, former Impulse, former Flash, and again Kid Flash. "Boo", Bart says.
To be continued...
Story - 5: Grant Morrison should be ashamed of himself. This book, not "Final Crisis", is what a Big "C" Crisis is. Seemingly non-stop action punctuated with strong character moments. A DCU Crisis is not defined by red skies and evil forces; it's defined by the unified, heroic response to those things.
Superman's active role in this Crisis doesn't hurt either. And Superman's past too in Smallville. What can you do with a lock of Lex Luthor's hair? You can make an evil toupee. Or a clone. They've already got Superman's DNA available to them - are they making a Kon-El?
What amazes me about this story is the bigger it gets and the more Legionnaires of different worlds that join the fracas, the more accessible the Legion is becoming to me. Geoff gives doppelgangers their own similarities and differences that make each of them distinct even when they're sharing panel-time with their doppelgangers.
The three Brainiac 5's are very funny in their interactions. I've never been a big fan of Brainiac 5 being so snide because everyone around him is so comparatively unintelligent. Intelligence doesn't mean you're a d**k. If you're so confident in your own intelligence as a Brainiac should be, there should be no reason to laud it over everyone. It's nice to see that kind of Brainiac 5 back in continuity.
While XS's cousin gets the full-page cliffhanger, XS is developed as a character I care about and hadn't thought much about before. She's just been told an incredible story about her past that she never knew, and she puts that aside to play hero. I hope she will remain part of the Legion going forward and be as important to the 31st Century as Bart is to the 21st.
The last page of this book is somewhat like the last page of "Adventure Comics #0" - which I won't spoil here. But the symmetry is obviously Geoff's intent and it works. Just like everything else in this book.
Art - 5: It just isn't a Big "C" Crisis without George Perez. There's no artist with an eye for detail like he has. Only Perez can draw three of the same hero in one panel, one from each of three Earths, and give them all a distinct look. His art is so precise, it is virtually always clear which version's hero we're looking at.
Cover Art (Cosmic Boy) - 5: That is one iconic Cosmic Boy - with two other Cosmic Boys in each of his hands. Beautiful and it totally represents the story inside.
Cover Art (Sliver Cover) - 5: This is the best use of the sliver cover, a concept I haven't thought all that successful on the "Final Crisis" books and crossovers. With a tiny space to draw, Perez uses Sodom Yat's Green Lantern-tinged viewpoint of the arrival of Shadow Lass and Mon-El.
Unlike ever other sliver cover artist, Perez doesn't try to fit a whole scene cover into the tiny space like others have done with the sliver covers. Instead, Perez actually thinks about how to best use the limited space. The sliver covers look like someone should just peek their eye through to see what's going on outside the book and that's what Perez draws. Perfection.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.