Books I Read: DC Universe Legacies

DC Universe: Legacies HC stands as the last official history of the old DCU. (I asked Len Wein on Twitter if he knew that when he was writing it, and he said "No, though there's something sweet about that in a melancholy way.")

Wein tells the story from the point of view of a young boy in Metropolis' Suicide Slum, who later grows up to be a police officer. Similar to "Marvels"' Phil Sheldon, this gives Paul Lincoln the excuse to be present for major events without seeming contrived. We follow Paul and his family through the decades, with Scott Kolins drawing Lincoln's present-day framing sequence in his painted style.

The book covers from the introduction of the JSA to just before Ted Kord's murder at the beginning of "Infinite Crisis". This isn't a big retcon book; everything plays out pretty much the way it did before. One notable exception: instead of using the version of Superman's first appearence from Mark Waid's "Birthright" or Geoff Johns' "Secret Origins", the scene is straight from the first Christopher Reeve movie. ("Don't worry, miss. I've got you." "You've got me? Who's got you?")

The art is simply fantastic, drawn by huge names appropriate for each era: Andy & Joe Kubert, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez & Dave Gibbons, George Perez, Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens, Jesus Saiz, and even more in the backup stories: Walt Simonson, Frank Quitely, Bill Sienkiewicz, Gary Frank, etc. It's well worth the money for the art alone, although I did enjoy the way the stories were retold a lot.

Somebody put some thought into this collection and separated the backups from the main story so that you can read the history uninterrupted. The alternate covers, which tie into each backup story, are also in this section which is another nice touch. The backups focus on heroes that weren't part of the main narrative, like the original Seven Soldiers of Victory, the Challengers of the Unknown, DC's war heroes, Orion & the New Gods, etc. My favorite is the Seven Soldiers story drawn by J.H. Williams III both in the style of Sunday newspaper strips and of the original JSA stories where the team would split up and have separate adventures. My least favorite is the Legion story. It's always awesome to see Keith Giffen draw these characters, but the story is a deliberate farce, which I didn't think worked in this context.

One of the backups is an Atom/Shining Knight story by Brian Bolland, which leads me to another legacy of the old DCU: Bolland's new coffee table book Cover Story: The DC Comics Art of Brian Bolland. Maybe Bolland will be part of the New 52 in some way, but for now he stands as a beacon of the old DCU, having drawn some of its most iconic covers. Not just an art display book, Bolland shows his process in pencil sketches and multiple essays about why things were designed a certain way. This is a must-have for fans of Bolland's work.

Another old DCU artifact worth noting is the recent $7.99 reprint of JLA: Age of Wonder, one of the last Elseworlds published, because writer Adi Tantimedh just reminisced about the making of the book ("How I Wrote The Steampunk Justice League") in his Bleeding Cool column in two parts.


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