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CSBG Archive

12/7 – If Only…

Doom Patrol had just ended with #63…

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22 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

December 7, 2006 at 4:49 am

With respect to Ted McKeever, I agree.

I do hope that Morrison and Case reunite for a second run of the DOOM PATROL. Bringing back Rebus and Crazy Jane would be cool!

My run does end with 63

“My run does end with 63.”

Ha! I gave it one or two issues. Such a mistake.

But I had wished they’d let Animal Man retire gracefully with #26, and then I found myself actually enjoying the Milligan arc. So I’d been fooled (in a good way) once before. But seriously: The Chief is alive?! WTF?!? (Thankfully I don’t even remember what other developments horrified me.)

Doom Patrol does end with #63.

But what would you do if you were DC? You have a hit book with a good following. Good artists still want to work on the book. You have an award-winning Sci-Fi author pestering you constantly on how they want to write the book. So, you let her.

I don’t think the problem was Pollack per se, I think the problem is that Pollack followed Morrison. Everything had to change so much for her to have her own voice that there was really no point in continuing the same characters.

Put another way, it’s as if DC decided to keep publishing Sandman, but they hired Piers Anthony to write it after Gaiman. Maybe Anthony would come up with a good book, but he couldn’t do it without destroying what made Gaiman’s Sandman so great. Not his fault- sometimes a comic has an auteur.

No, the real DC crime of the century is letting the Bierbaums get anywhere near the Legion of Super-Heroes. Pollack’s Doom Patrol was kind of pointless, but there was no harm since Morrison wrapped up all his loose ends. You can just ignore it.

The Bierbaums just shit all over a perfectly good book with perfectly good characters that had a massive following. But, they changed the continuity and characters so much that the book still isn’t quite right, after 4 or 5 authors and innumerable changes. They, in Hollywood parlance, ruined the franchise.

I never read the Doom Patrol comics, but I have to agree that the Legion of Super-Heroes ‘jumped the shark’ after Levitz left the book and the 5-Year Gap happened. The Bierbaums’s work read like fanfic…bad fanfic. It was full of the bad, self-indulgent ideas you find in fanfic.

Examples: Lightning Lad revealed to have the mind of the original Proty ever since his resurrection, and Shvaughn Erin revealed to be really a man taking gender-changing drugs to morph into a woman. Both of these are self-indulgent ideas that conflict with just about every story published previously featuring the characters.

In none of the previous Lightning Lad stories were we given ANY reason to believe it wasn’t the real Lightning Lad. Shvaughn Erin even had a thought saying ‘Momma Erin didn’t want her girl to get crushed in a crowd’, clearly an indication that she was born a girl.

Of course the Bierbaums, unlike other creative teams who write stuff that conflict with what we’ve seen previously (don’t get me started on the ‘Sins Past’ story in Spider-Man), did have an explanation as to why these developments clashed with previous stories. After all, the whole mess with Mon-El and the Time Trapper re-created the Legion’s reality so that there was an Andromeda and a Kid Quantum in their past, so the changes in Lightning Lad and Shvaughn Erin are also effects of the ‘reality reboots’.

Of course, one can also say that the original Legion ‘jumped the shark’ when John Byrne wiped the pre-Crisis Earth-One Superman out of continuity. Superboy, Supergirl and a number of other pre-Crisis Earth One Superman characters and elements had been an important part of Legion continuity. When those were removed, the Legion was dealt a blow from which it never did…or even could…recover.

Here’s my pick for ‘If only it had ended when a certain creative team left': Amethyst Princess of Gemworld.

Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn created a wonderful fantasy series featuring a girl from suburban Earth who has a whole other life in a world of magic and sorcery and feuding nobility. On its own, the Gemworld was just as compelling as any fantasy world created by Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Piers Anthony, or Anne McCaffrey. Many readers favorably compared the original 12-issue maxi-series to the works of some of the above-mentioned authors.

Unfortunately, Amethyst fell victim to two things: One was its own success, and the other was an editorial mindset that everything published at DC at the time HAD to take place within the main DC Universe.

The original maxi-series ended with Amethyst (after uniting with just about every other character in the series to bring down Dark Opal) returning to Earth to resume her life as Amy Winston, telling the Gemworlders she’ll be back if they need her. It was a good way of giving the series an ending but leaving things open for future stories.

The series proved to be successful enough that a ‘regular’ Amethyst series began, originally by the same creative team. And for a while, it had the same high quality writing as the original series, with interesting new subplots taking characters into interesting new directions (Carnelian and the youngest Princess Emerald showing up on Earth, the Prince Topaz and Lady Turquoise romance). But things soured with issue #13.

With issue #13, the original creative team left, and were replaced by Keith Giffen. This was also the period where Amethyst was dragged kicking and screaming into the ‘mainstream’ DC Universe (the DC Comics Presents teamup with Superman had already set the precedent, unfortunately). Amethyst was placed in the Crisis on Infinite Earths (which she had no business being in) where she was blinded by the Anti-Monitor’s shadow demons, and when Keith Giffen’s run began, the first thing done was to establish that EVERYTHING we were told about Amethyst’s parents was wrong. In the name of tying everything in to the DC Universe, it was revealed that Amethyst’s father was one of Dr. Fate’s Lords of Order. Later on, the Gemworld was tied in to the Sorcerer’s World of the Legion of Super-Heroes (whose continuity was living on borrowed time at that point anyway).

All of this helped greatly to dilute the epic high fantasy feel of Amethyst Princess of Gemworld and change it into just another DC Universe ‘mystical’ title, which was nowhere near as interesting as what it had been before.

I personally believe that Amethyst would have been better off had it been allowed to be set in its own seperate world, like Camelot 3000. On its own as a fantasy story, it was great. Tied in to the DC Universe and its mystical community, it was nothing special.

Sweet mama, the Pollack issues were a nightmare. I had almost the whole Morrison run, so I picked up the Pollack run for three bucks. Later, upon reading the Pollack issues, I would sit quietly and imagine all the fun that I could have had with three bucks. I could have bought something from Subway, or maybe a roll of those high end paper towels. Ah, what could have been…

Aw!! Everybody’s hating on Rachel Pollack!

Look, I gotta say . . . um . . . I don’t know if I ever even read an issue. Even though I prize the Morrisson run more than just about anything else (and once eBayed myself into temporary sobriety by buying a great Richard Case page where Robotman is exploring the “inside” of Crazy Jane).

you people are all insane. pollack’s run was quite nice.

no, it was not as good as morrison’s, but i still craved reading it month after month. i really dug how she interlaced sexuality (actual and imagined) and heroics.

doom patrol went from my favorite vertigo title to maybe 3rd or 4th – and in the early days of vertigo that is not bad. only sandman, shade, the changing man (talk about a title that should have ended earlier, like say maybe with issue 50), and sandman mystery theatre were better at the time.

Chris Lang: Amethyst crossed over with superman, during that original mini-series’ run. (An issue of DC Comics Presents). So nobody else put it in the DCU, it was always there.

Now, I’m with you on it being a profound mistake to make her a blind lord of order, sure…

Actually, I don’t know whose idea the DC Comics Presents teamup was. It may have been the creators’ idea, or the editors’ idea. It may have been done to attract more people to the Amethyst series. I’m sure that it seemed like a good idea at the time. But in the long run, it was a mistake to tie in Amethyst with the mainstream DC universe.

Up until the original creators left, that Superman teamup was the ONLY association Amethyst made with the DC Universe. It could have easily been swept under the rug (like Spider-Man teaming up with the Autobots in the third issue of the Transformers comic book, and Transformers comic book character Circuit Breaker appearing in Secret Wars II) or it could have been not the Superman of Earth One, but the Superman of Earth Amethyst…or something.

Anyway, Amethyst was definately a series that suffered from a loss of its original creators. I think it’s worth noting that during that same period of time, a lot of other DC ‘other genre’ comics were cancelled or (in the case of Jonah Hex) altered beyond recognition. (I’m sure transplanting Jonah Hex from the old West to some dystopian future world seemed like a good idea at the time. Not that I really read the book either way). Also gone were Warlord and Arion.

Anyway, if I were put in charge of an Amethyst revival, I’d retcon all the tie-ins with the DC Universe out of existence. I’d write in a different story about how Carnelian got his metal hand to replace the DC Comics Presents teamup, but the original maxi-series would remain the same. However, issue #13 of the second series and everything that came after it would no longer be in the ‘new’ Amethyst continuity. Instead, the series would be more or less brought back to its roots as the story of a girl from contemporary suburbia who lives a double life as the princess of a sword and sorcery world with magical creatures and feuding nobility.

At least that’s how I’d do it. Your mileage may vary.

Doom PAtorl ended for me when Erik LArsen took over the pencils–so real early…

Pollack’s DP was…okay. My favorite story of hers was the short story she did with Eric Shanower in the Vertigo Jam special. Her regular issues never really did it for me. Then again, Morrison’s DP is one of my top 2 or 3 favorite titles ever, so it was bound to be a letdown to a certain degree.
I liked the Arcudi version as I felt like enough time had passed to allow him to do his own spin on the DP. Then, for reasons I’ll never understand, DC decided to let Byrne near the book and everything got screwed up. Continuity? What continuity? Remember everything that was crucial and important to making the DP the DP? Like Elasti-Girl’s death and the Chief’s betrayal? Suddenly never happened. Superboy’s punches or something. Sigh…I give Johns credit for even trying to repair the mess Byrne made…

And I agree with some of the criticim of the Bierbaums’ LOSH. It read well and was okay as a self-contained universe, but following up on everything that Shooter, Swan, Binder, Levitz, Giffen, Lightle, LaRocque, etc. had done, their story ideas were just bizarre and disastrous…

Pollack just tried too hard to adopt that weird-assed Morrison tone, and failed miserably until that last Hebrew magic story arc which was a frigging masterpiece, in my opinion anyway. Made me wonder where that had been all that time! Since hindsight is 20-20, Mckeever’s art (which I kinda liked) probably wasn’t the best way to follow up Case, either.

But I will always defend that last arc to anybody and everybody. Hit all the right notes, she did.

My favorite story of hers was the short story she did with Eric Shanower in the Vertigo Jam special.

That WAS a really good story.

And of course, the weird thing about the future-dystopia version of Hex is that it sold really, really well and was critically acclaimed in parts of Europe.

Of course, one can also say that the original Legion ‘jumped the shark’ when John Byrne wiped the pre-Crisis Earth-One Superman out of continuity. Superboy, Supergirl and a number of other pre-Crisis Earth One Superman characters and elements had been an important part of Legion continuity. When those were removed, the Legion was dealt a blow from which it never did…or even could…recover.

Actually, I disagree.

I like the Death of Superboy story! It doesn’t really alter any past issues of LSH beyond saying “that was really the Superboy and Supergirl of Earth-Pocket”. So, it’s a retcon that doesn’t change much. It makes the Time Trapper into a serious, scary villain rather than a clown in a cowl. It also raised the stakes for the whole Legion- I mean, if they could kill off SUPERBOY, anything could happen. It also lead into the great “Conspiracy” storyline (I think #48-52 of the Levitz run) where the LSH broke off into factions, one of which actively sought out revenge against the Trapper for the murder of Superboy (and they mostly FAILED)- which is when Rond Vidar was revealed as a Green Lantern. All excellent stuff.

Laurel Gand, etc. is a travesty. They should have just kept the Pocket Universe explanation and not mentioned it much.

The Bierbaums being fanfic….yes, that’s exactly it.

What did they bring to the book?

1. Let’s kill off or remove all the interesting characters with big fan followings (Blok, Dawnstar, Wildfire, depower Cosmic Boy and Chameleon Boy).

2. Let’s add 7 or 8 new characters to a book that already has 30 core members.

3. Lightning Lad is really a pet. His TELEPATHIC WIFE didn’t notice for 20 years.

4. Shvaughn Erin is really a man. It’s apparently easier to write this than just making Element Lad gay (as rumored for decades) and loving a retcon male Officer Erin instead. Insult to injury: they made Shrinking Violet and Lightning Lass gay lovers. Why not just make the gay characters gay and in appropriate relationships?

5. Blowing up the Moon.

6. Blowing up the Earth.

7. Let’s bring back Darkseid! Oh, wait, he’s only hear to chillax out and commit suicide. Yes, they had Darkseid off himself.

8. Hi, I’m Kent Shakespeare. Let me hang around for 24 issues and say and do nothing. I won’t even mention who I am or what my powers are. See also: Ivy, Celeste Rockfish (yes, a lame Rockford Files joke), Devlin O’Ryan.

9. Worst story in Legion history: We cloned the Legion! Guess which one is the real one!

10. Let’s have a full-blown war with the Khunds. It lasts three issues. Let’s have a Cold War with the Dominators, it lasts 40 issues. Then they blow up the Moon.

11. Supremely minor villains (Glorith, Roxxas) become world-shattering enemies. Major Powers (Mordru, Glorith) become easily beatable by trash talking them.

Did I miss anything?

“Insult to injury: they made Shrinking Violet and Lightning Lass gay lovers.”

Actually, Levitz was the one that got the ball rolling on the whole “Are they or aren’t they?” thing. I recently re-read the 5-Year Later run on LOSH and the Bierbaums never really touched upon it much. I never had a problem with that pairing personally…

Also, as written about in an earlier Urban Legends column, it was Giffen who started blowing up the solar satellites in the LOSH universe…

“Actually, Levitz was the one that got the ball rolling on the whole “Are they or aren’t they?” thing. I recently re-read the 5-Year Later run on LOSH and the Bierbaums never really touched upon it much. I never had a problem with that pairing persona”

No, I don’t have a problem with it either. I DO have a problem with the inconsistent treatment given to Element Lad and Officer Erin, who deserved the dignity of a proper storyline, not bad fanfiction nonsense.

Element Lad gay= cool
Officer Erin gay = cool
Officer Erin transgender, handled in a mature way = cool

Actual story = lame

” I DO have a problem with the inconsistent treatment given to Element Lad and Officer Erin, who deserved the dignity of a proper storyline, not bad fanfiction nonsense.

Element Lad gay= cool
Officer Erin gay = cool
Officer Erin transgender, handled in a mature way = cool

Actual story = lame ”

Yeah, the whole Shvaughan is a gay man in disguise story didn’t work for me either. I thought Element Lad and Erin were one of the more natural pairings in LOSH. There relationship was built up and developed over time and I thought it would have been an interesting plot turn to see them have a kid together and EL suddenly not be the last of his race.

Or have her deal with him coming out, or something like that. I don’t know, just seemed like there were better ways to take that story…

Am i the only one who like the five year gap? please don’t hurt me.

How did a discussion about the Doom Patrol turn into a rant about LSH? I liked the five year gap stories, but thought some things were stupid.

I loved Morrison’s run on the Doom Patrol. Some of my all time favorite stories. When I reread them, I start with #19 and end with #63. I have all the Pollack issues, but was really turned off by McKeever’s art. It made it really hard to read.

Rob, you’re not alone. The Five Year Gap Legion is hands down my favorite era of the LSH, followed closely by the Levitz Era. I think the two compliment each other very well as different yet mature takes on how powerful the whole Legion concept can be.

Given the fact that the Legion is *always* going to be rebooted every time DC fiddles with it’s mainstream continuity, why do people get so bent out of shape about any particular era? It’s all going to be remixed again eventually. Just love what you love and know that nothing lasts forever!

P.S. What’s with all the Waid/Kitson Legion haters? They did a lot of good stuff to modernize the team and the 31st century for 2007 readers.

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