Thursday, July 23, 2009

Legion of Three Worlds' ending

I wanted to wait a bit before discussing the ending to Geoff Johns' "Legion of Three Worlds." But then I took a look at some message boards out there and realized the cat is definitely out of the bag.

So, here's your spoiler warning...

The fight is resolved, in as I said last night a very deus ex way, by tricking Superboy Prime into sending himself back to Earth-Prime, which Brainiac-5 (the classic B-5) deduced was back in existence due to the Threeboot Legion's Element Lad's ability to create Kryptonite that could hurt SB-Prime. SB-Prime then returns to his home where his parents and girlfriend Lori have been reading about his dirty deeds in the comic books their universe gets, and he promptly retires to his basement as a pariah to read comics and post his thoughts on messageboards.

Now, I've read messageboards regarding this ending and have found there are two groups of you out there: Those who dislike the ending and those who love the ending, claiming the only way to dislike the ending is if you take personal offense as a fanboy to SB-Prime's portrayal as a fanboy.

Clearly, this is not true, as people have all sorts of reasons for not liking an ending. So before you write off these opinions as just another fanboy, take a moment to listen to these two reasons I am disappointed in Johns' conclusion.

1) While I don't take exception with SB-Prime's character as a fanboy by any means, his actions in the final pages of this book turned him into a truly one-trick pony in my eyes. I've been one of those over the last few years defending the character because, frankly, I appreciate a good headcase. With the exception of a few horrible appearances in "Countdown," Johns has been taking great care to present SB-Prime in a manner befitting of his character.

I mean, the poor kid saw all of his dreams come true and his world erased in the blink of an eye. I could buy his growth toward resentment, especially given Alexander Luthor's voice in his head. I could buy that resentment and desperation for home turning into hatred for the world's heroes, and I could even buy the idea that he truly believed killing all of this goodness in the world would, in his mind, lead to his finding a way home...

But he's finally home now. And when he saw the horror on his girlfriend's face and the fear coming from his parents, I wanted to see that character arc paid off. I wanted to see SB-Prime have a moment of clarity in which all of his evil deeds suddenly become real and come crashing down on to his shoulders. I wanted to see him instantly have the irresistible urge to repent, as his parents' eyes serve as the mirror he never had to look at himself in before.

It would have all accomplished the original goal Superman set forth in the series — to redeem SB-Prime.

Instead, Johns took that golden opportunity and used it for a two-dimensional jab at fanboy nation. For however true his jab is, it still will have forever cheapened SB-Prime's character and ruined what could have been the perfect ending.

2) I'm not so fond of Earth-Prime in the first place. I was alright with it as a dead idea, and alright with it as the origin story for SB-Prime, but I don't want to see it back in existence, namely because the thought of a New-Earth/Earth-Prime crossover is cringe-worthy.

I'm also not the biggest fan of over-meta textual stories. They have their place, and used sparingly they can be a very effective story-telling tool. Heck, I'll read anything with Deadpool in it, and "Animal Man" was obviously a classic. But I fear the headaches that could result from an entire story of series that takes place on Earth-Prime, where meta could happen every other panel. And frankly, since not only SB-Prime but also Threeboot Legion are to be in Earth-Prime now, it seems that story is only a matter of time.

Overall, this has been one strong series and it's only made me itch for an ongoing Legion monthly that much more. But Johns could certainly have handled SB-Prime's conclusion better.

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