Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I’ll Not Love Ya, Tomorrow…

Posted by Don MacPherson on March 25th, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow Anthology #1
Writers: Gerry Conway, Aaron Lopresti, Keith Giffen & Len Wein
Pencils: Eduardo Panisica, Aaron Lopresti, Bilquis Evely & Yildiray Cinar
Inks: Rob Hunter, Matt Banning, Bilquis Evely & Trevor Scott
Colors: Chris Sotomayor, Ivan Plascencia & Dean White
Letters: Corey Breen, Michael Heisler, Tom Napolitano & Steve Wands
Cover artists: Lopresti & Banning
Editors: Jessica Chen, Dave Wielgosz, Amedeo Turturro & Andrew Marino
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $7.99 US

I’ve been enjoying the cheesy (if somewhat awkward) fun of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on television, and I’m a sucker for a super-hero anthology title. Furthermore, I haven’t been delving into many DC titles as of late, and as someone who came to love comics through the DC brand as a kid, I figured this issue would give me more bang for my buck. I also like to support less conventional and proven avenues at comics publication, so for those reasons, I decided to take a chance on Legends of Tomorrow Anthology (yes, despite the lack of the word “anthology” on the cover, the indicia indicates it’s a part of the official name of this publication).

My eight-dollar gamble was a bad call. A terrible call. Despite the participation of experienced comics writers, this stood out as one of the worst comics I’ve read in some time. It was so bad, I felt compelled to write a review, even though I haven’t anything for this blog since last month. I just found I had so many things to say about it, it all flowed out of my fingertips into the keyboard. I have no idea who the intended audience for Legends of Tomorrow is, but it’s not fans of the TV show, not longtime DC readers and not those seeking something fun. Every feature in this book falters, and I’ll be shocked if we see any of these ongoing plotlines reach their conclusions.

Firestorm: Of all of the features in this book, I expected it was the safest bet and the smartest move on DC’s part. The publisher has had some trouble in getting traction with Firestorm as a character, and turning to one of its co-creators to get it back on its feet seemed like a good move. But Gerry Conway doesn’t build on his Firestorm stories from the 1970s and ’80s, but rather on others’ more recent takes on the concepts. It makes for an inaccessible and surprisingly uninteresting that’s rather ham-fisted with its message. Eduardo Panisica’s artwork never rises above the level of fairly standard super-hero fare, and the only aspect of the artwork that makes the hero seem cool are the vibrant orange (and uncredited) color effects.

Metamorpho: Writer/artist Aaron Lopresti tries to keep all of the oddball aspects of Metamorpho and his supporting cast with this reboot of his origin, but it’s seasoned with an attempt to modernize and dramatize them in a way that hampers the fun and spotlights their weaknesses. I appreciated Lopresti’s to transform Sapphire Stagg into something much more than the spoiled bimbo she was in the Silver Age of comics, and it makes her connection to the hero more plausible. She still kind of bored me, though, as she basically turns a blind eye to the father’s loathsome nature. Honestly, the most interesting character here is Java, but his background as a Neanderthal who’s had his intelligence boosted is skimmed over and treated as though it’s not as much of a wonder as Metamorpho’s powers. Java was always a weird element in Metamorpho’s world that I never fully understood in the past, but I realize he’s probably the property that merits greater exploration. Instead, he’s portrayed as a one-dimensional villain and dismissed by all the other characters. Lopresti’s art is capable, but it feels cramped. It made me realize this story has been compressed for the format or an expectation of a limited run.

Sugar & Spike: This stood out as an effort to maintain a copyright/trademark more than a genuine effort at storytelling or nostalgia. Now, I don’t have any affection for the Sugar & Spike comics of yesteryear, and there’s a certain logic to private eyes in the DC Universe that specialize in super-hero-related cases. Keith Giffen’s involvement in this feature piqued my interest, and some of his sense of humor is to be found in this weird segment. Ultimately, the firearms brutality of the whole thing robs it of its humor and entertainment value, and the effort to temper the gunplay with a key revelation at the end of the story falls flat, given how random and lame it feels. Perhaps Giffen is trying to poke fun at the trend of trying to turn classic comics characters into grim and gritty concepts, but if that’s the case, he misses the mark by participating in the trend rather than satirizing it. Bilquis Evely’s artwork, with its Klaus Janson-esque qualities, appealed to me at times, but I’d need to see it on a more worthy and fitting project before I could fully assess it.

Metal Men: I’m surprised it’s taken DC this long to launch another Metal Men project since retooling and reintroducing the concept in Justice League a couple of years ago. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis did a decent job of crafting a new vision of the Metal Men for the New 52. Comics mainstay Len Wein’s effort to follow up that reintroduction is OK, but like Lopresti’s Metamorpho segment, it feels like it’s been jammed into too tight a space here. He endeavors to keep a lot of the Silver Age charm of the original Metal Men — so much so that I’m puzzled as to why DC opted to stick with the new versions rather than the classic robotic heroes. There’s little here that’s new, and Wein doesn’t give us (or wasn’t afforded) a chance to get to know the human characters who seem to be the real focus of the story. It’s been clear DC has been grooming Yildiray Cinar to be a breakthrough talent in mainstream comics, but this is far from the project to do it. He seems to do his best imitation of Ivan Reis’s style here to strive for some consistency. He definitely offers the strongest visuals in this anthology comic, and I loved his dynamic take on the Missile Men. However, again, it seems more like by-the-numbers super-hero art rather than something memorable or striking.

Other puzzling aspects of this anthology are the fact that only one of the features links to the TV show on which it’s clearly meant to capitalize, but even adopting the show’s title for the comic is ill-advised, since there’s no time-travel aspects to connect it to the televised premise. Even if the quality of the comics storytelling here wasn’t so disappointing, given the fact DC is already focused on a new relaunch this summer, it’s obvious that this title’s days were numbered before it even hit the stands. 3/10

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