Look, Starfire’s hair is long, but let’s be serious here.

§ February 26th, 2021 § Filed under this week's comics § 21 Comments

[SPOILERS ahead, mostly for Generations: Forged]

So this story (detailing the rise to power of the Hulk as “The Maestro,” ruler of a future post-apocalyptic Earth as detailed in the Future Imperfect mini-series) involves The Pantheon, a superpowered team allied with ol’ Jade Jaws back around the early ’90s. That Future Imperfect comic I mentioned paranthetically also dates to the early 1990s. Now, I bought those comics new, so I certainly remember the stories and the characters, despite being (urgh) nearly 30 years ago, but it surprises me just a little that a follow-up being published now is doing as well as it is.

Now I say only a “little” surprised if only because 30-year-old comic stories aren’t necessarily as hard to get your hands on as they used to be. Marvel’s trade/hardcover program, even as haphazard as it is, has managed to keep writer Peter David’s work on the Hulk relatively available, including the issues involving both the Pantheon and most of the Maestro stuff. And that now thrice-noted Future Imperfect series has been reprinted plenty of times, including a relatively cheap one-shot released around the time the first Maestro mini was released last year. Oh, did I not mention that the Maestro pictured above is in fact the second issue of the second Maestro series, since the first one did so well?

In addition to physical reprints, I’m reasonably sure (even though I don’t personally have the service) that the relevant issues are all available on Marvel’s digital comics subscription service. So, you know, fans can catch up there too if they missed all that stuff the first time, because “I wasn’t born yet” or whatever lame excuse these young punks have.

The Maestro himself has popped up now and again in Marvel’s books, including a revisit by David to the character in later issues of Incredible Hulk, there was a tie-in mini to Secret Wars in 2015, I’m pretty sure the character’s popped up in a video game or two…basically, he’s been part of the landscape.

Now the Pantheon, those folks have been missing from comics for a while, so I wonder how many folks had to scramble to the Wikipedia page to find out who they are? Or how many readers just took it in stride, getting enough backstory they needed from these new comics by themselves, and were fine? I’m always curious about that sort of thing. I’ll read new comics and think “I’ve been reading comics for over 45 years, I know what’s going on, but can new readers catch on?” Seems like jumping in and hanging on to the latest issue of a funnybook was easier to do back in ye olden tymes of my youth. But also in my youth I didn’t have the variety of resources to inform me as to what I missed as people do now.

Anyway, just thought that was interesting enough to blab about it on my site for a few hundred words. …Oh, was the comic any good? Yeah, sure, David does a good job fitting it all in with his other Hulk work, and it all feels of a piece. Makes one sorry he ever had to leave the book in the first place (and second place, when he came back for a year), as he clearly had more stuff to say about the character. But then, we wouldn’t have had the other nice work occasionally done on the character since then, so I guess it all works out.

So, Generations: Forged. [REMINDER: spoilers.]

First, so the ultimate goal of Generations was to do the same thing to Batman that the mostly forgotten Doomsday Clock attempted to do with Superman…establish that the character has existed for decades in this universe, and that he continually gets updated/rebooted/refurbished/whatever as the universe undoes its regular restarts. Or, you know, something like that. I guess having Superman be established as essentially the center of the universe wasn’t enough, they had to make sure Batman was along for the ride…when Superman and the universe are rebooted, so is Bats, and I guess presumably everyone else they’re in contact with. I think I’m understanding that ending properly.

Second, if, as the recent Death Metal mini established (and Generations ballyhoos itself as being “from the pages of…” that series, the connection’s there) that all the characters remember all their histories across the reboots, then I presume Batman can draw a straight line from being that guy with the cockeyed Bat-ears in the 1930s to fighting Clownhunter today. And also teaming up with Scooby Doo, I refuse to disallow that from continuity.

Third, for being the “big event” we were promised for a long time back when Dan DiDio was still at DC, it seemed…like not enough, really. I know plans were curtailed somewhat, but I swore there was going to be more after this second installment and it looks like just a hardcover collecting the two issues (and the one story from Detective #1027) is all that’s coming.

Fourth, the idea that when Starfire flies, that’s literally a giant stream of hair flowing behind her, and not artistic license to show how fast she’s flying or anything, is bonkers. Did you look at New Teen Titans and think “boy that’s a lot of hair trailing behind her, like hundreds of feet worth” or did you figure George Perez was just using the imagery to dynamically and symbolically present her flying power. Because seriously, that it’s her hair is a plot point in this comic. Like, there’s a chunk of that long stream of hair left behind for other people to find. Anyway, that was my stupid reaction to the comic.

I did like the comic, in case you were wondering. As I said last time, this was the most Dan Jurgens-est of comics, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s comfortably familiar super-heroing, somehow evoking the crossover events of old while still incorporating the “universe redefining” aspects of the new events. And in retrospect, two extreeee-sized issues of this was probably enough.

• • •

I do plan on returning to the trading card pricing topic of this post from Monday…that was going to require more time than I had for blogging this week (hence only the two posts) but I’m not done with it yet.

Thanks for reading, pals, and see you Monday.

21 Responses to “Look, Starfire’s hair is long, but let’s be serious here.”

  • Robcat says:

    Hmmm… makes me wonder. My first exposure to the JSA was the second half of a team up with the JLA. There’s an Earth-2? Ok, let’s go! And I thought they were more interesting than the JLA. Still love them more! And I believe my first modern exposure to the Legion (ok, I’d read 212 way back when) was the very last Darkseid issue of the Darkness Saga. All these characters! Cool! I’ll catch up as we go! So… is it really that much harder now to jump in on a book? Is it the history or is it really the writing?

  • How does the maxim go — every comic is someone’s first? I am not sure writers always adhere to this. Perhaps with good reason – the imagined audience, the market, and “waiting-for-the-trade” are all different now as well.

    (And for that matter, neither is episodic television written the same way it used to be, for similar delivery changes in its medium.)

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    I haven’t kept up with Big Two comics events and creators in a long time but I’m glad to see Peter David is writing comics again after his major health scare of several years ago.

  • Chris G says:

    I think the hard reboots and Crises are more confusing than multiple earths ever were. My only exposure to the Legion before the issue of the Great Darkness Saga I found inexplicably at our local branch library was a DC digest full of Silver Age stories. But it was clear this was the same group, with some new members and slicker storytelling, etc. Now we’re up to at least three hard reboots of the Legion, a deboot, and a bunch of softer reboots (eg, DnA’s “reboot Legion but less goofy and silly” or the 5YL run and its multiple retoolings mid-stream).

  • caat says:

    “First, so the ultimate goal of Generations was to do the same thing to Batman that ______attempted to do with Superman…establish that the character has existed for decades in this universe, and that he continually gets updated/rebooted/refurbished/whatever as the universe undoes its regular restarts.”

    You are missing the book that attempted to deal with Superman. I assume it’s Doomsday Clock, whose metaverse is shockingly similar to the revisions in Alan Moore’s Supreme.

  • Rob Staeger says:

    The way I’ve seen it explained, the Generations Shattered/Forged timeline is its own place — the Linearverse — in which it ALL happened, and everyone lives for an awfully long time for some reason. It’s just one universe where time moves really weird (and likely a little willy-nilly) so that all the characters started in whichever decade they first appeared, and continue through today, aging only as fast or as slowly as the stories indicate. So Batman has aged probably 5-10 years since 1939, while Dick Grayson has aged a little faster… and, likely, Commissioner Gordon has aged a little slower, or even backward. Time’s weird in the Linearverse, but that’s a feature, not a bug. It’s the Big Handwave that lets the eras interact for stories set there.

    But the mainstream DCU is another universe, where most DC stories will still take place, and there, Batman’s parents probably died at or slightly before the year 2000.

    And yeah — that literalization of Starfire’s hair trail was hilarious.

  • Mikester says:

    caat – Sorry, HTML error. Fixed now…thanks for pointing it out!

  • Thom H. says:

    “I think the hard reboots and Crises are more confusing than multiple earths ever were.”

    I agree. And less interesting. I only buy books that are on the fringes of DC continuity because once you’ve read one multiversal reboot you’ve read them all. They all end with “We fixed it! This is the way it’s going to be forever!” only to be undone again in shorter and shorter intervals.

    Honestly, is it that difficult to ignore the timeline of old Batman stories or handwave some inconsistencies in the Joker’s personality? Comics about continuity are almost* never satisfying. To me, at least. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

    *The only truly interesting stories to come out of continuity resets were probably during the Five Year Later run of Legion, but we’ve already covered that.

  • Caleb says:

    Ha, I am like three paragraphs into reviewing this on my blog, when I checked Twitter and saw you wrote about it!

    The hair thing WAS bonkers! I think it’s one of the most bonkers things I’ve ever read in a DC Comic, right up there with that dumb fight comic where a character grabbed a Superman by his eye-beams and pulled him toward them, as if they were strings that came out of his eyes…

    ANYWAY, I definitely need someone to explain “the Linearverse” to me. Is it its own discrete universe that will be ignored, or is it a new name for the DCU. And are we supposed to imagination some combination of Marvel’s sliding timeline and Grant Morrison’s “it all happened” take on continuity, or is Batman now living in a world where everyone basically ages like Bible characters in the Old Testament?

    It was even more confusing to me than Starfire’s hair, which I guess grows behind her as she flies…?

  • caat says:

    From what I can tell DC has finally picked up on Grant’s Multiversity and said there are many multiverses. One of these multiverses is the linearverse where people age slowly. This is serperate from “multiverse prime” where the main earth 0 is, or Grant’s unmand multiverse 2 series.

    It seems to based on Steve Englehart’s conception of the DCU where every character first appeared the month and year their first comic was published (in his JLA issues Englehart simply hand waved away the aging concerns with super hero magic). It also shares similarities with John Bryne’s Superman/Batman: Generations, an else world who is finally getting a full rerelease this March, where batman and superman first appeared the year their comics came out and they aged normally, had kids, and ect. In that universe batman used lazurus pits to stay active longer and not everyone had abnormal aging.

    I did find it odd how Waverider told the linear batman about his extending aging, as if we assume in this universe people simply have longer life spans then everyone would consider living longer normal. Just some classic comic non-thought out insanity.

  • Daniel T says:

    Mike–can I call you Mike?–I’d like to see you do a post about the “every comic is somebody’s first” shibboleth. I think the last time that could have been true was maybe in the Eighties. There’s just no way that [looking at this week’s releases] USAgent #3 or Tarot Witch of the Black Rose #126 is somebody’s first comic.

  • Andrew-TLA says:

    It looks to me like the Linearverse is it’s own specific world in the Multiverse,one where the idea that “It all happened” is taken literally. And perhaps will be watched over by the Linear Men.

    Never change, Dan Jurgens.

  • Snark Shark says:

    AVENGERS #57

    That’s a CLASSIC cover!!

    Chris G: “I think the hard reboots and Crises are more confusing than multiple earths ever were”


  • Brian says:

    DanielT, science now demands leaving a copy of USAgent #3 in a random bathroom somewhere so that eventually someone will forget to bring their phone in with them and need SOMETHING to read…

  • Glinda The Good Witch says:

    Daniel & Brian,

    Just please for the love of humanity do not leave Tarot Witch Of The Black Rose in a random bathroom anywhere for anyone, or you yourself shall be responsible for cleaning up afterward.

  • I sort of took it as the Linearverse replacing Hypertime, sort of. Mostly because DC seems to eat its own ideas. The book having referenced Metal on the cover, well, I can see Scott Snyder trying to clean the slate. Honestly? The book I finally understood The Dark Multiverse–granted I picked up very few of those books–was in one of the Metal Men issues.

    And I never got to mention this back when DCC was ending, but since DC has a metaverse, I got to thinking that each iteration of the Legion simply reflected the “new” Superman, who evidently was always a Superboy. Hear me out, and assume I’ll get the years wrong. When Superboy first met the LSH their adventures reflected our late 50s and early 60s.So by 1985, our world was different, thought the Legion was still sort of the same. So it was the rapid reboots that make me think of the metaverse. I know it doesn’t necessarily work, but its better than saying each reboot gave us the Legion of Earth 2 or Earth 6. And it explains why some of the reboots (new52) were just dismal. Also, in DDC, Saturn Girl disappears, because her timeline never existed, or whatever Ozymandius said. Which would still reflect her saying everything would work out, because it did until the next metaverse event. My head hurts. But thoughts on this, anyone? For years I was just waving my hand saying Earth 1, Earth 4, etc.

    Mike: are you planning on writing about Dominus? That was one great story, with each Superman title running an arc from different decades. The bad guys in the 40s on up to when Clark was a TV anchor for WGBS. I always thought that to be one of the best mini-events DC pulled off.

  • JohnJ says:

    I remember at least one time in the old, original Superboy comic, they told us on the letter page that they were upgrading the “past” that Superboy was living in to more accurately reflect the time that would have been 15 years prior to Superman’s life in his comics. Not sure what that meant, did they draw a black landline phone on a table instead of a crank-phone on the wall?

    Currently, only ordering the Superman titles from DC. I’m so glad Bendis is off them. He revealed Superman’s identity and then did next to nothing with the idea, just leaving it for the next writer to clean up.

  • Brian says:

    Wayne, with the universe centered around a “modern” character like Superman, it does raise interesting storytelling questions for the Legion and how every new causal chain impacts their future. And adds an interesting dime Simon to someone like the Time Trapper, who could presumably secure a stable timeline — for the wrong reasons.

  • Brian says:

    “dime Simon” there is of course supposed to be “dimension”

    I long ago changed to referring to Autocorrect as Decepticorrect…

    Glinda: don’t worry, that’s a step too far for scientific ethics!

  • Brian: I was the goof who brought the Five Years Later Legion a few weeks back. Which almost coincided with Byrne’s Man of Steel. Granted, there was the pocket, um, dime Simon, at the time, but I guess it could be an example. You didn’t have the Legion of The Great Darkness Saga Legion anymore. That sort of thing.

    I guess I’m trying to say that the original three, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad, in their original costumes, DID meet Superboy and hang around Smallville of whatever year. I mean, with every reboot, the Legion has already been around at least a few years in their era. So the hiccups of the metaverse affect the Legion after they’ve aged a bit. Superman meets the Adult Legion (with all the dead heroes) in the 60s? Fine. For every Legion book there always would be a future adult Legion connected to that book.

    I’ll admit to loving Grant Morrison and all his hints for Multiversity 2.0. Instead we get whatever the hell Metal turned out to be, and I can live with a metaverse as much as a sliding timeline. Hell, I can argue that Bendis’s Man of Steel then became Bendis’s Legion of Super-Heroes. Maybe.

    I’d like to see the metaverse concept revisited and wonder if that was what 5G was intended to adress at the end of DDC.

  • @misterjayem says:

    “I think the hard reboots and Crises are more confusing than multiple earths ever were”

    I don’t know if they’re more confusing, but the confusion to satisfaction ratio is much, much worse.

    Multiple earths were confusing, but with time and some effort they could be understood. Hurrah!

    (The understanding was never perfect, of course — but my understanding of the world around us is less than perfect, too. I don’t fully understand what gravity is or how it works, but I get by.)

    The reboots and crises simply — and dissatisfyingly — render all of your previous understanding null and void. Boo! Boo, I say!!


    — MrJM