Legends #1: Once Upon A Time…!

  • Plotter: John Ostrander
  • Scripter: Len Wein
  • Penciller: John Byrne
  • Inker: Karl Kesel
  • Colorist: Tom Ziuko
  • Letterer: Steve Haynie
  • Cover Colorist: Tom Ziuko
  • Cover Artist: John Byrne
  • Editor: Mike Gold

Cover: In the background, dominating the scene, is Darkseid, lord of Apokolips.

In his hand on the left of the cover (top to bottom) are Brimstone and Macro-Man.

In his hand on the right (again top to bottom) are Firestorm; Captain Marvel; Cosmic Boy; Changeling; and the Flash.

As an aside the cover claims LEGENDS is “The Epic of the Century” which is quite some claim considering this six issue miniseries came after the twelve issue CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS which literally reshaped the DC Universe.

Page 1: This is Apokolips, the planet ruled by Darkseid.

Page 2 – Panel 1: The mention of the “hunger dogs” having rebelled refers to the story told in THE HUNGER DOGS, a graphic novel that saw the lowlies of Apokolips, the titular Hunger Dogs, rebelling against Darkseid and his rule. As we see here, he has returned to power.

Page 2 – Panel 2: In the background on the left is Darkseid, while his advisor / torturer / all round toady Desaad is in the foreground on the right.

Page 2 – Panel 4: Desaad reminds Darkseid of our lowly little planet.

Page 2 – Panel 5: Desaad and his action figure collection

Page 2 – Panel 5: For some reason, Desaad already has his collection of super-hero action figures on display. From left to right are Martian Manhunter; the Flash; Captain Marvel; Batman; Green Lantern Hal Jordan; Wonder Woman in the background; Dr Fate also in the background; and Superman. It’s interesting that Wonder Woman is included – even if she’s almost completely hidden away – as post-Crisis she has been around much.

Page 3 – Panel 1: And here the series gets it’s in-story reason for being called LEGENDS as Darkseid decides to strike at the very concept of the Earth’s heroes, while holding the figure of Captain Marvel in his hand.

Page 3 – Panel 2: Darkseid wishes for Desaad to bring Glorious Godfrey and Dr Bedlam to him only to be told by a previously unseen servant that the pair are already here.

Page 3 – Panel 3: And here they are, Glorious Godfrey on the left, Dr Bedlam on the right.

Page 3 – Panel 4: Godfrey mentions having been on Earth before; this is likely the previous Apokoliptian invasion of Earth as seen in the early 70s Forever People series. As far as I can tell, this is the first mention anywhere of a “Techno-Seed.

Page 3 – Panel 5: Captain Marvel’s figure snaps apart, not boding well for the character.

Page 4 – Panel 1: STAR Labs in New York. On the left with her back to us is Dr Jenet Klyburn, a STAR Labs employee and frequent helper of Superman’s; the Professor Stein she speaks with is Martin Stein who, as we’ll see in a moment, is the literal other half of Firestorm.

Page 4 – Panel 5: Behold Brimstone!

Page 4 – Panel 3: Darkseid’s Techno-Seed, as the caption states, appears in the heart of the nuclear generator they happen to be testing in Queens, New York. That’s right – a “giant fusion generator” is being tested in the heart of one of the biggest cities on Earth.

Page 4 – Panel 4: Dr Klyburn notices something growing within the generator . . .

Page 4 – Panel 5: . . . which is revealed to be Brimstone. His line of “Gaze into my eyes, ye mighty — and despair!” is a corruption of perhaps the most famous line from the poem Ozymandias which runs “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Page 5 – Panel 1: As the caption says, the young man in the shower is Ronnie Raymond who combines with Professor Stein to become the hero Firestorm.

Page 5 – Panel 2: Doreen Day is Ronnie’s girlfriend.

Page 5 – Panels 3 and 4: Ronnie and Professor Stein merge.

Page 5 – Panel 5: Firestorm flies above Brimstone; Professor Stein, meanwhile, appears as a ghostly giant head. While they’re able to talk to each other when they’re Firestorm, only Ronnie can hear the Professor.

Page 6 – Panel 1: As Firestorm says, his blasts only affect non-living things and, thanks to the Techno-Seed, Brimstone is somehow actually alive.

Page 6 – Panel 5: Having been literally tossed aside, Firestorm realises he needs help and sets out to recruit the Justice League of America.

Page 7 – Panel 1: The joy of annotating older comics is that nearly everyone introduces themselves. This here is long-time Batman villain, Deadshot.

Page 7 – Panel 2: And about to take him down is the Flash.

Page 7 – Panels 3 and 5: Flash makes mention of being slower and getting winded easily.

Page 8 – Panel 1: And in a handy burst of exposition, Flash explains what happened to him. He was caught in a blast from the Anti-Monitor in issue #12 of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS.

Page 8 – Panel 2: The people asking him questions about why he didn’t vibrate through Deadshot’s bullets or whether he used to be taller are confusing him with the previous Flash, Barry Allen, who had died during the Crisis.

Page 9 – Panel 1: G Gordon Godfrey, Darkseid’s troublemaker

Page 8 – Panel 5: Titans Tower, home to the Teen Titans of whom Wally used to be a member when he was Kid Flash.

Page 9 – Panel 1: Our first glimpse of G. Gordon Godfrey, the alter ego taken on by Glorious Godfrey for Darkseid’s “Operation Humiliation”. Godfrey has already been seen putting forward his anti-superhero message by this point in the first couple of crossovers. The “Mr Batson” he refers to will be seen in the next couple of pages. On the wall behind him appear to be the words “threat or menace” which seems one-sided for any sort of debate.

Page 9 – Panel 2: The green monkey in the chair is Changeling of the Teen Titans. His insult of “yer father wears yer mother’s army boots!” may be a corruption of (at least according to Urban Dictionary) a World War II era insult of “your mother wears army boots” which was basically calling your mother a prostitute.

Page 9 – Panel 3: McLean Stevenson was an actor who was mostly know for playing Lt Colonel Henry Blake in the 70s/80s TV series MASH.

Page 9 – Panel 4: Flash’s “identity crisis” stems from his having taken over the role of the Flash following the death of his uncle Barry.

Page 9 – Panel 5: Changeling changes back to his human, green skinned, form.

Page 10 – Panel 1: On screen is the “Mr Batson” Godfrey is speaking with; this is Billy Batson, the young alter-ego of Captain Marvel, who is a young TV reporter/presenter.

Flash tells Changeling about the difficulties living up to Barry Allen’s “legend” as the new Flash.

Page 10 – Panel 3: Changeling suggests the Flash adopt a new identity to avoid the pressure of being the Flash and offers up some names; while there was a Golden Age “Blue Bolt” his powers were more electrical rather than speed, however a new Blue Bolt appeared just a year or so after this issue. Perhaps more interesting is Changeling’s suggestion of “Speed Demon” – a year after this issue, Flash would fight against a speedster called that very name!

Flash rejects the idea, however, as he doesn’t want Barry’s legend to die out.

On the TV, Godfrey claims the superheroes’ solution to every situation is violence, thus showing them to be poor role models.

Page 10 – Panel 4: Changeling points out, correctly, that Godfrey’s mission is to ensure there are no legends left at all. As they watch the TV, it cuts off.

Page 11 – Panels 3 to 5: Shazam!

Page 11 – Panel 1: We move now to the TV studio where Gordon, in the centre of the picture, seated on the left, is being interviewed by Billy Batson who has just risen from his chair on the right. One of the studio staff informs everyone the building is under attack by a giant who has torn the transmission tower from the building’s roof, causing the blackout.

Page 11 – Panel 2: And here’s Billy, sneaking off so that, by saying the name of the wizard who gave him his power . . .

Page 11 – Panel 5: . . . he can call down lightning and transform into Captain Marvel.

Page 11 – Panel 7: And as Captain Marvel heads out to find out what’s going on, G Gordon Godfrey looks on, very pleased with himself.

Page 12 – Panel 1: Captain Marvel finds Macro-Man, still with the transmission tower in his hand, causing destruction. Not the Jack Kirby inspired design which should give you an indication of where he’s from – Apokolips. Using the car and people at his feet as scale, Macro-Man appears to be around 35 to 40 feet tall at least.

Page 12 – Panel 3: With a single punch, Captain Marvel sends the giant flying up to the roof of the building.

Page 12 – Panel 4: Captain Marvel mentions having “the strength of Hercules” – the name of the Wizard Shazam is an anagram of the first letters of the names of various gods and heroes (Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury) who lend Marvel various attributes that make up his powers. As we go through the story, he will invariably mention more.

Page 12 – Panel 5: “power of Zeus” and “wisdom of Solomon“. Told you he’d mention more.

Page 13 – Panel 2: Macro-Man stalks towards the fallen Captain Marvel. Remember, they’re on the roof of the TV station building at this point.

Page 13 – Panel 3: Macro-Man grabs Marvel, pushing him through the roof of the building and into the rooms below which is why we can see other people around. Using Marvel’s body in Macro-Man’s grip as a scale, the villain appears to have increased his size. And, as promised, Marvel sneaks in a mention of the “speed of Mercury“.

Page 13 – Panel 5: The “stamina of Atlas” gets a mention as Captain Marvel realises he can’t break free of Macro-Man.

Page 14 – Panel 1: Crying out the Wizard’s name once more, Captain Marvel plans to shrink to Billy Batson’s form in order to escape . . .

Page 14 – Panel 5: Billy Batson . . . murderer?

Page 14 – Panel 2: . . . but this time the lightning strikes Macro-Man, apparently setting him aflame.

Page 14 – Panels 3 and 4: Despite Macro-Man apparently being around 35 to 40 feet once more, he is now clearly within the building itself rather than on the roof, a fact made obvious in Panel 4 when a caption describes him as “crashing through the reinforced window“. What sort of building has an entire floor of rooms that are at least 50 feet tall?!

Page 14 – Panel 5: As Macro-Man falls to his death, Billy Batson believes himself to be a murderer.

Page 15 – Panel 1: We move to the Pentagon where Colonel Rick Flag is to be found.

Page 15 – Panel 2: The sign on the door is for Task Force X, a Secret Service operation formed after the Justice Society of America disbanded and in which Rick Flag’s father (also called Rick Flag) had served. Note that the X on the door is out of line – the sign is meant to be centred but the X has been moved to the right to allow for it to be legible while still showing Flag’s hand knocking.

Page 16 – Panel 1: The first appearance of Amanda Waller

Page 15 – Panel 3: While we don’t see the speaker, Amanda Waller, just yet, it’s clear from her reply to his question that she is quick witted and has no time for fools.

Page 15 – Panels 4 and 5: Flag and Waller clearly have their disagreements already which are exacerbated when Flag looks over the first candidates for joining the team. Flag’s use of the term “cotton-picking” to describe an African-American woman is at the very least in poor taste.

Page 16 – Panel 1: The first appearance of Amanda Waller who would go on to become one of the most powerful characters in the DCU. And she rightly picks Flag up on his use of “cotton-picking“.

Page 16 – Panels 2 and 3: Flag and Waller state their positions to each other, both of them disliking the other but understanding that they have to work together.

Page 17 – Panel 1: This is Cosmic Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes, on a time travelling trip into the past – 1986 to be exact as that’s the year he states he’s in.

His mention of “Lydda” refers to Lydda Jath aka Night Girl, another Legionnaire who is with him in the past.

Page 17 – Panel 2: The diner worker refers to Cosmic Boy as being “from outta town” which, considering he’s from the 30th Century, is something of an understatement.

Page 17 – Panel 4: And like every other character in this issue so far, Cosmic Boy kindly introduces himself as he rushes from the diner to find out what’s going on.

Page 17 – Panel 5: Cosmic Boy flies up to confront Brimstone whom we last saw dispatching Firestorm. Both the Validus that he mentions and the Infinite Man are enemies of the Legion in the 30th Century, both of whom are tall . . . just nowhere near as tall as Brimstone.

Page 18 – Panel 1: Brimstone refers to Cosmic Boy as “another” enemy as he’s already defeated Firestorm.

Page 18 – Panel 4: Thank goodness for exposition laden thought bubbles, eh? They make my job so much easier. Takron-Galtos is a prison planet where the Legion send most of their enemies.

Page 19 – Panel 2: Brimstone is about his master’s work, ridding the Earth of all superheroes.

Page 19 – Panel 4: Now I’m not 100% au fait with the Legion but as Cosmic Boy himself says, he has “magnetic powers” and there’s bound to be a fair amount of metal in that rubble, but surely most of it would be brick / concrete and the like?

Pages 20 and 21: Once more the characters introduce themselves so it seems pointless for me to list them . . . but, left to right, are Vibe; Vixen; Elongated Man; Martian Manhunter; Gypsy; Steel; and Firestorm who recruited them on the last page of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #257 after he’d been beaten by Brimstone earlier this issue.

Page 22 – Panel 1: Back at the scene of Macro-Man’s burnt corpse.

Page 22 – Panel 2: The bystander claims to have seen Macro-Man incinerated “up on that roof” which raises the question of how he could see that and also, as shown on Page 14 and mentioned above, how Macro-Man could have fallen through a window.

Page 22 – Panels 3 to 5: And Billy Batson is now convinced he’s responsible for the death of Macro-Man and vows never to become Captain Marvel again. Of course, one could ask why, if he’s so consumed with guilt, he doesn’t just turn himself in . . .