Monday, September 30, 2013

The Great Darkness!

The Great Darkness Saga is one of those grand comic book epics I missed at the time. I was not plugged into DC much post-Crisis and to be totally honest I've never been a rousing Legion fan. I like them sure, enjoy them fine, but never one of the devoted. And finally at long last reading this fan-fave story, I can really get a sense of what it must be like for newbie fans to wander into the complex storytelling of such a sprawling universe like DC or Marvel with little background data.

I read this story because of its Fourth World connections, the fact that Darkseid is the enemy and that other Kirby Fourth World characters come into play, at least tangentially. But the very fact I know that Darkseid is the villain, a fact advertised by the cover of the vintage trade I read really rather ruins much of the impact of the story since the revelation of the mystery villain is much of what makes the story hum, or should.

When this story first rolled off the presses, the Fourth World was mostly a footnote, finished at long last but dormant within the confines of the DCU, having found little purchase in most broader tales. Paul Levitz's idea to project the villain Darkseid forward into the future of the Legion was a great notion, and keeping his identity a mystery most of the story must've been great fun for readers at the time. But now it's incredibly anti-climatic.

But that's not what kept me from totally plugging into this story. The myriad back stories of the Legion just overwhelmed me as I plodded through. The various romances, dalliances, and trysts which made up the Legion's storyline dropped cold as ice while I was trying to follow the main plot. I didn't care two hoots about the romantic entanglements or political ambitions of these characters, which they seemed all too intense about as they fought for their very lives. The emphasis seemed off.

The artwork by Keith Giffen was dandy at times, but at other times hard to decipher, and frankly I prefer Giffen inking himself. Larry Mahlstedt is a damn fine inker, but his soft lines seemed unsuited to Giffen's hard edges. I know a lot of folks have a soft spot for this story, and I get that. I love lots of Avengers stories a lot more than they deserve on their absolute merits, but this one despite some fine moments didn't seem to have the epic scope I'd hope to find in a Darkseid story.

Rip Off


  1. Rip, it's funny that you used that panel with Darkseid' s profile. In addition to the very valid comments you've made here, I'd add that when I read this arc for our review on the BAB I could not get past the over-abundance of profile shots employed by Keith Giffen!


    1. Giffen seems an incomplete artist in this series, an artist still mastering his form. His storytelling is mangled on many pages, though he is very good at special effects. I kept getting an "Image" vibe off the artwork, art which served itself more than the story and which took odd shortcuts in depicting some truly frightening stuff.

      The Daxamites for instance are never showcased well enough for me to get any sense of real dread. That many maddened supermen ought to be scarier.

      Rip Off


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