Friday, July 01, 2016

Once Upon A Time...! (DC)
Legends #1 When: November 1986
Why: John Ostrander & Len Wein How: John Byrne

The Story So Far...
No one could have believed the universe was saved from certain extinction less than a year ago. On Earth, life carries on as it always has - its people blissfully unaware that their reality has been remade to contain an entire multiverse of good and evil!

Across the gulf of space, the evil New Gods of Apokolips ponder the fortunes of a humanity protected by super-human defenders. While the dread lord Darkseid surveys his kingdom of misery, vile Desaad draws plans against the meddlesome heroes!

On the other side of the universe: The Hudson Nuclear Facility manned by STAR Labs is to be the birthing place of a new evil! The first strike in Darkseid's Operation: Humiliation is a techno-seed that will cleanse the world of heroes with the fire of Brimstone! Professor Martin Stein cannot believe the madness his designs have brought forth. Reaching out to Vandemeer University he summons a champion to confront the evil: Firestorm, The Nuclear Man!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Brimstone 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Martin Stein 5 (Professor)
Speed: Firestorm 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Brimstone 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Firestorm 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Draw 6 (Mass Destruction)

Another classic hero joins the ranks of the Secret Wars on Infinite Earths as we explore life after the biggest rebirth of the DC Universe!

Firestorm is the uncanny fusion between high school student Ronnie Raymond and Nobel Prize winning physicist: Professor Martin Stein! Combining to become an incredible "nuclear man", they are Raymond's piloting physical presence, supported by the internalized voice of brilliant scientist, Stein.

Stein's scientific knowledge is invaluable in guiding Ronnie Raymond to exploit Firestorm's powers over atomic and subatomic composition to their fullest. With the right knowhow Firestorm can manipulate and reassemble particles to transmute inorganic matter, pass through it, or effect destruction. On a base level he can also use his powers to: fly, enhance his own strength, project energy blasts, absorb and manipulate radiation, and generate heat.

Although this is the first time we'll see the original in action, we have witnessed the fury of Firestorm through another possessor of the Firestorm Matrix! Jason Rusch helped defend Earth during the Sinestro Corps War [Green Lantern #25], and more memorably faced down the Injustice League in a fight that included: thwarting Lex Luthor's attempt on Superman's life, and battling classic nemesis Killer Frost in a fight of fire and ice [Justice League of America #15].

Fighting with fire is something Brimstone knows all about! Birthed from a techno-seed planted at the heart of a nuclear generator: he is an avenging giant sent from the dominion of Darkseid to destroy Earth's greatest heroes!

Brimstone is the first shot fired in Operation: Humiliation -- a plot to rid the Earth of its so-called "false gods" by physically and philosophically undermining them! Brimstone is a burning false prophet whose words assault their legend, while he uses intense heat, flame, super strength, and gigantic size to incinerate and destroy any who would dare stand against him!

Given Brimstone's birth occurs directly in front of Professor Martin Stein, you can be sure Firestorm is the first hero on the scene! This means no existing intel on the threat, but some encouraging basic presumptions.

A nuclear borne, fire wielding threat is right in Firestorm's wheelhouse! Will he be the hero to snuff the Apokolips monster's flame? Let's find out!

What Went Down...
Feeling a familiar molecular twinge; university student Ronnie Raymond knows his lazy day is about to be rudely interrupted! Summoned from the warmth of a relaxing shower, he's thrown into the fire by a spectacular transformation that places him hovering above the New York skyline!

Exploding from the Hudson Nuclear Facility below him, Firestorm witnesses the flaming giant: Brimstone! Clued in by the disembodied voice of Professor Stein, the Nuclear Man springs into action -- firing nuclear energy to cut the burning behemoth down to size!

Firestorm is stunned to find his powers cannot manipulate the towering inferno - unable to effect change upon living organics! The young hero learns his lesson the hard way as Brimstone notices his flying presence and judges him harshly.

Before he can act - Firestorm finds five giant fingers closing around him!

The phenomenal speed of the giant's clutch catches Firestorm by surprise! Were it not for his quick thinking, he surely would've been incinerated by the beast's intense heat. Instead, he is protected by an encasement of fire retardant asbestos created last minute from the air surrounding him!

The defensive manoeuvre is cold comfort as Brimstone tosses the helpless hero into the building below!

Firestorm crawls from the wreckage with the bitter realization that Brimstone is out of his league! Lucky for him - he knows exactly which League to call!

The Hammer...
It's a harsh induction for a classic hero as Brimstone walks away the victor! Not necessarily the outcome you'd expect, but a result that makes a good deal of sense when you know the full context.

This was the first appearance of Brimstone, who was conceived as a villain for the six issue Legends mini-series.

Brimstone isn't the only menace to emerge over the course of the story, but he provides an immediate threat, taking down Firestorm in the first fight of the series -- a strong start to establish a new villain!

Legends deals indirectly with the consequences of Crisis on Infinite Earths, launching a sprawling adventure into the new status quo. It tells a story of heroes fighting disparate threats, while the minions of Darkseid plot a multi-pronged central attack. In the past, we've seen some of the other skirmishes from this first issue: Flash vs Deadshot, and Captain Marvel vs Macro-Man. Both are significant in their own ways, the latter for inducting "The Big Red Cheese" into the core DC Universe with confronting results.

The media blitz by "Gordon G. Godfrey" (aka; Glorious Godfrey) is one of the particularly memorable moments from "Operation: Humiliation". He works to turn public opinion aggressively against the very super-heroes protecting them. It's the modern weapon of politicized scaremongering harnessed in the arsenal of evil Darkseid. It's a concept of perverting human perception through fear that seems as topical as ever thirty years later.

The story also plays with themes of totalitarian registration seen concurrently in 1986's Watchmen, X-Men before that, and many stories since, albeit in simplistic terms that are only concerned with sympathy for the good guys.

Legends may not be the most significant follow-up to Crisis '85, but it has its place, creating the circumstances around which two modern teams assembled: A refreshed Justice League of America, and the covert operated Suicide Squad!

The Suicide Squad march on theatres this August, before the Justice League take centre stage in a 2017 follow-up to this year's controversial blockbuster: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As in Legends; it seems the League will come together to fight the minions of Darkseid -- something they also did in the comics of 2011's hard New 52 reboot! It remains to be seen how deeply Suicide Squad will tie in with bigger DC movie plans.

DC Comics certainly have grand plans, currently in the process of yet another "Rebirth". This time they're working to repair some of the damage caused by the aggressive New 52 relaunch. We've already discussed the reintroduction of elements in recent entries into Hero of the Week [Dr. Manhattan, Flash]. Throughout the month of July we'll be coming at it from the other angle, venturing back through some of the other Rebirths DC has published in its recent, and once again convoluted past.

For a prequel to the July theme, you might like to flash back to last week's feature fight from Crisis on Infinite Earths #2! You can also find many more entries by browsing the alphabetical file of the Issue Index Archive, or by following links throughout this post, or the labels below.

We'll be revisiting Legends sometime in the future. You can get the full story by using the Amazon purchase link embedded for your convenience! Doing so helps keep the fights infinite with no additional cost!

Next week: Somebody gets Reborn!

Winner: Brimstone
#288 (new) Brimstone
#792 (new) Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond)
#490 (new) Professor Martin Stein [+1 assist]

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