Reviewer: John Babos
Story Title: Time and Time Again
Written, Penciled and Lettered by: John Byrne
Colored and Seperated by: Alex Sinclair
Associate Editor: Ivan Cohen
Editor: Mike Carlin
Publisher: DC Comics
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Batman created by Bob Kane
If you haven’t read any of this Generations series or its predecessors, but you’d like to get the 411 on what’s gone on before, a recap has been provided for you. Look for the bolded heading RECAP: in the body of this review, under which you’ll get a brief history of more than 1000 years of John Byrne’s Generations series spanning the current maxi-series and the previous two mini-series.
CURRENT ISSUE: Issue 12: The year 2925
Well this is it. The end of the line.
Our Dynamic Trio of Superman, Batman, and Supergirl Blue, with Saturn Girl, arrive in the 30th Century and are greeted by Cosmic Boy and Chameleon Boy of the Legion of Super-heroes in the midst of a Parademon battle. A Green Lantern, presumably John Stewart’s son, joins the fray, as does Wonder Woman. They are still defeated by the Parademon horde, who escape by beginning their travel backwards in time. Our 30th Century virtual JLA decide to travel back in time as well, to “where it all began”, for their final confrontation with Darkseid.
This is a sad ending, in a way, for G3.
Supergirl Blue – Dead as a result of a Parademon mega-weapon.
Wonder Woman – Dead at the hands of Apokolips’ master assassin, Kanto.
Green Lantern – Dead by… someone, likely a “New God” from Apokolips.
Batman – Dead at the hands of Granny Goodness, the tough trainer of Apokolips’ warrior gods.
Superman – Dead in a battle to death for both himself and Darkseid.
A morbid ending for the holidays… indeed.
However, it is a beginning as well. Due to the trip back in time and defeat of Darkseid…. the key events of G3 appear not to of happened at all! The Parademons never travelled back through time, etc., etc., etc..
I’m not a big fan of these “reset button” endings, but, overall, I enjoyed G3.
END OF SPOILERS
G3 never pretended to be anything that it wasn’t. It was dense and inaccessible to new readers, blatantly catering to existing fans, nostalgists, and Byrne victims (the disparaging moniker given to fans of John Byrne, of which I am a proud member).
This maxi-series had a very retro 1980s feel, and I enjoyed it for the most part. G3 was vintage Byrne – good, bad, and unquestionably fun!
RECAP: If you’re new to John Byrne’s Generations saga, a recap is provided below.
Generations, building on the previous two mini-series, chronicles a story about how Superman and Batman interact in a DC Universe where they have aged in “real time” from their respective introductions in comicdom in 1938 and 1939. They grow older, have kids, some of whom become heroes, heroines, villains, etc. Like the previous two series, this Generations 3 (G3) maxi-series will span various time frames. It is expected that, for the most part, G3 will jump ahead 100 years every issue. The last issue, #12, is expected to have readers arrive in the 30th Century world of the Legion of Super-Heroes .
Here’s what you should know about John Byrne’s Generations saga prior to G3:
Superman married Lois Lane, and had two kids, Joel in 1950, and Kara in 1953. Bruce Wayne, the original Batman, retired from crime fighting in the late 1940s. He married, and had a son, Bruce Wayne Jr. We don’t who he married or who Bruce Wayne Jr.’s mother is. Superman’s son Joel was corrupted by Superman arch-villain Lex Luthor and killed his sister Kara on her wedding day to Bruce Wayne Jr. We don’t know if Bruce Jr. had any kids. However, a corrupted Joel did have a son, Clark, who would be raised by Bruce Wayne Jr. Clark eventually becomes the hero Knightwing and sires twin daughters Lara and Lois, Supergirl Blue and Supergirl Red respectively. The original Batman, rejuvenated by Ra’s Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit in 1999, becomes an immortal and returns to crime fighting after his son Bruce Wayne Jr. retires. Jr. appears to be an immortal which gives a clue about who his mother may be – possibly an immortal herself.
Here’s what you should know about what’s happened in the previous issues of G3:
The key villains, so far, appear to be more sophisticated Parademons from a future planet Apokolips. They believe that they can more successfully alter the future, and prevent a war they will lose, the farther back in the past they go. In addition, scores have been added to each recap to allow for a wrap-up maxi-series ranking.
1925 – A mortally-wounded Saturn Girl, from the Legion of Super-Heroes, using a “time bubble”, traveled back in time to warn Superboy about the “destruction” of Earth in 2025. She is followed through time by Parademons. A young pre-Batman Bruce Wayne uses his wits to help Superboy save the day in a battle with the Parademons. As this is going on, a young army-brat Lois Lane meets Smallville belle Lana Lang for the first time, and find Saturn Girl’s “time bubble” together – they enter it, and… disappear. Prior to her supposed death, Saturn Girl wipes the minds of everyone (including Superboy and Bruce Wayne) within a thousand miles so that the “alien invasion” of the Parademons is forgotten. Issue #1 unpublished score: 7.5.
2025 – Superman and Batman recall parts of the “invasion” in 1925 despite Saturn Girl’s mind wipe. As such, Superman travels to New Genesis, the sister Planet to Apokolips, to find out about these Parademons. New Genesis and Superman are seemingly destroyed as a result of the detonation of an Apokolips “doomsday” device. On Earth, an OMAC orb or Brother Eye, the source of the hero OMAC’s power, is detonated by the futuristic Parademons and the mechanically animated brain of arch Superman villain Lex Luthor. The explosion “blacks out” all of Earth rendering all technology useless. Issue #2 unpublished score: 8.0.
2125 – Superman and New Genesis are still missing. Knightwing assumes his grandfather’s mantle and dons a modified Superman costume. On an Earth recovering from the technology black-out in 2025, vagabond low-tech “Morlocks” live aboveground, while the “Eloi” live underground in an emerging-technology world, where Batman and the “new” Superman reside. The Morlock Kamandi buries his differences with the Eloi and Batman, and commits to helping recreate Project OMAC. Issue #3 – 411 score: 7.0.
2225 – Queen Diana assumes the Wonder Woman (WW) mantle after her daughter is severely wounded and can no longer continue in the WW role. Diana battles along side Earth’s army of OMACs and defeats the resurfaced Parademons, leaving only four to travel back in time. Readers also discover that New Genesis, their New Gods inhabitants, and Superman have not been destroyed, but are trapped in a pocket-universe. Superman gains more clues, with the help of the New Gods, as to the real reason behind Saturn Girl’s travel back to 1925. Issue #4 – 411 score: 7.0.
2325 – Batman’s son BJ has been wounded in battle against the time-travelling Parademons. Readers also discover that Bruce Wayne and Queen Diana have been lovers for a century — lucky guy! While BJ is tended to by physicians, Bruce regales Diana with a truly pointless story about his unnamed dead wife, BJ and himself from 2008. While we don’t learn anymore about the “original” Superman on New Genesis, his son, Earth’s current Superman and his daughters’ (Supergirl Blue and Supergirl Red) discover that the effects of Lex Luthor’s black-out bomb from centuries ago may be starting to dissipate. Issue #5 – 411 score: 5.5.
2425 – Supergirl Blue falls in love with Ator, a Green Lantern (GL), and she willing exposes herself to Gold Kryptonite, that strips her of her super powers, so that she can grow old with her GL love. However, in a battle between the GL Corps and the yellow cyborg housing Lex Luthor’s brain, Ator is badly wounded shielding an atomic bomb blast and saving the city. He calls on the assistance of his super powered girlfriend to save him, but she can’t as she’s now powerless and mortal, and must watch him die. Meanwhile, the New Gods of Apokolips scheme to bring their Lord Darkseid back to life. Issue #6 – 411 score: 8.0.
2525 – Much has transpired in the last 100 years. Lex Luthor, set off a powerful Green Kryptonite bomb that killed Earth’s “current” Superman (son of the “original”, and formerly known as Knightwing) and his daughter Lois, Supergirl Red, while sparing Lara, Supergirl Blue – whose power were stripped and DNA altered in 2425 by her exposure to Gold Kryptonite. During this issue, Supergirl Blue drink’s the Gold K antidote and returns to full power, and using Kryptonian technoly imbues the already immortal Batman with super powers of his own. Meanwhile, the “original” Superman escapes the pocket-universe where New Genesis and its New Gods had been trapped. Issue #7 – 411 score: 7.5.
18xx?!? – Attempting to travel to the future, Superman ends up in the past, in18xx in Smallville. He meets his future adoptive parents and two New Gods on the lam (Metron and Mr. Miracle). A misunderstood Jonah Hex is featured as well. Readers get to see what they never though they would: Pa Kent vs. Jonah Hex in a gun fight. Priceless. In the end, Superman “returns” to the future by hybernating in a New God sarcophagus. An aside – Time travel stories are always hard to do. This entire maxi-series is based on regular 100 year jumps forward in time, but this issue throws a monkey wrench into the plans and thrusts readers back in time. Head. Hurts. Oww. Issue #8 – 411 score: 7.0.
2625 – A disguised Lara learns more about the life, death, and rebirth of Darkseid from a parademon. The rest of the exposition reinforces what has already been gleaned – Darkseid’s parademons are travelling backwards in time from the future. Issue #9 – unpublished score: 6.0.
NEW and UPDATED:
2725 – Metron’s dying words lead Superman to what remains of the planet New Genesis. While there, Superman discovers that he has sired children with Beautiful Dreamer – a super-powered son Lar-el and daughter Vara – during his generations trapped on New Genesis. His children have an axe to grind with their absentee dad, but they put there differences aside and reluctantly team up and stand proudly alongside the shattered forces of New Genesis against Darkseid. The reconciliation is cut short as Darkseid proves why he IS evil incarnate – he kills both of Superman’s new found “children”. Issue #10 411 score: 6.5.
2825 – The time-displaced girls from 1925, Lois Lane and Lana Lang, arrive in the 29th Century via Saturn Girl’s “time bubble”. They discover that Lois will marry Superman to Lana’s chagrine and venture outside of a domed Smallville to witness Superman, Batman, and Supergirl Blue in battle with the Parademon scourge. After the battle, the Dynamic Trio return Lois and Lana to 1925. In the 20th Century, they prevent Saturn Girl’s death, using future medicines, enabling her to wipe the minds of everyone (excluding herself and our trio) within a thousand miles so that the “alien invasion” of the Parademons is forgotten. Our heroes commandeer the time bubble and head towards the 30th Century. Issue #11 unpublished score: 7.0.
Ranking Generations III
So, including the “8.0” that I’ve scored Issue #12, the average score for G3 is 7.083333333333… which we’ll round down to 7.0.
So, while some issues were a solid 8.0 and others scored just above 5.0, the maxi-series averages out to a solid “B”.
Final Thoughts on G3
I think my sentiments were best articulated in my third review ever, and second week, at 411, way back in March of 2003:
Everything that fans love or hate about John Byrne is here. Great Byrne plotting and stilted dialogue. Beautiful Byrne penciling is butchered by his black magic-marker like inking. Passable Byrne lettering…
… if you hate Byrne, you’ll want to pass on this series. If you like Byrne, and want to recapture the nostalgia of his Superman work from the mid-1980s, you’ll enjoy this series. It’s in the same vein as the G1 and G2 mini-series before it.
Typical Byrne. At the very least, typically fun.