So close to the Top 50. I am giddy. And tired.
54. 5 Year Gap Legion (55 points)
Ok, yet another Legion of Superheroes entry, this time I am gonna do it on my own. Sound good? Giffen took over plotting as well as penciling with the Legion of Super-Heroes volume 4 title which started in November 1989, with scripts by Tom and Mary Bierbaum and assists by Al Gordon. Five years after the Magic Wars, the United Planets is a darker place and the Legion a distant memory. However, a group of former Legionnaires worked to re-form the Legion in this harsh new universe, in which Earth was ruled by the alien Dominators.
Shortly after this storyline began, the decision was made to retroactively remove Superboy almost completely from Legion history, leaving the question of where the Legion's inspiration came from without the influence of Superboy. The writers' solution was a massive retcon, in which Mon-El serves in the role of paragon, which several more retcons to follow. Issue 5 featured an alternate universe story in which this restructuring was affected, and the Time Trapper was replaced in continuity by his onetime underling Glorith. Giffen skipped plotting on several issues which resulted in the Bierbaum’s writing several fill-in stories.
One major storyline during this period was the discovery of "Batch SW6," a group of time-paradox duplicates of the early Legion, circa their Adventure Comics days. There were now two Legions, and a parallel title, Legionnaires, was launched, starring the "SW6" Legion, whose origins were not resolved until the Zero Hour crossover by a different writing team. The series was lighter in tone than the main Legion book, and was written by the Bierbaum’s and drawn by Chris Sprouse. Giffen left the book after a storyline which involved the destruction of Earth, and the Bierbaum’s continued writing, overseeing the return of several classic characters. When the Bierbaum’s left, writer Tom McCraw took over and made a number of changes, such as forcing several Legion members underground, which required them to take on new identities and costumes, and bringing back long-absent Legionnaire Wildfire.
In 1994, DC editors decided that after 36 years, the team's continuity would be entirely rebooted. As part of the Zero Hour company-wide crossover, the Legion's original continuity came to an end with Legion of Super-Heroes (vol. 4) #61 (September 1994). And to this day Legion fans are still bitching about it, especially ones that love Matt Ryan.
53. Govt. X-Factor (55 points)
"I loved the make up of this team."
"Just a great team of mutants. Great stories told by PAD. Took a bunch of lower level mutants, for the most part, and made them into great characters. Multiple Man, in particular, became one of my all time favorites. When the dupes started representing the different aspects of his personality that was some great stuff. Guido was also a ton of fun, his fight with the Blob where he developed his heart problems were great. Plus you had the third best field leader on any X-team ever, Havok. Add in Polaris, Wolfsbane, and Valerie Cooper (later Forge replaced her) and you have a great team. Oh and a guy named Pietro who will be in my top Marvel Heroes list. Great stuff. And the issue with Dr. Samson is one of the best of all time."
"Just like JLI, this book showed how a team of B level or lower characters could still be a fantastic book given the right creative team. Everyone was unique and didn't always get along, but it was easy to see why they succeeded as a team. Never before did I get why Quicksilver was a jerk until he saw Dr. Samson."
That Doc Samson issue was the best, and until that quote I never really made the comparison between this X-Factor team and JLI. Hmmmmm, very cool indeed.
After the events with the Shadow King, the original members of X-Factor rejoined the X-Men to form the Blue and Gold era. Rather than end the series, Marvel hired writer Peter David and illustrator Larry Stroman to recreate X-Factor with new members, all of whom were already allies of the X-Men and three of whom were involved in the Muir Island Saga. The new X-Factor worked for the Pentagon making them the only salaried mutant team. Their relationship with their benefactors was often strained and complicated. The new X-Factor, debuting in issue #71, included Val Cooper, Havok, Polaris, Wolfsbane, Madrox, Strong Guy, and Quicksilver.
Although X-Factor was not as flashy or wildly popular as other X-Books, David was applauded for his use of humor and cultural references and his ability to flesh out characters that had previously only been background characters.
David left in 1993. The series continued under writer J. M. DeMatteis and artist Jan Duursema, but struggled to distinguish itself among other of X-books. Shortly before David's tenure on the book ended, Forge, a former government weapons contractor whose mutant powers were his brilliant engineering skills, was added to the group, first replacing Cooper as their liaison after she had been compromised by one of Magneto's Acolytes, and later as an active member. Cooper later became an active member as well, her marksmanship and athletic skills compensating for her lack of superhuman powers.
By 1995, Multiple Man had apparently died of the Legacy Virus, a deadly illness that attacked mutant genes, which was later revealed to have killed only one of his duplicates. Strong Guy was put into suspended animation after suffering a heart attack caused by the stress his extra mass put on his body. Wolfsbane, who had been cured of her fake love for Alex, transferred to the European mutant team Excalibur. And Havok left to infiltrate a mutant terrorist ring.
52. Justice League of Obsidian Age (55 points - 1 first place slot)
Batman always has a backup plan, doesn't he? When the current League goes trotting off thru space and time to find Aquaman, who died during the World War 3 storyline I think (I am not to sure about this, nor do I care at the moment cuz I only had like 4 hours sleep but that’s beside the point. Isn't he coming back as a Black Lantern? How many times did Aquaman die, ok, tangent. Sorry.) Native American shaman and an armored Aztec attack children at an amusement park. They arrive the day after Green Lantern Kyle Rayner starts having nightmares about death and black birds; birds like the ones the shaman uses. When the villains escape into the past, they reveal a ruined Atlantis sitting above the waves. The JLA’s investigation leads them to believe Aquaman and the present-day citizens of Atlantis were transported 3,000 years into the past. They travel through time, despite Kyle’s visions of their deaths.
A month after their disappearance, Batman’s contingency plan goes into effect. A new League is assembled. Can this new League protect the world and solve the mystery of a worldwide drought? Will the old League solve the mystery of Atlantis and return home?
Of course they do. This story is 3 years old. We know how it ends. That kills much of the suspense and mystery in the story. What we get is a good adventure story with two great super teams, a gathering of ancient super beings, and an important turning point in the history of Aquaman and Atlantis.
The explanations of what happened to Atlantis and its “Obsidian Age” are a little complex. Personally, I think changing history was unnecessary. It’s mentioned in passing that Atlantis is the center of all magic on Earth. That’s an angle I’d like to see expanded upon in Aquaman and other magic-based DC titles.
The point of this story is to bring Aquaman back to life with new powers and a new status quo; both of which were changed again last year. It also introduced the seeds of what would become the Justice League Elite. Faith, Green Arrow, and Major Disaster come together as part of Batman’s replacement League. Manitou Raven, appearing here as a reluctant villain, would also join the Elite.
The replacement League was my favorite part of the story. It was a diverse group of established, new, and changed characters, all of whom created an interesting team dynamic. I wish Nightwing, the Atom, Firestorm, Jason Blood, Faith, Disaster, and Green Arrow would come together again. I especially liked Nightwing as the team leader. Then Batman and Wonder Woman kiss before a big battle and fanboys go crazy.
Ah yes, the big point of the story, that the big hitters in the JLA actually die - Flash gets a nice death, his legs being ripped off is a particularly effective cliffhanger; GL has a nice heroic death; Plastic Man just seems to be disposed off simply to get rid of him from the plot; the rest of them pretty much go off-camera. Of course, they're not really dead by the end of it - thanks to magic (its Magic, Bitch) - but at last the JLA's weakness to magic is addressed by the inclusion of Jason Blood - it's a shame he doesn't stick around beyond the end of the arc, he's a far more interesting character than this Apache Chief who takes over in the end.
Having said all that, the second JLA team under Nightwing works well and feels right, the Bat-presence over everything the JLA does is correct and also feels right, and the story rockets along from situation to situation until it's all pulled out of the hat in an improbable, yet spectacular, finale. The art throughout is consistently excellent; despite differing art teams on the differing periods depicted in the story, it all gels together well, and this is best part of the book as a whole.
Take your brain out of gear and enjoy the ride - just don't think about it too much.
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