Monday, August 5, 2013

Comics Review - John Byrne's Superman/Batman: Generations

I've never liked Elseworlds.

They're like "What If?" without an understanding of what made "What If" work, namely, the entire fantasy of the story comes from one divergence from reality. An example of a good "What If?" premise would be, if Spider-Man had only been a couple seconds faster and managed to save Gwen Stacy on the George Washington Bridge, or if Professor X touched the Gem of Cytorrak in that temple in Korea instead of Cain Marko. We could see what happened after that one difference, so everything was extrapolated from that.

For instance, according to "What if Wonder Man had lived?" if Wonder Man had survived after Avengers #10, Swordsman would have backed out from the original Lethal Legion, fearing the Avengers' sheer power. The Mandarin would have killed him right there, before he met Mantis, meaning that the Celestial Madonna would never have had the protection of the Avengers.

See? It's that kind of continuity-driven stuff that made What If? fun to read for big Marvel nerds.

Heck, even the Imaginary Stories of the sixties worked because they were mostly just alternate futures assuming a shared background, like the legendary "Superman-Red, Superman-Blue" or "the Death of Superman." They were extrapolations with the same start point.

Elseworlds, on the other hand, usually violate the number one rule of alternate history fiction: more than one divergence from reality, what S.M. Stirling once called "alien space bat" stories. With so many divergences, or worse, an improbable divergence…screw it, there might as well be alien space bats in there, too. (Stirling's exact quote, who's meaning changed thanks to the telephone game, was: "the only way Operation Sea Lion would have worked is if the Nazis had alien space bats helping them.")

Example: Superman: Red Son has a great idea for a divergence: if Superman landed in Russia instead of America. But why would Superman landing in Russia make Batman Russian, too? Eduardo Barretto's Speeding Bullets had the same divergence as the Bruce (Superman) Wayne what-if backups. What if Superman's spaceship landed in Gotham and he was raised by the Waynes? Great idea, but why would Lex Luthor become the Joker? (Maybe alien space bats made Lex do it.)

In fact, Elseworlds were sometimes like those dumb episodes of the Simpsons where they redo Hamlet, only with Bart as Hamlet and Moe the Bartender as Claudius. It's usually either a straight up recasting, or slipping a hero into another story (as with Thomas's retelling of Fritz Lang, Superman: Metropolis) in a fanfiction-like way that doesn't comment on either.

Elseworlds are like poetry: probably a lot more fun to write than they are to read.

Despite all that, Superman Batman – Generations had a really irresistible concept: what if Superman and Batman aged in real time? Instead of always being in their mid-thirties and having their pasts roll up behind them, Batman and Superman showed up in 1939, aged in real time, got married, had children and successors that continued their fight.

Superman doesn't get older, but Clark Kent has to. Batman's successors, like Dick Grayson and eventually his own son, took a page out of the Phantom's playbook and pretend there's only been one Batman, to add to his aura of mystery. Some of Superman and Batman's older supporting cast die off, like Perry White, Commissioner Gordon, and Alfred. Alfred remains a presence in the books because he appears to Bruce Wayne as a ghost occasionally, continuing to serve after death.

The 1930s-set stories feature giant robots and autogyros, while the 1950s stories had some of the sillier aspects of comics at the time, like alien invasions and magical imps playing pranks. John Byrne, like me, can't commit to true silliness: his 50s comics feel more like Marvel monster comics, with a Twilight Zone style dark ending than like the game-playing in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. He makes only passing references to transformations to give a sense of place; his focus is on that era's space opera.

In the 1960s, the series touches on how the heroes faced Vietnam, with Superman's mortal son serving in the army. The issue set in the 70s were the high point, due to the appearance of big-league scary menaces, an era when comics stopped messing around: Ra's al-Ghul, and the supercomputer version of Brainiac. By the 1980s, when comics got moody, Batman started to wear spiky armor and had a hostile relationship with the police.

The lives of the two heroes intersect in many ways, like how Batman's son and Superman's daughter fall in love in the 1970s, and in the 1980s, Batman's son raises Superman's grandson. By the end, you need a flowchart, but aren't all families like that?

World's Finest Team

John Byrne, with Generations, is the first person to ever answer the question to my satisfaction why Superman and Batman, heroes who have different spheres of influence (Superman is science fiction, Batman is atmospheric horror and crime) team up regularly and are good friends. I mean, in story logic, why ARE they buddies, anyway? Pairing up the two always felt like what it is: a gimmicky marketing stunt pairing together two very different big heroes to double their money.

According to Generations, the two heroes are united by the fact they're first. They were the trendsetters in the early devil may care, rough and tumble world of early superheroes, where, back in the 30s, heroes still had balls and Superman interrogated people by throwing them off buildings. They set their own rules and everyone since followed them. They may have mellowed out later and behaved themselves, but they alone remember the early days when everything was new. As a consequence, their lives are intertwined.

Generations I is Luthor's Story

Unlike the sequels to Generations, the first Generations is made especially readable by the fact it isn't a series of vignettes with no payoff meant to show the passage of time. It's a single, central unified story told over a broad amount of time, featuring the revenge of Luthor, a crafty genius and manipulative liar who orchestrates tragedies designed to destroy Superman's family: fearsome, cunning schemes, like Iago from Othello. Since over time Batman and Superman's families intertwine more and more (e.g. Superman's daughter marries Batman's son), this means Batman comes into the mix as well in Luthor's plot.

Not a lot of reviews talk about how Superman/Batman: Generations is, basically, about Luthor, and how his crafty revenge plays out over decades.

What makes someone your greatest enemy? It's not power, because if it was, Brainiac would be Superman's greatest foe, not Luthor, an alien supercomputer with near infinite resources to draw on. No, the reason Luthor is Superman's greatest enemy is because he has the ability to get nasty and personal. He can wound Superman's emotions in a way a computer wouldn't understand or attempt.

(This is also, incidentally, why I suspect the Borg were seldom used as bad guys in Star Trek: despite the fact they're so powerful and threatening, they are so alien you can't interact with them on the personal level needed for regular stories.)

Luthor turned Superman's powerless son against him by lying to him since childhood, convincing him to try to murder his sister. He has assassins kill Superman's supporting cast, all while Superman was searching for Luthor, so Superman would carry guilt for not protecting them. Only when all this was done did Luthor intend to kill Superman by depowering him, then by placing his brain into Superman's body.

This is not the "good guy on the inside" Luthor seen in Maggin's novels, who never wants to harm innocent people in his crimes, where it's a real tragedy he turned to crime, and there's hope he can be redeemed. No, this Luthor is a true complete monster.

With the intriguing outlier of Doctor Doom, who was portrayed as oddly noble, classy and honorable, Byrne typically has evil with a capital E villains who are sheer acid inside.

Superman/Batman: Generations is so completely Luthor's story that even in death, he is victorious: Superman kills Luthor. It's an accident, but it's broadcast all over the world and made Superman look like a killer.

"Well, It Doesn't Feel like an Elseworlds!"

The nicest thing I could say about Superman/Batman – Generations is, it doesn’t feel like an Elseworlds. It feels more like a particularly unusual and accurate adaptation into another medium. There was nothing about their characterizations that were changed for the sake of change; in Byrne's head, he's probably writing about the "real" Superman and Batman. It feels like a deliberately classic, "original recipe" take, like the intention behind the All-Star books. It's a characteristic of the best Elseworlds, like James Robinson's the Golden Age: they don't feel like Elseworlds.

This felt more like Superman than the Superman I've known in some time. This miniseries featured a Superman who was a gadgeteer-tinkerer, who in his spare time, builds robots. He also enjoys flying into space and battling alien invaders, and if he has a problem on earth he flies into space to see if aliens have figured it out. Byrne's predilection for science fiction, as a big fan of Star Trek, really helps him "get it" here. That's the closest take yet to how I envision the character.

I wasn't a huge fan of some of John Byrne's decisions in his Superman reboot Man of Steel back in '86, but he gets the classic, Schwartz-era incarnation. When doing Man of Steel, I think it went to John Byrne's head he was able to change things and go off-model, and he's even said as much. If he was placed to draw and script "classic model" Superman, he can do a decent job.

A lot of people blame Byrne for things he didn't do. He was accused of stripping Superman of a lot of imaginative baggage. Actually, the whole point of "Man of Steel" was, it was a skeleton framework, a story with many deliberate gaps set over the course of years. So if someone really, really wants to bring in Vartox or the Superman Robots, there's room in the back for it. (Byrne's Superman run was filled with traditionally weird Byrne tics that didn't help matters, like that unpleasant Metal Men team up where Superman tells them they're just robots and not real people at all.)

Likewise, the Batman here feels about right. Batman has a terrible problem, which is taking himself so goddamn seriously, to the point the imagination and adventure were stripped out. Batman, like the Shadow, always had some spooky classic horror movie/art deco atmosphere that made him cool, which made the Bride of Frankenstein and Universal inspired stylization of Tim Burton perfect for bringing him to screen.

It's unfortunate Batman is defined by the high-concept draining Nolan movies these days. I applaud them for being great films, but all the same, they're movies I RESPECT, but I don't LOVE them. Does that make sense?


Knightwing had to be my favorite new character in the series. Raised by Batman's son, he's secretly Superman's powerless grandson (a sign of how oddly incestuous and interconnected the Superman and Batman family tree became towards the end of the series).

He had a funny idea behind him: eventually, as time went on, sooner or later, one of the family members of the Batman of the 1980s-1990s would be a Stan Lee-written, Marvel Comics style hero, an acrobatic, bold costumed athlete like Hawkeye or Daredevil, who unlike the serious Superman and Batman, taunts his foes with smartaleck comments. Like Captain America and Daredevil (but unlike Batman), he fights mainly superpowered foes. He's the kind of character Crackerjack from Astro City was created to comment on.

If you called him a wiseass, he'd probably take it as a compliment. He talks in a normal way of speaking, unlike the "Great Scott! I've got to act fast!" way Bruce Campbell-chin heroes like Superman and Batman talk. Knightwing is more friendly, earnest, low-drama, subdued and likable compared to the comparatively high-strung Hawkeye or Daredevil, and you get the feeling that Knightwing, unlike Captain America, is a lot younger and isn't a macho, savvy guy who knows everything. He responds to the shocking discoveries around him with an Englehart-like "man, can you believe this shit?" that seems to be the ending of every Avengers story from the 1970s on.

In Generations II, we even learn Knightwing fell in love with a woman he sent to prison for 10 years. I ask you, could that type of coincidence-dependent yet emotion-wringing complication BE more Marvel?

Knightwing is a great character to end the first series on. His name wasn't chosen by accident. Originally, Nightwing was an identity used by Superman in the Bottled City of Kandor. Despite the fact Superman doesn't have any more powers than any other Kandorian, he can't ignore crime, so he created an identity inspired by Batman. Years later, Dick Grayson adopted the Nightwing identity full time. If the ending of the story was to be a merging or blending of the Superman and Batman line, this was a great place to start.


Johnny Redbeard has a rep for being nuts, but he has an attitude to comics I agree with. He doesn't buy the cynicism death doesn't mean death as long as a character's face is used to sell beach towels. (Forget Ra's al-Ghul's Lazarus Pits. The secret to immortality is merchandizing.)

This all but makes it inevitable his best work would be on non-canon side projects where dead means dead and change means change without affecting profits from action figures and lunchboxes.

There's a notion of permanence that makes everything feel more real. When people die, they stay dead. And interestingly enough, Gold Kryptonite shows up in this series more often than regular green Kryptonite does.

Generations II – DVD Deleted Scenes/Extras

The world in Generations was interesting enough to want more. So, here comes Generations II. Unlike the first Generations, Generations II doesn't have the spine of a unifying central story. It's a collection of unrelated things that happened, which often have zero payoff.

What's the difference between a story and a bunch of things that happen? A story has unity. Things that appear have payoff later. A story has a unifying central theme (theme is just a fancy sounding term that means what the story is about, what it has to say, the thesis statement), one that achieves resolution at the end.

Generations II doesn't achieve any of those things. Set in and around the original story, it answers questions like whether or not the Dick Grayson sixties Batman had a Batgirl, and what Wonder Woman was doing all through the original Generations. It even takes care of unfinished business from the original, like making sure Alfred's ghost moves on to his eternal rest. In other words, it's not a story or even a sequel, it's a collection of the comic book equivalent of DVD deleted scenes and extras.

Despite it being a collection of events without payoff and not a real story, it's nonetheless interesting if you found the world of the original interesting. It gives more character development to characters given short shrift, like how moody and vengeful Batman's son got after his wife Superwoman died, and gave us more information on Knightwing.

In general, it's good supplementary material worth reading to fans of the original Generations....until the ending goes somewhere totally terrible.

Generations I had the occasional dumb ideas. The worst is that Bruce Wayne was Robin in his teenage years (say what?), but the really terrible stuff would have to wait until Generations II.

What comes next? Spoilers, but it's so dumb it should be spoiled:

Bruce Wayne's parents knew about their fate, but went to their fate willingly, knowing their sacrifice would create the Batman.

In the annals of disastrously immoral choices insufferably presented to the reader as a "heroic sacrifice," this, far and away, takes the cake. It's right up there with One More Day and Spider-Man giving up his marriage in order to save his aunt's life. Martha and Thomas Wayne consigned themselves to death to leave their only child an orphan, angry and filled with grief his entire life? To do what? Create a superhero and prevent him from living a normal life? Does that sound selfless, for a parent to leave their child an orphan? Does that sound like a choice any parent would ever make?

If you have children, I ask…does that sound at all like the choice YOU would make? (I might be wrong here, but I understand John Byrne is not a parent, but is a step-parent.)

Does anyone like this idea? Anyone? I doubt the groveliest Byrne sycophant in the world, the biggest unhealthy lickspittle enabler in the delusional insulated bubble of the Byrne Robotics Forum, would look at that and say, "wow, that's cool. It's like Byrne found a missing puzzle piece that makes everything we know fit retroactively. It makes the Waynes look so selfless!" I can't even imagine even the wretches at Byrne Robotics defending this.

The amazing thing is, it's not even true. You don't even need the Waynes to die to make Batman, at least according to Alan Brennert in only one of the most famous and often reprinted stories ever.

"You Didn't Say 'Simon Says!'" Morality

I don't think Byrne entirely understands the morality of honesty. A shocking number of plot points in this series involve villains forcing heroes to make promises, and then the good guys win by finding "fine print" ways to break their promises, like a scheming contract lawyer. I kept expecting Superman to tell Luthor, "ha ha, Lex, it doesn't count, because you didn't say Simon Says!"

It's a characteristic of moral midgets: they believe keeping your word, no matter what the cost, no matter how circumstances change, no matter what side effects happen, is the height of moral behavior. It isn't. One of Fritz Lang's best movies, "Kriemhild's Revenge," was about how, because of an oath and promise, the Nibelungs' closed ranks to protect a murderer from his just fate. The fact they protected a killer just because "they promised " wasn't presented as "honorable," but a pointless, thickheaded waste that led to everyone's death.

But, okay, let's agree for now it's important to keep a promise even if it's to a lowlife like Luthor and the Joker in a circumstance where he has your pregnant wife prisoner. Fine. Even if that's the case, how does that jibe with the "aha, you forgot to say I couldn't…" petty legalism Superman uses to "outsmart" bad guys?

How is playing "Simon Says" in any way moral behavior?

It's totally okay to lie to evil people to save lives, even if you're Captain America or Superman. Likewise, it's morally wrong to tell the truth if the consequences of that are way, way worse ethical breaches than just dishonesty.

Heck, there was one great Avengers story where competition junkie villain Imus Champion captures the Avengers and, unless they agree to face him on his terms, he'll unleash nuclear weapons to destroy innocent people? How did the Avengers save the day? Firestar used ants to get a message out to Hank Pym, who wrecked Imus Champion's equipment during the contest. Imus got angry that this wasn't either fair play or sporting because the Avengers called outside help instead of a fair contest, but the Avengers say, "we do whatever it takes to save lives."

Generations III – Skip This One

Generations III tries to weave a story over a thousand years, but it ends with an enraging "it was all a dream" finale that meant the entire series didn't matter.

Because centuries of time pass between the stories, essentially, everything important that happens, happens in between and we hear about it in flashback.

Like all terrible stories DC did in the 2000s, it involves the New Gods in a central role. Guys, this stuff is just not that cool.

I've never read a story in my entire life, where, literally almost everything that happens just ends up not mattering. Superman having children with Beautiful Dreamer, who Darkseid kills and are never brought up again?

Nobody seemed to know why this series was made, so why should we come up with reasons it should be read?

Things to Ponder: 

  • Who the heck is Bruce Wayne's wife? The book never reveals, except we know it isn't Talia, because we see her when the story gets to the 1970s. 

  • Batman's 30th Century starship (Batmobile? Batship?) looks like a Romulan Bird-of-Prey. Maybe the Romulans do custom jobs.

  • Batman's silver-streak hair is so cool looking, it should be his permanent look. 

  • Johnny Redbeard really dove in deep into his Silver Age Imaginary Story collection to bring up the scenarios here. Batman got permanent superpowers in Generations III, and the possibilitron in Generations II came from an actual story about a future predicting machine of Superman's invention. It's like a window into an alternate universe where people actually remembered these stories happened and used them. DC has long-term memory loss issues with their continuity, especially compared to Marvel. 

Final Thought

All in all, the first miniseries feels right because of one reason. It's amazing to forget Superman and Batman have been around for a really long time. Here's what the first Batmobile looked like. 


David Morefield said...

I enjoyed the first couple issues of the first series, but I'm not a fan of "monster Lex", or more accurately of post-Crisis (or Generations) Superman's total inability to defeat him in any way, so by the 'Nam issue I'd lost interest, and the tacked-on fairy-tale ending seemed goofy to me. Never even looked at he sequels.

My favorite "Elseworlds" Byrne project was the Batman-Captain America crossover, which was just wonderful (and had a cool twist ending that probably inspired Generations.)

"What If" was a brilliant concept -- appeal to Marvel zombies' obsession with continuity -- but it usually fell flat in execution, and degenerated into a predictable formula: everything ends in tragedy. It's like Marvel was saying, "you want to know what it would have been like if things had happened differently? It would've been TERRIBLE, that's what! Now shut up and trust us to tell our stories the right way the first time, because any second-guessing can only end in disaster!"

Julian Perez said...

People say Byrne's Lex Luthor was based on the Kingpin, but I find them subtly different. The Kingpin was John Gotti: everyone knows he's a crook, but he couldn't be touched. Lex Luthor was Bernie Madoff: he seemed like a genius and squeaky clean humanitarian, but under the surface, everything was was rotten.

I don't know if I agree that this take on Lex probably was damaging to the long-term health of Superman, because he couldn't put his archenemy behind bars. In 50 years of Marvel Comics, Doctor Doom has never been captured.

I missed Lex Luthor having robots and secret underground lairs, and taunting Superman by hologram when he lures the Man of Steel into traps. I'm very glad they eventually brought back that characterization.

Mark Waid in Birthright had a great hodgepodge of both, and how one lends to the other. I think he created a workable composite (it stands to reason an evil superscientist with high tech WOULD be the world's richest man).

But what do you want to bet the creators of Man of Steel will go with the evil Bernie Madoff, and not the guy in purple with robots outsmarting Superman with holograms and traps?

(I've been meaning to write a Man of Steel review, but I haven't quite felt like sitting down to pop a vein, yet.)

"What If" was a brilliant concept -- appeal to Marvel zombies' obsession with continuity -- but it usually fell flat in execution, and degenerated into a predictable formula: everything ends in tragedy.

One of my favorite games to play with What-If is the "Least Valuable Player" award. Who is it that's the first to die, meaninglessly? It almost might be renamed the Hawkeye award, since it's nearly always him. In fact, Hawkeye dying in Elseworlds is a sign things are getting serious.

I don't know, I kind of liked the upbeat ending of "What if Jane Foster had the Power of Thor?" issue. She was such an unpopular character, that the way she left that comic in normal continuity was incredibly mean spirited, with Stan and Jack going out of their way to show she's not worthy of the gods of Asgard. In this one, she got to live in Asgard and found love (not with Thor).

Also, I hope I don't spoil the ending of "What if Nick Fury Fought World War II in Outer Space?" ("Quit yer goldbrickin', we got us a space-war to win!") if I say the good guys won!

David Morefield said...

The great thing about Nick Fury in space (at least on the cover) is that he smoked his cigar inside his space helmet! :-)

I don't know that "Madoff Lex" was "damaging to the long-term health of Superman," but he was certainly a major factor in my deciding to stop collecting. I wouldn't compare him to Dr Doom, who had his own warped sense of honor and was in a twisted way even noble. Modern Lex has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and the take-away of 90s DC in general always seemed to be "pure evil wins against wishy-washy good every time." If I want to see rotten people screw the world over while nice guys stand around wringing their hands impotently, I'll just watch the news, thanks much.

I LOVED how they got rid of Jane Foster. As big a relief as it was for me to be rid of her, I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been for readers of the time, who'd had to put up with her much longer (I'm lucky enough to be able to devour this material in big lumps). As far as I'm concerned, the whole "human guise" angle of Thor was ill-advised from day one, and even by Stan Lee standards the "tortured romance" subplot in THOR was unbearably inane. Simonson ditched Blake, that Freddy Freeman wannabe, in his very first issue, which was our first sign we were in for something awesome.

The only thing that would've been cooler than Jane's exit would have been if Betty Brant had been hit by a falling bus.

Julian Perez said...

So, you mean he was such an evil heel it was frustrating to never see Luthor get his comeuppance? I guess that makes sense.

There was one moment in one of Roger Stern's issues of Death of Superman where Lex, aware Superman was dead, decided to straight up choke to death his personal trainer...for no reason, just because Superman was dead and he could do whatever he likes.

As for Jane, I didn't like her, but I didn't like how she left, either. I like to joke about how Wesley Crusher should have been thrown out an airlock, but if they actually did that, that'd be mean and disturbing.

I once asked the screenwriter on the Thor movie (the very fan-approachable Zack Stentz, who rumor has it will write Star Trek 3 in a disastrous course correction) why there was no Don Blake in the movie, and he told me, "people don't accept two actors playing the same character." I have trouble remembering a time where that's true, actually!

David Morefield said...

It was more than frustrating to see Lex never punished. As a storytelling rule, once you create a certain level of animosity towards an antagonist, the reader's going to want some kind of release eventually, some reassurance that justice, or at least karma, will catch up. Even Doom had set-backs, and was now and then demonstrably outwitted and out-fought by Reed and the gang (even if he did slip away in the end), but for the life of me I can't remember even a temporary victory for Superman. Eventually you have to ask who the star of the book really is, and which world view is being endorsed.

The problem with the Byrne/Wolfman Lex is that he had to remain "clean" to the outside world, which meant he always had to "win" (to the extent "winning" is never being held accountable). Eventually they broke that cycle, but only after he'd been President of the United States, a development so insanely over-the-top I still can't believe they went there.

Jane Foster got what she always wanted; a Blake-lookalike doctor husband and the white picket fence. So don't weep for her. I only wish they'd write her off in the next film for the much hotter Sif, but I know that won't happen. She may not be any more interesting than her comic book counterpart, but comic book Jane didn't have Natalie Portman's box office clout to back her up (plus Natalie's eye candy while comic Jane was...well...a Kirby female).

I agree people will never accept multiple actors playing the same character, and so does Peter Capaldi.

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Unknown said...

To avoid this sounding like one massive rant let me first say this: this was a good review (of Generations I in particular) and I enjoyed reading it, but I do have some major objections:

I don't think you understand the concept of Elseworlds. It is not supposed to be alternative history and continuity-masturbation/enforcement. The point is to allow authors to write stories with DC's characters and concepts outside the confines of continuity. Complaining that they don't have a single point of divergence from the canon DCU makes as little sense to me as complaining the the entire DCU doesn't have the same to our history. It was never meant to be alternative history to begin with, in some ways it is more like the exact opposite.

A good example is one you brought up: Red Son. In it Krypton is revealed to be earth in the far future, this is flat-out impossible in the main DCU, but makes perfect sense within the confines of Red Son's story.

But what do I know, I actually like reading poetry and hate writing it.

"But, okay, let's agree for now it's important to keep a promise even if it's to a lowlife like Luthor and the Joker in a circumstance where he has your pregnant wife prisoner. Fine. Even if that's the case, how does that jibe with the "aha, you forgot to say I couldn't…" petty legalism Superman uses to "outsmart" bad guys?"

Am I forgetting something major here or is this not what happened at all? He wasn't limited by a promise he made to them (I don't even remember him making any such promises). He was limited because they had kryptonite. And he did actually lie to them; by having Batman and Robin pretend to be him until he got a chance to neutralize the gold kryptonite from a safe distance.

"Like all terrible stories DC did in the 2000s, it involves the New Gods in a central role."

Are you talking about Simonson's Orion, Morrison's Final Crisis or both? And this is a Byrne comic. It is something of an unwritten rule by now that anything DC he is allowed to work on for a extended amount of time will eventually include the New Gods.

"but it ends with an enraging "it was all a dream" finale that meant the entire series didn't matter."
It is the end of a non-canon series. Ultimately nothing matters after this anyways. None of this is real and none of it will effect continuity. I fail to see the problem, or how this delegitimizes the entire story. No Elseworlds nor What-ifs "actually" happens anyways.

I do agree that a lot of tings that happen don't ultimately have much effect on the overarching storyline, but that is a complaint that can be raised against the first two Generations just as much as the third.

Unknown said...

Batman's wife was Catwoman..

Jess Nukem said...

Silver St Cloud was Batman's wife. Catwoman retired in Generations 2, it was referenced in that way.

I know this post is really old but I just finished Generations 2 last night and I liked it. It was entertaining and the artwork was terrific.
Julian, your comparison for Lex to Bernie Madoff is spot on. I would have thought of Steve Jobs as another, brilliant inventor and philanthropist but a real tyrant away from public view.

Doc Savage said...

The Metal Men are just robots and not real people. True fact.

Lee O. said...

I love G1, G2 is just like you said, unfocused and to me the 11 year jumps also start to feel jarring for some reason. The 1920 chapter is kind of terrible in its implications. G3 started out good, but completely lost track of the through-line in its second half and had a very disappointing ending. Also, it had some awful implications, such as the reveal that the Lazarus Pit had been „fixed“ and no longer causes madness, yet they don’t share its immense medical benefits with the world.

To anyone who hasn’t read this: start with G1, if you liked it and want to see more about this world, continue G2. If you are a completionist or a huge Byrne fan or just loved G1 and G2 so much, you NEED more of this world, then track down G3. Remember, it has never been collected.
For me, I love G1, but the overall trilogy is a guilty pleasure of mine despite some of the really dumb stuff in G2 and G3.