“Inspired by the Highly Anticipated Game!” the cover to the first issue trumpets, which could be considered a recommendation or a warning depending on your inclinations. Me, I’m more than a little wary of comics where the plot mechanics are dictated by the demands of the game instead of, you know, character, but I still retained some curiosity about the 26-issue DC Universe Online Legends. It’s got old pro Marv (Crisis on Infinite Earths) Wolfman collaborating on the script with current fan fave Tony Bedard. The former helped set the template for Event Comics like this, after all — so how lame could it be?
Fairly lame, it turns out. The debut issue opens on a sequence designed to get the reader’s attention: a scarred Lex Luthor, encased in a robotic battle suit, defeating his long-time foe Superman. “Superman will not live again!” he shouts, aiming some sort of kryptonite-y spear at the Man of Steel, but we’ve all read that ‘un before. The bald super-villain has teamed up with the evil alien computer Brainiac, wreaking havoc on Earth, forcing both superheroes and villains to fight against an invading hoard of “exobytes.” Smart guy Lex has never even considered the possibility that Brainiac will betray him (really?) and consequently doesn’t have any contingency back-ups when it all goes to hell. I supposed we’re meant to accept that the guy’s super ego is his undoing, but this reader didn’t quite buy it.
As illustrated by Divers Hands (top-billed Howard Porter, Livesay, Adriana Melo, Norman Lee), this all looks suitably action game-y with plenty of effective devastation ruin shots: the focus stays on Luthor though most of the debut issue, with only a few incidental shots of the superhero Legends that we expect to see from the title. When the spotlight does turn on DC’s heroes, I found myself missing a stellar crowd-controller like George Perez at the helm. There’s a full-pager at the end of the first issue, for instance, where you can barely tell Black Canary and Power Girl’s facial features apart. It had me yearning for a stronger, more individuality attuned artist — which I suppose is too much to expect for an obviously committee-crafted work like this.