Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Judging by the layers of dust, these comics are three hundred years old. Or I'm a slob.

Last Saturday's episode of the Batman was a rerun of "Artifacts", but it was one of the series' best. Set over a thousand years in the future, archaeologists discover the legendary Batcave. Then the story flashes back to an older, Dark Knight Returns style Batman (with a Robin-turned-Nightwing and Batgirl-turned-Oracle) as he fights Mr. Freeze for the last time. Beaten, Freeze puts himself into cryogenic sleep; coming out of it a thousand years later and kicking the hell out of a Batman-less future.

All pretty cool, but I knew I had seen that somewhere before. No, not the Dark Knight Returns business, the excavation of the Batcave. (Hell, I have the feeling I've seen it more than once, but we'll let that go.) And I finally found that issue again this weekend:
I shudder to think of what the future makes of my basement.
Let's be blunt: short of making every archaeological dig the equivalent of the first fifteen minutes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, bold-faced lies and pandering to the lowest common denominator are probably the only way to make archeology number 1 in the sweeps.

At this point in Legion of Super Heroes history, Tenzil Kem, the former Matter Eater Lad, had been serving for several years as a senator on his homeworld Bismol, having been drafted into service. (As many have noted, drafting qualified senators into public office doesn't seem like that bad of a system...unless you're the one press-ganged into Congress, I suppose.) Tenzil thus spends a lot of time and taxpayer money...dicking off, in hopes of being released from service, but also as a cover: no one takes a buffoon like him seriously, which actually lets him get away with quite a bit.
Around panel seven, I'm always expecting Tenzil to take a bite out of that Batarang, no matter how many times I read this.
Archeology isn't an exact science, and while the real archaeologists seem to have a vague idea what's going on in the dig, it's pretty easy to imagine they have a lot wrong as well. Makes you wonder what else we, and science, think we know about the past that's not even close...
If I ever get back in time, I will make it my business to leave 'sitty-prints' everywhere I possibly can.
OK, maybe not...

Nightcrawler panels from duh, Nightcrawler #4, story and pencils by Dave Cockrum, finishes by Josef Rubinstein. Everything else from Legion of Super Heroes #11 (volume 4), by Tom & Mary Bierbaum (Tenzil script and Legion story assist), Keith Giffen (Legion story and pencils), Craig Brasfield (Tenzil pencils), and Al Gordon (inks and Legion story assist). Whew!
What's ancient Khund for 'completely boned'?
Elsewhere in this issue, in one of my favorite bits ever, Jo Nah, formerly known as Ultra Boy, picks himself up after being blasted by Legionnaire-killer Roxxas, halfway across the planet. Or so he thinks: Roxxxas used the 'chronal howitzer' to send him about 4000 years into the past, and out of his face. Jo's invulnerability lets him survive the trip (and later, a fiery re-entry into earth's atmosphere) but he can't break the time barrier like Superboy or Mon-el could. He does run into another DC superhero back in ancient Egypt, but it's not as friendly as you might think...


SallyP said...

Man, I find Legion stories to be confusing.

On the other hand, Matter Eater Lad is from the planet Bismol? As in "Pepto"?

Tee hee!

Rich said...

Man, if Devil Dinosaur had that kind of dialog, it would have lasted more than nine issues. Must find a way to use "sitty-prints" in everyday conversation.