Cosmic Boy (1986) #1-4

cosmic2bboy2b01A while back, I began a conscious effort to collect crossovers related to the 1986 DC crossover Legends.  I think the idea was that I was going to read every single issue in order of the “chapter” number on the cover and then probably sell the entire set on eBay.  That never came to pass, as I got distracted by other collecting pursuits and some of the issues–the Detective Comics issue, for example–were a pain in the ass to track down.  Plus, as I read through the crossovers that I do own, it doesn’t seem to be vital to enjoyment of the event, and I don’t think I really need to buy the rest.

Whereas at least a couple of the crossover issues are Legends-adjacent or that event’s equivalent of “red skies” crossovers, Cosmic Boy’s four-issue miniseries is specifically labeled a “spin-off” instead of a crossover.  It features Cosmic Boy and his significant other, Shadow Lass, who are trapped in the twentieth century and are trying to get back to the thirtieth century but are running into trouble with the country’s recent ban on superheroes (hence the Legends spin-off banner) and also keep running into obstacles within the timestream as they attempt to return to the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Behind all of this is a familiar LOSH villain, the Time Trapper, whom our heroes face off against at the end of time in the series’ final issue, but before that, Cosmic Boy and Shadow Lass are frequently bothered by the way the timeline of the twentieth century is playing out before them.  It seems, as they discover early on, that certain historical events didn’t play out the way that they thought they did.  At first, they chalk this up to historical records of the twentieth century being very spotty a thousand years later, but when Superman doesn’t recognize them, they realize something is obviously wrong.  They know Kal-El.  He’s had dozens of adventures with them during his time as Superboy.  How does he not know who they are?

The answer to that is hinted at in a few panels involving the Time Trapper, but it is ultimately found in the next storyline of the Legion book as well as upcoming Superman books, which is a short crossover storyline that does answer (albeit in a complicated way) the question of why the Superboy and the Legion stories are in continuity when according to John Byrne’s Man of Steel, Superman was never Superboy.

While I think the public reacting to the presence of Cosmic Boy and his heroics is pretty good and definitely in line with what had been going on over in the Legends title, I don’t know how much of that had to be in here except to show where in time these two characters are (hence, I guess, the “spin-off” banner).  There are a few moments where Paul Levitz has Cosmic Boy and Shadow Lass recoil in horror at or look down upon medicine, technlogy, and fashion of 1986 in a way that’s very Star Trek IV, but it works and makes the characters likable, especially for someone like me who is, at best, an acquaintance of the Legion.

Keith Giffen, Ernie Colon, and Bob Smith are on art chores here and the panel layouts are very Giffen, especially the Giffen that I’ve seen in Ambush Bug and would see in what I’ve read of the 5YL Legion.  Colon’s pencils and Smith’s inks over Giffen’s breakdowns work better than I thought they would, too, and the art conveys both the humor and serious beats of this series.

This is, at least according to Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, the first post-Crisis appearance of Cosmic Boy, and I get the general idea that the true post-Crisis begins with this crossover, as while there is mention of the “Great Crisis” screwing up the timestream in some way or another, there isn’t any mention of a multiverse.  The Superboy story over the course of Legion and Superman is one that I’ve wanted to read for quite a while and I may see what I can find online or in a cheap bin at a con (although IIRC, those Legion issues don’t come cheap).  But if I’m being honest, I’m more interested in what’s going to happen to Cosmic Boy and his friends starting in 1989 and may begin searching for those books.

My copies were bought on the very cheap, part of Shortboxtober, and at least one of the comics had the lingering effects of water damage, so there’s very little chance of recouping my investment.  But I wouldn’t trash it, as someone else might find this a fun read.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?


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