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Len Wein and the Kuberts bridge DC’s generation gap with Legacies

from Legacies #1 by Andy Kubert

from Legacies #1 by Andy Kubert

DC’s week of non-stop announcements keeps on keepin’ on: At CBR, Dan DiDio has announced Legacies, a seven-issue miniseries spotlighting the “five generations” of DC Universe superheroes. Written by Len Wein and featuring art from a rotating crew, the series kicks off in May 2010 with a Golden Age issue penciled by Andy Kubert and inked by his father, Joe Kubert.

The thing that struck me about the project, aside from how integral “legacy heroes” are seen as being to the current DCU, is the “five generations” characterization. Sayeth DiDio:

Legacies is a series that breaks down, over its chapters, the five generations of the DCU. They’re very concise generations, each with a beginning and end, and what you see is the various incarnations of our characters evolve, change and grow as the generations pass on.

Now, as I’d understood it — and I admit I’m not a hardcore DC buff, but I think my nerd credentials speak for themselves — there were four generations of DC superheroes. In terms of present continuity, you have the guys who fought during World War II, then the generation headed by Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the “Big Seven,” then the first wave of sidekicks and heirs, then the second wave of sidekicks and heirs. In current team terms, that’s roughly the Justice Society, the Justice League, the Titans, and the Teen Titans; in Flash terms, just to pick the easiest chain of legacy heroes to follow, it’s Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West and Bart Allen.

But DiDio and Wein are firmly establishing an even-earlier generation of do-gooders, more properly dubbed “mystery men” than “superheroes” — guys like the Golden Age Sandman or the star of Legacies #1, the Crimson Avenger. In other words, suits rather than Spandex. I can see how that would work: It tips a hat to the pulps in a fashion similar to DC’s First Wave — and it leaves me wondering if the series will establish antecedents to the established patriarchs of multi-generational hero family trees like the various Flashes or Green Lanterns. Do any of you DC experts out there have any thoughts?



I’m still not sure where the fifth generation comes from. Yes, the original Sandman and Crimson Avenger were pulpish Shadow-like characters in suits, capes, hats, and masks. (By the way, when DC was publishing Shadow comics in the ’70s, it established the Shadow on Earth-1 as one of Batman’s inspirations.) However, both the Sandman and the Crimson Avenger were contemporaries of the other Golden Agers, and both joined Golden Age teams (the JSA and the Seven Soldiers of Victory, respectively).

Now, post-Crisis On Infinite Earths DC has tried a couple of times to establish various Golden Age characters as “the first superhero.” I think the GA Flash got the honor at one point, but by the mid-’90s DC had settled on the Crimson Avenger. If the dividing line between “mystery-men” and “superhero” separates cape-and-suit from spandex, then I suppose the cape-and-suit Crimson Avenger could be the first mystery-man and the Flash could be the first superhero. However, as far as I know they don’t belong to different generations in the sense that there’s a big age difference.

And there are (arguably) antecedents to the Flash/Jay Garrick and Green Lantern/Alan Scott, but they’re a little further back in DC history and not really connected to the legacies. Max Mercury started off in the Old West before his speed caused him to time-travel; and the Green Lantern: Dragon Lord miniseries from several years back told the story of an Oan power ring and battery landing on Earth in feudal Japan.

So there you go.

There was another age established in the series Chase between the Golden and Silver Ages that featured the Justice Experience.

I just assumed that the fifth generation was the current younger sidekicks like Damian Wayne and Lian Harper – but I could be wrong.

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