DC Comics has had to push the reset button on many of their titles over the course of the publisher’s history and (more than once) on the entire shared universe that their heroes exist in. Legacies provides a guide of sorts to where the chronological events of their universe now fall. As the timeline gets convoluted and new editorial directions give new writers a chance to arrange the puzzle pieces a little differently than they were, Legacies is an overview of how the picture looks as of 2010.
In this, the fifth issue of the series, writer Len Wein presents the tales of the 1980’s. Signaling a change in the tone of the books, the fact that the stakes were raised for the superhero community is shown through the emergence of darker aspects of heroes and villains alike. The joker is killing people now, The Spectre is now an instrument of horrifying vengeance, sidekicks have grown up and into heroes in their own right, and new crops of participants enter into things. All of this culminates with things getting serious enough to where The Crisis presents itself; a threat literally so intense that it attacks all of existence.
With these events being “told” to the reader through the story of one man’s recollection of the way things happened, Wein does a great job of pointing out the hot spots for those who didn’t get a chance to read these books when they were published. Bringing George Perez (and Walt Simonson in the Adam Strange backup) on board for the artwork gives this issue of Legacies an accurate feel that the earlier issues weren’t necessarily able to get. As both artists were very prominent in comics when the original publication of these moments occurred, it adds to the homage in ways that the recap of The Golden Age of comics couldn’t do (since those people are mostly no longer living).
Though this is a nice book and a fun tribute for those that love the history of DC Comics, this issue really settles in and solidifies the series as “Cliff’s Notes” where the start of the series teased that it might be a little more. If you like walking down memory lane in this way, or these events are unfamiliar to you, then Legacies works much better as a read. At this point though, someone would probably do better to just track the actual back issues down and enjoy the stories in full. Most of the books referenced in Legacies #5 aren’t all that hard to track down if one decided to look, and I’m guessing that you wouldn’t have to spend a fortune to do so like you would for the earlier works that Legacies recapped in issues 1-4.
Everyone involved delivered a great book here (and I really hope they’ll forgive me for this because I really do admire all involved) but it’s my recommendation above that’s the reason I’m giving this a C-. It’s not that the book isn’t good enough to recommend to folks that are interested (it is) but by giving readers a reminder of how many fun storylines took place back then, I think they should just seek out the back issues, read them, love or hate them, and not worry about if they fit into the current continuity of the books being published now. Like most of the heroes that this book highlights, good stories are timeless.