It’s pretty amusing that Brad Meltzer’s one-shot, Last Will and Testament, shipped the same week as Superman Beyond, because this is also very much a meta-fictive text, although one can debate exactly what Meltzer is trying to say with the meta-fictive commentary – you can see it as a bit of an apology for Identity Crisis, but since Meltzer clearly is not sorry for Identity Crisis at all, it is better seen as closure of the Identity Crisis mentality, and perhaps not coincidentally (although I think it is a coincidence, as the Identity Crisis closure stuff is not really THAT important in the comic) it happens to be a good comic book.
The main thrust of the comic is essentially a re-do of Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1, only if Blue Beetle doesn’t get his head blown off at the end.
It is the minor hero attempting to play a role besides cannon fodder.
It stars Geo-Force in an attempt to bring down Deathstroke the Terminator for the death of Geo-Force’s sister (and the recent problems with Geo-Force’s powers, which has really been one of the worst designed subplots, as it has barely been addressed since Meltzer first brought it up, and now he finally comes back a year or so later to address it as though it has been on the front burner for all this time).
In a lot of ways, this comic reads like the love letter Identity Crisis was billed as, and I think there’s an EXCELLENT reason for that, as this book is about the comics that Meltzer ACTUALLY grew up reading (as opposed to the Silver Age comics that were around before he was born, let alone reading comics) – Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s Teen Titans and Mike Barr’s Outsiders – mostly the Titans.
Intermixed with Geo-Force’s hunt for Deathstroke (this is all going down during Final Crisis, where there is just the mood that SOMEthing dark is going to be happening, and it is affecting every DC hero) are two notable stories…
1. Rocky from the Challengers of the Unknown has, since Identity Crisis, taken on a role of a confessor for superheroes (it is actually quite cheezy, but at least it leads to some good dialogue)
2. We see various shots of various heroes coming to grips with the incoming darkness, and almost all of these scenes are drawn by the legendary Joe Kubert, whose son Adam draws the rest of the comic (and does a pretty good job, even if he takes some odd design liberties that I do not think helps the story – he’s a bit too bombastic for what is really more of a slow-paced comic). The senior Kubert pages are GORGEOUS, including this super sweet homage to the cover of Batman #1, where Batman, Robin and Nightwing swing into action and we see Batman and Nightwing re-enact the cover to Batman #1, with Robin swinging behind them. Very nice.
But most of the comic is just showing us Geo-Force – his background, his past, his thoughts on his sister, his interaction with his former Outsiders teammate, Black Lightning, and his hatred for Slade Wilson.
Meltzer is drawing on a lot of Titans and Outsiders’ continuity for this story, and it leads to a strong fight between Geo-Force and Deathstroke.
As bloody and as dark as this comic was, it ended up being a happy tale – and one of the better Meltzer comics I’ve read.
EDITED TO ADD: In retrospect, that really wasn’t much of a recommendation, was it? That it surprised me that it wasn’t bad? That’s not a real recommendation, is it? I don’t think I feel right leaving that there, so let me change it to:
Slightly Not Recommended.
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