Here’s Why DC Comics Will Screw Up Their ‘Legion’ Revival

 

The Fort Smith Times-Record published a fluff-coated column about DC’s upcoming revival of the Legion of Super-Heroes ignoring the bad output of some of the key contributors involved:

DC Comics is reviving the Legion of Super-Heroes with some pretty big names. And, judging by the reaction on the Internet, it’s going to make a legion of readers pretty happy.

 

Since one of the writers happens to be a certain somebody who messed up with Superman lately, that’s why only the mindless apologists will be happy.

The LSH first appeared in 1958, with a throwaway story in “Adventure Comics,” then headlined by Superboy. “Throwaway story” isn’t as much of an insult as it sounds; in those days, DC didn’t pay much attention to its on-page history or characters’ backstories — what today is called “continuity” — and every story was seen as disposable.

This attitude was based on the common wisdom of the time, which assumed that readership was mostly pre-adolescent males, and would turn over every three years or so. DC characters never seemed to remember their own adventures, because it was assumed the readers wouldn’t either.

So when Saturn Girl, Lightning Boy (later “Lad”) and Cosmic Boy — their names were actually on their shirts for easy reading — showed up in late ’50s Smallville and announced they were from a teenage superhero club 1,000 years in the future, it’s unlikely anyone at the DC offices expected newspaper columnists to be writing about them 61 years later. But its message of diversity and inclusion — even Superboy wants to fit in with his peers! — hit a nerve, and fan reaction ensured the Legion wasn’t a one-off.

 

If they’re trying to make it sound like the modern left’s idea of D&I, that’s pretty low. It was anything but the forced diversity and inclusion advocated by the left today, which remains extremely selective (skin color and LGBT ideology), and doesn’t even take into account Portuguese, Armenians, Ethiopians, French, Burmese, and Dutch. Not even residents of Luxembourg. So what’s their point? The claim “throwaway” wasn’t an insult is decidedly phony too, as is the whole claim previous adventures weren’t remembered, because the Flash and Green Lantern’s rogues’ galleries kept making sequel appearances. The column does note though:

 

The letters began pouring in after the first Legion appearance, and Super-titles editor Mort Weisinger ordered up more Legion stories. With each installment, the cast expanded and the 30th century milieu was further fleshed out. Anticipating “Star Trek,” which arrived in 1966, the Legion strip showed a happy, high-tech future. That there was a future at all was a pretty reassuring thought during the Cold War, much less one where we all lived in peace. And while the early Legion writers’ idea of aliens was “people who look like us, only maybe with antennae or something,” there was a wide variety of skin color — including orange, blue and green.

″[Legion] was one of the only ongoing science fiction series [at the time] that put forward a positive future,”said famed Legion artist/writer Keith Giffen to Newsarama.com. “That made it stand out … There were threats and all that came roaring in, but for the most part, it was flight rings and snazzy headquarters and a fun future.”

 

Similar to Superman’s world, and of course, it all spun out of the spinoff spotlighting his younger self. And all that was later ruined by editors and writers who couldn’t appreciate the idea of wholesome heroes, let alone brightness and optimism, and Dan DiDio particularly ruined the DCU with his twisted visions that were built on cheap sensationalism.

 

Not that any of that concerns the “journalist” who penned this though:

But DC has never missed an opportunity to shoot itself in the foot, and did so with the Legion in the mid-’80s. The Legion’s stated raison d’etre — established in its first story, and repeated in lots of them afterward — was that the super-powered teens of the future were inspired by the legendary Superboy to come together and do good. But in “Crisis on Infinite Earths” (1986-87), the publisher rebooted Superman, removing Superboy from the character’s backstory altogether. In the new, “post-Crisis” history, Superman didn’t develop his powers, uniform and mission until adulthood.

Without Superboy, the Legion lost its reason to exist and its biggest star with one swing of the axe. Worse, Superboy had been prominently featured in most Legion adventures, so with the Teen of Steel erased from history, who won all those battles with Mordru, the Fatal Five and the Time Trapper? Bouncing Boy?

(Yes, there is a Bouncing Boy. Stop laughing.)

I think he should stop being such an apologist, through the simple idiocy of being so superficial. Besides, if it matters, Marvel hasn’t missed said opportunity since the mid-90s either when it comes to their creations. And I feel I cannot and will not agree with the assertion Superboy’s the only reason for LOSH’s being – why couldn’t they be inspired by Superman as an adult? Also, Superboy stopped being a frequent feature with the LOSH at the end of the 70s, when they took over the numbering of the volume, the Boy of Steel’s own name was dropped from the title, and got another solo volume that ran until about 1984. The jettisoning of Superboy had already taken place, and the rest of the futuristic team became the main focus. Not that you could expect such crummy columnists to consider that, nor how it’s still possible to give the LOSH a reason for being by using your imagination and creativity.

What followed was a sad spectacle, as DC revamped the Legion again and again, trying to find a plug for the Superboy-shaped hole in Legion history. All that looking backward kept the series from moving forward, and it has never recovered. When DC rebooted its entire superhero universe (again) in 2011, the publisher made a tepid gesture toward the Legion, but allowed the series to die on the vine in 2013.

Well gee, isn’t that because of the visions Dan DiDio inflicted in the end? Oh, but of course you couldn’t possibly expect these newspaper hacks to give a clearer look at what could’ve gone wrong from a story merit viewpoint, now could you? Including Zero Hour, which led to Dawnstar’s omission from continuity, though the biggest victims there were Green Lantern and at least a handful of JSA members.

Fortunately, the Legion has fans in high places. Geoff Johns, DC’s chief creative officer, has been inserting Legion iconography and Saturn Girl in his “Watchmen” sequel, “Doomsday Clock.” And writing superstar Brian Michael Bendis, who moved to DC in 2017, told Newsarama that he’s been planning to bring the team back since he arrived at DC.

But before the Legion could return, Bendis (and Johns) had to prepare the ground. There’s no better place to do that than in the Superman titles, given the importance of the Super-family in Legion history. And surprise, surprise: Bendis has been writing “Superman” and “Action Comics” for two years.

And now he’s ready. DC has announced that the Legion will return in “Superman” (fifth series) #14 next month.

 

Ah, and here’s where we arrive at two of the worst choices for working on the Legion. After the latter galled everyone with his work on Superman, why should we trust or look forward to his work on Legion? The man’s never apologized for the bad job he did with Scarlet Witch, let alone Tigra, among others, when he worked at Marvel on Avengers.

However, the new “Legion of Super-Heroes” title won’t arrive until November. Bendis will do a little more throat-clearing with a two-issue miniseries titled “Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium” in September and October. That series will take an established DC character and abruptly grant her immortality. She — and gender is all DC has revealed of her identity — will then live through 1,100 years to the 32nd century, where the new Legion will be set.

Along the way she will visit various other future settings established in various DC series, and we will see how they all fit together. The first issue will feature Batman Beyond, Kamandi and Tommy Tomorrow. The second will involve Booster Gold and OMAC. (There’s no sign of Atomic Knights or Space Ranger, but we can always hope.) Thrillingly, the cover of “Millennium” #2 depicts Superman’s son, Jonathan “Superboy” Kent, accepting a Legion flight ring.

So this Legion will feature a Superboy, but not the original. The future won’t be the same either.

 

Well I’m sorry, but with Bendis, there’s no thrills, while Johns is basically irritating with his writing. The future hasn’t been the same since DiDio cam aboard.

So if you’ve never read Legion of Super-Heroes, be prepared to meet 30 or 40 new best friends in the coming months. And if you have, trust that Bendis is taking your old friends seriously,

“The Legion of Super-Heroes is the biggest project I’ve ever done in my life,” he told Newsarama.

That’s from the guy who re-built the Avengers, created the Ultimate Universe and gave us the Miles Morales Spider-Man. I think we’re in for a treat.

 

Yup, the guy who kicked Scarlet Witch to the curb to get there, put obvious choices like Wolverine and Spider-Man front and center, and even did a bad job on the women in X-Men. I think we’re in for some very sour milk. No way do I want to finance such an awful writer who merely gets a lot of fawning coverage in the press. In fact, “taking seriously” is bound to be the biggest problem with his work (and Johns’s): he either lacks a true sense of humor, or whatever he tries just falls flat.

 
 
Originally published here.
Avi Green

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1