Add another notch to the loss of greatness in comic books, the Legion of Super-Heroes has been canceled… again. The last issue will be #50 and it will also see the end of Jim Shooter‘s return to the series, a run that has proven to be very controversial.
Jim Shooter first wrote the title at the tender age of 14 and made it spring off the page and into the land of comic book success. His introduction of several characters from Karate Kid to Princess Projectra and contributed some of the most beloved and epic story lines that the title has seen.
The series that has one of the most long-lasting fan bases in the history of comic books, the Legion of Super-Heroes seems cursed at times. Several cancellations and restarts have plagued the series since the Crisis of 1985 completely rewrote DC Comics history. The problem has always struck me as one of editorial direction. The present of DC Comics has not been stable since the massive rewrite of 1985 and with each subsequent rewrite, the future that the Legion calls home has become murkier and murkier.
In this case, it is a case of dueling egos and a lack of clear direction from the top.
Shooter talked with ComicBookResources.com recently about the experience to shed some light on the dark corners of the situation.
Shooter says DCU Executive Editor Dan DiDio directed him to introduce a new “Super” to the team, but the would-be Super Lad never made it to the page. “After delivering the first draft of the 16-issue plot, I was ordered by Dan DiDio to rewrite it – for free – to include the introduction of a young, male Super — note how I’m avoiding using the word ‘Superboy’ — as a Legionnaire. So, I re-crafted the plot to introduce a new scion of the House of El, Super Lad,” offered Shooter. “Francis and I spent a good deal of unpaid time doing design work. But, ultimately, DiDio and DC decided they didn’t want or need a new Super, and I was told to excise the character.
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“I think it had more to do with their being pissed at me for complaining too much and too loudly – to DC people only, not to the media – about various glitches and screw-ups than anything else. DC has incentives for licensing of new characters. Super Lad could, potentially be the new Superxxx, and very licensable. Why reward a pain in the ass like me with extra money? They actually fired me at one point for complaining too enthusiastically about a really aggravating snafu. I groveled enough to get my gig back – I have child support to pay – but they took Super Lad away. Then they canceled the book.”
After the loss of the name ‘Superboy,’ DC Comics has fumbled many opportunities to get around the lack of a teenage Kryptonian boy. Jim Shooter‘s order to include and later order to excise the character is a clear sign that there is some trouble at the helm of DC Comics, that being Dan DiDio.
First a series of cross-over and ‘event’ comics have failed to deliver on their ‘this one changes it all’ promise, then the Flash was brutally killed in a comic that hardly anyone was reading due to poor writing and worse art and now the Legion is dropped. I’m sure that the title will be back, but after Mark Waid struggled to rebuild the series virtually from scratch into a damned fine title (that no one bought) that was written out by Jim Shooter‘s run, I’m not entirely sure that the readers are there to support yet another revision from unsure DiDio. Honestly, the guy is mishandling creators left and right and costing the company dearly. Sales figures across the board are down for DC Comics and while the finale to Final Crisis promises to turn it all around… I think another alteration needs to be made and a new Executive Editor-in-Chief assigned to clean up the mess that DiDio has created.
Maybe that’s the surprise ending to Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis… Dan Didio gets fired. It’s unfortunate that so much has gone wrong with this title as it’s direction and appeal is so straight-forward. I think that it ultimately suffers the repercussions of the near-constant revisionary editorial decisions and is a clear sign of the health of DC in general.
Or it could just be that no one cares about a bunch of super-powered teens living in a rocket-shaped clubhouse.
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