Mark Waid’s Legion of Super-Heroes

The Legion of Super-Heroes

By Mark Waid and Barry Kitson
2004-2007

The Legion of Super-Heroes is legendary in the realm of comic book fans. It separates the men from the boys and no I am not going to clarify that statement. But the fan following of the Legion is so strong that it has been bookmarked as the beginning of the fan movement in comics. The super-powered teenagers from the future took over Superboy’s Action Comics shortly after being introduced and became a cult favorite in no time. However, and this is the ‘brick wall’ that prevents anyone from randomly picking up a Legion book, the characters are numerous and the back-stories complicated. When you add to this the many reboots and revisions that the DC Editorial has made over the years, you’d think that the series would be all but impenetrable. In some cases, that’s true. The new series, for instance, is superb yet it is entangled in continuity and an ever-growing cast of characters that practically dares the casual reader to pick it up.

The genius of the Mark Waid/Barry Kitson reboot is that it took what worked from the initial idea and built around it a new framework that was both contemporary and timeless. It was a truly new take on an old idea from the ground up using concepts and characters decades old.

The world of the future is shut off from open social interaction. The elder generation refrains from conversation even when they are in the same room (as evidenced in an opening scene where two characters stand back-to-back talking over video-phones). The younger generation is chomping at the bit for something new and it comes in the form of a teenage revolution, the Legion of Super-Heroes.

There are references to comic book tropes throughout the series, but all in a way that establishes the love of the culture
that prevailed in the DC Universe of old. Comic books litter shared spaces, trophy rooms contain bat signals and the like. Superheroism is a pop culture ideal.

Click to enlarge

I never thought that Waid and Kitson’s run on the series got the attention it deserved… and I still don’t think it has found its recognition. It was like a love letter from the creative team to a medium that can do truly anything. A superb and fun-loving comic produced with intelligence and skill, you are truly missing out if you don’t investigate this series.

Recommended:

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1: Teenage Revolution

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 2: Death of a Dream

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 3: Strange Visitor from Another Century

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 4: Adult Education

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Long Live the Legion… again!

The team that booted Superboy out of the starring role of his own comic, the Legion of Super-Heroes has enjoyed one of the most long-lasted successes. A club of super-powered teenagers fighting alien menaces on various planets stood out as one of the most imaginative and fun-loving comic books of its age.

However, the Crisis of 1985 the rewrote comic book history was none too kind to the team of future teens. The result was a long string of restarts and revamps that never really took hold of readers. It didn’t help that the rest of the DC Universe had altered so much that the title’s time-line was often confused and in a state of flux trying to fit in to both the new plots and new attitudes toward super heroes.

Outside of the latest Crisis that has struck the DC Universe, the Legionnaires are headed for yet another revamp at the hands of Geoff Johns and George Perez.

Following the events of Infinite Crisis and the recent JLA/JSA Lightning Saga (both of which bore results that have still yet to fully blossom in the DCU), the latest story ‘Legion of Three Worlds’ will cast the die to once again decide the fate of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Drawing together Superboy Prime, the mysterious lightning rod from the future and even Green Lantern Sodam Yat (last seen in the great  Sinestro Corps War), Legion of Three Worlds promises to be a mega event. I just hope it doesn’t get lost in reader radar of the many Final Crisis mini-series.

Rumor is that the finale will create a new time-line returning the title to the events of the Magic Wars storyline. It’s difficult to imagine any readers who would stick it out through so many restarts and revisions that made everything that came before it invalid… but the Legion is that popular.

Or so DC Comics hopes!

It is ironic that at the same time as this story in comics, Johns is heralding the appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes on the TV program Smallville. I’m still disappointed that the Legion cartoon failed to make an impact with TV viewers, but believe that the concept of the Legion is strong enough to persevere through all of these troubles.

Legion of Super Heroes ‘In Your Dreams’

With the power to see the future in her dreams, Dream Girl warns the
Legion of attacks by the criminal organization The Dark Circle aimed
to take down the United Planets. However, Lightning Lad wonders if
Dream Girl or her visions can be trusted. “In Your Dreams” is written
by Stan Berkowitz (screenwriter of “Justice League: The New Frontier”)
and directed by Brandon Vietti.

dream girl

The series will conclude with a two-part episode, which is scheduled
to air on Kids’ WB! on consecutive Saturdays — March 29 and April 5.

Having just re-watched New Frontier this weekend, I have high expectations from this episode. The production team has shown in the Justice League Unlimited series that they can build to a powerful climax and I think this will mirror that effort. This cartoon has been growing from strength to strength and I think we are in for a real doozy of a finale!

Legion of Super Heroes/Batman 11/3/07

Legion of Super Heroes- ‘Whom Am I?’
As mentioned before, I really like Chameleon Boy. He embodies the youth and exuberance of this group of teenage super heroes perfectly. As such, I was pleased as punch to see that this week’s episode revolved around him.

In an effort to uncover the evil plans of the series heavy, Imperiex, Chameleon Boy is chosen to masquerade as one of the super villains, the axe bearing Persuader. However, even though Cham looks the part, he is sadly lacking in the evil department. So Brainiac develops a device that will impart Persuader‘s person directly into Cham’s psyche. For anyone with keen eyes during the opening credits, they would have seen the name J.M. DeMatteis listed as writer.Given the lengthy and impressive comic book credentials of this writer, I was certainly paying more attention than usual and it paid off.

The story at times seemed to be going into the direction that evil was evil and good was good as Cham was turned into a bad guy and later had trouble  reverting to his ‘true’ persona until using a holographic device, Superman showed Cham a memory in which they expressed mutual admiration for each other.

But hold on… Superman was not Superman. It seems that Imperiex had the same idea as Brainiac and inserted his own agent, the shape shifting Ron-Karr into the Legion’s midst.

As Ron-Karr watches the memory. he becomes confused since he doesn’t remember having that conversation with Cham that meant so much to the young Legionnaire. He twists and turns from wanting to help or halt the Legion from stopping his leader’s plot to destroy Cham’s home world up until the final moment, when he finally decides to stop the death of an entire planet.

We’re told a few times that this us due to the fact that like Chameleon Boy, Ron-Karr had Superman‘s persona imprinted upon him  to infiltrate the Legion and it must be having a lasting effect. But in the end, that theory is dropped for the far truer thought that evil and good lies within each of us, it’s the power of choice that makes us what we are.

All before my coffee got cold.

Are kids watching this amazing material?

The Batman-  ‘A Mirror Darkly’

I have to admit that I was very excited about the new Batman cartoon introducing  the Flash.

While I do enjoy the ‘wacky and off the wall’ Flash from the Justice League cartoon, I was eager to see the police scientist version of the character that I loved from the monthly comic books. The rumor was that this version of the Flash in the Batman cartoon was Barry Allen, the second version of the character from the late 1950’s. This version was much more serious and more of a ‘super hero’ than the character that we saw in the Justice League who more or less resembled a clown. I was all set for a Flash who would figure out solutions to problems with a superior mind and a firm grasp of his super speed powers rather than stumble through a problem making smart ass remarks.

Well… I was disappointed.

It was the exact same ‘wacky Wally.’ Given that this was the case, it was still a good episode. The story featured a classic Flash villain, the Mirror Master, who was busy creating mirror doubles of Batman and the Flash in order to steal components to build a super weapon that would trap the 100 wealthiest people in the world in a strange mirror dimension. While the Flash was a bit off the wall and played for laughs, he did use some signature speedster tricks including vibrating through solid objects which was neat.

All in all,  a solid episode… when is the Hawkman story coming?

Legion of Super-Heroes Season Two

Issue 247 of Adventure Comics featuring Superboy in 1958 introduced a super hero club for teenagers in the future, The Legion of Super-Heroes. Since that time, the characters have had an astounding fan following, including current President of DC Comics, Paul Levitz.

 

I’m still scratching my head as to why it took so long to get a cartoon off the ground for this highly animated group, but when it finally arrived, I was happy to see that it captured the energy and enthusiasm of the comics.

Now, it’s coming back for a second year.

Legion of Super-Heroes Season Two Trailer

At the 2007 San Diego Comic Con, a panel of cartoon creators, including producer James Tucker and voice artists Yuri Lowenthal (Superman), Phil Morris (Imperiex), and Alex Polinski (Chameleon Boy) gave the audience a little preview of the upcoming second season.

Taking place a whole year after the recent finale (which saw Superman return to Smallville), the second year promises to raise the stakes and the cast list. New characters will be introduced, including Chameleon Boy, who was described as a shape-shifting trouble maker akin to ‘Eddie Haskell’ of Leave it to Beaver fame.

But Cham will not be alone. In addition, Dreamgirl, Nemesis Kid, Karate Kid, Invisible kid, and Dawnstar will make their first cartoon appearances.

The villain Imperiex will form the basis of the second season’s thread, much the same as the Fatal Five were in season one. The overall feel of the new year is intended to be more ‘Bronze Age’ in comparison to the light and innocent ‘Silver Age’ intentions of the debut season. What this means to non-comic-book fans is that the stories will be edgier with more action and the characters will be more grown up and there will be pairing up between the now older Legionnaires.The most startling addition to the series is a new Superman.

The trailer depicts a Kryptonian duo, and the panel explained that the Legion will be meeting an alternate future Superman who is more aggressive than the well-meaning character we met last year.

Making so many changes so soon into a franchise is a very daring move. Seeing how the characters look older in the trailer got me interested in the new season, but the second Superman gave an added piece of excitement.

The second season of Legion of Super-Heroes is due to premiere on September 22.

Yet another cartoon series that suffered from time slot hell, The Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon was missed by some.

Thankfully, the DVD was invented for just that eventuality.

Suggested viewing/reading:

Legion of Super Heroes Volume 1
Showcase Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes, Vol. 1
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Vol. 3: Strange Visitor From Another Century
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 11 (DC Archive Editions)