#32 in an increasingly-innumerate series of thirty:
One of the things that fascinates me about Legion as a concept is that it is one thousand years in the future, and the variance and similarity with which the DC Universe of “today” would reflect upon its future one millennium later would by necessity at least reflect the variance and similarity of our world to the Earth of about one thousand years ago.
Consider our planet around the year 1000 mark. The Byzantine Empire – which nowadays is barely a footnote in most basic history textbooks – is at its height under Basil II. The Saxon dynasties in England are reaching their nadir, and in less than half a century William The Conqueror is going to show up and, well, conquer. In Japan, the Fujiwara regency is going to dominate for another four hundred years. Monasticism – one of the most important tools for scientific advancement until the Renaissance – is only getting going! There’s practically no major works of art being produced at this time that will survive the next thousand years; we’re technically still in the Dark Ages. This world is almost totally dissimilar from what we recognize as modern society.
(Mark Waid, occasionally played up some brilliant aspects of this, such as the renaming of cities. Of course, he also had 20th-century paper-and-ink comic books surviving as artistic artifacts for a thousand years.)
But at the same time, this is the time at which the first major secret societies arose. And come on, secret societies are pretty awesome, not just for their innate sinister (or deus ex machina) story potential, but also because of how they manage to get things wrong as time passes along and they adopt a pseudo-religious reverence for their lyrical misinterpretation of historical record.
And what better subject for a society to form around in the DC Universe than Wesley Dodds, the first costumed super-hero? (Well, depending on which writer you read, that might actually be the Crimson Avenger, but there’s no reason the Illuminated Order Of Scarlet Vengeance can’t be lurking around a few shadows down and to the left, continually feuding with these Johnny-come-latelies who don’t even know what issue of Whiz Comics Spy Smasher first appeared in.)
The Sandymen – or the Righteous Collective Of The Ebon Desert, if you prefer (and they do) – hide in the background of the future, quietly assembling in back rooms to ensure that costumed superheroism can continue to propogate in the brave new universe. R.J. Brande may or may not be a member – although if he is, he probably knows more about the true history of the universe than they do. In the history painstakingly assembled by the Sandymen, the Justice League of Internationalism was founded by Kyle Gardner and Donna Prince, summoning the force of the mystical Black Lightning of H’ronmeer to combat the Seven Deadly Sinistarros threatening to destroy the planet.
But even though they get a lot of things wrong – they also get a lot of things right. They know about Kryptonite, including the effects of Steel Kryptonite (only discovered in 2128, and only seen twice since then) and Translucent-K (an artificial K-compound invented in 2437) on Kryptonians and other races alike. They know the last whereabouts of Brainiac 3.6, and why you don’t go near that black hole (well, why you stay further away from that black hole as opposed to other black holes). They don’t know where J’onn J’onzz is now, but they know the details of his last recorded heroic act (2750, on Khundia of all places).
Inaccurate archives. They’re fun. And they’re more fun when they’re a bunch of principled historian-nerds who are, unfortunately, wrong a lot of the time.