From comments yesterday:
Actually, I wouldn’t mind hearing your full thoughts on the issue of the Legion and why Johns shouldn’t be writing it. I mean, just a bit of a more detailed answer.
And while you’re being forced to give thoughts, what’s the best possible outcome for Legion of Three Worlds short of having three ongoing Legion books?
Okay. I don’t have anything against Geoff Johns writing the Legion per se. He wouldn’t be my first choice or even my second or third, but he’s not actively bad. (This is not to say he has not written his share of dogshit, but who hasn’t? And before you answer, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman have both written horrendously bad comics. Admittedly, both were to do with Spawn, but even so.)
My gripe is entirely with the Geoff Johns “old is the new new” Legion, which is the answer to the prayers of people whose prayers, generally speaking, should not be answered. This is not to say that I did not enjoy the “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” arc in Action Comics featuring said Legion. I thought it was a lot of fun, and an enjoyable flashback to the way things used to be.
But that’s now how things are now. Revamping the Legion “back” to a pseudo-Levitzian status quo isn’t going to do anything except quell some of the bitching of the (rapidly aging and shrinking) Legion fanbase, the ones who in Newsrama comments steadfastly maintain that it was all the rebooting that drove away fans. (Untrue. What killed the book more than anything was DC’s moving the title exclusively to the direct market in the mid-80s, along with New Teen Titans and a bunch of other successful titles that, in retrospect, they must have felt were making too much money.) “If only DC had kept the Legion like we liked it twenty-five years ago, it would be as big as the X-Men,” these people say. But they’re wrong.
And catering to them is the wrong move. DC has hellaciously strong properties, and their use of these properties in comics is primarily dictated by – again – a shrinking, aging fanbase who are going to be bitter no matter what you give them. If DC goes ahead and makes the Johns Legion the core Legion, just wait – they’ll start having internet slapfights over when and how this “original” Legion diverges from the previous Legion stories. The fact that Karate Kid was alive and Polar Boy a member simultaneously – which never happened in the original Levitz run (KK died in LSH v3 #4, Polar Boy joined in #14) should cause a bitterly argued fifty-post thread on some messageboard. And whoever doesn’t get their belief confirmed by the comics will complain. And whoever does will find something else to bitch about.
What irks me particularly is that a retreat to the past isn’t the answer. You can bitch about Marvel all you like, and a lot of it will be deserved, but you sure as hell can’t say they’re retreating to the past right now with their superhero lines. (Well, except for Amazing Spider-Man, but even there they’re trying to do “old-style” Spidey comics while introducing new characters and status quo. Also note the slow but steady sales decline on that title.) Marvel is taking chances while DC is resurrecting Barry fucking Allen because they’ve mishandled the Flash so badly they don’t think they have any choice, and their sales are proof enough of that.
(An aside: some people think that all of the bullshit that has happened to the Flash was on purpose. What the fuck are these people smoking? “Hey, guys, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s make Wally vanish, age Bart Allen so he’s not the popular character he used to be and turn HIM into the Flash, then start a new title with Bart as the Flash, but also let’s make sure the creative team puts out a story so jaw-droppingly bad that sales on the title plummet. Then we kill off Bart Allen without advertising it in advance to retailers, bring back Wally West in a hurry with a brand new status quo that we didn’t bother previously building up or advertising, and shift creative teams on the new Flash comic repeatedly to lessen fan interest in a hurry. It can’t miss!”)
I’m digressing here so let me get back to the main point: going to the well is not the answer. If you want to increase sales on the Legion, the solution is not pandering to the people who dropped the title in the Eighties, because most of them will never buy a comic again and the tiny remainder never quit buying Legion anyway. If you want to increase sales on the Legion a little, the trick is to write good stories. If you want to increase sales on the Legion a lot, the solution is new marketing and distribution plans. Going to “let’s make it like it was” is just digging yourself deeper into the same hole.
My ideal situation, then, coming out of Legion of Three Worlds is thus:
– the current “threeboot” Legion is the primary Legion and the one in the comics. This Legion has the most important gimmick for attracting new readers, which is relative immediacy – they’ve only been around a few years and they consequently possess a low barrier of entry. (This is not to say that I don’t love vast realms of backstory, because of course I do – but those vast realms of backstory can attract new readers without having to be reflected in the comic per se.)
– the Johns Legion continues to serve in the capacity they’ve been serving admirably: as the Legion who shows up in Superman comics to hang out with their buddy from time to time. Handwave, handwave, “Kal, you were actually traveling to Earth-2’s future all this time,” handwave.
– the reboot-era Legion with XS and Gates and Kid Quantum as the leader becomes the Justice Society to the threeboot Legion’s Justice League, to be called upon in semi-regular crossover stories a la the old days of Justice League of America. When the Legion gets desperate, they call the reboot Legion on the cross-dimensional-phone for help, or vice versa, or maybe they just meet up to hang out and compare their universes’ various Silverales.