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mygif

So what is it about the Legion of Superheroes that makes the Internet’s best comic blogger such a devoted fan?

This is a question I have wrestled with for years. (COMN for my Legion blog for more on this.) And I don’t have an answer yet.

I’m a fan of a lot of things, which means I know what it’s like to be a fan of a lot of things, and I’m not a fan of anything else the way I’m a Legion fan. So I know it isn’t something about me; it’s something about the Legion. And I can’t figure it out.

I can figure out why I like it; the reasons MGK gives are as good as any, although there are more. But I don’t know why I like it that much. I just know I’m not the only one.

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mygif

Agreed, very much (though I’m a bit less enthusiastic re: anything involving v4). Add to that there was a time when Claremont, Wolfman and Levitz were rendering the best group dynamics seen in comics, and that lends an air of familiarity with the individual players that doesn’t exist in the myriad X-Men factions or whatever the Titans are now. It’s both familiar and it’s well-done (though the #1 issues were tremendous missed opportunities to indoctrinate new readers) if a bit old-school.

And the epic nature of the series was much more profound before the reset button was hammered relentlessly. The depth and persistence of that continuity made the 30th century quite tangible — how long did Ferro Lad and Invisible Kid stay dead? And note that it took nothing less than a reboot to coax them out of the grave; no cheap plot holes there. Levitz didn’t make anything easy for them, Great Darkness Saga remaining the definitive example (and probably the definitive Legion story…?). The status quo was terrifyingly dynamic, from body counts to families growing to the team’s expansion and contraction. There wasn’t an iconic, inevitable state to which they’d always revert — there was just right now.

There aren’t many writers who get the Legion, and a lot of us have been exposed to stories with writers who don’t. It’s not only unfettered by the necessary stagnation of most properties, but also by the constraints of the 20th/21st centuries, by limitations of biology (Tenzil Kem!) or science (Mysa!). It’s a wide-open playing field with realistic characters where anything can happen, and anything will.

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mygif

I heartily agree with and endorse this post. The Legion rocks, in a totally non-ironic way.

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mygif

You know ,while I’m to the legion what you are to the x-men (or what USED/ COULD HAVE BEEN the x-men…), I’m always curious about good stories so:
-what’s your opinion about a)Levitz Giffen version b)DnA version c)Threeboot version ? & which one is your favourite
-who are your most hated characters ?
-Give a top 10 Dr Strange villains (Nyaralathotep included if you want.)
-Is your art contest still on ?

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mygif

So for someone like me, who’s never read a Legion comic, where exactly is the right place to start? I know it has its origins in the old-school, campy Silver Age Superman paradigm (not meaning that as an insult, just, y’know, it’s campy), then, if I understand correctly, Jim Shooter jumped on board in…the late 60s, I think?…and made it into a more dynamic series. And then Paul Levitz apparently did some great stuff with it in…the late 70s? Early 80s?

So which of these eras is the best starting point? I’ve been told that this is one of those books that tends to build heavily on its own continuity…in a good way, rather than a head-up-ass way, at least back in the Bronze Age…so where would I have to jump on to get the maximum impact?

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mygif

I’d say the best place to start is to find a Legion comic with a style that appeals to you — Silver Age, 80s, the 90s Moy style, Copiel’s Legion Lost, or the new stuff — and just read it. Read a couple issues, and the continuity will become apparent, and what you don’t know, you can find out on Wikipedia or elsewhere (including reading the older comics firsthand). It’s more important to start with comics that enthuse you in and of themselves than to start at any particular beginning.

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mygif

Somehow I misread the second sentence as: “I’m really curious if your affection for “Rex the Wonder Dog” is a gimmick or a true appreciation of and support for the concept.”

I only went back to reread once I had finished the entire post and realized that you had not, in fact, mentioned your affection for Rex the Wonder Dog (gimmick or otherwise) at all. The whole time I kept expecting you to segue into your appreciation of the concept of an omnipotent-dog comic. (I did enjoy reading it anyway.)

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mygif

for someone like me, who’s never read a Legion comic, where exactly is the right place to start?

I can help with that!

Where Should I Start with the Legion?

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mygif

Agree with everything, other than the suggestion that every new character be non-white, alien or both.

Not that the cast couldn’t use a bit more color — it could — but just because that’s pretty awful tokenism, and makes the new characters stand out and seem forced.

They’ve just had a big continuity changing reboot, they should have used that to make a couple of the main characters different races, changed the world from all-white to a bit more multicultural, and never dwelled on it. Just change the world and be done with it.

I’m pretty sure there are no stories that depend on Cosmic Boy’s whiteness.

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mygif

I think another factor that lends itself to the stories you mention is the sheer size of the team: It’s big enough that the death of any one character doesn’t derail it.
The racial-power aspect never bothered me. A lot of humans could do what the non-super-powered heroes do, but they don’t. The number of Braalians thinking “wow, wouldn’t it be fun to go fight the sun-eater” probably isn’t high.But your points are excellent in that regard.

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Jeff Morris said on November 10th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I must confess that I’m a Legion-lover from way back, as in the mid ’60’s. My first issue was the one where Karate Kid was accused of treason. I’ve continued picking it up off-and-on; I really liked Waid’s take on it, but the current run oddly leaves me cold.

As to why…MGK has it right in that anything can and does happen in the Legion’s universe. It’s pretty much got a continuity all to itself; there aren’t team-ups and guest shots (all that often), characters can and do die, turn evil, redeem themselves, and so on. And while MGK does note that Brainy probably isn’t going to die, remember they did make him utterly batshit a time or two.

I actually went back to the 60’s Shooter stories recently. The standoff with the Fatal Five and the Dark Circle tale still hold up, at least in my opinion. I’d say Legion and Roy Thomas’ run on Avengers were instrumental in my becoming–and remaining–a comics fan.

Of course, Nu52 is rapidly killing that. :)

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The Crazed Spruce said on November 10th, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I’m a lifelong Legion fan (mainly the Levitz/Giffen era, but thanks to the Adventure Comics digest reprints, I got a healthy dose of the 60’s era, too), and the notion that half of the Legion has the same power as pretty much everyone else on their home planet never really bothered me. Sure, in theory, any one of them could be replaced by someone from their homeworld, but by that same theory, any one of us could replace Batman or Green Arrow. It takes more than a cool power to be a Legionnaire, and a lot of the later writers (pretty much Shooter and beyond) have gone out of their way to prove that.

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mygif

I don’t give a damn about the plots, though my eyes roll if whatever I’m reading gets too silly – I’m into stories for characters. And Legion (or at least the v4 and its immediate sequels Legion) has great characters that interact and grow. Yes, they can die, but they can also fall in love, get married, go crazy and invent entire universes, switch back and forth between teams and learn something each time, be parts of families, develop lasting friendships and uneasy alliances…

Yeah, I suppose Robin could do some of those things in Batman, say, but it’ll just be a matter of issues before it’s made irrelevant or forgotten or retconned or become another example of women in refrigerators.

The other big advantage to Legion is the same advantage enjoyed by Star Wars and Harry Potter: it’s a huge, realized universe with a huge cast of likable and hateable characters. So my favorite characters can be Invisible Kid and Brainy while my best friend really just reads for Ultra Boy and Apparition while someone else writes about how their Mary Sue from the planet Unicornopia joins and becomes the best Legionaire ever, and we can all be part of the same fandom enjoying each new issue as it comes out.

‘Course, then you get Mark Waid deciding he wants to tell some kind of parable about aging or whatever and the characters acting like they hate each other now and you drop the book except to vaguely try and figure out why there are three Legions on that cover, but I’ll still call myself a Legion fan. I just date it to ’94-’04.

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mygif

…Oh, and about the same-planet thing: I actually like the idea that what makes them strong isn’t necessarily their individual powers but using them together. Sure, anyone can buy flour, and flour is flour is flour for most people who aren’t bakers, but combine it with eggs and vanilla and sugar and you can make cookies. Each battle is like making a new kind of cookie. “To defeat the Fatal Five today, we’ll need magnetism, ESP, and lightning…”

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mygif

Just personally, the only time LoSH has every resonated with or entertained me was the (apparently mostly hated) three-boot by Waid and Kitson. That was my favorite ongoing right up until they left the book.

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mygif

I loved the three-boot (until Waid left, anyway). It’s not my favorite, but I’ve found something to really love in every take on the Legion.

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mygif

One of my earliest memories of primary school is reading a Legion story in Action Comics. Matter-Eater Lad, a hero with one of the most humorous appellations and absurd gimmicks in comics, is depressed because his unemployed dad is gambling (and a jerky team-mate is bragging about his new car).Our hero has a date with the shyest girl on the team until that’s ruined by her paranoid, long-distance boyfriend. That’s why I love the Legion.

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mygif

The current incarnation of the Legion is incomprehensible.

I’m partial to the Threeboot Legion (well, Waid and Bedard anyway) but apparently its heresy to claim that as “my” Legion.

I’ve liked what little I’ve read of the DnA era (Legion Lost is amazing) but I missed it because I was pretty much only reading Marvel at the time and – unlike a lot of 80s and 90s DC comics I’ve gotten into after the fact – the back issues seem to be hard to find.

I’ve read the Great Darkness Saga. It’s good but it’s hard not to view it from a modern sensibility. It probably doesn’t help any that I read the DnA story based on it FIRST.

I greatly enjoy the original Legion … as seen through the Super Future Friends podcast. Seriously, everyone who has ever read a goofy Pre-Crisis DC comic and enjoyed it needs to listen to that podcast.

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mygif

@Beacon: “I greatly enjoy the original Legion … as seen through the Super Future Friends podcast. Seriously, everyone who has ever read a goofy Pre-Crisis DC comic and enjoyed it needs to listen to that podcast.”

Indeed, it’s incredibly great. Although don’t expect frequent updates.

I feel like I’m probably the only person in the world who got into the Legion well into adulthood and in the past couple of years. I’ve liked everything I’ve managed to read (except for the New 52 stuff), but chalk me up as another Threeboot lover. The Legion as a discontented army of young people is pretty great.

Personally, the potential (often achieved) for science fiction superheroics in the Legion is the appeal. You get shades of that in out-of-continuity pieces like All-Star Superman, but ultimately the 21st-century DCU is never going to deviate too much from the “real world” by the presence of a bunch of super powers and super intellects, no matter how preposterous that is. Whereas in the 31st century, you can buy pills that make you a girl. That’s good stuff.

Also, there’s a certain currency to the idea of grown-ass, 40-year old men and women calling themselves “lad,” “lass,” and “kid.” On that narrow ground, it strikes one as a very plausible vision of the future.

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mygif

man, that two parter you wrote about are still two of my favorite comics

(but still, nothing beats The Great Darkness Saga)

Long Live the Legion :)

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mygif

I have been a fan since the early 60’s. I enjoy all versions. The rich tapestry of the LSH’s 31st century and their varied powers and personalities provides great depth from which to create tales of Sci-Fi adventure. As I age, I still think I am young. Being able to continue to identify with youthful legionnaires is fun, easy, and entertaining. I love trying to figure out which away teams will be assigned to each crisis. Teamwork is a key. The interpersonal relationships is another.

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mygif

[…] synchronicity would have it, another blog I follow also posted a question about the Legion on Thursday.  If you have any doubt about the contentious nature of the reader’s question, […]

mygif

“As you get further and further away from that core, though, you get more and more freedom to do whatever you want.”

Hear! Hear!

For me the Legion was the team that grew up with me. I started around the Great Darkness Saga and followed through the end of V4, eventually quiting during the 1994 Waid reboot. The stories became more mature and complex as I matured and the characters aged as I went to college and then into life.

This is same magic JK Rowling managed to use with Harry Potter.

Plus because of the isolated nature of the Legion it could grow and change, new members, deaths, new headquarters, new staus quo.

The 1994 reboot, the 2004 reboot, the 2008 reboot all of them just turned me off because they sacrifice the whole idea of forward motion, growth and change for a constant look backwards.

It’s the same reason the Star Trek reboot left me cold. You can’t have a series build on the idea of ‘boldly going where no man has gone before’ but be looking backwards.

Anyway… LLL! Death to all rebooters!

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