Love of the Legion

Yesterday was the 47th anniversary of the first broadcast of Star Trek in the UK on BBC1. I never saw that first episode on transmission;  I did however see the second , “The Naked Time”, the following week  on the same day that pictures from Apollo 11 were being broadcast.

DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes series has been, at least since that time, “Star Trek with super-heroes”. I began re-reading the 80s Levitz-Giffen Legion the other day and it prompted me to think about the cast for an imaginary LSH tv series, in the same vein as Flash and Supergirl.

I thought that, like Agents of SHIELD, there would be a rotating cast of around nine or ten: less than half the size of the Legion in its heyday and more like the animated series of a decade ago. Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight!

I then posted on the Back Issue Facebook page, asking the followers there which Legionnaires they would like to see in a LSH series. In order of number of “votes”, their Top Ten line-up would be: Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy, Phantom Girl, Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Timber Wolf, Wildfire, Chameleon Boy and Dawnstar.

 

back-issue-68-cockrum-legion

Interestingly, classic Legionnaires Sun Boy, Colossal Boy and Chemical King were not voted for at all. Nor were there any votes for the 21st century members ( Shikari, Gear, Gazelle, Chemical Kid, Dragonwing or Harmonia) or most of the “Archie” Legionnaires ( Kinetix, Kid Quantum, Monstress) Non -human members from the 80s, Tellus and Blok, received no votes either.

This skewing toward Bronze Age Babies, to borrow a phrase, may be due to two factors: the demographics of the FB group and the mix of powers and personalities on a modern super-hero tv show.

Anyway, this was all just a work of fan-fiction until I got a message today on FB from Trek author Andy Mangels, hinting that Legion characters could very well be coming to tv. This is most likely to be on the Supergirl show.

Laurel Gand

The FB group voted three times for Supergirl ( and twice for her 5YL and Zero Hour counterpart, Andromeda, above.) There was only one vote for Superboy; I would now cast mine also, having recently read this collection, from 2003-04:

legion-foundations

Legion Foundations is written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, whose Guardians of the Galaxy series was the source material for the eponymous Marvel movie. I didn’t follow either book although I did sample the first issue of Legion.

The-Legion-1-38

This year marks the thirtieth ( thirtieth!) anniversary of John Byrne’s Man of Steel: the “modernisation” of Superman that  retconned the existence of Superboy. That move of course had its repercussions for the LSH and a few of its featured characters.

LSH_38 (520x800)

Paul Levitz  wrote Superboy out of LSH  history, in the moving epic above and the Bierbaums replaced Clark Kent for a while with this guy, code-named Impulse ( but not a member of the Flash-family):

Imp1

However so problematic was Superboy’s erasure that this guy required two revisions:

Valor01

Mon el

Neatly, his costume design can be an M or a V, representing either of his codenames ( the latter now being Martian for “wanderer”, allegedly). Further unraveling of the Kal-El dynasty required the problem of 30th century descendants to be solved:

laurel

laurel manhunter

Lois Lane lookalike Laurel ( Lor-El?) Kent is revealed to be an impostor, an android Manhunter .Foundations, however, fills the Superboy vaccuum with his clone counterpart, Conner Kent.

Teen-Titans-Vol.-3-2-Cover-2003

The collection is a thematic sequel to the Great Darkness Saga and also features what I think may be Dave Cockrum’s last LSH art in a vignette with Lightning Lad and Lightning Lord.

Legion_Lost_1

The collection draws upon events in the first Legion Lost series, where the team found themselves stranded in another galaxy a la Star Trek Voyager and Element Lad became a mad god.

The universe is shrinking in Foundations and timey-wimey disruption provides cameos from the likes of Etrigan, Jonah Hex and Jay-Flash. Not only does the story feature evil doppelgangers of Orion, Big Barda and Firestorm, we also get two incarnations of Darkseid, this time.

Mid-way through, oddly, we finally get a “Meet the Legion” sequence and a tour of the Legion World satellite. Probably, there were just too many Legionnaires to focus on: I didn’t like the transformed versions of Kinetix and Sneckie and I never liked the insectoid Shikari, a Dawnstar substitute. Nor did the new Legion Cadets, like the robotic Babbage, become involved in the conflict. But I enjoyed a reference to a classic LSH artist in a “hyper-swan formation”; the tragic Lightning Lad (and by extension, Element Lad) coming good and the collection cemented the importance of Supey to the Legion to my mind.

Supergirl_Legion_18

The Mark Waid “youth movement” iteration of the Legion that came next put Supergirl in the spotlight for a while and that may be the way the tv version comes to pass. But for now, certainly, I think it’s Superboy’s Legion.

Superboy_Legion

Coming soon: Conan the Freebooter

All images presumed copyright of their respective owners

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One comment on “Love of the Legion

  1. Kid Robson says:

    Just goes to show how problematic reboots can be. There’s a sort of irony in that the reboots won’t really confuse new readers (who are presumably ignorant of a character’s history), but seem to be designed to iron out continuity problems (real or imagined) for long-term readers. However, once these new readers seek out back issues, then the confusion begins. (And long-term readers may give up because the character is different to the one they knew and loved.)

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