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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

So They Cancelled The Legion






Oof.

Now I'm a big fan of the Legion. I came into comics in a serious "I want to read everything" sort of way in the early 2000s, just in the midst of DnA's run on the property, and I really, really enjoyed it. I went back and collected further runs - starting with the Great Darkness Saga, more for Darkseid than for the Legion - until, now, I can say I've read and owned every issue of a Legion-centric story in some form or another. From Adventure to "Superboy and..." to all the various "Legion" titles, I devoured the high concept sci fi, the soap opera, the superheroics.

But along the way, something sort of became clear to me; there has never been a perfect run of the Legion.

Don't get me wrong, there have been some GREAT runs. Giffen's 5 Years Later will always be my favorite, flawed masterpiece that it is. Nuanced characters, real and purposeful change, wonderful new ideas, spectacular sense of design (both page design and character design), and a density - with backup material - that could not be matched. This was a real post-Watchmen Legion, but in the best possible sense; a post-Watchmen comic book which understood what made Watchmen work in the first place, beyond 'grim and grit'.

The Levitz/Giffen Legion was a nice balance of that kind of drive for change with Levitz's more conservative (and somewhat awkward) tastes. Shooter's was a bevvy of fun - if narrowly superheroic - ideas.

But there has never been a perfect Legion run, and I find myself drawn to the franchise more for what it COULD be than what it HAS BEEN.

Certainly by no stretch of the imagination could the current run have been called perfect, or even really adequate. It was, in a word, languid. Completely lacking in verve, energy, innovation, or excitement. And, in that way, it was a true betrayal of the Legion concept.

Let's examine the franchise a bit, looking at what came before and what we might learn for later.



The Legion IS, I think, troublesome. A sprawling cast, an unrelatable sci-fi setting, an inability to tie into the crutch of ongoing continuity and guest appearances. These can be great strengths, I think, if executed flawlessly...but, when not, they tend to be weaknesses.

I'm sure it's every writers' dream to get their own corner of the comics universe to play with, unencumbered by the movements of your contemporaries, but those books tend to be a harder sell, short of an obvious lead in (video game tie ins, Smallville). Crossovers sell -- they boost sales. Guest appearances boost sales. The concept of a book 'mattering' to modern continuity, even absent crossovers, seems almost malignantly vital to the survival of any ongoing title (look at Robinson's brilliant Shade maxi-series, which barely had the heat to complete, despite a flawless execution; because it existed on the periphery of DC continuity).

That said, I firmly believe that a high level of execution CAN tip these into strengths; it's just a matter of getting the right balance, and the right approach. Hickman performed a similar feat on "Fantastic Four", which only vaguely related to any ongoing continuity events, and primarily told its own story. Yes, a gimmicky 'event' of its own was required to bring the numbers up to notable levels, and frankly the Legion doesn't have any individual characters with which they could replicate said gimmick, but even before that - and certainly after - sales were at reasonably stable and high levels (for the franchise).

It can be done with the Legion.




I think the elements of a perfect Legion book have been scattered around various attempts throughout the years. The closest, as I see it, was Giffen's 5 Years Later run, but that was perhaps too adult, too impenetrable, too ambitious, and ultimately Giffen and the Bierbaums weren't doing very 'stable' work (moments of complete brilliance, but punctuated by stretches of mediocrity when Giffen wasn't directly involved in either the plotting/dialogue/artwork).

What made Levitz’s contribution so exceptional is that he was planning stories out not just 12 issues, but YEARS in advance, we’ve plots and subplots over the better part of a decade, it seemed. The meticulous detail with which he cataloged his work, mapped his progression, meant that he could rotate the spotlight to various characters, giving each of them their due. And this long term planning allowed everything that happened to feel organic. Characters and character relationships developed over years, with a realistic, measured rhythm. Events never felt like they were done for shock value, or to see what worked, but had been built to over the course of months at minimum. There was a natural, gradual escalation of threat.

No, this isn’t the only thing that made Levitz’s Legion such a success, but it’s the one thing that his Legion had that all others have lacked. His Legion was partially successful because it had a healthy dose of soap opera, which he did quite well. But other Legions have had the same soap opera – most notably the archie legion under Peyer, Waid, etc – and didn’t fare nearly as well, either in the open market or the critical theatre.

Giffen brought with him a genius concept engine, with some extremely forward thinking ideas. It’s clear, especially from their separately done work, that he was the Big Concept guy, more in line with Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis than the traditional superhero writers of the day. His characters were complex, subtle, and often deeply tragic.

DnA’s Legion took a page from revamps like Grant Morrison’s JLA and Ellis’ Authority/Stormwatch and brought widescreen action to the book. That is certainly an element that had been there, in bits, with epics such as Great Darkness Saga and the Time Trapper throwdown, but it wasn’t nearly as emphasized until DnA came on. But their run lacked, crucially, the long term planning I mentioned earlier. That’s why something like “Legion Lost” and “Legion Worlds” holds up so well, while the Legion title itself became progressively more haphazard, began to rely on shock value and ultimately their removal was not only warranted, but overdue.




Waid’s second turn at the title attempted to blend two of the attributes I mentioned above – soap opera and big concept generation – but failed to do the first interestingly or convincingly, and failed to create any interesting, compelling antagonists for the team. Additionally, the lack of a long term blueprint was fairly obvious (and disappointing). Potential, sure, but squandered.

One thing that I thought Waid did well was that he attempted to make the characters feel…alien, or at least profoundly DIFFERENT, both from each other and from what we have come to consider ‘normal’. While previous iterations of the Legion had a few token ‘alien’ like characters, most of the main cast acted exactly as one might expect a JLA member to act. Under Waid’s pen, the character of Chameleon, for instance, was odd while still relatable. Leviathan was in fact a giant who could shrink. Titans could no longer speak with vocal chords.

Any future attempt at the title has to attempt to reconcile and merge all these positive aspects, but most crucial is that there most be some long term, multi-year plan in place. Legion is a title that not only allows such a plan thanks to the insular nature of its continuity, but it demands it thanks to the sprawling size of its cast. Likewise crucial are the big concepts, the soap opera, and the wide screen action. All of these can be blended into what I think would be the perfect Legion of Superheroes comic book.

So how do we go about it, in more concrete terms? 



What we have is what we have. We have the most recognizable, and the most historically successful Legion ever. They are a massive group with a lot of adventures behind them as an institution that fights crime across a galaxy and more, with some old members, some new members, and some part-time new and old members. This is our foundation.

From there, we work out, I think. If we want to make big changes, fine, but it's not with cheesy shortcuts like rebooting continuity or retrobooting continuity. We now have a consistent continuity that we can point people to that is simple and easy; Everything from their first appearance in Adventure to say the end of v3, and all the stuff since that Legion's return in Superman and the Legion and the Lightning-crossover whatever. In pointing people to the Legion, you need not even mention 5YL, Archie, DnA, Threeboot, etc unless they're interested in seeing 'alternate reality stories' of the Legion (and this isn't an issue of taste, but clarity; my personal favorite Legion is the Giffen 5YL, and Legion Lost/Legion Worlds is in my top 5 Legion stories of all time).

(And for the sticklers, I do recognize that not everything makes total sense and certain bits of continuity don't add up, that there might be better breaking points than the end of Vol 3, etc but really are these continuity issues worth quibbling over? Does anyone REALLY care? Does it hurt the integrity of the story, or the history?) 

REFOCUS



To me the Legion as a concept is all about this bright optimism for the future, this looking forward; not only is it a book that takes place in a  Utopian 30th century, but it's about young people of all different backgrounds using their abilities to unite a universe, for the betterment of all. It's very much a statement, and a promise, and a blueprint for going forward.

People tout 'diversity', but that diversity is just an outgrowth of that optimism; that the things that unite will supersede the things that divide us, but that we'll maintain our diversity, our differences, and come together to celebrate them rather than fear them.

The most crucial element of any Legion story is that it look to the future, rather than being bogged down in the past, and the greatest and most common failing of Legion writers is precisely that. Because mainstream superhero comics is, largely, a nostalgia driven industry. More covers are homages than they are unique images, costume changes are made only to generate demand for the return of the old. The most successful writers working in the field today have largely built their careers on looking backwards, not just to continuity but with their characters themselves; all haunted by childhood trauma and familial loss (mother, father, sister, brother, lover, wife, husband, etc).

The Legion doesn't need a big cast, although I think it works best when it has one. It doesn't need big, cosmic stories, although those are my preference. It just needs to be fearless.

REINVENT



Alan Moore's reinvention of "Swamp Thing" is exactly how these things should be done, in my opinion. What Moore did there was not reboot the character, nor focus on old hoary pieces of continuity from Swamp Thing's past, but rather he took the core essence of the character - this monster, this horror - and he made it his own, creating whole worlds (literally), powers, villains...everything. This method almost always yields the best results, if the author in question has the skills for it. Grant Morrison did something similar with Doom Patrol (weird group of deformed outcasts dealing with the weird), Peter Milligan did the same with Human Target and Shade the Changing Man (both concerned with malleable identity), etc. 

And it doesn't just extend to technology, although that's a big part of it. It's endless entertainment to imagine what society might look like at that point, how worlds might develop, be colonized by humanity; wouldn't corporations be at the forefront? The Lexor system, the Googleplex world-sequence, the W8yne Technarcy...wouldn't some be colonized in the name of religion? Frontier worlds in which the Hindu Gods are REAL, their mantles taken up by early colonizers keeping their great-great-great grand children in a pre-printing press age, planets with names like "Hajj", and "Bismillah", and "Akhirah" and "New Medina". In the name of now vestigial, forgotten nations? Worlds where Portuguese, or Spanish, or Mandarin are still the Vernacular Language (though instruction in Intergalac is, of course, compulsory and indeed necessary to succeed in the intergalactic stage).

But sure, technology  is fun to imagine, too, and some of it is going to be universal and very commercial (say, "Deathless", a technology which uses the technological footprint left by a lost loved one to reconstruct his/her/it's personality, marries it to an AI, then uploads the synthesis package into a robotic replica), and some of it is going to be born of the society from which it comes and be very proprietary, especially weaponry (the Imskians making tailored gene plagues, working the very genome with microscopic hands; the Coluans building bullets with BRAINS, adapting to by the pico-second to changes in situation...even their bullets are smart, they'll say; Braalian weapons turning the very magnetic fields of planets against their inhabitants, cutting communication with iron-particulate bombs; etc). 

REBOOT



I spoke to this above a bit, but the reboot concept is so central to the Legion at this point that I feel it should be addressed with more depth.   

I would argue that the Reboots were fundamentally wrongheaded in the same way that telling the Legion's origin story again is fundamentally wrongheaded -- it's the same damn thing, over and over again. Everyone wants to tell the definitive origin of this, or that, but it's DULL because it's a story that has been told - in various ways, with minute differences - 5 or 6 times already.

Rather than trying to give readers an in through such cheap gimmicks, which ultimately only confuse them more (but wait, why is everything so DIFFERENT when I go back to check out these characters that have captured my interest? Uh, did you say clones? Alternate timelines? What's a Time Trapper? Pre-zwhatnow?) just take what you have and go FORWARD.

There is a bunch of past continuity? DON'T REFERENCE IT. Make sure your run stands on its own. Introduce the characters all as if it was our very first time reading them at the start of your run. Introduce readers to various bits of continuity as it becomes relevant, and make sure it actually IS relevant -- it doesn't matter that Brainiac 5 loves Supergirl if you don't have a Brainiac 5/Supergirl love story in mind. That Mon-El was in the Phantom Zone is irrelevant unless you're actually going to bother to explore the psychology of what that did to him. And if you are, you damn well better tell us about it.

Create new characters, new heroes. Retire old ones when it feels right, or ignore them if you don't have anything to say about them -- a future writer will pick them up if they feel like it.

Create new villains, or revamp old villains to the point that they FEEL new. You don't need to reference every past dealing with a character if he comes up again -- a simple "This Hunter...he's nothing like who we faced before!" will suffice. Readers can go back and check out past appearances if they want, but aren't obliged to because you've done something very different (in the same way that Alan Moore's Arcane was a different animal entirely from any we had seen before).

The lack of imagination or laziness or frankly lack of judgement of creators is surprising, even creators who I respect IMMENSELY. I think Mark Waid has an incredible understanding of what makes stories work or not work, even if the books he himself puts out can be variable (for me). As an editor, he seems impeccable. So why on gods earth did he feel the need to reboot the Legion YET AGAIN when he took over the title, when a far more elegant, less heavy handed solution was so obvious, and could have done everything he wanted without alienating anyone?
RIP



I think killing off Legionnaires is a powerful tool, and one that should be used -- but sparingly. Gimmicky slaughter, without weight or thought, invites gimmicky resurrection. If there is anything that might separate the Legion from the DCU proper, maybe it is that death more often sticks (for what it's worth, I'm not a proponent of dead-means-dead in the fictional universes, and believe the cyclical nature of the superhero existence to be a charming artifact of it's role as escapist fantasy).

DnA's Legion really started coming off the rails when it gave in to gimmick -- cheap deaths and cheaper resurrection with no plan and all shock value. When the creative team was replaced, I wasn't upset; I felt a change was needed.

I DO think Legionnaires should die, or be crippled, or retire as the story demands it, but the best way to ensure that such changes are lasting and meaningful is by making the story too good to ignore, and the 'sidelining' a meaningful part of it.


I suppose, in the end, what the Legion needs is a writer who fearlessly moves forward, who fairly oozes worlds and villains and heroes and dilemma, who kills characters when the story demands it and evolves the status quo as a matter of course. Divorced as the Legion is from any modern continuity, the freedom afforded by the future setting almost DEMANDS to be used, and it is only through this kind of innovation and reinvention that the Legion can distinguish itself in the current market. 

I believe we can find this person. I believe we can do it. However long the Legion lies fallow, I'm confident it will return, hopefully better and more vital than ever. 

Long Live The Legion!

19 comments:

  1. I think the problem is that most writers tend to be overwhelmed when approaching the Legion, thinking of it as a landscape rather than a set of distinctive heroes the same as any other corner of the DC universe. They stop thinking of what makes the team unique and instead just try to juggle the sprawling cast. That's why I like it when writers like Johns and Morrison realize that the whole point of the Legion originally was to reflect the legacy of Superman. When you get away from that, the team becomes just another team, and one that has little or nothing to do with anything else going on in comics. That's great for your niche readers, but terrible for initiates.

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  2. Brilliant article. I agree with it completely. I would also mention Shooter as one of the guys who understood the concept better than most and was probably the one who gave it its soap opera concepts. I even like his last run, as flawed by DC Editorial as it was.
    One concept that seemed lost (and was an integral part of what also made Legion distinct was its "Tale" lore. I really believe the book should be handled closer to what Astro City, Starman and Planetary (its siblings) are done. You could have an anthology structure, with top writers and artists mixed with a "Consulting" writer who would handle the major storyline (that would have to be Giffen).

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  3. Tony - Thanks for the response, and always interesting thoughts. That said, I disagree fairly strongly; while the Legion as a natural outgrowth of Superman has historical value, and certainly I think can still operate in the same capacity in Superman's stories/mythology, I think it has a much broader, more universal appeal and potential. For Superman, it represented the promise of a better, brighter tomorrow; a future in which everything was okay, that one's dreams and hopes and actions made a positive difference, and in which the ultimate outsider was accepted as a friend, and as an equal.

    What I'm saying is -- why can't that be true for ALL of us? That's the core of the Legion, that future, that promise, that hope, that optimism. And with that, you can probably guess at what my first arc would be about, were I given the title.

    Ricardo - Thank you kindly, sir. Shooter is of course worth mentioning, but I had a harder time dissecting just what he brought to the Legion that made it so successful. There was soap opera, true, but he also created a lot of lasting and well loved antagonists. In fact, he may have been the last writer to add any 'stalwart' villains to the Legion (Levitz always said he was great at portraying the villains, but not so great at creating them, and off the top of my head I can't think of any he created that stayed around -- Luck Lords, minimally?)

    I still feel the traditional model for a Legion title is best, but I'd make sure to keep it insular from the goings on of modern continuity, and really encourage envelop pushing in terms of energy, tone, risk, etc. I know that seems general, and perhaps it is, but I still think it could be made to work as a marginal success (I'm convinced that to be a dynamite success you have to tie it into ongoing continuity, and an event, AND keep the quality up, which I'm not sure is possible with the Legion in the first place).

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  4. Could cultivating subplots and massive story arcs work on book like the Legion where there is only a small, but dedicated, fan base? From what I have seen, sales on Legion were at less than 20K and given how the New 52 is imploding with mass cancellations, DC seems to want results now rather than later.

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  5. Pyrodafox - I'd argue that subplots and large storyarcs are what seem to be selling in comics today, but I didn't mean that specifically. I just meant that I don't think we need to radically alter the mechanism of delivery of Legion stories, just their quality. A well written, creative, modern ongoing with a lot of energy that told stories at a fast pace - say arcs of 3-5 issues, with done in ones focusing on character - would do just fine in the current atmosphere. Legion is not a big name, but it IS a name, moreso than Booster Gold or Dial H or what have you. All the drawbacks I mention in the article (specifically lack of tie in capability) may prevent it from becoming a top-ten book, but I think it could become a steady mid-seller on that name (and high quality) alone.

    Mars - You know it!

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  6. Very well written. I've always enjoyed the Legion, but I agree sometimes when you get into this large of a cast and story lines. I can lead to many writers getting overwhelmed and readers wishing the story arcs would just wrap up and move on.

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  7. Thanks, Ryan. And yes, it's overwhelming, but I think the key - as I mention above - is planning defined character arcs for at least a few of your leads and having a rock solid idea of what the core themes you want to explore are. The rest - the setting, small character moments a la Morrison's JLA and what have you - all come fairly easily after that, and are additive rather than crucial.

    If you've ever seen a "Levitz plot", it seems to me that such a device is going to be extremely helpful on a such a title. Hickman used one to great affect on his Fantastic Four run, but Levitz really pioneered and popularized it on the Legion, and I think it helped.

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  8. There's a lot to process here, Astro. I agree that there has never been a perfect run of the Legion, only snatches of brilliance scattered over several runs. In your analysis, though, you leave out the Adventure and Superboy and . . . runs, which built the foundation for much of what the Legion has been since.

    I would argue that the Adventure run (as hokey as some of those stories could be) built the core of what has drawn many of us to the Legion: the potential of what the Legion COULD be (as you put it), as well as what we ourselves could be. There's always a certain amount of self-identification in super-heroes, which is magnified in the Legion since it has any number of characters who can represent the reader, the reader's friends, etc. This sense of identification (or wish fulfillment, perhaps), I think, is at the core of what makes the Legion unique: Who wouldn't want to belong to this group of cool kids with all their powers, technology, etc.?

    The '70s Legion (under Shooter and the unfairly maligned Bates) brought excitement and energy to the rather staid Adventure-era sensibility. The Legionnaires became sexy and dynamic, and their villains (even silly ones like Starfinger) became even more threatening and clever. In short, the '70s era showed how the Legion concept could evolve yet stay true to it's core sense of identity as a group of young heroes who lived in the future and had strong ties to Superboy (yet who could also be independent of him).

    The Levitz era took this evolution to its next logical step by showing the Legionnaires grow up. Unfortunately, there seems to be a mindset in comics that once you grow up, there is nowhere to go but backwards. Hence, reboots and retroboots. (I agree that 5YL was a brilliant but flawed masterpiece. It provided the next logical step in the Legion's evolution.) It seems that every version of the Legion since 5YL has tried to establish a new "core" by going backwards, either by starting over or starting from some previous point in the book's history. No one wants to face what would be the next logical point of evolution: the Legionnaires growing older and training the next generation of 31st century heroes (which is similar to what you propose).

    One minor correction: Levitz did not create the Luck Lords. They first appeared (with a very different appearance) in Adventure # 343, April 1966.

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  9. Hi Greg!

    You are indeed correct that I neglected to talk about the earlier Legion eras specifically. That was intentional, as I think it's harder to judge those runs qualitatively against the later years, concerned with entirely different demographics as they were. I wouldn't - couldn't - measure the articulation of Shooter's run against Waid's, or even Levitz's early run, because they were attempting to cater to an entirely different fanbase.

    Instead, as you aptly point out, I sort of draw from those runs as the misty primordial ooze that contained all the elements of what the Legion is, or was, or should be or what have you. Each time I'm talking about those themes, I'm talking about what those early runs established.

    They all played with, and elucidated upon, those themes, but it's much harder to judge the craft of those works in any way that would be useful to us, today. Meanwhile, I think there absolutely IS something to learn from what Levitz did, something that can be (and should be) applied to any future run.

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  10. And I should add -- excellent analysis, Greg. I think you hit both of those right on the head, especially Shooter's run which had some great, energetic, POWERFUL stories.

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  11. Haven't had time to read the entire article yet, but I just wanted to say your initial comments about the 5 Years Later arc are dead on. What made it great, more than just a Watchmen wannabe, was that it was grim and gritty but they were still real heroes, with hope and optimism. I've never read another book that did a better job of balancing those aspects.

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  12. Thanks, SF. It, like a lot of Giffen, had a very Ellis-ian feel to me. He's always been a guy, I felt, who made things very, very dark but had a throughline of optimism for the future in a lot of his stuff.

    I really wish that run had not suffered the problems that it did from editorial, and (I suspect) from Giffen being relatively new to the writer/artist grind. Had it had a more consistent creative voice, I think it would have gone down as one of the seminal runs of the 80s/90s.

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  13. One thing not addressed: the artwork. Isn't that why we "read" comic books? Bad art kills a mediocre story; great art can cover it up. Barry Kitson and Dennis Calero were the last ones who did it for me. Francis Manapul, Yildiray Cinar, Francis Portola? Meh. As for Keith Giffen, i haven't enjoyed his stuff since he embarked on his Cubist phase (the girl legionnaires all looked like Blok). Another issue was the latest cast members; they're just not compelling. What kind of superpower is acid breath (Dragonwing)? Comet Queen was, is, and will always be annoyingly juvenile. Harmonia is nothing more than a token Asian. Chemical Kid and Glorith II are knockoffs of their original namesakes, who were not exactly prominent in Legion lore to begin with. R.I.P. L.O.S.H. It's for the best.

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  14. It's a fine point, Unknown, about the artwork. That said, I'm less negative about some of the artistic choices than you are. For instance, I thought Manapul was far stronger than both Kitson and Calero, in terms of world and character building, much less character acting.

    For me, the greatest Legion artists have been those who are doing something new, and Kitson and Calero (and Cinar and Portela) never felt like they were doing anything new, to me.

    Giffen, especially in the 5YL era, was doing a lot of innovative stuff with storytelling, with form, with design. Influenced by Munoz at the time, I thought he was quite brilliant. The next artist who gave me that tingly feeling was Coipel, whose sense of scale was unmatched and who gave the characters an energy and vitality not matched since Giffen, heavily influenced by Manga. The last truly great (new) artist on the Legion was, for me, Manapul.

    The Legion has to look futuristic, in every respect, and energetic, and youthful. If I'm putting together a Legion creative team, all of those things are going to be hugely crucial. With that in mind, the most obvious choice out of DC's stable of go-to artist is Rocaforte. He's got an impeccable sense of page and panel design that feels futuristic; he's got a wonderful world and creature building sensibility; his characters all look incredibly youthful, and they are all crackling with energy. He is, in fact, the ideal Legion artist working today.

    But there are a lot of OTHER guys I'd love to see take on the franchise; Nick Dragotta, Giannis Milonogiannis, Keith Giffen, Robbi Rodriguez, Matteo Scalera...

    Whoever does the art has to feel and look fresh, exciting, and look like nothing else on the stands.

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  15. I have to admit I was surprised at this but with DC keep retconning books and all.

    I think it started to really go down when they retcon it during Zero hour with the 'old legion are clones and the younger legion are the real deal,' twoboot, then retcon THAT and made post zero hour reboot.

    They should had just KEPT reboot and not change it again. Or 3boot. Or anything past Post Zero hour. Have them grow up slowly like you would a manga series. Have arcs or stories with characters or many characters. Have the fans interact (like you want more Brainy? Sure. You want more Fatal five? Sure. More X from dc? Sure.) But not reboot it 4 times since the 90s.

    I personally have issues with 52 because they combined original with 3boot with the characters/origins/deaths/etc. but its still legion. I would go out and buy issues. Original/Reboot is my personal favorite but I LOVED (and still love,) LOSH.

    I just find it disappointing. A series I read forever is being canned because of past mistakes. I seen manga/comic books do worse (in Marvel and DC) and not get canned.

    I sort of wish they could retcon it again and go back to original/reboot/3boot/ANYTHING.

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  16. Loved reading this and the comments. I have the entire Legion Collection in didgital format on my computer, and many of the Print issues also. I'm a die hard legionnaire, and would for some brave writer to creat a legion and stick with it for the long term. My biggest problem with comics now is they write for the short attention span crew, which harms comics overall. Legion has gret stories within. Not all tales need be Heor vs Villain either. You have vs environment, vs culture, vs technology, vs magic, soo many options.

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  17. Glad you enjoyed it, Tazirai! Thanks for reading!

    I agree; the diversity of story is one of Legion's greatest potential strengths. The liabilities of the franchise are as easily its strengths, given the right situation

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  18. First of all, I agree that reboots are the problem with the Legion. It makes the history of the Legion near impenetrable. People get confused with all the reboots, but.. The reboots ALWAYS happened after a writer SLAUGHTERED the legion.
    Look at 5YL, most of the Legionnaires are dead/depowered/hypocrites/deaged/just-down-right-shitty. I mean it was so bad they had to bring the original legion back as the SW6 Batch to try to bring new life into it (and trim down a lot of the shitty Legion Rejects that had suddenly found themselves as the really really tiny "Legion" of 6). They needed to reboot the franchise because there was no hope and no way to fix that.
    The 3boot came around after DNA systematically slaughtered the Legion and destroyed the massive Archie Legion (which had gotten so big that the writers themselves couldn't figure out how to even make the characters shine). It went down to another tiny Legion of few and it lead to crap.
    The 3Boot was done away with because well.. Shooter's run was TERRIBLE and Gazelle became too much of a focus of the series, once again forgetting that the Legion is Legion.. but mostly terrible.. bad slang that felt like an old man trying to create "cool" future slang, but had never heard even modern slang to make it work.

    That all said, I think the main thing to make the Legion shine is.. it needs to be LEGION. It needs a mass amount of characters. I do not think Legionnaires have to die either. Retirement or leaving the team for various reasons can go a lot farther than killing off Legionnaires (remember, every Legionnaire that has been "Killed" has eventually come back in the Reboots). Yes, Karate Kid's death is powerful and a great story. Invisible Kids death tho? Not so much. There are ways to cycle out old members and bring in new ones without just killing them all off (also once a character has been killed at least in the Legion, that limits chances for writers to bring back a needed or beloved character where retirement or leaving the team or whatever, allows them to come back if a future writer wants them). I think the Legion can continue to grow and doesn't really need a cap on membership (they're LEGION).

    But I think the way to get the Legion to work best is not to just ignore the past (it belongs.. it should be there), but to go back to the old school way of handling the Legion. Break it down into smaller teams. Give everyone a chance to shine. Remind readers (new and old) who these people are, what their powers are, and why they are working in these smaller teams. DC and others think the Legion's massive team is the problem, but.. it's NEVER been a problem for the JSA or the 50 million X-Men. You just need a writer that can handle it and regularly switch up the smaller teams. Levitz was VERY good at this.. We need a new writer that can handle it and inject new energy but also intro people to the old Legion.

    Also if you're adding new Legionnaires, make them compelling and give them a reason to be there as Legionnaires. New characters like Gazelle, Shikari, and even Gates never meshed well with the over-all team and didn't have much purpose on the team as a whole, but were always there.

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