Another ‘Legion’ Ends
DC Comics told Newsarama that the current Legion of Super-Heroes title will end with the publication of issue #50.
Dan Didio, DC Senior VP and Executive Editor, explained "I thought that [writer] Jim [Shooter] and [artist] Francis [Manapul] have done a terrific job with the series, and ’50’ seemed like a really nice number to bring this series to a conclusion."
Jim Shooter broke into comics by writing for the Legion in Adventure Comics when he was only 15 and created many of its now famous characters and villains. When he was asked about the book’s cancellation, he remarked, "It’s a drag, but I get to finish most of my story. It would have finished in Issue #54, but Issue #50 is going to be a 30-page story, and I’m hoping people will be intrigued enough that they’ll want to finish the story …. I understand new comics sales are not doing so well right now. Which is weird. Just look at this crowd. Everyone seems so excited about comics."
This current Legion series came about as the second attempt to completely reboot the characters from scratch (nicknamed the "threeboot" by fans). Originally tackled by Mark Waid (Kingdom Come) and Barry Kitson (JLA: Year One), the new series was meant to bring in new fans since the Legion had been doing poorly on sales for some time. In an interview I held with Mark Waid soon after the book’s launch, Waid commented that DC had believed it to be necessary to "throw out the baby with the bathwater" since other attempts to bring in new audiences, such as the critically-acclaimed Legion Lost story by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, had failed to increase interest in the team. This strategy had been used before of course. In the late 1980’s, the Legion stories were pushed forward five years to show the characters now as all being older and dealing with a harsher, crueler future than they had been used to. And in the early 1990’s, after the crossover Zero Hour, the Legion had been re-booted from scratch, altering their names which were now considered hokey (Lightning Lad become Livewire, Element Lad became Alchemist, etc.).
In the reboot, Waid brought back the original code-names that not been used since the early 90’s (changing Livewire back to Lightning Lad, Apparition back to Phantom Girl, etc.), yet altered many of the characters and re-interpreted their powers and nature. Originally, Colossal Boy had been a young man who could grow to great heights. In Waid’s continuity, he was actually from a society of giants and, in his mind, his power was that he could shrink to Earth-man proportions (thus, he often argued his name should really be "Micro Lad"). Waid also changed the book to be less a group of heroes bound by a need for justice and more about the Legion representing a movement towards social change, directly challenging their society that had become obsessive about social taboos and maintaining routine, predictable behaviors at all costs. Whereas the original team had often cried out "Long live the Legion," Waid’s team would grin sarcastically as they shouted "Eat it, grandpa!"
Since Johns co-wrote the Lightning Saga which brought back the original team and has written their adventures in Superman and Legion of Three Worlds, as well as an episode that will feature them in the eleventh episode of this season’s Smallville, will he be penning a new ongoing series to replace the current one?
DiDio replied, "You know what? I think we’d love Geoff to write everything right now. But realistically, he’s got a pretty full slate with everything that’s going on … But I’m sure that the Legion will stay close to Geoff and near and dear to him as well, and you’ll probably see some of them appear through some of his runs down the line. I don’t want to give too much away. But there’s always plans for the Legion. They’re an important part of the DC Universe. And more importantly, I think we’ve done a great job with the story. I think Jim and Francis have done a great job bringing it to an end. And after Legion of Three Worlds, there will be more opportunities, so we’re going to explore those after that series concludes."
However, the plan didn’t seem to work as well as had been planned, even when Waid brought in a time-lost Supergirl and had her join the team for a while. Waid later left the book and was succeeded by Tony Bedard, who himself was later succeeded by Jim Shooter, bringing the interest of many older Legion fans who enjoyed his work on the book from many years ago. Now, the series is meeting its end before it can even interact with the modern-day super-heroes of the DCU (with the exception of Batman, who briefly met them in an issue of The Brave and the Bold).
Some fans had wondered about the future of this particular incarnation of the Legion. For over a year now, DC has been showcasing a team that is closer to the original version. This "old school" Legion first showed up in the JLA/JSA crossover The Lightning Saga and Superman commented that he had not seen this incarnation since the original Crisis. Superman then journeyed into their future, while at the same time finally remembering that he had enjoyed many adventures with this team during his teenage years, adventures which were somehow blocked from his mind later on. This seemed to cement that the old school, classic Legion was more important to the DCU than the Threeboot team that currently held its own series, since the original team helped influence Superman into becoming the hero we all know and love. Afterwards, Batman met with the Man of Steel and commented that there seemed to be three version of the Legion. Superman then implied that the original Pre-Crisis Legion was from the true future of the main DCU and that the Post-Zero Hour and Threeboot Legions were actually from the futures of parallel Earths. Which, in a way, implies that they were imitations in comparison to the real deal.
In the current mini-series Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, the original Legion has once again summoned Superman to the future to help them fight Superboy-Prime and the Legion of Super-Villains. To even the odds, they are also summoning the Post-Zero Hour team and the Threeboot Team. Johns has explained that any confusion between the three groups and their continuities will be cleared up in the mini-series.
Alan "Sizzler" Kistler will miss the Threeboot team. He has been recognized by Warner Bros. Pictures and mainstream media outlets such as the New York Daily News as a comic book historian, and can be seen in the "Special Features" sections of the Adventures of Aquaman and Justice League: New Frontier DVDs. His personal website can be found at: http://KistlerUniverse.com. One of these days he’d love to write for DC, Marvel or Doctor Who.