At a convention known for its fans’ devotion and passion, Legion of Superheroes devotees are truly in a league of their own.
Throughout Saturday’s “Legion of Superheroes Panel,” fans from across the globe shared their personal connections to the DC superteam with panelists, Paul Levitz, Mike Grell, Keith Giffen, Colleen Doran, Geoff Johns, Tom Bierbaum, and Mary Bierbaum, as well as questions about the varying specifics of a series that has one of the broadest mythos of any in the comic universe.
Being such a beloved series, its no surprise that many in attendance were extremely concerned about the future of the series. Johns let out a minor spoiler, revealing part of Una’s character arc: “You turn the page and she’s multiplied into like a hundred of her and she says ‘I don’t know how I ever got anything done with just three of me,'” he added. “She’s going to be called ‘Duplicate Damsel’.”
Continuing, Legion of Three Worlds writer Johns certainly tried to ease any fears that his run would be lacking anyone’s favorite character, asserting that George Perez, “wants to draw every Legionnaire ever.” Unfortunately, the Superpets will not be making an appearance.
A question about the lack of African-American representation in classic Legion stories drew muffled sighs from the more senior members of the panel. Levitz responded by saying, “I think it’s important to look at the broader context, that’s the way things were being done in comics in ’67 or ’68.”
Levitz went on to say that the Teen Titans were going to introduce the first black superhero, however DC ardently opposed this move and redrew the character as a white character. Allegedly the creative team was blacklisted for a year.
“[There was] a certain trepidation that they wouldn’t do it right,” Mike Grell said, and then added his own anecdote about the trouble he had adding a black Legionnaire, “It was a story about a Science Policeman who makes a mistake at the beginning of the story, and corrects the mistake and becomes a hero by the end of the story… My editor said, ‘No you can’t do that, they’ll send letters.'”
Fortunately, Grell was not completely cowed by DC’s demands, “As my silent protest, I very mildly redrew the character, and sure enough we got letters saying, ‘Hey, that’s a brother painted pink.'”
All of the panelists had numerous fond memories of working with The Legion of Superheroes, and no dearth of appreciation for the fans, but perhaps Levitz summed it up best when he said, “We got to play with some really cool toys, and the only reason we got to play with them was because you guys kept coming around and saying, ‘Go ahead, have fun with them.'”