Final Crisis: Legion of Super-Heroes

All right, I avoided publishing an immediate post concerning the news report that DC will be canceling the Legion of Super-Heroes as of issue #50. Newsarama reported this breaking news on September 29, 2008. You can read the article here. I figured that I needed a twenty-four-hour cooling down period so my post would be more rational and intelligent and less of a rage-fueled rant.

Before I rip into DC and Didio, let’s examine the statements that were made by Dan Didio. Dan Didio, who seems determined to lower my opinion of him with each passing day, stated “We’ve got a lot of plans and a lot of thought for the Legion right now, but coming out of the Legion of 3 Worlds, we’re going to let the characters rest for a little bit and see where we go from there.”

Dan Didio added “I don’t want to give too much away. But there are 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.”

My response to Didio would have to be: Are you fucking kidding me? Didio would have readers believe that they have so many plans for the Legion and that the best approach would be to cancel The Legion of Super-Heroes once again. For the zillionth time. Didio states that the Legion is an important part of the DC Universe and that they always have plans for the Legion. He then congratulates himself for a great job that has been done with the story.

First, if you really thought that you had done a great job with the story then you would not be canceling the Legion of Super-Heroes. Second, the statement that the Legion is an important part of the DC Universe is a joke. That is Didio pissing down my back and telling me that it is raining. DC could care less about the Legion. And the proof is how they have repeatedly butchered, mangled, mismanaged, and completely bungled the Legion over and over and over ever since the original Crisis back in 1986.

Legion fans have had to suffer through twenty-two years of constant stopping and starting and flip-flopping over the direction and purpose of the Legion. Ever since 1986, the Legion has completely lacked any coherent direction or purpose. The downfall of the Legion began with Crisis on Infinite Earths when DC decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater and junk the Multiverse.

DC also decided that Superman’s entire history would be trashed. This included Superman’s career as Superboy. This lovely idea was obviously not thought through properly when it came to what it would do to the Legion. The scrapping of Superboy completely eviscerated the Legion’s history. It left poor Paul Levitz scrambling to cobble together makeshift continuity patches to the Legion’s history. This was the beginning of the end for the Legion.

Then came along Tom and Mary Bierbaum, two fan fiction writers, who DC hired and teamed up with Keith Giffen to take over the writing duties on the Legion. The result was a Legion that read like pure fan fiction. The TMK Legion completely ignored the Legion’s storied continuity and blatantly disregarded the various Legionnaires’ established histories and personalities. Instead, the TMK Legion gave us a Legion that they wanted regardless of the pre-existing foundation of the Legion’s history. It was typical fan fiction where you write characters how you desire even if it is contrary to the established pasts of those characters.

DC finally woke up and realized the mistake of hiring a couple of fan fiction writers and teaming them with Giffen and canceled the TMK Legion. The TMK Legion made such a mess of the Legion’s continuity that DC decided the only solution was a total and complete re-boot of the Legion. This was a move that was practically unheard of in the world of comic books. Sure, other titles had been re-started and re-imagined. But, never had a title had nearly thirty years of continuity completely and totally junked.

So, after Zero Hour, Legion fans had to deal with saying goodbye to nearly thirty years of continuity and embracing an entirely new Legion and an entirely new continuity. Things were fine until DC went and made the same mistake they made with the TMK Legion when they turned the Legion over to DnA. The result was the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Legionnaires both getting canceled.

DnA proceeded to do what TMK did by completely and blatantly ignoring the past continuity and established personalities and histories for the various Legionnaires. We then got a mini-series in Legion Lost. Then we got another mini-series in Legion Worlds. Then we finally got a new Legion title again. But, DnA had done so much damage to the Legion that DC decided to once again cancel the Legion.

But, that was not enough. DC then did what absolutely boggled my mind by completely and totally re-booting the Legion…AGAIN. So, now we got the threeboot. Once again, Legion fans had to take another kick to the crotch from DC and had to deal with yet another entirely brand new version of the Legion.

Of course, DC was not done meddling with the Legion. In a lame attempt to artificially boost sales, Didio decided to allow Supergirl to commandeer the Legion’s title. The result was the Legion being relegated to the status of second-class citizens. The stories consisted of nothing more than Legionnaires standing around helplessly while waiting for Supergirl to save the day by exerting little if any effort in the process.

DC decided to shake things up on the Legion of Super-Heroes by removing Waid and Kitson from the title and announcing that Jim Shooter would be taking over control of the Legion of Super-Heroes. I know that most Legion fans view Paul Levitz as the godfather of the Legion. But, a strong case could be made for Jim Shooter being the greatest Legion writer and not Paul Levitz.

And now we arrive at the present with DC announcing that once again they are going to cancel the Legion of Super-Heroes. And with the Legion of Three Worlds story who knows what direction DC is going to take with the Legion. At this point, DC might as well take the Legion and flush it down the toilet. DC’s constant bungling and mismanagement of the Legion of Super-Heroes has rendered it an impotent title.

Honestly, how the hell does DC expect the Legion to get good sales numbers when they are constantly rebooting and re-imaging the Legion every other day? The Legion’s continuity is such a mess that even long-time Legion fans have a hard time keeping everything straight. Never mind a newer reader. Newer readers are scared off of the Legion because the Legion’s continuity is impossible for them to follow. The lack of a constant and definable identity is what has killed the Legion. And DC is directly to blame for that.

It is no secret that successful comic books are ones that have a consistent easily definable and understandable identity. The X-Men are a band of mutants fighting against hate and prejudice in their eternal quest for acceptance on Earth. Iron Man is Tony Stark a billionaire genius and a playboy. Spider-Man is the everyman Peter Parker who struggles with just getting by on a daily basis. The Hulk is a classic monster tale in the vein of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well as Frankenstein.

It goes on and on and on. Successful and popular titles are all comic books that are easy to define and have a strong and consistent identity so that readers know exactly what they are going to get when they purchase the title.

That is not the case with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Hell, even long-time readers have absolutely no idea what they are going to get when they pick up an issue of the Legion. The Legion’s identity is in a constant state of flux. There is no stability with the Legion. The purpose and structure of the team constantly change. The identity of the Legion is constantly being re-invented.

At some point, DC has simply got to say enough is enough. DC has to pick a direction and stick with it. They have to pick a strong identity and purpose for the Legion and stand by it. This is like how floundering NFL franchises are usually ones who constantly change the Head Coach every single season. Look at the Oakland Raiders. That franchise is a joke. They are nothing more than a punch line. And part of that is because they have no stability because they are constantly changing the Head Coach.

Well, DC has made the Legion of Super-Heroes the comic book equivalent of the Oakland Raiders. The complete lack of stability of the title has completely ruined the Legion. And it has completely ruined the marketability of the Legion as well. I simply do not see how the Legion ever establishes itself as a title that can routinely post strong sales numbers as long as there is a total lack of stability with the history, purpose and identity of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

I know that many fans will state that having Geoff Johns write the Legion will automatically translate into great sales numbers for the Legion. And I know that many fans feel that Johns is going to be tapped as the writer for a new Legion of Super-Heroes title. First, I hope that never happens since Johns has yet to even remotely display a proper understanding or love for the Legion of Super-Heroes. Johns is a self-admitted and unabashed Superman fanboy and simply views the Legion as a minor extension of the Superman mythos.

However, more important is the fact that I just do not think that Johns has the time to pen a Legion title. Right now, Johns has his plate full. Dan Didio answered questions of Johns writing a new Legion of Super-Heroes title by stating “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. He’s got Flash, Green Lantern, JSA, Action, and specials coming up because this thing called Blackest Night is looming.”

As much as it pains me, I have to agree with Didio. Johns is much better suited to write the Flash, Green Lantern, JSA, and Action Comics. Johns knows those characters better than he knows the Legion and Johns loves the other characters more than he does the Legion.

I would much rather keep Johns on the four aforementioned titles rather than have him drop one of them in order to add the Legion to his workload. And I think that it is simply asking too much from Johns to add a fifth title to his slate in addition to handling DC’s next big event in Blackest Night.

I feel bad for Shooter. I know that he is not that popular of a person within the comic industry, but I thought he was doing a good job on the Legion. I certainly found Shooter’s Legion to be better than anything we have gotten since the Post-Zero Hour “Kiddie” Legion.

Jim Shooter only found out this news that the Legion of Super-Heroes was getting canceled one month ago. Shooter commented “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. So we’ll see.”

Jim Shooter turned in some of the best work on the Legion that we have gotten in a long time. Still, the sales numbers were very low. Do I blame Shooter for the low sales numbers? No. The low sales numbers are due to DC’s constant raping of the Legion that has rendered it practically impossible to publish a monthly Legion title that will be a sales monster.

What really gets me is that Shooter had his story planned through issue #54. Are you telling me that Didio could not at least give Shooter four extra issues in order to properly finish up his story before canceling the title? Who cares if the Legion ends with issue #54 instead of issue #50? It should make no difference to Didio. By not allowing Shooter the ability to properly finish his story, Didio disrespects Shooter as a professional and Didio disrespects the readers by denying them a properly concluded story.

I am totally beside myself at the moment. I am so sick and tired of how DC has continually butchered the Legion. Canceling the Legion of Super-Heroes once again is the final straw. I have no idea how DC can expect long-time Legion fans like myself to keep coming back for more punishment. At some point, Legion fans are going to say enough is enough.

Why bother believing anything Didio says when more than likely in five years, Didio will waffle once again and probably cancel and completely re-boot the Legion yet again. Given the past handling of the Legion, there is absolutely no reason at all that any Legion fan should have faith in Didio or DC being able to properly handle the Legion in the foreseeable future.

Shooter summed up his feelings on the Legion of Super-Heroes getting canceled by stating “I really feel good about a lot of the stuff we did. And I think if more people had heard about it and more people had seen it, it might have really caught on. But anyway, I really had a great time. I don’t regret it at all. Maybe I’ve laid a foundation for somebody else.”

Sadly, that is not going to happen. Instead of using a strong run by Shooter as a nice foundation for the future of the Legion, Didio is sure to flush Shooter’s Legion down the toilet. And DC will then “treat” the reader to an all-new re-imagined Legion. Again. Yay.

12 thoughts on “Final Crisis: Legion of Super-Heroes

  1. Whoah, dude, that’s rough. I have never looked much into the Legion, but it did seem like an interesting concept, and I did love the League of Infinity, a Legion homage that Alan Moore created in Supreme, and its too bad that the Legion has been screwed over this much. Also, I think that it is a shame that Shooter leaving comics again almost the moment he came back into the mainstream. Oh well.

  2. “Why bother believing anything Didio says when more than likely in five years, Didio will waffle once again and probably cancel and completely re-boot the Legion yet again.”

    Well, perhaps Didio won’t be running things in five years.

    That aside, I empathize with your frustration, though I don’t really know much about the Legion.

    It does strike me as odd that he’s given so little time to wrap it up; DC has several editorial-favourite books (Manhunter and Blue Beetle, most notably) that have abysmal sales that they keep publishing, so I can’t imagine the loss of continuing the Legion four more issues would have been anything. Maybe they just liked the symmetry of ending on #50.

  3. I got on the Legion with DnA’s Legion Lost series and was on board all the way until the Waid reboot (though I still pick up the trades). I don’t know about the history but I really enjoyed the stories!

    Also, I hugely enjoyed the LOSH cartoon series and got a kick out of seeing my fave Legionnaires in it.

    That said, after growing attached to the characters like Element Lad and Monstress and Gates and Sensor and Shikari, rebooting to Waid’s version of the LOSH sucked, and now that it’s going to happen again, I’m really wondering if it’s worth following at all. The LOSH deserve better!

  4. What can I say? The next time DC publishes a LSH ongoing series, we will just have to do what we have always done: sit back and read the first issue as if we were reading a totally new comic-book (it worked for me).
    It is obvious that Legion of Three Worlds is meant to be another reboot of the superhero team. This means that whatever Johns does here will be the foundation for what comes next. I’m thinking of the original Legion returning to their rightful place with a few elements from the Post Zero Hour and Threeboot Legions being foled into their continuity. That’s what happened did to the Dc Universe after Crisis on Infinite Earths: basically Earth One with Earths Two, Four, S and X folded into it.
    I’m not sure if DC is sane enough not to allow or ‘order’ Johns to write a new LSH series. He is penning Legion of Three Worlds. He is also penning an episode of Smallville where the LSH makes their first appearance on the show. We all see he writing on Action Comics- he is a master continuity builder. If he can handle Superman’s convoluted history, why not LSH?
    Lastly, I have faith that DC will do the right thing this time. Then again I had faith that the US troops would have stayed in Iraq for only a few months. But let’s analyze this situation closely. Legion of Three Worlds is something very big. I consider it bigger that what happened after Zero Hour. Johns’ story is meant to involve all versions of the LSH and collapse them into one stable team- bringing finality to all the continuity clutter and problems. If DC decides that they need yet another new LSH after this, then someone needs a brain scan and I’ll need a shotgun. But seriously, Didio isn’t going to be in the picture for much longer, and Hollywood is being drained of ideas. Soon, someone will want to make a LSH movie and DC will need to stabilize this franchise to accommodate the resulting new readership.
    Anyway Rokk, let’s hope that this is the last time you will have to write a similar commentary about the LSH.


  5. How likely is it that DiDio has a specific plan for the Legion and needs the current book out of the way by issue 50 to fit it in? He seems to like big plans, and enacting them clumsily, and there is certainly a logical spot for him to try something when Lo3W concludes.

    As much as I doubt that I would like what DiDio and friends might come up with, I guess a new combo crew in the future with Bart Allen and (slight chance now) Conner Kent thrown in might at least be fun. Still, I don’t think he likes fun in comics, other than the “six-year-old melting his plastic toy soldiers” kind, and that has been a big part of the problem with his handling of the Legion and the rest of the DCU.

  6. I’m pretty unhappy with the cancellation. I got into comics because of the Legion, with the threeboot. And Shooter’s Legion is the one comic book that I collect with fervent regularity.

    I believe that canceling Legion is just another example of DC Comics’ crippling weakness and why they may never recover an advantage over Marvel: when something goes bad, they immediately destroy it and try to rebuild from the ground up. It’s the most idiotic way to do anything.

    If anything, they should take what they’ve already got and expound and improve on it. But we all know that they can’t bring themselves to do that…

    Whatever Marvel’s flaws are, at least they’re consistent–which is probably why they are outstripping DC in terms of everything, every week of every month of every year. I am a DC nut–but even I feel that right now the DC Universe, with the exception of a few titles, is in serious need of complete and utter renovations. By that, I don’t mean reboots–I mean good, old-fashioned hardcore improvements in story, art, and management.

  7. For me the exciting thing is the rumour of a new L.E.G.I.O.N series… the Barry Kitson written issues were are some of my favourite comics ever

    As to the LSH – well yes it sucks they didnt give them until #54 but lets be positive and hope that LO3W brings a lot of interest in the concept and that they want to make sure there is a new #1 to bring readers on with.

  8. I feel some of your pain, Rokk. It’s never a good day when an LSH title is canceled.

    It’s interesting that you cite the X-Men in your comments as a concept that stays true to form and never dies. However, you can’t deny that the X-Men themselves have been screwed with left, right, and center over the years. You could argue that Wolverine is what keeps the X-Men afloat because he’s insanely popular and he’s always got a tie back to the X-Men. The X-Men live, die, live again, mutate, die again, live again… and people keep coming back.

    I’ve forgotten the other important hook that the X-Men retain, though: they are the underdogs, the misfits that most people don’t understand and even fear. That’s something that kids can identify with. Unfortunately, the Legionnaires were always a bit too perfect, at least until the three-boot came along. They can be admired, but it’s hard to identify with them.

  9. you know i hear this argument a lot with legion fans, people freaking out that continuity and history are ignored and things are rebooted.

    i can think if very few characters that haven’t been rebooted, the legion doesn’t exist in a [time] bubble. every crisis were reboots for MANY series (if not literally reboots, at LEAST large directional changes) in the dc universe but legion fans FREAK OUT about it like they’re the only ones. MOST comics get a change every time they get a new writer! No one can tell me that a Simone wonder woman is the same as what came before.

    i, personally, would be saddened to see the legion bogged down with its history. it’s OLD. it’s really, really OLD. BECAUSE it is older than GOD, it changes and evolves. how many times has superman been reinvented? or the xmen, the team that everyone loves to compare the legion to, they have like 50 titles with 50 different teams.

    i, for one, am happy that, you know, they actually added other ethnicities to the team and that they aren’t all going down to the diner after the sock hop.

    1) the legion’s not really canceled. it’s on hiatus until 2009.

    2) BRING IT. bring me new legion. shooter’s run has been atrociously offensive to all of my senses. BE REBORN, LEGION!

    3) i think we remember the past with VERY rose colored glasses. the first few bits of the legion, they just showed up and hazed superboy.

    what ATTRACTS me to the legion is that it updates itself. yeah, sometimes things go badly, but who cares? as offensive and sexist as shooter’s run was, i didn’t mind that much because i thought “whatever, soon this will pass and I will get a new legion and maybe it’ll be better”.

    REALLY? you REALLY want them to pick a direction and go with it? no you don’t! you SO don’t! because in a few years, it won’t be relevant anymore. i recently read an atrocious issue where a character named “jamm” appears, a bill and ted’s excellent adventure type, obviously an attempt to make the legion more modern and contemporary.

    continuity wise, as long as there’s a general attempt to smooth or explain the transition? then HAVE AT IT. this is why i like L03W, i like comparing and contrasting the different incarnations of the characters. and that’s the sort of fan i think the legion attracts or SHOULD attract because its catered to that. unfortunately, fans get attached to a TYPE of legion, one they have in their heads that might not be that great to everyone or even exist to everyone (which is something i think you pointed out as a CRITICISM of TMK?)

    i happily await a new legion! one hopefully filled with gay people and minorities.

  10. It seems to me problems arise when “continuity” gets in the way of “plot”.

    When it becomes impossible to describe “what” the book is in five sentences at the top of the first page (in the classic Marvel style) continuity shoehorns “plot” into convoluted “explanations” of past stories. What new reader, let alone NINE-YEAR OLD can read that? I liked LSH best when it seemed like it was the Sci-Fi corner of the DCU. Space monsters, planet invasions, adventures on unknown worlds. And I think it worked best when Superboy was just another one of the kids.

    I don’t look forward to LO3W. I did not enjoy Lightning Saga and the use of Karate Kid as a “Typhoid Mary”. It seems that to Dido, if Johns thinks he has a good concept, DC will bend books around that concept.

    Dido/Johns IM Humble O, is as bad for DC as QueDeSadea/Bendis is for Marvel. It’s as if they have collectively decided that comics are only for 25+ year olds who “need” blood to keep their interest.

    I’d like to see books where no one dies, and every one is saved. A universe where HOPE still exists instead of these two hopeless places of pain, torment, misery, and moral ambiguity. Comics aren’t supposed to be “real world”, in my foolish understanding of the concept, they were supposed to be IDEAL situations which reflect of the basic OPTIMISTIC, humanistic potential for GOOD in us all.

    Siegel created a bullet-proof man who couldn’t die. Who could SAVE us ALL, either through his action s or his example. What current “fans” seem to support with their purcahses are avatars who can all be put to death.

    I really liked Authority when it was new. I read Kingdom Come over and over that first year, but how many on-camera deaths must there be? How “dark” must these books get before the light shines down once again?

    The “heroes”, so tainted by their actions and inaction that they ALL resemble soldiers with PTSD. Is THAT what “costumed vigilante” books must be?

    How long until EVERY book is “Kill Bill”? Even Invincible, a book I have supported since issue 5 has a fetish for on-panel eviseration and the color red.

    When does it end? When the comics companies pull the plug? Is THIS the final archetype that “history” will judge this unique, literary form?

    A true conversation in my LCS:

    Mom: “Hi, I’m looking for some comics for my nine-year old son.” She looked across the racks of half-naked women, guns, swords and blood. “Is there anything “safe”?” She asked, the tell-tale warble in her voice, a premonition of the negative before the question had been finished.

    Shop Owner, his eyes scanning FIFTY books on his racks: “Ah……Marvel Adventures?” (which had it’s “place” in a corner near the floor, where none of the “regualrs” would ever go.)

    She left with nothing. NOTHING. It made me feel like a lurker in a PORN shop.

  11. To andrew, Like you, I am very excited for a new LEGION series and remember fondly the original run (before Peyer). I am also excited about Bedard writing it. His sci-fi Crossgen series, Negation, was just fantastic and I think he should do well with this title.
    — werehawk (but my LJ ID isn’t working for some reason)

  12. I have a big problem with the way comics are done today and people like Didio, Bendis, Quesada and others are the reason. Too many reboots, reimaginings, multi-issue special events, and fake deaths to suit me.

    I’m probably reading half the number of new comics I read two or three years ago and I can pretty much count the number of DC and Marvel titles that I like on one hand.

    Comics are supposed to be fun. They seem to have stopped being so, some time ago and I think I know whose to blame. I might just be giving up on new comics sometime in the future and just reading and collecting old stuff from the 80’s and earlier. That would be a shame.

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