September 7, 2008

A Very Long Lived Legion

Quite simply, after a long hiatus, I am slowly - but surely - falling back in love with the Legion of Super Heroes, just in time for its 50th anniversary.

Granted, why I fell out of love with the concept, I have no idea - maybe it was the repeated reboots coming out of crisis. Maybe it was the fact that it seemed that giving the Legion a more "uniform" look made them seem more like action figures. But gradually, thanks to the Waid/Kitson reboot, two really cool Legion blogs, and even the animated series - I'm becoming, slowly but surely, more appreciative of the subject.

And DC is pretty much pulling out the stops for the anniversary, engaging in full-on Legion revamping...and its initial starting is with Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds . Coming off the recent arc in Action Comics, the mini-series is part of the Final Crisis arc seemingly in name only. However, from the beginning - with its sly "homage" to Superman's origin, with recasting Superboy Prime as wanting to be Superman's "greatest villain", this is...well, it's big, and loud, and actually quite fun.

Part of the fun of this book - and what makes me eager for part 2 - is how it begins weaving together various bits of Legion history. It even has an explanation for how there are three different versions of the Legion (although, thankfully, it doesn't reveal the "events" of the Legion of 3 Worlds hinted at in Justice League of America, keeping it in the same vague, unseen-yet-hinted-at area as The Last Great Time War in Doctor Who. Granted, it may not be the most accessible series, but thankfully, DC has chosen to reprint many of its "classic" Legion stories in the Legion Of Super-Heroes: 1,050 Years of the Future.

Granted, it's not a perfect introduction - covers are published, yet corresponding stories (such as the Lightning Lad/Saturn Girl wedding) are omitted. (Fortunately, many key arcs such as the Great Darkness Saga are available in trade). However, this is a great introductory volume, from reprinting Adventure Comics # 247 (the first appearance of the Legion) to an episode from the previous reboot.

Plus, let's talk about the art - this reprints some of the best artists the Legion ever had. Mike Grell (who was "my" Legion artist), Dave Cockrum (who redesigned the Legion in the 1970s) and Keith Giffen (when he could draw)...there is some really good stuff in here. And it's starting to whet my appetite to read both Showcase compilations

...and as it should be. As a teenager, I had reread the reprints in DC's dollar, small-scale Digest editions. I'm happy that, for the time being, not only is the Legion getting some long-deserved recognition, but that currently - the future is looking brighter than ever.

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds - Highly Recommended
Legion of Super-Heroes: 1,050 Years of the Future - Highly Recommended

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