Monday, June 04, 2007

Continuity Notes: The Lightning Saga

Breaking my silence on the JLA/JSA crossover…

In the new Justice Society of America series, Geoff Johns introduced a new Starman, and quickly revealed him to be Thom Kallor of the 30th/31st century. He’s a white guy with a beard and a starfield costume, he spent some time in the Kingdom Come universe, and he’s kind of nuts. So right away we’ve got some continuity questions: is this the original Star Boy? If so, how could he exist when current Legion continuity has Star Boy as a black kid who can’t process complex sugars, and is currently safe and sound in the 31st century?

These questions have come to a head in the current JLA/JSA crossover. A quick synopsis of the plot: Starman is revealed to be one of seven Legionnaires to be stashed here in the present for a mysterious purpose. The other six are Dream Girl, Dawnstar, Sensor Girl, Karate Kid, Wildfire and Timber Wolf. The JLA and JSA reunite these six, who then fly off without them in pursuit of their mysterious mission. We also learn that Superman had some adventures with this Legion in his youth, but hasn’t seen them since ‘the first Crisis’.

As far as I can see, there are two issues here. One, how can there be two Legions at once, and two, which Legion are we dealing with here.

I’m not really worried about the two-Legions-at-once thing. We’ve got a multiverse now, and there’s room for all the Legions we could ever need. Obviously DC has to resolve just how Supergirl can go and visit one Legion while Superman went and visited another in his youth, but clearly this is not an impossible situation; it’s just a bit unclear. (This week, the two-Legions problem was acknowledged by a DC character for the first time in Action Comics #850.) It’ll all get figured out; it’s fine.

(Although I do want to say one thing. DC might not show us the solution to the two-Legions problem for quite a while yet. Know why? Because we may or may not keep buying comics to find out how the good guys beat the bad guys… but we’ll probably keep buying them to find out just how continuity is arranged these days. It is in DC’s financial interest to hold continuity resolutions over our heads. We won’t always pay for action, for fun, for good writing, for good art, for good characterization… but we’re suckers for continuity mechanics.)

The question of which Legion we’re dealing with here bugs me quite a bit more. Not that it’s hard to figure out. The Legionnaires we’ve seen, including the statues of them in the Fortress of Solitude, all have original-Legion costumes on. The bits of their history that they allude to are all from original-Legion stories. The Legionnaires themselves include people like Dawnstar, Polar Boy, Matter-Eater Lad and Invisible Kid II, who were never Legionnaires in subsequent versions. In other words, if this is any Legion we’ve seen before, it’s the original Legion, probably from sometime shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

However, the comic books of this crossover also make it clear that this isn’t the original Legion. Remember, we’re only talking about eight comic books here: the first four issues of JSA plus the first four issues (so far) of the crossover. (Plus some minor Karate Kid appearances in JLA.) And in that time they establish in several ways that we’ve got a different Legion here. Some of these details can be explained away as being too minor to dwell on or for some other reason, but others are more problematic; sort them into those categories yourself:

- the Legion flight rings don’t look like they did back in the ‘80s
- Polar Boy and Sensor Girl didn’t wear those costumes until after Crisis on Infinite Earths, and therefore Superman shouldn’t have statues wearing them. For that matter, Polar Boy didn’t become a Legionnaire until after Crisis, although Superman certainly knew him before that
- Dawnstar is suggested to be in a romantic relationship with a Thanagarian woman in Justice League of America #9; nothing in her history suggests that this is characteristic behaviour for her
- Dream Girl describes her superpower as having to do with ‘the Dreaming’, just like in the Sandman comic, but nobody’s ever described her power like that before
- Original-version Legionnaires Chemical King and Tyroc aren’t among the statues in the Fortress
- It’s implied that Wildfire is currently inhabiting a Red Tornado body, which doesn’t fit anything I’ve ever heard about Red Tornado or Wildfire
- Superman tells the story of Star Boy getting turfed out of the Legion for killing Kenz Nuhor, but implies by his wording that Star Boy was never readmitted. But in the original Legion stories, Star Boy was readmitted after a relatively short time
- In JSA #6, Starman seems to suggest that Night Girl joined the Legion at one point, but Night Girl has never been a Legionnaire
- This Legion seems to come from a point in time after their fight against Darkseid. But Karate Kid died in the comic books soon after that point, so if he’s appearing in this story, the timing of this Legion mission is pretty tight
- In the history of the original Legion, Projectra adopts the costume and identity of Sensor Girl after, and because of, Karate Kid’s death. So if we’ve got Sensor Girl and Karate Kid on the team at the same time, something different must be going on here

So they’re a whole new Legion. I’m going to call them the 2x+unboot Legion (pronounced ‘double-plus-unboot’).

But I’m still cool with the crossover. Taken as what it is, looked at for its own sake. It’s good. Johns and Meltzer got together to do this collaborative story, wanted to use the Legion, agreed on which Legion they wanted to use, wrote the story and now we’re reading about it. On this level, I’m okay with everything I’m seeing. Not the original Legion? Star Boy never readmitted? It’s all fine. Because they’re changes made for storytelling purposes. Johns and Meltzer set it all up so that they could tell the story they wanted to tell, and continuity can take a running jump. That’s fine; that’s what they should be doing. I’m enjoying this crossover and, within its context, everything Johns and Meltzer want to do is fine.

What worries me is what this Legion is going to be used for after the crossover. Johns and Meltzer making creative decisions for one story is one thing. DC Editorial making editorial decisions for the long term is quite another. And we know that they’re going to be used for something; Karate Kid is already appearing in Countdown, and Superman alluded to a Legion adventure called ‘Legion of Three Worlds’ in JSA #6 that sure sounds like a setup for something.

And then there’s what Grant Morrison said in his Newsarama interview about what the multiverse would be used for now that 52 is over: “the parallel Earths you see in issue #52 are not the familiar pre-Crisis versions. If you think you recognize and know any of these worlds from before, you'd be wrong. We all wanted to do something new with the multiple Earths so what you've already seen in 52 is simply the tip of the iceberg - each parallel world now has its own huge new backstory and characters”.

To translate: DC has no interest in using its new multiverse to provide a home for older stories. They want to use the multiverse as a tool for telling new stories.

And that’s good!

But if the original Legion and the 2x+unboot Legion are so much the same, why are they so different, and if they’re so different, why are they so much the same?

Or, to put that a bit more explicitly:
1. If Johns and Meltzer like the original Legion so much that they want to use the original Legion in a story, then why didn’t they use the original Legion?
2. If DC wants to tell all-new stories so much, then why are they giving such a prominent role to a Legion that so strongly resembles the original one when they already have another version of the Legion, currently appearing in the monthly DC comic book Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, that’s much better suited to the purpose? (Oh yes it is.)

To which I can supply the following answers:

1. As stated above, for storytelling reasons. (And for reasons like, DC can’t use Superboy anymore, Johns wants to be able to keep Starman in the JSA, et cetera.)
2. Because they think that the original Legion will sell better than the threeboot Legion.

And there’s something about that second answer that bugs me.

Obviously, DC is in the business of selling comics, so their decisions are not going to be purely artistic ones. They have to think both artistically and commercially. And what they seem to have come up with is that they can make some money on a Legion that superficially resembles the Levitz-and-Giffen-era Legion, but is different enough from that Legion that they can tell new stories with them. And from what I can see on different blogs and message boards, Legion fandom is overjoyed to see these characters. So why aren’t I happy?

I’m not sure. I just know I’m in a small group. Look:

Johns, Meltzer, possibly other DC creative types: happy that they can tell stories about the Legion they want to tell stories about
DC financial types: happy that they seem to have a version of the Legion here that can make some money
Many Legion fans: happy to see Legionnaires wearing old costumes
Matthew: not happy, possibly out of pure contrariness

What’s my problem? Am I a purist? Cripes, I hope not. I like this crossover. I’m ready to welcome this new version of the Legion to DC comics, whatever DiDio and the gang want to do with them. I would even be happy if this Legion took over the title from the threeboot Legion, assuming the story was done well and the threebooters weren’t just chucked in the garbage. Give me good Legion comics and I’m happy, regardless of whatever else. That’s my philosophy.

I’ve engaged in lots of debates about the relative merits of the different Legion eras. I think that almost all periods of Legion comics have something to recommend them; there are only a few that really don’t do anything for me. I don’t mind disagreeing with people about this stuff; that’s why they make chocolate and vanilla. But I have no patience with people who point to whichever version of the Legion existed when they were eleven and call it ‘the one TRUE Legion’. I have no patience with people who say offhand that it’s been all crap since Levitz stopped writing the book. I have no patience with people who hate it that their favourite Legion version has been rebooted but would be happy rebooting someone else’s favourite. If I’ve just described you, I don’t want to know you. There’s been a lot of this attitude on display recently; maybe that’s what’s bugging me. Or maybe what’s bugging me is that DC seems to be pandering to these people with this Legion.

Or maybe it’s my suspicion that the late-Levitz era and Five-Years-Later and SW6 Legions are going to remain excommunicate. There were some real good Legion stories in there, very powerful stuff, and as I keep saying, it’s not right to keep them out of play.

Or maybe it’s seeing just how low some people’s critical standards are. The 2x+unboot Legion has made sporadic appearances in about a dozen comic books now. We’ve only seen seven Legionnaires, and they haven’t told us a whole lot about what’s going on. And it’s clear to everyone that this Legion isn’t exactly the original Legion. But fans are willing to accept them as the Real Legion anyway? Why? On what basis? It’s not anything they’ve said. It’s not anything they’ve done. It can’t be for any reason other than that they superficially resemble the Legion of twenty-some years ago.

It’s hard to believe. Since Zero Hour, DC has given us two perfectly fine Legions, with strong strengths and some weaknesses, and while many fans have embraced one or both of them, others have turned their noses up at both of them, demanding the original Legion back. Does DC give them the original Legion back? They do not. They give those fans yet another new Legion. It’s not as brilliantly conceived as the last new Legion DC came up with, but it does look like the original Legion. And the One! True! Legion! fans are all over it! They eat it up like it’s ice cream. Was it that simple all along? Man. I would have liked to believe that people were thinking a little more deeply about this.

(You people should have seen the first drafts of this post. Vitriolic. I think that if we get any subsequent good comics out of the 2x+unboot Legion, it’ll be despite the efforts of DC Comics, who I suspect are acting somewhat cynically here, and despite the efforts of the One! True! Legion! fans, who I suspect would rather buy a bad comic about people wearing the costumes of the original Legion than a good comic about the reboot or threeboot Legions. (Note: if I’m not describing you, then I’m not describing you.))

(I agree that there have been a couple of very powerful moments when Superman reminisced about his friendship with the Legion. That was great stuff, and obviously written by someone who really gets what the Legion is about. But the comics could have been written so that he was saying those things about any version of the Legion Meltzer and Johns chose to use. It’s not an argument in favour of this new Legion specifically.)

Summing up the main points:

1. the Legion appearing in the JLA/JSA crossover ‘The Lightning Saga’ is not the original pre-Crisis Legion. It just resembles that Legion more than any other, and shares some but not all of their history.
2. the Legion appearing in ‘The Lightning Saga’ is, in effect, a new version of the Legion, and I’m going to call them the 2x+unboot Legion for my own reasons.
3. I like them but I don’t like all the reasons why they exist.
4. Superman remembers the 2x+unboot Legion from his youth; Supergirl is currently visiting the threeboot Legion; no explanation yet as to how two characters from the same world can go to the future and encounter two different Legions.

I’ll post more about this crossover if we get any new developments in JLA #10.

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31 Comments:

Blogger ComicGeek said...

Nice job clearing alot of that up. I had been wondering the same thng myself while reading The Lightning Saga.

I am going to throw up a link to you over at my blog. Stop by sometime, let me know what you think and link to me if you like it.

http://thecomicrack.blogspot.com

6:45 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks for the kind words and the link; next time I'm updating my links I'll tuck you in there.

One thing though. In your first post, you say:

There seems to be a void of quality blogs about comics and how people feel about them

Really?

I think there are more quality blogs about comics out there than you can shake a stick at. My sidebar's full of them, and those are just the ones I read regularly; I'm hardly scratching the surface. I envy you; you've got some good reading ahead of you. Always room for one more, of course!

8:57 PM  
Anonymous doublechinner said...

Great as always, Matthew. You forcefully express your views and feelings without being insulting to those who feel otherwise.

I think you are correct that part of the enthusiasm for 2x+u is simply the appearance of the characters, but even that enthusiasm is based on a hope that characters who LOOK like the old ones will actually BE like the old ones.

Second, I think A LOT of the excitement is predicated on the presence of beloved characters that we really haven't seen in a long time: Wildfire, Dawnstar, Sensor Girl and Timber Wolf. I really don't consider the 2boot Wildfire, Projectra and T-Wolf to be the same characters. These characters were among the favorites of 1970s-1980s Legion fans, and they are the characters most neglected and/or abused by the 2boot and 3boot series. Karate Kid and Dream Girl also fit that mold, too.

Also, I don't think you can underestimate the power of the Legion as Superman's boyhood friends. This is, of course, one of the most disputed issues in Legion fandom: does the Legion need a Superboy/girl? I have almost always felt that the answer is "yes," and I think the JLA/JSA crossover and the cartoon series demonstrate that very effectively. To me, one of the biggest disappointments of the 3boot/Supergirl series has been its failure to use the Kara character as a person out of time, revered by the Legion. She's become just a Legionnaire, and now we find out (via a Bedard interview) that she won't even remember her time with the Legion! Contrast that with Superman's reminiscences in JLA and JSA, and you begin to see why fans prefer one over the other. Is the JLA/JSA stuff to sentimental? Probably! But the 3boot/Supergirl stuff has been too ironic and unsentimental, if you ask me (which you didn't!)

Finally, I want to commend you for the appropriately snarky observation that we buy comics for continuity mechanics (great term!), not good stories, art and action. I think DC has gotten WAY addicted to this approach, and I think it will hurt them more than help them. Sure, if you can tell a great story that reveals/alters/improves the backstory of the characters, go for it. But I think keeping the future of the Legion SO up in the air for so long will just piss off more devoted readers. That's the effect it's having on me. Every month, I grow less certain I want to spend money on the 3boot, partly because I don't know if it is worth reading about characters who may not be around much longer.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly is the alternative?

I want to see the originals again. I liked the 5 year gap legion, and the archie legion.

I hate this Waid version.

Let's say a different writer comes aboard that is a great writer. He would have to be truly great to make much of Waid's characters and 31st century. It leaves me cold, and I haven't seen much evidence on the internet that many feel differently.

I hope they do bring back the originals, at least the setting and how they were portrayed in the 70's. You can alter the characters with development, you don't have to slavishly continue something. But I would like to see Ferro Lad and Chemical King. It always irked me that the Legionaires that most intrigued me were dead or got little exposure. Ditto for Blok, Tellus, Quislet, and even Tyroc.

My 2 cents anyway.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

doublechinner wrote: that enthusiasm is based on a hope that characters who LOOK like the old ones will actually BE like the old ones

Yes, true, although a lot of people seem to regard that as a fait accompli. I think it's actually quite *unlikely* that the 2x+unboot Legion will, given greater exposure, prove to... what? 'taste'? ... taste like the original Legion, simply because Paul Levitz had a very definite style, and it's not a style like anybody's using today. You really can't go home again.

I think A LOT of the excitement is predicated on the presence of beloved characters that we really haven't seen in a long time: Wildfire, Dawnstar, Sensor Girl and Timber Wolf.

That's the problem with any reboot: can you regard the rebooted characters as the same characters, or are they all-new? Can you carry over your emotional investment? I don't think there's any more of a problem with Wildfire or Timber Wolf than there is for Cosmic Boy or Saturn Girl. I'll give you Sensor Girl because of how *much* she was changed in the reboot, and Dawnstar because of course there hasn't been a proper Dawnstar since Levitz.

Also, I don't think you can underestimate the power of the Legion as Superman's boyhood friends.

I'm not underestimating it. I'm just saying that it's got nothing to do with which version of the Legion we're talking about. If Johns and Meltzer had wanted to use the threeboot Legion in their crossover, and made *them* Superman's boyhood friends, I'm sure they could have made it work and DC would have let them.
(And I don't think the JLA/JSA stuff is too sentimental. I like it like that.)

Every month, I grow less certain I want to spend money on the 3boot, partly because I don't know if it is worth reading about characters who may not be around much longer.

Oh, I think they'll be around for a while. DC does seem to have a notion of how they want all this to fit together, and they are using the threeboot Legion in titles like The Brave and the Bold. But even if they weren't, I'd have a different reaction from you: if I thought there were only going to be three issues left for the threeboot, or whatever, I'd make damn sure I picked up every one of them. Because I'd miss them, more is better, and forever is a long time.

Thanks for your comment; some good points.

anonymous wrote: What exactly is the alternative?

I don't know. The alternative to what? In general, when it comes to Legion storytelling, I'd say that there are infinite alternatives. It's wide open. DC can tell whatever stories they want, and if they're good enough, possibly with a famous creative team, those stories will succeed both artistically and in the marketplace. There's no essential restriction about which version of the Legion they need to use. Anything can be made to work.

Let's say a different writer comes aboard that is a great writer. He would have to be truly great to make much of Waid's characters and 31st century. It leaves me cold, and I haven't seen much evidence on the internet that many feel differently.

Many do feel differently. I've seen lots of good reviews on the 'net for the threeboot Legion, and the book is after all selling better than the DnA Legion ever did. For whatever that's worth.

But I really disagree that a great writer would have difficulty making much of these characters and this setting. For several reasons. First, Waid has done a good job of keeping the toys in the box. Much better than Giffen and the Bierbaums did Five Years Later. The threeboot Legion has a stable roster, but it'd be easy for a new writer to add more members (drawing from the ranks of the legionnaires, Terror Firma, or the Wanderers). They're getting a new leader and a new HQ, but the new writer is going to be able to handle that however he wants. The new writer can keep Supergirl or send her back; cure Mon-El or keep him on ice. None of the Legionnaires have been killed or ruined.

Second, the characterization of the Legionnaires is beyond anything else that's been attempted with them before, and any writer who can't do something interesting with them isn't trying.

Third, the famous generation-gap part of the premise of Waid's run has run itself down: after all the changes that have happened on Earth and after the Legion has covered itself in glory saving the world a couple of times, nothing could be more plausible than that the new writer simply not use the eat-it-Grandpa conflict anymore. Because nobody would be thinking like that after all this! By now, the Legion almost certainly has the same status in 31st-century society that it's had in previous versions. And notice that at no time did Waid's fingers ever leave his hand.

I mean, if you don't like it, nobody's gonna stop you. But Waid has left things in good shape for a new writer.

I hope they do bring back the originals, at least the setting and how they were portrayed in the 70's. You can alter the characters with development, you don't have to slavishly continue something.

I miss the characters from previous versions, including how their histories got them to where they were, but I don't really miss the eras themselves. I'd like to see the stories of the 5YL, SW6 and DnA Legions continued, but I don't need to go back to anything that the Legion itself has already moved past, if that makes any sense.

I would like to see Ferro Lad and Chemical King. It always irked me that the Legionaires that most intrigued me were dead or got little exposure. Ditto for Blok, Tellus, Quislet, and even Tyroc.

Always a big problem for the Legion: there are more good characters than there's room to focus on them.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are seeing something with these characters I'm not.

I've read all thirty issues. I've reread maybe four or five of those.

Once.

Maybe all writing is akin to tarot cards lying on a table, and you read your own meaning in it.

When I see those cards, I just don't care to know anything they have to reveal.

I used to think Waid was the main guy behind Kingdom Come. I've since read that was mostly a Ross thing.

Now I think Waid has had one good run on the Flash, and that's pretty much it for his accomplishments.

Opinions are like you-know-what, but if I see Waid is writing something now I think "Wonder if that is going to be any good? Maybe, I guess."

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one more thing. Have you thought through Phantom Girl's apparent existence?

Does she take a shower in some universe, then squat to take a dump, while flashes of this show through to another universe to an observer's alternate interest and horror?

Does she ride a spaceship in one universe and stare out a viewport, while in another you might catch a glimpse of her sitting on a nonexistent support travelling through space at stupendous speed?

What happens when she goes through any sort of transportational portal?

And do not get me started on Triplicate Girl.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, I showed you my reasoning about the characterization(in that link in my previous comment); you can accept it or not as you like.

(As for this Phantom Girl, I always assumed that many of the quotidian aspects of life required her to be completely present in one world or the other, which she's perfectly capable of.)

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I was being facetious. But I really, really want the 70/80's Legion to come back. It doesn't have to be a continuity handover, but I want Brainiac 5 to quit chewing on people's heads, Cosmic Boy to relinquish the spotlight.

And some of those romances to come back. Beach blanket bingo can get old.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Just out of curiosity... do you think the '70s-'80s Legion has come back, in the pages of JLA and JSA?

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spiritually yes.

They seem a little sad. But if you think one of you might die, I can see it.

Karate Kid seems different, but isn't hurt by it, I've liked him in all the versions (even Waid's). Maybe more, he could be a little macho for someone you would think was a zen master in the 70's.

Wildfire is the same.

Starboy is nuts, but that's ok.

Dawnstar has always seemed moody to me, so check on the sameness. And she evidently has a lost love or problems with Drake formlessness on her mind.

Dream Girl seems different, but she wasn't used a whole lot in the 70/80's legion in my memory. I remember her better from Silver Age reprints than I do the later legion. Really any quibble I have with her is using terms like "dreaming." No Morrison references for her.

Projectra/Sensor Girl - Haven't seen enough to say so far. Though why is she wearing the Sensor Girl outfit?

Timber Wolf seems the same.

I haven't reread those issues in a long time. Maybe it is memory, but even with the slow pacing of this crossover I feel we've seen more details about these guys than in 30 issues of the Waid legion. And I really hate Waid's world.

I could have lived with the Archie legion no problem, although subjecting earth to that "alien" infestation seemed kind of silly.

The Legion's earth needs to stay bright and shiny. No more asteroid belts or mucus filled aliens engulfing it. It's okay to threaten it, but you will never succeed.

Maybe Waid has good characterization. I don't think so, but maybe I'm prejudiced.

Because I don't like his legionaires. They are just not likeable to me. This is the first Ultra Boy that hasn't been a favorite of mine.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

12:08 AM  
Blogger ComicGeek said...

Yeah I guess I should change that. When I started this little endeavor, the comic blogosphere seemed constrictingly small. In 2 short weeks, I have realized it is HUGE and ever expanding.

No slight meant to anyone, it was more my personal ignorance when approaching a new world, than anything anyone else did.

1:03 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Spiritually yes.

There's the difference, I guess. I don't see that at all. I'm not saying that this Legion is bereft of soul or anything; I'm just saying that we haven't seen enough of them to know anything yet about whether they're true to the original Legion's spirit or not (although Superman's feelings toward them are clearly true to that spirit. But we're not talking about Superman here). I think people are seeing what they want to see.

ComicGeek: No, I understand. No slight was perceived.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Greybird said...

Your thoughts are intriguing, Matthew, though I can't quite grasp how you can view this new whatever-the-term Legion as both a sign of hope and a sign of "pandering."

They're never going to bring back any Legion based exactly upon any past template, and we'd be foolish to expect it. Storytelling passions and artists' enthusiasms change, if nothing else. Short of Levitz himself returning as writer — one of the few over-the-decades possibilities, though utterly unlikely — they're never going to recur in an exact pattern.

I find the idea of TPTB intending us to buy issues to keep up with continuity to be ... well, a sign of a cynicism I haven't seen from you. It's also a bit of projection, methinks.

That fans want continuity resolutions — or that creators are also fans themselves, who also want such resolutions — doesn't mean they're going to happen. Or even be strongly considered. They have to deal with the mechanics of publishing a book each month, at least until a title is restarted *sigh* ... and I've long thought that "having its continuity right" always fails against "having it to the printer by Tuesday."

I'm sticking with the sign-of-hope idea. Some lovely elements can return, even if for a few moments.

Such as two wings:

That's the problem with any reboot: Can you regard the rebooted characters as the same characters, or are they all-new? Can you carry over your emotional investment?

I can. And I do. (You've been warned: Unabashed emotion and incredible debating wordiness in that thread.)

[...] of course there hasn't been a proper Dawnstar since Levitz.

Amigo mio, there hasn't been any Dawnstar worth her name since Levitz. Period. Not in a story that's meant to persist. (My preferred term to the over-laden concept of "continuity.") Not a Dawny who hasn't been mutilated, a hallucination, a reminiscence, or a whisper of a momentary crossover of some kind.

That makes this all the more vivid. For me, anyway. I confess to being a Dawny fan above all, and a Legion fan just below that ... very close, but not identical, passions.

5:19 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I can't quite grasp how you can view this new whatever-the-term Legion as both a sign of hope and a sign of "pandering."

It wouldn't be the first time that an unwelcome or ill-advised change to a Legion comic produced good comics. I'd put both reboots in that category. I don't know. Maybe it isn't pandering, although it looks to me like it might be. As for the hope, anytime DC pays attention to the Legion it's a sign of hope.

They're never going to bring back any Legion based exactly upon any past template, and we'd be foolish to expect it.

I expect nothing. I'd like them to bring back all the past versions of the Legion, but I have no idea what they're going to do, or how well.

I find the idea of TPTB intending us to buy issues to keep up with continuity to be ... well, a sign of a cynicism I haven't seen from you.

I guess it does sound kind of cynical, but come on: you can't deny that many comics fans find the continuity questions endlessly fascinating, and I'm sure DC has noticed that that stuff sells. Calling that observation cynical, I suspect, is caused by a hidden assumption that that stuff shouldn't sell well (unless the story had other good qualities, of course), and I haven't thought about that hard enough to agree or disagree.

It's also a bit of projection, methinks.

Hey, I'm not getting Countdown; say that for me at least.

As for the emotional investment thing... when I posted this article, I hadn't thought through that aspect of things. Of course, what's happened here is that many Legion fans have found that the emotional investment they had in the original Legion will translate over to this new Legion, and that's why they're into it. Meanwhile, I've been promiscuously moving my emotional investment between the original, 5YL, SW6, reboot, threeboot and animated Legions, and can't see why this new one should be regarded as so much more special than any of those. So I'm looking at these seven 2x+unboot Legionnaires as all-new, but that's not a disadvantage for me; I accept all-new Legions all the time. Still, it leads to cognitive dissonance when I talk to Legion fans who click with them like they were the originals.

Amigo mio, there hasn't been any Dawnstar worth her name since Levitz. Period.

No argument. I probably just wasn't saying it strongly enough for you, which is understandable; I like Dawny, but nowhere near as much as you do. (If I had to choose between the two, I'd probably rather have Shikari on the team.)

10:02 AM  
Blogger The Fortress Keeper said...

Great post.

I haven't been quite as excited as some to see the Original (or nearly original) Legion return because, to be honest, I really like the Waid/Kitson reboot.

It took a lot of elements I liked about the original and added a "Magnus: Robot Fighter" vibe in having the heroes act as catalysts for a corrupt, sedentary society.

Plus, it featured a Supergirl I could get behind.

And I do suspect that you're right about DC's motivation regarding this New/Old Legion, as many of their comics these days seemed geared toward 30-40 year old fanboys who don't mind seeing old favorites in more "realistic" (i.e. lots of dismemberment) settings.

5:50 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I think the Waid/Kitson Legion is quite underrated. I'm not sure Waid got everything out of them that he could have, but it's a great group of characters who are just waiting to have some great stories told about them.

Not that the original Legionnaires aren't great characters, but... the prospect of reading a regular comic about the 2x+unboot Legion reminds me a lot of the new [i]Infinity Inc.[/i], which I will not be picking up, no matter how much I was a fan of the original I-Inc. in the '80s...

11:25 AM  
Blogger Allen said...

Great post, Matthew, thank you. I'd been thinking about this topic when I found your post, and reading it made me write up one of my own, though it went in a bit of a different direction than I'd intended.

I'd also like to commend your commenters here -- all of these responses have been well-written and had some thought put into them. That's refreshing to see. :)

12:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'd also like to commend your commenters here -- all of these responses have been well-written and had some thought put into them. That's refreshing to see. :)

I know! For some reason it's always been like that around here. And don't think I don't appreciate it.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

Head...spinning...continuity...convolutions...losing...consciousness...

"It is in DC’s financial interest to hold continuity resolutions over our heads. We won’t always pay for action, for fun, for good writing, for good art, for good characterization… but we’re suckers for continuity mechanics."

Truer words have never been written in the comic blogosphere. Preach on, my brother. Preach on.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous zeb aslam said...

I think you managed to write everything I've been thinking since this crossover started...it's kind of strange, really.

But yeah...I'm totally with you. Over the years I've managed to read all the various legions, some I've loved, others not so much...but each legion has been fantastic in its own way.

For example, I LOVED Sensor from the post-ZH Legion while I only tolerated Dream Girl. I know I'm in the minority on that one though.

Similarly, I adored the path Shrinking Violet of the Levitz/Giffen took to get to the tough, take-no-prisoners character she eventually became. That was just not available in any other Legion incarnation (the Waid version comes close, but she's too much of a cypher)

But yeah...I'm very suspicious of this particular Legion. I like the idea of it...but I'm not sure I'll enjoy the execution, especially in light of the fact that this is a stylized Legion for the "purists". They've tried to hit all the "cool" buttons: Sensor Girl at the same time as Karate Kid, Dawny and a Wildfire who is linked to the present-DCU, etc...) And it just rings kind of false to me.

I'm probably overthinking and I should just enjoy this Legion for what it is...but what I really want is a Legion book that revolves around ALL the legions. An anthology book if it comes to that with each arc focusing on another Legion incarnation. You can introduce people to all the characters over the years...and it would satisfy everyone. Who knows...with the "best shape the comics industry is in since the early 90s" we could even have two legion books again.

One can hope...

(Sorry about being all over the place...my brain doesn't really know when to stop and I just let it go where it wants ;) )

2:11 PM  
Anonymous kid anomaly said...

i love the current Waid/Kitson version, but i'm worried that DC might end this Legion because so far the response to the new/old Legion from the Lightning Saga has been mostly positive.

..and DC apparently listens to postings on its message boards..(as evidenced by the change in storytelling direction hinted at in Supergirl 19; no more Supergirl-with-issues, just Superman-girl-version-Supergirl)

..or should legion fans just stop worrying about which version is up there, just so long as the Legion (in whatever shape or form) is kept in circulation?

12:31 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Oh, look: comments that have been sitting around for a while because I haven't checked the older articles recently.

Harvey: Thanks.

Zeb: Oh, threeboot Vi is quite different from original Vi. The original Violet was tough and bitter for some very good reasons. Threeboot Vi hasn't been through anything like that; she's just putting on attitude because she wants to be a badass.

And I'd buy that anthology book. I've even got a title for them: Comic Book Designed Expressly For Matthew. But I don't see it happening.

Kid Anomaly: It's hard to figure what they're going to do. I can be happy with just about any Legion as long as it's at least a halfway decent comic book, but I still miss previous versions. But that's me. I wouldn't tell any other Legion fan to just sit down and be happy that there are Legion comics at all, because we want what we want, and why shouldn't we? We can want anything we want to want.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Scipio said...

"DC Editorial making editorial decisions for the long term is quite another."

But... isn't that what they're supposed to do?

11:01 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Now that you mention it, yes.

What I meant was, if writers are making a decision about something for the sake of their story, then (if they succeed) at least that decision will help produce a good story. Which is what I want. If a committee of editors makes a decision, it's not always for the sake of a story, and may be detrimental to the stories.

I think that's what I meant. Or, maybe: writers can win the battle and lose the war, or lose the battle and win the war, or whatever... but editors can give away the battle for the sake of a whole different war that we don't care about.

7:24 PM  
Blogger PenaltyKillah said...

Just read the KC trade for the umpteenth time... and I noticed some ubiquitous characters in P.44, where Kon-El & Matrix led... the SW6 batch. Visibly seen are Dragonmage, Catspaw, SW6 versions of Tenzil & Dirk, who were never heroes in the Reboot, Ayla, Ferro, Nura, and Thom in their SW6 costumes... and it looks like adult Timber Wolf's joined them too. A bit niffy for Waid, giving tribute to short-lived plot devices.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

You know what? I've never read it.

Neat, though. I wonder if, somewhere along the line, we're going to see Superboy's Legion again.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Ketin Porta said...

My interpretation of this mess is the following: Crisis didn't wipe out all parallel earths and now there are more than 52 earths.

We have

-The original Legion (from Earth-1, since it was Superboy from that earthswho interacted with them)
-Post crisis Legion (from Earth-AC --After Crisis, as I call it--, who interacted with Pocket Universe Superboy and who's timeline "ended" in zero hour)
-Post Zero Hour Legion (From Earth-247, so all time travels were dimensional as well)
-Threeboot Legion (my guess is that it's yet another parallel Earth, and Supergirl traveled dimensionally)
-Lightning Saga Legion (the new Earth-AC future or yet another Earth)

This whole mess gives us

-Mon-El from Earth-1 Daxam
-Lar Gand (Valor - Mon-El) from Earth-AC Daxam
-Lar Gand (Valor - Mon-El) from the Pocket Universe Daxam
-Lar Gand (Valor - Mon-El - M'onel) from Earth 247 Daxam
-Mon-El from Threeboot Daxam
-Mon-El from Lightning Saga Daxam

And I think that no Legion version replaces any other one of them

please e-mail me if you want to compare notes

Gonzalo Castellón, from Chile
tiotalo@gmail.com

1:44 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

There's no reason that can't be the way DC figures it. I just don't think that's the way DC figures it. Opens up quite a few cans of worms.

1:59 PM  
Blogger RavenScholar said...

It would be cool if Naltor had some connection to the Dreaming, though.

I just read the Endless Night for Sandman trade and completely geeked out when Despair was talking to the red guy called Rao and I TOTALLY REALIZED that it was Krypton's star Rao and I was witnessing the moment at which Superman was pretty much decided.

Anyway.
Oh, and Death of the Endless reminds me of Violet from the cartoon's second season

12:01 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

My concept of Naltor is that it's a science world. Dream Girl was always supposed to be in the Legion's second tier of scientists behind Brainiac 5, along with Sun Boy. The Dreaming doesn't really go with that.

12:05 AM  

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