The Names Have All Changed Since You Hung Around
Anyone reading this has probably already heard that Jim Shooter has been named the new Legion writer, starting with #37.
This is definitely good news in one way: it brings a lot of attention to the Legion, which will probably result in at least a bump in sales for the comic book. That's always welcome.
As for whether Shooter is actually going to come up with good Legion stories, well... let's look at it.
First and most obviously, he's Jim Shooter. He got famous writing the Legion. He's been around and done a lot of things, and now he's working with material that's right in his wheelhouse. It would be an imbecility to deny the possibility that we're on the verge of a great Legion run. And I hope that's what happens!
Understand that: I have nothing against Jim Shooter. A Legion run with him as the writer has the potential for greatness.
But I do have some misgivings.
Shooter has had some famous problems with other people in the comic book industry. I don't know or care whose fault the problems were, but there's a chance that they'll flare up again and maybe even prematurely end his tenure at DC.
Shooter is much older now than he was when he first wrote the Legion. He is not, of course, too old to write well; cripes, P.G. Wodehouse was still writing worthwhile stuff into his 90s. But:
a) Most people have a 'prime', a period in which their productive abilities are at their maximum, and my understanding is that it typically comes about ten years after the start of your serious career. (I forget where I read this.) For Shooter, this was of course some time ago. Not that there's nothing left, but we're not getting him at the height of his powers.
b) Comic book storytelling has changed since Shooter started writing comics. I know he's done his share of comics writing more recently, so I'm not too worried about his ability to adapt, or anything... but will old-school Legion fans accept the 21st-century version of Jim Shooter?
As I've had occasion to mention before, I'm a Toronto Blue Jays fan. One thing I've learned about the sports fans of Toronto is that they have no trust for a new guy. When the Jays fired their GM, Gord Ash, a loose consensus formed that the only possible replacement for him was Pat Gillick, the guy who had had success as Jays GM back in the '80s and early '90s. Any other choice would doom the franchise, if you believed them: the only person who can be counted on to do something is someone who's already done it for you before. And, usually, when a Toronto sports team has tried this kind of thing, it hasn’t worked.
Which is a big reason I have doubts about Shooter. It seems like the same kind of decision: bring back the previous guy instead of looking for a new, hungry, talented guy. I think better Legion stories could (that’s ‘could’) result if DC found a young hotshot guy, eager to prove himself, offered him a bag of peanuts in return for some Legion stories, and told him that this was his big chance and don't waste it. In other words, if they tried to bring in the next Jim Shooter.
Anyway. Shooter seems to be saying the right things in the various interviews he’s had in the wake of this announcement. He’s already set my mind at ease on a couple of points (for instance, that he’s not going to simply chuck away the threeboot in favour of the version of the Legion he’s used to). (But the first arc is going to be sixteen issues long?! Aw, man. I didn’t like it when Mark Waid did stuff like that and I can’t see myself liking it any better from Shooter.)
Oh well; welcome back, Mr. Shooter, and welcome also to Messrs. Manapul and Livesay. I'm looking forward to reading your work.
For more information on Jim Shooter, read here.