Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Legionnaires: Reflecto

I've taken care to leave my personal life out of this blog, and that continues to be my policy. I will say, though, that some complications are interfering with my ability to get to a comic shop promptly, so reviews will be late for the foreseeable future. I'm still doing them, don't worry, and I'll get 'em up as soon as I can, but I don't know exactly when. No reason I can't post other stuff, though. Like this!

Reflecto, aka Stig Ah of Rimbor, aka... aah, never mind; the details aren't worth it. Created by... it'd be a stretch to say that Reflecto was ever created at all, really. Shall we blame it on Jim Shooter? The Bierbaums?

These articles are supposed to be about what makes the individual Legionnaires great characters. Reflecto, however, was never a character. He was first mentioned in the famous 'Adult Legion' story, as a Legionnaire who had been killed in the line of duty sometime in between the current Legion continuity of the time, and the Adult Legion story.

And ever since then, Legion creators have been bending over backwards to supply Legion continuity with a 'Reflecto' who could join up and fulfill the destiny of the Adult Legion story. Not because they had a great idea for such a character; just to reference the earlier story.

I have full confidence in the ability of my intrepid correspondents to supply the details of the various Reflectos that have showed up in Legion comics over the years. And if they don't feel like it, there's always Wikipedia. But, to me, that isn't the point.

The point is, can we please drop dead with the Adult Legion stuff?

One of the best things Paul Levitz ever did was to write Legion of Super-Heroes #300 and free us from the tyranny of having Jim Shooter's bright idea looming over our heads forever. Not that I have a problem with the story Shooter wrote: he came up with an interesting idea, wrote it, DC published it, people liked it, everything's fine. What's not fine is the notion that we should be bound by it.

It's a big problem with the Legion, this unnatural attachment to the past. I love the fifty years of Legion comics as much as anyone does, but they're not a prison; they're fertile ground for something new to grow in. We don't have to have a Reflecto who's going to show up and get killed. We don't have to have a Reflecto at all. In fact, I'd rather not have one, just to make the point.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Dirk said...

yeth. like creating a scenario to explain why shadow lass had white skin, when clearly it was the colorist's omission. didn't that red-headed kid, devlin, have reflecto-like powers?

2:12 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yes, but Devlin had nothing to do with Reflecto.

The Shadow Lass thing is a better example, but it actually turned out to be Levitz's lever to (try to) put the whole thing to bed once and for all.

And let's not blame the long-forgotten colorist; if my understanding is correct, Shady hadn't been invented yet when she showed up as a Caucasian statue, so how was the colorist supposed to anticipate the blue skin? (I'm right about that, right?)

8:15 AM  
Blogger Dirk said...

not sure. shadow lass intro in adventure #365? when was the adult legion story? btw, my claim to fame was when they published my "i demand the return of polar boy" email at the end of issue #13 of the current iteration.

3:06 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I'm pretty sure the Adult Legion story was before that.

And, hey! You got two different Polar Boys showing up in the threeboot alone!

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are correct. The Adult Legion story started in Adventure 354 which also showed "Shadow Woman" as a caucasian statue of a dead legionnaire. Shadow Lass (blue) first appeared in Adventure 365 as the heroine of Talok when the Fatal Five invade her planet.

1:36 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh. You didn't even try to sum the "character" up, and kudos to you for that! The most serious attempt at a Reflecto in the Legion must have been the "amnesiac Ultra Boy controlling Superboy's body" thing, and that was one of the most convoluted and unnecessary plots EVER. ^^

Continuity is good, but only for building on past events. Writing a flash-forward (like the Adult Legion stories) and trying to conform the present-day stories to that, like the future is already written in stone, was one of the worst ideas of the early Legion.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, again: writing the flash-forward is no problem in itself. But once you've written it, you should then immediately forget about it.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous peter vandeneneg said...

there *were* promotional/ancillary pieces that referred to devlin as 'reflecto'. also note: he was USUALLY devlin o'ryan. he was OCASSIONALLY 'devlin ORION'.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I did not know about either of those things.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No,Reflecto isn't a character.It's a position on a team,like shortstop or third base.By now,the positions on the Legion are pretty well established.If a spot opens up,another player with similar skills is sent in.No Dawnstar? Put Shikari in the slot.Some Legionnaires become utility players:Dream Girl has become another Karate Kid.
Rules can always be rewriten.New players with new skills can find their way onto the field.The Legion never had a speedster until XS ran in.But,sad to say,Arms Fall Off Boy will never get a chance on the field.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I understand your point but I think the actual effect in the comic books has been small. For one thing, Reflecto doesn't actually play a role in Legion comics that you need filled. He's just a name that gets referenced every now and then.

If there's a good example to support your point, I suppose it's Chemical Kid, who's obviously there to appease the longtime Chemical King fans who feel like they've been stiffed out of their favourite character. But then, Hadru's already more interesting than Condo ever was.

8:17 AM  

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