Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Could Have Sworn

So as part of next spring's "Convergence" event, apparently DC is going to have a two-issue miniseries called Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, featuring what I've seen described as "the pre-Crisis Legion".

Well, good!

If there's one thing we, as Legion fans, need, it's another Legion comic that tries to recapture the glories of the past! It just hasn't been tried often enough! Keep at it, DC, 1983 is bound to come around again if you wish hard enough!

I mean, I believe, I may be wrong about this but I believe, I could have sworn, that DC has actually published some good Legion comics since the 1980s. Comics with characters and stories worth revisiting, assuming for the sake of argument that we wanted to revisit old characters and stories in the first place.

Furthermore, I could have sworn that, in the Legion of Super-Heroes, DC had a mechanism by which they could explore the future. Let's have a comic like that. Because 1983? Wasn't that great. I was there. I don't need to go back.

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24 Comments:

Blogger marksweeneyjr said...

Ugh - I am constantly reminded that I made the right decision a few years ago when I stopped buying new DC comics. Despite the whole new-52 thing, the last decade or so in many ways has seemed like some sort of desperate grab to rekindle 'the glory days.' Nowhere is this more evident than in the treatment of the Legion.

It truly saddens me that the work of Legion folks such as Peyer, Abnett, Lanning, Waid and many others which attempted to advance and build upon the legend of the Legion has been unceremoniously swept under the carpet in favor of constant rehash of some perceived 'classic' era. I love that old stuff, too - but that's what back issues are for.

I know DC thinks they are giving the people what they want - but it's so disappointing to think that this is what the people are willing to buy.

5:23 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

And it's not like it worked! The comic was cancelled for low sales!

It's like they're willing to try absolutely anything other than make good comics.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mind if DC focuses their storytelling on the Retroboot Legion as long as the stories allow the Legionnaires to grow and evolve as characters and as a team. I agree that we shouldn't rehash the 1980's and try to keep the Legion as teenagers. They are way beyond that, both in the original series and now.

If you want to use the Retroboot characters for our current Legion stories, let them evolve. Add new members. Let others retire, die or move on. Create new villains instead of just have the Legion keep fighting the same old ones over and over. The main thing is that the changes and evolution of the team needs to feel organic, not just sudden unexplained additions like the newbies in vol. 7. If Legion writers were to advance the Retroboot Legion in this way, then maybe the series would be more successful with fans. If the plan is to walk back the Legion to its pre-Crisis days, then I think the future of Legion comics will remain unsatisfiying.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

This is fair, although I would argue that the retroboot Legion is the least suited for doing this of all the various Legion versions DC might consider. But let's assume that we've settled on the retroboot Legion anyway.

To be fair to Paul Levitz, I think he did try to do what you're saying. I really do. We did see some new characters, and we did see him trying stuff. I have to give him credit for that. The problem was that he just didn't have the mojo anymore. It seemed to me that he was running out of things to say about the Legion late in the Baxter run.

To tie these two paragraphs of comment together, what the Legion needs is a writer, and ideally also an artist, who has an ambitious vision for the LSH and for what kinds of stories are to be told with them... but if our creators have such a vision, how likely is it that they'll see the retroboot Legion, of all Legion versions, as the appropriate vehicle to deliver them? I put it to you that it is not at all likely.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I believe any of the 3 versions of the Legion could be built upon with such a vision, the Retroboot Legion version included, maybe especially more so at this given point. With the way Paul Levitz left the Legion at the end of vol. 7 as disbanded by the Science Police, he created quite a clean slate to rebuild the Legion in any form you like using some of the original/ Retroboot Legionnaires as the foundation.

My fear is that Lemire, in recreating his "classic" Legion for the Justice League United crossover, has stifled such a visionary rebuilding of the team.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Not to worry; if Lemire can sweep Levitz away, then the next writer can sweep Lemire away.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Dylan said...

I fully admit the that the "original" Legion and/or the retroboot approximation will always be my favorite incarnation of the team. So I'm always happy to see them being focused on.

That said, I think the post-ZH Legion would have been fantastic to focus on during this look back period.

The "Up yours, Grandpa!" Legion, I'm more willing to forget, but it had its fans too, and should also not be forgotten.

9:49 PM  
Blogger dbutler16 said...

I love the Pre-Crisis Legion. Each incarnation of the Legion offers something positive to the mythos, but the Pre-Crisis take is my favorite. About the only optimistic future available other than Star Trek. However, I don't want them rehashing old stories. You can keep the pre-Crisis version while still going forward, and looking at the future, or the future future.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

You're both right, but anyway we're talking about stuff that isn't happening, so.

11:31 AM  
Blogger John B. said...

I'd be happy with any version as long as DC would go back to good guys being good guys. I've pretty much quit reading DC due to a lack of heroic heroes.

1:13 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

One good thing about the Legion is that its writers have basically not fallen into this trap when it comes to them. Not sure why this is: a side benefit of nostalgism, or the Legion's stronger identity compared to many other superteams? Anyway, I'm glad.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's face it,DC stopped trying to get new readers for their comics a long time ago.It's all about pandering to the nostalgic fans now.At least there's new/old Legion product on the stands;anything to keep the Legion in the fans' sights.I've never read anything by this writer who will writing a facsimile of the Levitz/Giffen LSH,but odds are it'll be better than anything Levitz or Giffen has been able to do with the LSH for some time.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, I hope it'll be good. I mean... I dunno; I don't want to keep repeating myself. But if this is what we're getting, I hope it'll be good.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My interest in this rose when I saw that the Atomic Knights would appear.That sounds like it might be fun,and if there's anything the Legion has been needing in the past more-than-a-few years,it's capital F fun in their comics.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

All I know about the Atomic Knights is what I read in [i]Who's Who[/i] way back when. They're worth reading?

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked them.John Broome scripts,Murphy Anderson art.The comics are collected in hardcover,so if you come across a copy,give it a look.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Okay, thanks.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Axel said...

I completely disagree with your much earlier comment above that a writer and artist with a vision for where the Legion could go would shy away from what you've called the "retroboot" Legion or Paul Levitz's core run. If you're going to make apple cider, you don't make it from juice made from concentrate. You make it from apples. The best expression of the core concepts of the Legion of Superheroes happened under Paul Levitz's (circa 1983-85) I would say. Them's the apples. Every iteration to come since has been ok, but pales in comparison to that period, precisely because in trying to go in "new directions", they left behind the things that make the Legion enduring. They were making apple juice from concentrate.

If I were making a Superman movie, or a Batman movie, I'd gravitate to the strongest material produced, figure out why it worked, then use those elements to make new stories. I wouldn't use the versions of the concept or characters no one remembers and were generally considered weak.

I really admire your passion for the Legion. I love it in a similar way to the way you do. But I wonder if you realize that there are so many Legion fans who have a different point of view and know what they want and why they want it. It's not about nostalgia - it's about trying to get the very best version of something rather than a mere approximation of it.

How'd ya like them apples?

10:55 AM  
Blogger Axel said...

Sorry. Don't mean that in a snarky way. Just couldn't resist the pun!

11:14 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I've seen too many good Legion stories from all eras to believe that there was anything about Levitz's second run that made it superior to any other stretch of Legion comics other than the quality and performance of the creators themselves. If Levitz could tell great stories with these characters and Giffen and the Bierbaums could tell great stories with those characters and DnA could tell great stories with these other characters... well, then maybe just which version of the Legion you use doesn't matter so much in telling great Legion stories, and the important thing is to do as good a job as you can.

And part of that is to use the story elements that make the most sense to you, the ones that serve your story the best. Not the ones that made the most sense to Paul Levitz thirty years ago. The ones that make the most sense to you the writer now.

The crux of your assertions seems to be that the early part of Levitz's second run is the best expression of the Legion's core concepts, and that everything since then has been deficient in expressing those core concepts. So: what are these core concepts? (I mean, I have my own answer to that question, which you'll be able to find in various places on this site, but my list of core concepts actually has been well expressed in Legion comics over the years.)

(Note: if your answer to this boils down to "Superboy", then we can shake hands and call it a day, as I have no argument to muster against anyone who prefers their Legion comics with lots of Superboy. It's valid and unanswerable.)

11:17 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Sorry. Don't mean that in a snarky way.

Enh; I can take it.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Axel said...

I think I've answered that in other posts. Levitz's run was the strongest creatively because it was basically about 4 things;

1) a large Cast with strong characterizations;
2) an optimistic vision of humanity nonetheless connected to the present (Superman);
3) complex world building;
4) complexity and sophistication of plotting; and
5) science fiction.

None of the runs by other writers have captured all those things to the right degree or in the right combination. Some have been captured some and not others. (DnA with the cast and the science fiction, but failed at world building and the complexity of plotting.) some have failed entirely. (Anything Legion related touched by Keith Giffen after Levitz's departure in the late 80s.) Some have kind of missed the point (Mark Waid's three boot.) Some just had awful art. (Archie Legion.)

5:52 PM  
Blogger Axel said...

That should be five things, but it's late afternoon and I haven't had a coffee so... You understand hopefully.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well... you think some things are bad that I think are good, so I guess that's where we are with that.

11:55 PM  

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