Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Some Sad News

 Those of you who've been reading here for a while will know that occasionally I have the honour of guesting on the Legion of Substitute Podcasters podcast. And the weeks I don't guest there, I listen to them. One of the hosts of this podcasts is a man named Darren Nowell, who I never met in real life, but who always struck me as an excellent kind of person.

Anyway, I saw on Twitter today that Darren died yesterday, and it's terrible. I was always glad to hear his voice every week, and now we won't. Goodbye, Darren; I'll miss you.


Sunday, February 12, 2023

Legion of Super-Heroes (animated feature, 2023) Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About:

Supergirl, freshly arrived on Earth, is having trouble fitting in with the Justice League because she's not used to using superpowers and misses the high-tech life on Krypton. Superman has the bright idea of sending her to the future, which is also high-tech, and she can train at Legion Academy. This doesn't go really well but Supergirl and the other Academy students redeem themselves when the Dark Circle try to steal the Miracle Machine and only the students can stop them.

This fits into the continuity of DC's direct-to-video features in some way that seems important but I don't know anything about.


Not sure what the best way is to come at this review. This feature was not a great one for longtime LSH veteran fans. We know too much and have too many expectations that get thwarted. But it's much better for new fans, and that's obviously a good quality to have.

Look what we've got. First of all, we've got Supergirl. Everybody kind of knows Supergirl, and if they don't, they get a good introduction to her anyway. Then we find that she's going to be our key into the 31st century, just like Superboy was in the Silver Age comics. That's smart; she, as a contemporary character, is going to have similar questions to what we would if we visited the future.

Second we've got the Legion Academy. This allows us to meet Legion characters in small doses, and the classes give us a lot of useful exposition about what the Legion of Super-Heroes actually is and does. It also gives us a sense of how special it is to be a Legionnaire and what an accomplishment it is to become one.

We also get a lot of longtime Legion storytelling beats, sometimes in ways that don't feel right, but nothing that isn't fair play. For instance:

I know it seems weird to see longtime Legionnaires like Phantom Girl, Invisible Kid, Triplicate Girl, and Dawnstar as Academy students, bemoaning how their weak powers mean they'll never become Legionnaires. But angsting over one's weak powers has been a Legion trope for most of their history. Angsting over whether one will become a Legionnaire has been a Legion trope for most of their history.

There's a part where one character turns traitor, and it's not a character who we're used to seeing do that kind of thing, and I imagine there's a lot of fumfuring out there about it... but it was set up very well indeed, and having a Legionnaire turn traitor has been a Legion trope for most of their history.

Stealing the Miracle Machine? We've seen that before. Brainiac 5 being a prickly outsider who doesn't think he belongs on the team? We've seen that before. One-third of Triplicate Girl getting killed? Seen it before.

So this is all fine. It's a perfectly reasonable introduction story for the Legion, with some good moments for Supergirl and Brainiac 5, and a good final villain (whom, I'll say it first, I would be perfectly happy to have this be the canonical leader of the Dark Circle). If they want to do any more Legion features, which I hope they do, they've got a good foundation to build on.

But there is a thing I don't like here, and I'll tell you what it is:

There aren't a lot of just people in this feature.

When Kara is wandering the mall at the beginning, there are a few citizens also there, including the security guard and the other girls and the building owner. But the place looks pretty empty other than them. Then, in the 31st century, I don't think we meet anybody other than Legionnaires, Academy students, and villains. This is important! What are superheroes for if not to protect regular people? They're an important part of the story. If it's just superhumans versus superhumans... then that turns it into an entirely different genre, and not one that I'm much interested in.

I understand that this would make it a lot more work to animate. Fine. I don't care. Try. Do something. Otherwise we have the premise of superheroes without the fantasy of superheroes, and that's not a good combination. (See this article for more on this.)


- is Shadow Lass ever going to be allowed to have her own powers in animation? I remember in JLU she had some kind of pink ray, and then in this she had grasping tendrils and some kind of teleportation (right?)

- new name for "Arms-Fall-Off Boy". Also, if his power works as seen here, that's actually a pretty good street-level power. It's not a joke. The joke is if his arm just falls off and then he has to pick it up and whang people with it

- Dawnstar has an enthusiastic friendly personality here, miles away from her 1970s aloofness. Which... I'm okay with that. The aloofness was kind of an ethnic stereotype in the first place


The art of this feature was generally very good. The style they're using didn't always work for me, as in the initial race between Kara and her mother on Krypton. (Another point about that opening sequence. Those are some Chuck-Jones-Bugs-Bunny-ass-looking clouds. Not a criticism.) But sometimes it was very attractive. Making Brainy bald was an interesting choice; in general I didn't like it, but they did a good job on his facial expressions, especially in the second half, and the bald worked well with that.

A note on the sound (something that never comes up when I'm reviewing a comic book!): the sound effect of Bouncing Boy bouncing was really good.

We should note, of course, that the designs of the individual Legionnaires tended to be recent designs: Ryan Sook costumes, where available.

Membership Notes:

Boy are there ever a lot of Legionnaires shown here! I'll let someone else count 'em up. Is that Lori Morning I saw there at the end in one of her H-Dial identities? The big question for me here is, does Arms-Fall-Off Boy now count as a full Legionnaire? I'm inclined to say no, because we haven't had a story yet where he *acts* as a Legionnaire, but it's an argument...

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Saturday, December 10, 2022

A Farm in the Country Where He Can Run and Play

I've pointed out before how, for a while, the Legion of Super-Heroes was the franchise that DC Comics used for a lot of their experiments with long-form storytelling. The story of Lightning Lad's death and resurrection, for example, took place over nine months, which was rare in the 1960s. Earthwar, Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Great Darkness Saga... they were all unusually long stories for their time. Even the Five Years Later series was very experimental, very un-episodic, and very long.

That's not really what it's for anymore.

The Legion has been rebooted enough times that DC must have had to think, many times, about just what you can do, narratively, with this group of superheroes. One thing they've settled on, many times, is that the Legion is not, basically, a concept of a team of futuristic teenagers who were inspired by the legend of Superman. The Legion is the set of characters created in the 1950s through 1980s who live in the future and belong to a team that was inspired by the legend of Superman.

This is where DC and I don't exactly see eye-to-eye, because I think they might have been better served to be true to the concept, at times, even at the expense of familiar characters. If each reboot had introduced a whole new roster of Legionnaires, designed for the times in which they were published and brought into the comic book gradually. They didn't do that. Every time the Legion has been founded, it's been founded by Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy. They've had to go back to the late '50s, early '60s, for their starting point.

This often works against efforts to make the Legion a team that's diverse enough to be 31st-century-realistic. That's not my point, but I did want to mention it.

My point is, it's hard for this not to lead to nostalgia. It's hard for writers to have to go back to the comics of their youth for characters and not get the message that the point of it all is the going back.

Let's look at the last few times a new writer started on the Legion, long-term.

2003: Mark Waid, a veteran comic-book writer who had written the Legion in the past, rebooted the team to a lineup of characters that matched the Silver Age team

2005: Geoff Johns, a veteran comic-book writer, brought back a lightly edited 1980s Legion for use in his comic books, and used them as supporting characters for Superman

2006: Jim Shooter, a veteran comic-book writer who had written the Legion in the past, took over Waid's team and did some stories where he worked out some old grudges and gratitudes from earlier in his career

2009: Geoff Johns, whose retroboot Legion is the only one left standing, puts the Legion in some extremely nostalgic stories in Adventure Comics. But he quickly loses interest

2010: Paul Levitz, a veteran comic-book writer who had written the Legion in the past, takes over Johns's Legion for a few years. Toward the end, he brings in Keith Giffen as artist and co-writer, a veteran comic-book creator who had written and drawn the Legion in the past

2019: Brian Michael Bendis, a veteran comic-book writer, starts a new series with a Legion lineup that draws heavily from '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s characters, but not '90s, '00s, or '10s

Here's what I think DC's idea of the Legion is now. I think their idea is that it's where veteran writers can take their nostalgia out for a walk.

That's certainly what Geoff Johns was doing. I wouldn't dare to imagine what Shooter thought he was doing. Waid and Levitz and Bendis, on the other hand... I think all of them were actually trying to do good stuff, to bring some vision to the title. (Some with more success than others.) But I don't think that's why DC gave them the job. I think DC gave them the job because they were proven veterans who loved the Legion from long ago. And I don't think that bodes well for who gets to write the Legion next.

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Thursday, November 24, 2022

All-Time Legion Roster

I try to keep a master list of Legionnaires on this site. It's surprisingly difficult to decide just what kind of list it should be, but, anyway, here's this one. Please let me know if there's anything I got straight wrong or any detail I left out that's too major to be left out. Also, when I was listing continuities, I typically didn't mention "animated" unless it was specifically informative to do so.

Legionnaire Also Continuities Creators & Notes
Atmos Marak Russen of Xanthu orig, 2b Levitz, Larocque
Blok Blok of Dryad orig, 4b Conway, Staton
Blood Claw Blood Claw of Khundia orig (5YL) the Bierbaums, Immonen
Bouncing Boy Charles Foster Taine of Earth all but 3b Siegel, Mooney
Brainiac 5 Querl Dox of Colu; also 5, Brainiac 5.1 all Siegel, Mooney
Calamity King E. Davis Ester of Touston orig Hamilton, Swan
Catspaw April Dumaka of Earth orig: 5YL Bierbaums, Sprouse
Celeste Celeste Rockfish of Earth; also Celeste McCauley, Neon orig: 5YL Giffen, Bierbaums, Gordon
Chameleon Boy Reep Daggle of Durla; sometimes just Chameleon all Siegel, Mooney
Chameleon Girl Yera Allon of Durla orig Levitz, Giffen
Chemical Kid Hadru Jamik of Phlon orig: retro Levitz, Jimenez
Chemical King Condo Arlik of Phlon orig, 2b Shooter, Swan
Chlorophyll Kid Ral Benem of Mardru; also Plant Lad orig, 3b Hamilton, Forte
Color Kid Ulu Vakk of Lupra orig Hamilton, Swan, Jeff Greenberg
Colossal Boy Gim Allon of Earth; also Leviathan, Micro Lad all Siegel, Mooney
Comet Queen Grava of Extal Colony (Quaal III) orig Levitz, Giffen
Computo Danielle Foccart of Earth, or just Computo orig (esp. SW6) and 4b Levitz, Giffen
Cosmic Boy Rokk Krinn of Braal; also Polestar all Binder, Plastino
Crystal Kid Bobb Kohan of Earth orig Conway, Ditko, Robert Cohen
Dawnstar Dawnstar Gr'Ell of Starhaven, or just Dawnstar orig, 4b Levitz, Grell
Devlin Devlin O'Ryan of Xanthu orig (5YL) Giffen, Bierbaums
Dr. Fate ? 4b only Bendis, Sook (orig Dr. Fate created by Gardner Fox & Howard Sherman)
Dragonmage Xao Jin of Earth orig (SW6) Bierbaums, Sprouse
Dragonwing Marya Pai of Earth orig (retro) Levitz, Jimenez
Dream Boy Rol Purtha of Naltor 3b Waid, Kitson
Dream Girl Nura Nal of Naltor; also Nura Schnappin, Dreamer all Hamilton, Forte
Earth-Man Kirt Niedrigh of Earth; also Zoraz, Absorbency Boy orig Bates, Grell
Echo Myke-4 Astor of Khundish Calish-Aetia orig Shooter, Swan
Element Lad Jan Arrah of Trom; also Alchemist all Hamilton, Forte
Entropy Kid ? 4b only Bendis, Sook; pink and purple uniform, alien, long skull; name revealed on Reddit
Ferro Lad Andrew Nolan of Earth; also Ferro all but 3b Shooter, Moldoff
Fire Lad Staq Mavlen of Shwar orig Hamilton, Forte
Firefist Firefist of Khundia orig (5YL) Bierbaums, Immonen
Flederweb Flederweb of Aetia orig (5YL) Bierbaums, Immonen
Gates Ti'julk M'rasz of Vyrga 2b, orig (retro) McCraw, Moder, Waid
Gazelle Giselle Smith of Triton 3b Shooter, Manapul
Gear I.Z.O.R. of Linsner 2b McCraw, Peyer, Kolins
Glorith Glorith of Baaldur and/or Zerox orig, possibly 2b Siegel, Forte, but also Levitz, Jimenez
Gold Lantern Kala Lour 4b only Bendis, Sook
Harmonia Harmonia Li of Earth orig (retro) Levitz, Cinar
Impulse Kent Shakespeare of Earth orig (5YL) Giffen, Bierbaums, Gordon
Infectious Lass Drura Sehpt of Somahtur orig, 2b Bates, Cockrum
Invisible Kid Lyle Norg of Earth orig, 2b, 3b Siegel, Mooney
Invisible Kid II Jacques Foccart of Earth or Kit-Son; also Evanesce, Invisible Gentleman orig, 2b, 4b, animated Levitz, Giffen
Karate Kid Val Armorr of Earth all Shooter, Moldoff
Karate Kid II Myg of Lythyl orig Levitz, Lightle
Kid Quantum James Cullen of Antares or of Xanthu orig (5YL), 2b Bierbaums, David A. Williams
Kid Quantum II Jazmin Cullen of Xanthu 2b McCraw, Peyer, Moder
Kinetix Zoe Saugin of Aleph 2b McCraw, Moder, Waid
Kono Brita An'nan of Sklar orig, 2b Giffen, Bierbaums, Gordon
Laurel Laurel Gand of Daxam or of Ricklef II, also Andromeda, Sister Andromeda orig (5YL), 2b Giffen, Bierbaums, Gordon, James Ricklef, Arne Starkey
Lightning Lad Garth Ranzz of Winath; also Live Wire all Binder, Plastino
Lightning Lass Ayla Ranzz of Winath; also Light Lass, Gossamer, Pulse, Spark all Hamilton, Forte
Magnetic Kid Pol Krinn of Braal orig Hamilton, Forte
Magno Dyrk Magz of Braal 2b McCraw, Stern, Moy
Matter-Eater Lad Tenzil Kem of Bismoll all Siegel, Forte
Mon-El Lar Gand of Daxam or New Krypton; also M'Onel, Valor all Bernstein, Papp
Monster Boy Arune Singh of Tor-Etto 4b Bendis, Sook
Monstress Candi Pyponte-Le Parc III of Xanthu 2b McCraw, Peyer, Moder
Nemesis Kid Hart Druiter of Myar orig, 3b, animated (Legionnaire only in animated continuity) Shooter, Moldoff
Night Girl Lydda Jath of Kathoon orig, 2b Hamilton, Forte
Nightwind Berta Haris of Earth orig, 2b Conway, Ditko, Robert Harris
Phantom Girl Tinya Wazzo of Bgtzl; also Apparition all Siegel, Mooney
Polar Boy Brek Bannin of Tharr orig, 2b, 3b Hamilton, Forte
Porcupine Pete Peter Dursin of Earth orig Bates, Cockrum
Princess Projectra Wilimena Morgana Daergina Annaxandra Projectra Velorya Vauxhall of Orando; also Queen Projectra, Projectra, Sensor Girl, Sensor all Shooter, Moldoff
Quislet (unpronounceable glyph) of Teall orig Levitz, Lightle
Radius Lad ? 4b Bendis, Sook
Reflecto Stig Ah of Rimbor orig Shooter
Saturn Girl Imra Ardeen of Titan; also Imra Ardeen Ranzz all Binder, Plastino
Shadow Lass Tasmia Mallor of Talok VIII; also Umbra all Shooter, Swan
Shikari Shikari Lonestar of the Kwai 2b Abnett, Lanning, Coipel
Shrinking Violet Salu Digby of Imsk; also Atom Girl, LeViathan, Virus all Siegel, Mooney
Soultaker ? only appeared in Doomsday Clock Johns, Frank
Spider Girl Sussa Paka of Taltar; also Wave orig, 2b Siegel, Forte, Jim Tillery
Star Boy Thom Kallor of Xanthu; also Starman all Binder, Papp
Stone Boy Dag Wentim of Zwen orig Hamilton, Forte
Storm Boy Myke Chypurz orig Siegel, Forte
Sun Boy Dirk Morgna of Earth; also Inferno all Siegel, Mooney
Superboy Kal-El of Krypton, Clark Kent of Earth, Superman orig Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family
Superboy II Connor Kent of Earth, Kon-El 2b Kesel, Grummett
Superboy III Jon Kent of Earth; also Superman 4b Jurgens
Supergirl Kara Zor-El of Krypton orig, 3b Binder, Plastino
Superman-X Kell-El of Earth animated team of TV writers led by Michael Jelenic
Tellus Ganglios of Hykraius orig Levitz, Lightle
Thunder CeCe Beck of Binderaan 2b Ordway, Manley
Timber Wolf Brin Londo of Zuun (or Rimbor); also Furball all Hamilton, Forte
Thorn Rose Forrest of Earth 4b Kanigher, Andru. Officially the Legion's liaison to the UP; not necessarily a regular Legionnaire
Triplicate Girl Luornu Durgo of Cargg (also Carggg); also Triad, Duo Damsel, Una, Duplicate Girl, Duplicate Damsel all Siegel, Mooney
Tyroc Troy Stewart of Earth (Marzal) orig Bates, Grell
Ultra Boy Jo Nah of Rimbor all Siegel, Swan
Veilmist Veilmist of Khundia orig (5YL) Bierbaums, Immonen
Visi-Lad Visi-Lad of Earth orig Levitz, Larocque
White Witch Mysa Nal or Xola Aq of Naltor or Zerox; also Jewel all Bridwell, Swan
Wildfire Drake Burroughs of Earth; also Erg-1, NRG, Jahr-Drake Ningle (Blast-Off) combined with Randall Burroughs (Atom'X) of Xanthu all Bates, Cockrum
X-Ray Girl ? 4b Bendis, Sook; green-suited skeleton; name revealed on Reddit
XS Jenni Ognats of Aarok 2b, orig (retro) McCraw, Moy

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Saturday, November 05, 2022

Just to Say

 Not going anyplace! Social media never should have moved away from blogs and RSS.

Twitters may come and go, but long-windedness is forever.