Monday, October 29, 2007

Action Comics: Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes (Introduction)

Originally my idea was that I'd review the upcoming Action Comics arc 'Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes' after it was done. But then I thought, well, maybe I should check in on it every issue. I might even get more people looking in here. (Not that you guys aren't enough for me. I'm just following point two of this blog's mission statement (1. The Legion is good. 2. More is better.).) So, I don't plan on doing actual reviews of these comic books, because they're Superman comics and I'm no Superman expert, but I do expect to have some thoughts.

Here's what I expect from this storyline:
- I expect it not to be a Legion story, but a Superman story (in fact, I'm not sure the Legion will appear at all in the first issue of the arc!)
- I expect it'll probably be pretty good
- I don't really expect this version of the Legion to remind me of the original Legion too much
- the most interesting thing to me will be fan reaction--who likes it, who doesn't like it, why they do or don't like it

I've been involved in considerable discussion on the ComicBloc boards about this version of the Legion and whether or not they're the original Legion. My position is (as I've said here and here) that the cumulative effect of all the evidence as presented in the JLA/JSA crossover 'The Lightning Saga' is that they are not the original Legion, exactly; they're a variation on the original Legion, and when DC calls them the original Legion they're being... not dishonest, exactly, but a little disingenuous. Geoff Johns has been kind enough to contribute to the ComicBloc conversations but hasn't said anything to change my mind.

But I have learned one thing. I knew that some Legion fans insist that the presence of Superboy is essential to the Legion, and some insist that the Legion's better off without him, and some are okay with it either way. I'm sort of in the last group; I would never say that Superboy was essential. What I've learned, though, is that this schism in Legion fandom is an important factor in these discussions about what makes the Legion and which versions are worthwhile.

See, there are a lot of people who see the Legion as, basically, Superboy's supporting characters. For them to have their own title without any Superboy presence is just a stupid idea all around. It's like having a Lois Lane comic that Superman never appears in, or an Alfred comic that Batman never appears in. That's the thinking. So when I raise the objection that the version of the Legion can't be original because we've already had the post-Crisis Levitz Legion and the Five Years Later Legion to cover that part of the Legion's history, fans of this school of thought will have the response, who cares about those comic books? Superboy wasn't in them, was excluded from them, so they're of no consequence whatsoever. And for Johns to write this arc in which Superman's relationship to the Legion is reforged... well, that's the original status back again, isn't it? And all the rest is just details.

If Superman is the point, then that makes sense. To me, Superman isn't the point, and so my conclusions are different.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this story. I'm not sure it'll end up appealing to all the old-school Legion fans, but that's just a guess really. I'm quite curious to see just how much of the pre-Crisis-Legion feel Johns manages to recapture.

Another thing I'm going to be paying attention to: Johns has said in an interview that, over the course of the story, we'll see "pretty close to" everyone who was ever an active member of the Legion. By which he means, I presume, that we'll see pretty close to everyone who was ever an active member of the pre-Crisis Legion, but let it pass. By my count, there had been 37 active Legionnaires pre-Crisis, at one time or another, and 79 active Legionnaires across all versions (some of whom we might also see--the Subs, for instance, or Danielle Foccart). So I'm going to keep track of who all we see. (I wonder if Johns will introduce any brand new Legionnaires in this story? I don't mean like Night Girl, I mean completely new. Because that would be cool.)

First issue in two days!

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Blogger snell said...

"Disingenous?" Let's give them a little more (or less) credit and suggest that they're being dim. I suspect Johns et all really believes this to be the "Original" Legion, and doesn't care about evidence/argument to the contrary. Like those who swear that Bogie says "Play it again, Sam," nothing is goibg to convince them they're wrong. in Johns' mind, this *is* the original Legion, nit-picking by heretics be damned!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Or a combination. It can be hard to draw these lines. Anyway, we'll know more soon enough.

7:04 PM  

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