Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Continuity Notes: the Waid-Kitson Threeboot

This is actually nice and straightforward. I'm including it here pretty much just for the sake of completeness.

There was no necessary reason to re-reboot the Legion. Abnett and Lanning had rejuvenated the reboot Legion and had been telling some excellent stories with them. Sales weren't as high as DC wanted them, maybe, but they were an improvement over what had gone before. And the Legion hadn't gotten as awkward as it was just before Zero Hour, with the unappealing Legion on the Run characters, unwieldy SW6 duplicates, a destroyed Earth and a Wildfire wrapped around Sun Boy's skeleton. There were good reasons to make a big change at Zero Hour; those reasons were mostly not present in 2004. As far as I can tell, DC threebooted the Legion for two reasons:

1. Sales were low.
2. Mark Waid had an idea.

Neither of which justifies rebooting the franchise. Maybe Waid's concept, to make the Legion a 1960s-style youth movement, couldn't have been introduced into reboot reality as is, but that's the breaks. Rebooting is almost never the best option, and I certainly don't think it was the best option here. (Distinction: I don't have a problem with the threeboot Legion--I quite like it, actually--only with the decision that led to it.)

(Results of the threeboot have been mixed. Sales did improve, and are still higher than they were for a long time before the threeboot, but aren't as high as DC was hoping for. Mark Waid's premise didn't really catch on and has been mostly phased out anyway. And a bunch of internet loudmouths have said, obnoxiously and repeatedly, that the threeboot Legion isn’t really the Legion, but, as Bill James put it, there you go, eventually they’ll stop saying it. If Waid and Kitson had taken over the reboot Legion and revamped them without a full reboot, and Jim Shooter had been brought aboard in late 2007 the way he has been, would we be better off, worse off, or neutral? I don’t think we’d be worse off.)

It was done like this: the reboot Legion had an adventure with the Titans, involving much time travel and interdimensional nonsense. This was chronicled in an issue of Titans and the Titans/Legion Special. At the end of the Special, the good guys won, but there was a temporal instability that prevented the Legion from returning to their proper time and place, and they were lost in the timestream, or wherever it was, and the last few pages of the comic book were just an introduction of the threeboot Legion. There were some interesting points about that:

-- the 'temporal instability' that caused the reboot Legion to spin out in the middle of their time travel was, though nobody called it that at the time, one of the famous 'Superboy punches' made famous in Infinite Crisis: Superboy-Prime punching the walls of reality to try to bust a way out of his little microdimension.
-- the reboot Legion's reality wasn't destroyed at all. It was still intact at the end of the Titans/Legion Special; it was only the Legion themselves whose fate was unknown.
-- one Legionnaire, Shikari, was separated from the others and found herself in a world that was strange to her. The implication was that she was in the threeboot Legion's world, but this is not explicitly stated, and if you read the comic carefully with this in mind you'll see that she really could be anywhere.
-- the reboot Legion did find their way back to their home time-and-place, and Shikari did too. This was shown in a panel of Infinite Crisis, but I think some people missed it. The panel stated that this happened on 'Earth-247', which is obviously a reference to Adventure Comics #247, the Legion's first appearance.

I read somewhere that it was always DC's intention to have the threeboot Legion be the Legion of post-Infinite-Crisis DC reality. Even though they technically made their debut about a year before Infinite Crisis. But making this change created some continuity questions that haven't been answered, as far as I know, and I suspect they won't be.

For one thing, the reboot Legion interacted with the 20th/21st century DCU on a number of occasions. Many of the reboot Legionnaires spent long periods of time in the present-day DCU. Did all that still happen, or did Infinite Crisis (and, I suppose, 52) erase it?

For another, there's the problem of Bart Allen. Not only did Bart meet the reboot Legion and spend a lot of time with them, but one of them was even his cousin: Jenni Ognats, aka XS. (Jenni's mom was Dawn Allen, sister of Bart's dad Don Allen.) So if the reboot Legion's reality is no longer the mainstream DCU's future, then where did Bart come from? Does he remember his cousin? Does he even still have a cousin? Bart's dead now, so there's really no urgency to address this... but I wonder if it's going to be one of the things swept under the rug when DC finally sorts out what the deal is with both the threeboot Legion and 2x+unboot Legion having connections to the current present-day DCU.

It doesn’t look like DC’s trying to completely sweep this Legion under the rug*. The Lightning Saga crossover in JLA and JSA contained mention of an adventure called ‘Legion of Three Worlds’, which almost certainly refers to the 2x+unboot Legion, the reboot Legion and the threeboot Legion having some kind of crossover story of their own (the presence of the reboot Legion among those three was almost guaranteed in a subsequent issue of JSA when Starman mentioned XS to Superman). No word on if or when we’re ever going to get the straight of that, but any source of hope is welcome to those of us who miss the reboot Legion.

* unlike the Five-Years-Later Legion, that is.

Labels: ,


Blogger Greybird said...

"Unlike the five-years-later Legion, that is": I don't blame them for wanting to "sweep it under the rug."

It was lumpy, convoluted, and it trashed the characters (and planets) in countless ways. It was a hangover of the far more straightforward 1958-1989 continuity, whether you liked Giffen's art - resembling that done with a hangover, to me - or not.

As has all been discussed ad infinitum by a, well, legion of us already, o'course.

Paul Levitz could see fit to give Giffen and the Bierbaums, and those who tried to clean up their esthetic messes, some leeway to build attention and sales.

Yet that's a huge difference from the 5YL era rising to the level of even being worth detailed recall later ... let alone going into any Archives volumes.

I suapect the Powers That Be would all rather forget about it. Along with other assorted post-first-"Crisis" Legion complications, if they can.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Greybird said...

I really do hope, by the way, that you'll at least define your idiosyncratic "2x+unboot" in each article that uses it.

With all due respect for this being your blog: It's an unwieldy enough creation on its face, apart from newcomers having to go back a dozen entries to find out what it means. And if you meant it as a general Legion-analysis term, it's not catching on, from what I can see.

Saying "the 'Lightning Saga' Legion" would get the reference across far more clearly, making an outright allusion to the recent past and where it could be found.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that it was shown in one of the Young Justice issues that Bart was immune to changes in the timestream.
I'm looking forward to the "Legion of three worlds" If only to see the reactions of the various Legions when they meet each other. Hopefull after (or before) they'll release something that covers stories from all three legions, and answer questions like how did Shikari get home? How did Karate Kid get resurescted? Among others.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

It was lumpy, convoluted, and it trashed the characters (and planets) in countless ways.

I liked it. Still my favourite run of the Legion.

I really do hope, by the way, that you'll at least define your idiosyncratic "2x+unboot" in each article that uses it.

That's a perfectly sensible and reasonable suggestion. But I'm probably not going to do it.

I think that it was shown in one of the Young Justice issues that Bart was immune to changes in the timestream.

I remember hearing something about that once. But what does it imply in this case? That Bart wouldn't disappear if reboot Legion continuity was erased? Does the immunity extend to his family? It's not clear to me.

I'm looking forward to the "Legion of three worlds"

I'd like to see it but I'm not holding my breath. One would hope that they're going to do something with it for the anniversary, but who knows?

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Mark Waid had an idea.

Reason enough not to do it...

Incidentally, the Impulse thing comes from Waid - first, Bart's history doesn't actually make sense pre-ZH. Thing about that is though, that Bart went through a complete character change for his own series, which undercuts any ZH immunity.

Secondly, Wally-Flash's fiancée got erased at one point, and Bart was the only one to remember her.

World Without Young Justice may have riffed on that, I suppose - but since Bart was Bedlam's agent of change, he himself needed to be protected from the change.

And, of course, Johns went and frelled up everything ever established about Bart anyway (the speed reading power it was established HE DIDN'T HAVE - although XS did - his scouts disappeared....)

5:52 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks. Hmm.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

"Five years later" was a mistake and every reboot since then has been a mistake. The original Legion was fine the way it was.

Mark Waid and I had a long online debate about whether his first reboot respected the original Legion. I said the way to respect the original Legion was to find a way to return it intact. Naturally, I won the debate. ;-)

6:49 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

The original Legion was fine the way it was.

Yes, with two caveats: 1) Levitz was running out of things to say and the franchise could have used some new energy, and 2) editorial interference from the Superman side of DC had already caused some trouble and might have caused more even without 5YL.

"Five years later" was a mistake and every reboot since then has been a mistake.

You'll never catch me defending any decision to reboot, but on the other hand I don't like to let the conversation end there. I think that the Five Years Later stories and the DnA run of the reboot were the best Legion eras ever published, even better than Levitz's and Shooter's stuff. I'm glad they exist, even if I don't agree with the decisions that made them possible.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next time there's a sweeping transformative change in store for the Legion,instead of working up to it via crossovers or reboots or gap-bridging mini-series,here's an idea;just make the change.Do it the way Alan Moore did with Swamp Thing or Walt Simonson did on Thor-or with the 5YL stuff.Most fans want to see the car moving rather than watch it being assembled. As for complaints about not matching up with prior versions,Simonson had the best response:He said it wasn't his job to justify old continuity.Agreed.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I quite agree. The crossover/rebooting stories are usually not that good anyway. Even CoIE, which everyone seems to like, was kind of a patchwork.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah.Never read COIE but I read Zero Hour and Legion of 3 Worlds and damned if I can remember what happened in either one of them. Crossovers are the plague of comic books.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

And FC:L3W was actually pretty good as crossovers go!

3:30 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home